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Island children show they care

Saturday April 23, 2016 Written by Published in Outer Islands
Students and teachers of Araura Primary School at the ready to plant trees around their school for climate projection as part of the FINPAC tree planting project on the island. 16042216 Students and teachers of Araura Primary School at the ready to plant trees around their school for climate projection as part of the FINPAC tree planting project on the island. 16042216

Aitutaki children are leading the charge in growing resilience within their island community.


School children from the island took part in a tree planting project around their schools and along the foreshore to help reduce the impact of climate change.

The tree planting scheme is part of a two-year ‘Tautu Pilot Project’ run under the Finnish-Pacific Project (FINPAC) climate change adaptation project funded by the Government of Finland and coordinated through the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and implemented by the International Federation of the Red Cross through its national society in the Cook Islands.

The FINPAC project is a regionally coordinated project targeting the most pressing need of Pacific island communities in adapting to the effect of climate change.

Its goal is to reduce the vulnerability of Pacific islands country villagers’ livelihoods to the effects of climate change.

Cook Islands Red Cross Society disaster management coordinator Mata Hetland was on Aitutaki last week to oversee the tree planting project which she described as a huge success.

Over 100 trees were planted by school students including around 30 native Tamanu and Miro trees.

The tree planting project also included a sports day for the children and presentation of gifts to the school from Red Cross for taking part in the project to grow resilience within their communities.

The ‘Tautu Pilot Project’, which began in April 2014, included a number of activities on Aitutaki under the FINPAC project.

Activities delivered under the FINPAC project on the island of Aitutaki have included training for residents on the most effective way of tying their roofs down in preparation for a cyclone of which about 40 homes in Tautu are permanently tied down.

There was also a workshop to educate residents on the real effects of climate change including understanding weather and climate information, tsunami evacuation drills and the provision of a warning siren as well as creating promotional material to highlight the effects of climate change.

Red Cross Cook Islands disaster management coordinator Mata Hetland says that as this is a pilot project – there will be a review on the successes of the implementation of the various activities in order to create similar projects for other regional island communities.

Hetland says that the schools on the island have been left in charge of monitoring the plants to ensure they grow and provide climate protection for the schools and island foreshores on Aitutaki.      - Matariki Wilson

MP digs deep to buy tractor, machinery

In an unusual move in Cook Islands politics, a member of Parliament has bought farm machinery with his salary and gifted the entire set to his constituency.

Ngatangiia MP Tama Tuavera this week donated the machinery valued at over $60,000.

A brand new 90 hp Foton engine four wheel drive tractor, mini-digger, disc, harrow disc and slasher were blessed on Wednesday evening by Rev Tereora Viniki.  Rev Viniki joked that the bright blue tractor could travel through the village and pick up people for church.

Tuavera says $45,000 came out of his MP salary and the rest came from a bank loan he and his wife took out. This is understood to be the first time an MP has bought equipment valued this much with his own money and donated it all to his constituency.

“When I first campaigned to stand for Ngatangiia I said the money I would get paid, my wages would go back to the people. I knew that a tractor was needed by people in the village so they can get more planting done and do better for themselves.” A scheme which involved a government-provided village tractor that was supposed to be available for growers hasn’t worked well for the village, say some farmers.

It was commandeered by a local man who charged farmers high fees, usually $150, to have the tractor work their land, they say. The tractor was also always difficult to access, the person in charge regularly refusing to let the tractor out.

“A lot of growers came to see me complaining about this, they couldn’t get ahead with their planting because they couldn’t use the village tractor. I didn’t think this was very fair on my people.” Tuavera confirmed that no funds came from his constituency fund – an annual $8000 that MP’s get to spend at their discretion on their constituencies.

He says the fund has been spent making small donations to help out the Ekalesia, women’s groups and  buying water tanks for Muri sports club house, Avana meeting house and the Turangi meeting house.

The latter has yet to be installed. Tuavera says he has all the materials needed for the installation of the water tank destined for the Turangi meeting house.

“Having the other two in Muri and Avana is working really well, it’s just the Turangi one that needs to be done now.”

The equipment will have two operators. Tuavera says he encourages people wanting to use the equipment to join the Ngatangiia Growers’ Association.             - FSB

Booklet honours those who served

In memory of the Cook Islands soldiers who served in World War One, the Cook Islands Returned Services Association has compiled a publication on the 100 years ANZAC commemorations, sponsored by the New Zealand Foreign Affairs & Trade.

Association president Henry Wichman said although the booklet remembers the World War One soldiers, it is not intended to be a complete chronological sequence of events of the Great War.

“Basically the book was an initiative of myself with local company Woven Pacific Communications.

“It’s a time of remembrance and we are not just looking at World War One, we are also looking at World War 2 and the Korean War right up to the present day, the soldiers who are serving on peacekeeping duties. We also remember those ex-servicemen and women that we served with who have passed on.

The idea behind the book is to make more people aware of the fact that the Cook Islands had servicemen in uniform from 1914 to 1918, Wichman says.

“It mainly talks about what we did, what the young Cook Islanders did back in the days when they were in uniform, who they were, where they went to. It’s all in the book.”

 “Basically it’s a reference for people to look into and we are hoping that it will go through to some of the schools and government departments together with our library to also have a copy,” he said.

Wichman said the book can also provide information for people who wish to take part in future Anzac activities.

“It is a guide for young kids that are looking at entering Anzac competitions from essays to poems and speech competitions, in the future.

“We printed about 150 booklets which will cost about $20 each.”

The RSA was formed in 1916 to cater for returned servicemen and women who served in the Great War, Wichman says.

The aim was to provide support and comfort for service men and women and their families.