Ever since 1965 the buck has stopped in Rarotonga - in more ways than one. There was more going on in the outer islands before planes, airports and the internet came along. Three million dollars spent on Te Maeva Nui is nothing compared to what Rarotonga has spent on itself since 1965. That's right. Most of this country's revenue has been spent on developing Rarotonga, so much so that Rarotonga has achieved first world status.
Rarotonga has had 24-hour power since the 1960s, whereas most outer islands have only achieved that in the past 10 years. Rarotonga has had a public water supply system since the 1940s; some outer islands still do not have this. Since self-government the outer islands are still the backwater, third world islands they have always been - and getting worse through depopulation due to their poor economies. All of it because of neglect by successive governments in this country.
Most of the people on the outer islands continue to flee to New Zealand and Australia because of high living costs, lack of jobs and poor education and health services. Besides, they see on TV what the inhabitants of Rarotonga have and they feel further neglected.
They cannot even flee to their nation's mainland of Rarotonga, because it's so unwelcoming due to the superior attitudes of the inhabitants (outer islanders are mocked for their gauche habits and funny clothes or accents) and the rentals on their housing are so high that only executive types can afford to rent them. A catch 22, since most outer islanders are under-educated and therefore cannot get good paying jobs to afford these rentals.
It seems the only solution in McNair's eyes is to shut down the outer islands altogether - but where, oh where, will all the remaining people in the outer islands go?
Most of them are too poor to afford the fare to New Zealand or Australia; if they could they would have gone by now.
Here's a suggestion: how about giving them some land on Rarotonga so they can live here and have access to all the things McNair currently enjoys and takes for granted such as uninterrupted electricity, continual water supply; better health services and sealed roads to drive on. What's $3 million to make up for the poverty and misery these people have had to endure for over 50 years?
But no, land on Rarotonga is worth too much now to be given to any outer islander. Why not just cut out the outer islands altogether since they are dragging the country down?
Maybe make the Cook Islands a one-island nation? There's a thought. A lone star on the flag. The outer islands could secede and affiliate themselves with another country that might actually take care of them.
(Name and address supplied)