Subscribe | Login/Register
19 November 2022
10 September 2022
11 November 2022
12 November 2022
15 November 2022
16 November 2022
17 November 2022
18 November 2022
21 November 2022
Wednesday 9 February 2022 | Written by Caleb Fotheringham | Published in Court, National
Oswell Tunupopo stands outside court after having charges for breaching a quarantine order dropped on Tuesday. PHOTO: CALEB FOTHERINGHAM/22020802
Oswell Tunupopo’s charges were dropped by
Crown Law on Tuesday in the Criminal Court at Avarua.
Crown lawyer Jamie Crawford said although there was sufficient
evidence to proceed with the case, the charges were withdrawn due to “a lack of
Tunupopo’s charges followed two incidents in
October 2021 at the Edgewater Resort and Spa on Rarotonga.
The first charge was because Tunupopo and his
family left their room to exercise at the wrong time.
The second charge was for Tunupopo going to
the beach with his children, despite other people in MIQ also being at the
Speaking to Cook Islands News outside the
court Tunupopo said both small mistakes were a result of miscommunication.
“It's not like we were taking off home, it was
just a simple misunderstanding.”
He said when his family went to exercise at
the wrong time, staff at the facility told the family to return to their room,
and they complied immediately.
“I spent two days in jail for this, I went
from MIQ straight to jail and my kids and my wife cried and I took it on the
chin because I knew I was right,” he said.
“These two simple breaches were just a
“I didn't go home, I didn't go anywhere, it
was a simple little thing that was blown out of proportion.”
Tunupopo said the communication for MIQ was
poor, even prior to landing in the Cook Islands.
A woman who stayed in the room next door to
Tunupopo during MIQ also outlined her confusion around MIQ in a letter of
“Exercise time was very confusing.
“Our first exercise time we walked from the villas
(as I was stationed in villa nine) down to the beach and around the block of
rooms on the beachfront.
“On the second day we were not allowed to go
to the beach, but only on the roadway around the villas.
“A few days later, it was allowed to go back
down the beach,” the woman said in the letter given to Cook Islands News.
Tunupopo said the fact that “one day you’re
not allowed (to go to the beach) and the next day you are allowed (to go to the
beach)” was an example of the confusion people had to deal with.
Tunupopo’s lawyer, Mark Short said the charges
his client faced were challenged to ensure future MIQ instructions would be
made very simple.
“A lot of our older people can't understand
English properly or English is their second language, so you can't provide them
policies or all the restrictions when English is their second language.
“It has to be done in very, very simple
language and in both languages,” Short said.
He said based on the MIQ records there were
numerous other breaches other than Tunupopo’s, which were all a result of
people not understanding the rules.
Short said a lot of the issues were resolved
towards the end of the Cook Islands MIQ system in late November and December
last year, as a result of trial and error.
Tunupopo said apart from the miscommunication,
MIQ at the Edgewater was a good experience.
In court after the charges were dismissed,
Justice of the Peace Tangi Taoro, who presided over the case, allowed Tunupopo
to speak, who said he was just happy it was all over.
“We can get on with our lives, it's a relief
for me and everyone else,” he said.