Voters on Atiu will tomorrow have an opportunity to determine the fate of Cook Islands politics.
About 130 voters are expecting to cast their votes for the Areora-Ngatiarua-Tengatangi seat in the by-election which will be held at the Catholic Hall in Areora.
Independent candidate Te-Hani Brown, who won the seat twice, will be up against Democratic Party’s June Baudinet. A win for Brown would give the government an opportunity to strengthen its majority while victory for Demos would result in a hung Parliament.
Both candidates held their final rallies earlier this week before the blackout period which kicks in today.
Efforts to get comments from Brown on her campaign proved futile.
However Democratic Party’s Baudinet said she was pleased with the response from her supporters at her final rally on Monday.
“There was no negative comment from any of the people who attended the rally. The responses are very promising,” she said.
“I spoke about a lot of issues but mainly the issue of shipping as the island is running out of petrol and basic food items. There are also people who have returned from New Zealand wanting to relocate on Atiu but still waiting for their building supplies to be shipped to the island.”
Baudinet said campaigning was not easy as people continually shunned her.
“I went to talk to a papa who is a family of mine and he said to me that his wife doesn’t want me to come to their house. I said to him that ‘you are my family and I have come to see you, not your wife’.
“While we were talking his wife came and said ‘June I don’t want you in my house’. I have never experienced this in my entire life … you walk to a house in the Cook Islands and get told that you are not welcomed. It’s sad.”
Last week Kau Henry, the campaign chairman for Te-Hani Brown, labelled Baudinet’s claims as “nothing new during campaign times”.
“All our supporters and returning families to support Te Hani don’t want to waste our time to reply to this. Election time is next week and we are confident where we stand, but we hope that Mama June will stay around, live with us here on Atiu and contribute to the developments of Atiu,” Henry said.
Meanwhile a policy to repopulate the outer islands, starting with Atiu, has been announced by the Democratic Party ahead of tomorrow’s by-election.
Democratic Party leader Tina Browne told the party supporters on the island this week that they would implement an innovative economic policy for the Pa Enua including the establishment of speciality institutions of learning starting with an Atiu Pilot Project.
Browne said the “success” of this project would be replicated with adaptation to the rest of the Pa Enua.