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Mauke Environment Authority ready to tackle issues

Tuesday 21 March 2023 | Written by Supplied | Published in Environment, Local, National, Outer Islands

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Mauke Environment Authority ready to tackle issues
Mauke School students. 23032012

Tekura Moeka’a, NES Manager of Environmental Policy & Planning, and Junior Tapoki, NES Senior Environmental Compliance, both of Maukean descent, travelled to Mauke to deliver two significant milestones for environmental leadership in Mauke – issuing of the warrants for the Mauke Environment Authority (MEA) board members and signing of MOU with the Mauke Island Government.

The Minister of Environment, Hon. Albert Nicholas, issued the warrants to become MEA Board members, as per the Environment Act 2003 and subject to group consultations in Mauke: Member of Parliament Stephen Matapo, and Minister appointed members Tararo Ariki (Representative of the Aronga Mana of Mauke), Beninah Henry (representative of Te Marae Ora - Mauke), Vaine Aberahama (Mayor of the Island of Mauke) who was represented by Deputy Mayor Lucky Vainetutai, Ian Tairea (representative of the Public Sector of Mauke) and Basilio Kaokao (Non-Governmental Organisation - Mauke Fishing Club).

Following the warrant ceremony, the MEA board members participated in a full training and induction programme that was facilitated by the visiting NES team, including the Mauke Environment Officer, Raita Moetaua. The training was conducted in three parts; overview of the National Environment Service in the last financial year and priorities going forward; outlined the roles and responsibilities of the Permitting Authority; and outline the environmental compliance process to apply for environmental sign off as per Factsheets #2 to #5.

The MEA board members were pleased with the induction training and will make recommendations on emerging projects to protect the environment in Mauke. “I am very passionate about the environment,” says Chair Basilio Kaokao also a former Mauke Environment Officer. Member of Parliament Stephen Matapo stressed the importance of upskilling, resourcing and ensuring Environment Officers are confident in the work they do especially in small and remote communities.

Finally, the Mauke Island Government Executive Officer, Royston Jones, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with NES to provide strong collaboration between the Island Government of Mauke and NES. ‘We have always provided support where we can, especially when Raita encounters resistance from landowners and their development aspirations. This MOU will solidify and strengthen our relationship and work going forward’ noted Royston.

The National Environment Service will continue to build a sustainable environment in the Cook Islands, through the collaborative efforts of both Island Government and the Mauke Community to monitor and deliver environmental programmes and activities on Mauke.

The NES team delivered two presentations with all students of the Mauke School. One presentation for Juniors (Year 2-6) was delivered by Mauke Environment Officer - Raita Moetaua and the other for Seniors (Year 8-11) delivered by Senior Compliance Officer Junior Tapoki.

The junior students are currently learning about living things. Raita spoke of the importance of trees and plants like they provide shade, a food source, medicinal, for arts and crafts, and home for animals. Most importantly they are an important function for our ecosystem.

Ex-Mauke Student Junior Tapoki spoke about his job and his role as an Environment Officer, the opportunities like online study, travelling abroad for workshops and trainings, and grow professionally in the organisation from a junior role to a senior role. Junior also spoke of challenges that come with the job like dealing with disgruntled members of the public and dealing with illegal activities commonly occurring around the island.

The presentations were followed by planting of four tamanu (Polynesian mahogany, calophyllum inophyllum) trees generously donated by the Mauke Ministry of Agriculture.

Thank you to students, teachers and Principal Tapita Tereia for your generosity and time. We look forward to sitting in the shade of the trees in the near future.

NES