Twenty resorts proposed in ‘prosperity plan’

Tuesday September 11, 2018 Published in Letters to the Editor
M e rc h a n t o f P a r a d i s e developer Tim Tepaki. 18091020 M e rc h a n t o f P a r a d i s e developer Tim Tepaki. 18091020

Dear Editor,

Merchant of Paradise (MOP) director of developments, Tim Tepaki, has released some of the financial details involved in tourism developments proposed in MOP’s $300 million Paradise Prosperity Plan to develop resorts on the outer islands.

The details were included in a letter to the editor of CINews but could not be printed for space reasons. Copies of charts showing how the numbers stack up are, however, available from MOP.

Tepaki says PPP is a “hybrid” of China’s initiative of inclusive developments for the prosperity of all. “An integration of developments of seven parts of the economy for economy of scale, Paradise Tourism will lead the development, integrated with agriculture and fishing for food security and shipping and airlift for sustainability, with trade integrated on completion to balance trade deficit and finance integrated to establish a microfinance culture for the Cook Islands.

Tepaki says the plan is to develop 20 four to six-star signature resorts in the Pa Enua.

“They will be unique to each island that operates as one, with a feeder resort on Rarotonga as gateway to the world.

“The aim is to breathe life into dying economies of the Pa Enua so they can contribute to the current economy exclusive to Rarotonga and Aitutaki instead of depending on it.

“The mission is to raise the economic status of Cook Islanders on par with their fellow New Zealanders so those who left to work in New Zealand may come home.

“After some 50 years of self-government in free association with New Zealand we have ascended to “developed” status on the United Nations’ measure of gross domestic product (GDP) per capita. We  are no longer entitled to UN aid available to developing economies. We ascended on the back of a fake tourism led economy exclusive to the capital Rarotonga and nearby Aitutaki, leaving our pa enua islands behind with no economy to speak of and their people to suffer economic vacancy in silence.”

Tepaki says the government remaining “aid-dependent” with external borrowing capped at 35 per cent GDP has not helped, because it prevented it from undertaking meaningful development of the pa enua and public sector from ascending with the Cook Islands’ commercial sector.

“And with wages at half that of our fellow New Zealanders, the cost of living twice theirs and the cost of finance three times theirs, it’s fair to say we have been reduced to second class citizens of New Zealand.

“And with indigenous depopulation continuing unabated and repopulation by immigrant workers and investors on the rise, fair to say we indigenous Cook Islanders are about to become the minority in our own country, if not already, and immigrant domination of our economy will soon be absolute.”

Tepaki says it is incumbent on indigenous Cook Islanders to step up and develop the outer islands so they can ascend to developed status and contribute to the economy instead of depending on it.

“Our own prime minister, Henry Puna forewarned us of this ‘fake economy’ in 2010, when he said: “it’s time to develop the pa enua and help our brothers and sisters”. He was giving our commercial sector the opportunity to step up and develop the economy, and it still can!

“And China’s President Xi Jinping foresaw the need for commercial sector to step up and help governments in our region to develop their economy, causing him to travel to Fiji in 2014 and telling leaders of Small Island Developing States who signed the One China Policy (OCP), including our prime minister, that China would set aside concessional finance for commercial sectors to engage in developments. He was making available the opportunity funding our commercial sector needed to step up and develop our economy and it’s still available, until next year.”

MOP had targeted this OCP concessional finance opportunity funding for its $300 million development, Tepaki added.

He said the organisation’s right to do so was imbedded in the OCP Communiqué of 1997, which reads, “The government of the People’s Republic of China will assist the people of the Cook Islands to achieve their objectives, in full, in the areas of social, economic and cultural development”.

The commercial sector share around $360 million at today’s exchange rate, which is more than enough to fund PPP, not to be confused with government’s share of the same amount that it can’t use while it remains aid-dependent.”

Tepaki said MOP is a collective of indigenous Cook Islanders with real life experience in “our fake economy” and the collective skills to scope the PPP solution.

“To that end they will form a trust with all Cook Islanders as beneficiaries to implement PPP developments.

“MOP has chosen landowners with the heart to develop their land for the prosperity of all and share their prosperity with non-government organisations (NGO) Ui Ariki (traditional leaders), Religious Advisory Council, Vaine Tini (Women’s League), Pa Metua (including Grey Power), sports bodies and cultural groups. They will hold 67 per cent shares in their development company to retain “local company” status and gift NGO beneficiaries 5 per cent shares each, leaving them with 37 per cent shares.

“Landowners will develop their lands in joint-venture with mainland Chinese partners able to access China’s technologies and supplies and provide skills required to undertake all PPP developments simultaneously and synchronise them to all complete at the same time, and also able to access China’s powerhouse tourism post-development to ensure operational success. Chinese partners will hold the remaining 33 person shares.

Tepaki said MOP had chosen not to hold shares in developments such as tourism and agriculture, preferring instead to walk beside landowners and let them develop their own lands.

“It will however hold the 67 per cent local shares in off-island fishing, shipping and airlift developments and share their prosperity with NGOs and post-development trade and finance.

Tepaki claimed that introducing 4 to 6-star signature tourism and raising room rates from the current $200 currently to $500 would increase prosperity “markedly”.

“An international operator able to take Cook Islands tourism to the world will be engaged to operate all 20 signature resorts on the Pa Enua, which have on-premises farms for fresh produce and markets where tourists can interact with locals, all as one with Rarotonga’s feeder resort.

The matrix of resorts brings 925 new beds on line; 297 on Rarotonga and 628 in the pa enua. At 65% occupancy, which is normal for startup international brand resorts, the pa enua will require 163 feeder beds, thus leaving Rarotonga with 134 real 5-star beds. But of course if pa enua occupancy increases to capacity, Rarotonga will only have 46 5-star beds and that will not be enough.”

Tepaki said he operator would offer 5-star accommodation with 4-star self-catering, 5-star luxury and 6-star luxury with butler services, and promote signature tourism unique to each island with the Christian lifestyle centre stage.

“A fellowship chapel will be provided with Saturdays and Sundays dedicated to worshipping God and airlift and shipping services suspended except for emergencies.

Tepaki said prosperity for all was at the heart of MOP’s PPP development 

Landowners would benefit in three ways, he added:

1. A one off upfront goodwill payment at $100,000 per acre for the pa enua and $120,000 per acre for Rarotonga as capital and gateway to the world. The objective is to establish a fair benchmark value for land used for tourism developments.

2. An annual ground rent payment of 1.5 per cent gross turnover including land court administration cost.

3. An annual profit share payment of 37 per cent after interest, depreciation, amortisation and tax.

“NGOs will each receive 5 per cent profit, 30 per cent profit in all, with Chinese partners to receive 33 per cent profit share, both after interest, depreciation, amortisation and tax.”

            (Name and address supplied)

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