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CI project attracts high praise

Tuesday August 07, 2012 Written by Published in Technology

Biodiversity world expert and author Dr Daniel Robinson has hailed a Cook Islands’ project developed by Dr Graham Matheson, as ‘best practice’ to international experts. Dr Robinson acknowledged CIMTECH (Cook Islands Medical Technologies) and its practices at recent biodiversity conferences held in Nadi and Auckland. Dr Robinson, the author of ‘Confronting Biopiracy – Challenges, Causes and International Debates’ held up the CIMTECH model as an example to other countries for the development of products of biodiversity and traditional knowledge. The CIMTECH project is a venture between Dr Matheson, the Koutu Nui and the University of NSW, Sydney, Australia and has developed products from traditional Cook Islands plants. After nearly 10 years of research, the first product is due to be launched in August as premium, natural skin care brand, TeTika. TeTika is dedicated to honouring former president of the Koutu Nui, Dorice Reid who inspired and supported the project.

The Te Tika story starts in 2003 when Dr Graham Matheson, a Cook Islander, asked for the permission of the Koutu Nui to conduct research into Cook Islands vairakau (medicine) with Professor Bill Walsh at the University of NSW (UNSW) in Australia.

After much consultation, The Koutu Nui considered this request, and at their 2003 Annual General Meeting (AGM) voted unanimously to support a research and development partnership project.

With no precedent or guidelines in place, the Koutu Nui, under the guidance of its late president Dorice Reid, and Dr Matheson, developed a partnership with UNSW that is being hailed as ”towards world’s best practice“ by United Nation’s international biodiversity expert Dr Daniel Robinson. It is the foresight of the Koutu Nui and their unwavering support for the project that has set it apart, with the Koutu Nui and UNSW being active shareholders, sharing the risks and the benefits of the development in CIMTECH (derived from the name Cook Islands Medical Technology).

In April 2011, at the Economic Summit, the project was announced to the Cook Islands, and economic activity on all levels of the economy, from planting to manufacturing, to retail and tourism, with additional benefits in technology transfer is being predicted.

The research developed a technology that causes skin to regenerate. It is this technology that is behind the production of Bioactive Cook Islands Oils, from plants sustainably grown and processed on Rarotonga. The properties of Bioactive Cook Islands Oil and the integrity of the Koutu Nui involvement is the inspiration for this premium skincare range.

The prospect of developing a global skincare range using a technology that is simultaneously cutting edge and natural, with rich traditional history enticed the former CEO and head formulator of multinational cosmetic companies into the team dedicated to this remarkable product range.

Using natural products and essential oils, the Island Series of skincare products was created. Whilst being Cook Islands in origin, this will be a global brand, and needs a great name.

Often names are invented, or named after people, but the team felt that it needed to be a genuine Cook Islands Maori word, with emotional and literal meaning. An independent marketing group assessed several Maori words and phrases that were submitted for analysis, evaluating the meaning, the pronunciation, the appearance and the fit with the products. Of the final shortlist, one stood out from the rest. ‘Te Tika’, meaning ‘truth and integrity’. Te Tika fits the bill from its traditional origins to skin care from real plants with real results on real people.

In keeping with the integral role of the Koutu Nui, final approval of TeTika was made with the Koutu Nui executive, and whilst not actually named after the Te Tika Mataiapo title, Henry Taripo te Komono o Te Tika Mataiapo Vaine Taripo passed on the family’s blessing to the TeTika brand.

”TeTika will be the legacy of Dorice and all of the Koutu Nui, so her family’s blessing was important to me personally,“Dr Matheson said.