The newspaper covered the announcement by Merchant of Paradise (MOP) chairman Fred Webb that the MOU for the alternative feeder resort development for Pa Enua signature resorts has been signed.
It seems posting a photo of Vaimaanga with comments by landowner Pa Ariki about me confused some people into thinking that MOP was still considering Vaimaanga as the Rarotonga feeder resort, thus compelling me to respond and clarify.
So that we are clear, Vaimaanga is off the table as feeder resort for Pa Enua signature resorts as I have publicly stated – end of story!
As to Pa Ariki’s comment that “at least three other parties are interested in tackling the project”, which I presume is in response to a previous comment I made that Vaimaanga will “come back to papa”, may I say this:
1. I already knew other parties were involved, because two of them told me.
2. MOP’s tender was hand-delivered an hour or so before tenders closed, so as to avoid “leakage”, and one of our directors rang the lady receiving the tenders five minutes after closing time, with me listening in, and she said that only MOP had tendered. She went on to say her boss had phoned from offshore and asked the same question, and quipped, “Why am I not surprised?” when told that only MOP had tendered.
3. If the lady receiving the tenders at the designated office was correct about MOP submitting the only tender, and if there are other interested parties, it appears that there must have been some confusion over the tender deadlines.
As to what happens to Vaimaanga now, which seems to be the hot topic on social media at present, may I be so bold as to say again that it will still “come back to papa” after the Pa Enua project is completed, if the powers that be persist in demanding that it is completed as a 5-star resort.
Your evidence to this prediction is sitting in the NES office, where I filed and uplifted a second EIA consent to demolish substandard accommodation blocks at Vaimaanga and build new upmarket villas in their place. This will still require pa enua tourist traffic to make it happen!
There are plenty of other questions and issues involving the Vaimaanga land – which is among the reasons I took it off the table.
Editor’s note: This letter has been abridged.