Atiu should lead itself, says Brown

Wednesday March 29, 2017 Written by Published in Outer Islands

A government of national unity would let Atiu and not the Cook Islands government, run the island, says Atiu MP and opposition coalition parliamentary leader, Rose Brown.


Brown, who represents the Teenui-Mapumai constituency, believes all decisions involving Atiu should be made by Atiuans.

She says the island should even bid for its own Budget allocation, with the amount to be decided by government.

And she has revived the idea of introducing a scheme which would see expats from New Zealand buying 30-year “sunset leases” and building retirement homes on Atiu.

The idea was first proposed during the “Atiu Summit” an economic strategy for Atiu formulated in 2009. The scheme received widespread support at the time but has barely rated a mention since.

Brown says a government of national unity would revisit the retirement homes plan and list the number of houses available on the island for retirement purposes. The government would then locate landowners who wished to lease their land for limited periods.

However, island residents would need to agree on how the programme would work, she says.

Her “to do” list for Atiu covers a wide range of issues, from health to forestry and infrastructure.

“The doctor has been removed from Atiu and now only a nurse is available,” the MP said in a statement.

“A doctor must be reappointed, or at least shared with Nga-Pu-Toru.”

 Brown says water must also be connected to each house on the island.  The wharf needs fixing and the airport upgrade needs to be completed.”

 She says there’s also an urgent need to look into the harvesting of trees on the island, so further action can be taken. 

Brown’s ideas drew a sharp response yesterday from her fellow Atiu MP, Health minister Nandi Glassie, who described them as “clumsy and ridiculous”.

Glassie, who represents Tengatangi/Areora/Ngatiarua, said that instead of wasting his time commenting on the list, he wanted Brown and her “ghost writers” to read the five-year Atiu Island Strategic Plans of 2009 and 2014.

“What we are delivering today in Atiu, is the vision and needs of the people from these plans. Wide consultations were carried out with key resource people on the island. The results were the plans. These plans determine the priorities for Atiu - nothing else.”

Glassie said 90 per cent of everything that had been proposed in those plans had been achieved.

Though the airport and the road projects had yet to be completed, they were in progress “right now”.

As for Brown’s concerns about trees, Glassie said the forestry on Atiu was not exotic, but made up of invasive species such as the Carribean tropical pine, introduced to stop erosion, and not grown for construction purposes.

“The acacia on the other hand, was introduced for power generation. To preserve this timber for construction requires chemical treatment. This does not go down well with the (island) people.”

Glassie said all the issues raised by Brown had already been discussed widely between the island council and the people of Atiu 18 years ago.

“So (Brown and her supporters) have definitely missed the boat. Since then, we have already set out the island’s priorities.

“What I see here is a repeat of what have been raised and discussed by me and the Atiu Island Councils. This is a pure “copy-cat” of work that has already been done.

“The people of Atiu all know what has been happening. And this is the very reason why people cannot be bothered at all in replying to this nonsense.”

The Health minister accused Brown and her supporters of “desperately scavenging for something to say”.

“For the past 10 years the people of Atiu have seen changes – in infrastructure, health, welfare, education, which I initiated and facilitated as an MP and Minister of the Crown.

“I don’t think Rose can claim contribution as she has never been involved in any of this strategic planning and developments.”

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