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Aitutaki stakeholders call for ‘measurable’ priorities amid ongoing challenges

Saturday 11 February 2023 | Written by Al Williams | Published in Environment, Local, National, Outer Islands

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Aitutaki stakeholders call for ‘measurable’  priorities amid ongoing challenges
Workshop attendees at Tamanu Beach Resort on Aitutaki break up into groups to address questions. SUPPLIED/23021106

Key players in the Aitutaki economy have met with various public and private organisations in an effort to set ‘measurable’ priorities for the island.

Titled “E Tu’a Pukuruvaa Nui – Everyone gets a share”, the Aitutaki Business and Tourism Workshop saw about 75 people gathered at Tamanu Beach Resort on Tuesday and Wednesday.  

Tamanu Beach Resort general manager Nick Henry organised the two-day event, the first of its kind in a shared feedback format.

Henry said it was quite an ambitious undertaking as the group didn’t achieve all they wanted to.

However, with feedback from a series of workshops involving representatives from the private and public sectors across two days, Henry hopes to package their concerns and present a more comprehensive report to government.

Henry reached out to various groups on Rarotonga and asked them to make presentations, in an effort to gauge what part the island can play in alleviating challenges.

Speaking to Cook Islands News, Henry said the more specific challenges were around environmental issues, including climate change, water supply and waste management.

Recycling was a hot topic.

“A shared solution is what we are looking at, for example, instead of bringing the whole Coca-Cola family to Aitutaki, maybe just one or two products.

“In doing that, you are immediately cutting off other stuff.”

The island is trying to move away from single use plastics and accommodators have been adopting bulk product mentality, he said.

“Not all of us are all the way there yet.

“I think there is an opportunity to reduce costs, with shampoo for example, we could do 20 or 200 litre containers.”                        

The format of the seminar was based around 15 to 20-minute presentations in which presenters posed two to three questions for work groups to answer.

Speakers also updated them on tourism markets in both hemispheres.

As the seminar continued the group discussed regenerative tourism in Aitutaki and posed the question, “How can we polish the jewel in the crown?”

Moving into day two, they worked on forming an Aitutaki business plan around retail, accommodation, rental cars, restaurants and cafes, public transportation and supplies.

Henry said he had also sent out a survey to attendees.

“Once results of survey are received then there will be a formal presentation to Cabinet.

“I was pleased with the buy in, not everybody agreed with everything.

“People have started to make changes in their lifestyles; we have lived through cyclones and made them part of our plan, it’s now making climate change and pandemics part of the plan.

“By addressing questions, we can have measurable priorities, we can help government address policy.”