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Iconic café closes down

Wednesday 12 January 2022 | Written by Al Williams | Published in Business, National

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Iconic café closes down
The Mooring Fish Café at the Avana Fishing Club near Ngatangiia has permanently closed. 2201119

A landmark eatery on Rarotonga has closed its doors amid a long-standing land dispute.

The Mooring Fish Café at the Avana Fishing Club near Ngatangiia closed shop for good this week following notification from the Cook Islands Investment Corporation.

The saga goes back to 2017 when Government agreed to surrender a lease to the landowners.

It is understood the lease had stipulated the land be used for public purposes and the matter dragged on as more landowners were brought on board in an effort to address wider concerns about the Avana Harbour and surrounding area.

The Crown reached out to landowners who raised concerns the land in the vicinity of the Avana Fishing Club was being used for business purposes.

In July 2021 the matter went to court as the Kainuku family, through their lawyer Catherine Evans, sought to negotiate surrender of the land.

The family advised the Crown they would accept the surrender, but only on the basis of the Moorings Café being removed.

The Avana Fishing Club was allowed to stay on.

A notice to quit was served to the Mooring Café on December 2, 2021.

Cook Islands News understands the Cook Islands Investment Corporation, who have been represented by lawyer Tim Arnold, met with Moorings Café representatives in August 2021 to further discuss the matter.

While the owners of Moorings Café did not want to comment on the matter, co-owner Jill Kavana confirmed they plan to reopen when they find another location.

Kavana has been operating the eatery for the past 12 years, and was packing up the operation when Cook Islands News approached her on Tuesday.

An email supplied to Cook Islands News confirmed a final decision regarding the lease was “made some months ago”.

The Crown had advised the High Court that it was moving “with speed to surrender this land to the Kainuku family.”

“The Kainuku family, through their lawyer have advised the Crown that they will accept the surrender but only on the basis of the Moorings Café having been removed.”

A notice to quit served on the café was “a direct response to the assurances that CIIC has given to the court and to the landowners”.

The café has been given notice that CIIC refuses permission for any trading and calls for Moorings Café, “as a matter of urgency, to remove itself from the land”.

“This matter is one that needs to be resolved, and quickly.”

Comments

Stephen Newman on 15/01/2022

This is terrible news. The top rated restaurant on Rarotonga by a mile on Tripadvisor closed because reading between the lines there was a petty squabble. If you want to rebuild the tourism industry Rarotonga sort these things out and quickly. In the meantime, where's the second best fish sandwich on the island?