Ambitious dream short of credible

Thursday September 07, 2017 Published in Letters to the Editor

The issue involving Merchants of Paradise and its plan to develop certain islands within the Cook Islands has resurfaced and once again, the public are being subjected to a lot of speculative statements made by Tim Tepaki and clearly, answers from the appropriate sources are required to alleviate speculation, suspicion and innuendo.


While the concept that Tepaki (via Merchant of Paradise) has floated publicly for several years has  merit, it falls well short of a credible development plan on the scale he is proposing.

Yes, proposing because that’s all it is at present, a proposal with no substantive analysis nor developmental credibility to show MOP is viable, has the confirmed backing of our government and is fully supported by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) let alone, the people of those islands earmarked for development.

It doesn’t matter who from China MOP is talking to, because at present, the funds are secured on a government –to-government basis and not as Tepaki would have us believe, on a private sector basis tailored to suit his convenience. That follows once agreement has been reached between both governments.

The only way he can now bring some credibility to his proposal is for government to come clean and openly state either through the prime minister or the Finance minister or Infrastructure Cook Islands, the mechanism or formula recommended for the disbursement of the proposed funding arrangement and government’s support for his proposal. 

Tepaki would have us believe that $300 million has been earmarked for his project when in fact, no decision has been made (unless government cares to confirm that), as it is understood our government as well as the other seven Small Island States within the Pacific region await confirmation regarding disbursement from the PRC that was already approved several years ago.

It is therefore imperative for Tepaki to prove that if government is supporting this proposal, then government should let the people of this nation know what they have agreed to with Tepaki to avoid any further doubt or speculation.

As mentioned, his proposal does have merit however, there are concerns regarding capacity, accountability and credibility from MOP who really have no track record of service or performance to date. Huge risks are involved therefore it is important to ensure proper processes and procedures are in place to minimise risks to government, the funders and the people of this nation.

Historically, we’ve been down that pathway several times in the past and failed. Tepaki’s proposal is not new however, it is missing the most essential piece of information that will either support or discredit his dream - ie government support!

So Tim, enough of the talk, show us what has been agreed to which hopefully will show this is legitimate or is just another wishful pipe dream

            George Turia

Editor’s note: Tim Arnold, lawyer for Pa Ariki, issued a media statement on Tuesday afternoon saying there is no truth to claims by Tim Tepaki suggesting a deal of some sort has been struck with his client for rebuilding of the Sheraton site. 

Arnold said Pa Ariki was not in negotiation with any party at present.

“She is instead working with government to finalise the terms of a tender document that will allow suitably qualified parties to bid for the property.

“A further statement from Pa Ariki is expected in coming days,” Arnold said.

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