With the Are-Nikau OCI candidate Pumati Israela being called a humble leader, party president George Turia is quietly positive about the by-election result.
Turia said that judging by the large number of supporters who attended this week’s closing rally in Aitutaki, things were looking good.
He added that the attendance of Coalition Opposition leader Rose Brown and Democratic Leader William Heather made it more of a family affair, particularly with a night market theme where people bought food and enjoyed good entertainment and company.
“At the end of the festivities, they came to see and hear Israela and they weren’t disappointed,” Turia said.
He said Israela was a leader in his own right and has taken this challenge on board stating he has faith in his people and — regardless of the result on the night — he will still hold his head high.
“A strong willed, confident and charismatic personality, he has gained the respect of many because of his positive attributes and experience over the years living and working for his people in Aitutaki,” Turia said.
Israela has been the Tinorei Mataiapo since 1978, has been secretary for the Arutanga CICC Ekalesia for many years, a Reureu council member from 1983 to 1992, Mayor of Aitutaki from 1992 to 1995, Aitutaki culture team leader from 2002 to 2015, Aitutaki overseer/ manager for infrastructure from 1989 to 2016 and Chair for the Vaka Mataiapo to the island government from 2011 to 2016.
Turia said Israela brings with him a wealth of personal experience and continuously promotes the views and needs of his constituency. He said he was already familiar with the political arena.
Israela, who was a staunch Cook Islands Party supporter for many years, left CIP to join OCI in 2014 - standing beside former MP and OCI Leader Teina Bishop through many challenging times. Turia said Israela had benefited from those experiences.
“From religion, sports, to culture, infrastructure and understanding the workings of Government, Israela has been through it all and survived.
“TWO OF the most important features in life for him are his commitment to his church and secondly, his love for his family and his Aitutaki people.”
Meanwhile, for his campaign, Israela believes the heart of any community is its people and he is committed to ensuring that ‘‘there will be no taxes on local pensioners, no tax on overseas pensioners, seek a refund on tax owed to pensioners, no tax on savings, withholding taxes and term deposits and push for government to subsidise shipping services for Aitutaki”.
At the national level, Israela is promoting the Coalition’s joint policy initiatives planned for when they become government.
These include reintroducing political reform, a review of the Electoral Act, a reduced levy on fuel, providing subsidies for airlines and shipping, re-aligning budget priorities to stimulate economic development for the Sister Island, reviewing core functions of central agencies of government, establishing the Commerce Commission, reviewing spending on health, education and welfare and banning the use of FADs for Purse Seine Fishing in the Cook Islands EEZ.
“We have not deviated from our policy priorities and remain committed to achieving those outcomes. Our focus will be on our people and I look forward to the final results from the Are Nikau by-election.
“This will be an indicator as to how we progress politically and wish both Pumati Israela and Tereapii Maki all the very best,” Turia added.
The Arutanga/Reureu and Nikaupara seat was held by the former opposition leader and the One Cook Islands party member Teina Bishop.