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Friday 3 November 2023 | Written by Al Williams | Published in Local, National


Justice ministry ‘cut off’ following power outage
Cook Islands Ministry of Justice. Photo: Supplied/ 21051809

Ministry of Justice staff have had limited to no information and communications technology (ICT) following a power cut on Rarotonga in the early hours of Wednesday, in what is an ongoing problem.

Staff at the Ministry of Justice building in Avarua were still scrambling for communications yesterday while no one was forthcoming about what exactly happened.

Problems came to head more than two years ago when Ministry of Justice Secretary Tamatoa Jonassen conceded better information and communications technology (ICT) support and resources were needed by the Ministry of Justice in light of power cuts that affected court proceedings.

Yesterday, Cook Islands News asked Tamatoa and the ministry what was affected, how many staff were affected by the outage, when the systems will be back online, and if systems are being put in place to address the issue.

In June 2021 Jonassen told Cook Islands News all government systems that rely on ICT were impacted, including the Ministry of Justice, when systems went down following power cuts.  

He then said it was not the first time, following other outages, and that he understood the issue was being worked on, while the ICT department needed greater support and resources.

At the time, Jonassen did not provide details when asked what support and resources the ministry specifically required, how much was needed and when, and how many times the ministry had been affected by similar incidents.

Meanwhile, in a media release yesterday, Te Aponga Uira (TAU) confirmed Rarotonga experienced an unexpected power outage at 3.30am on Wednesday November 1, attributing the outage to a mechanical fault at TAU’s power station in Avatiu.

TAU confirmed power was restored by 4am.

The outage came after cable faults on October 10 and 13 affected parts of the network, the power authority said.

An unplanned outage on October 14 at TAU’s power station remains under investigation by staff members.

Speaking to the incidents, TAU chief executive Lesley Katoa responded to concerns as to network reliability.  

“I appreciate we have experienced a number of unplanned, brief electricity outages over recent weeks.

“Mechanical faults do occur from time to time – one reason TAU is transitioning to renewable energy.  Infrastructure faults such as cable faults, on the other hand, reflect the ongoing challenges of a harsh, tropical marine environment.  

“Our team works tirelessly to identify and repair the cause of faults, to deliver electricity back to our customers as quickly as possible.”

Katoa said TAU understood the impact such outages had on people and the business community.

“I want to reassure our customers that our small, dedicated team is working hard to deliver reliable electricity.  

“TAU is confident that our increasing move to renewable energy, and associated upgrading of infrastructure is progressively increasing reliable supply of electricity. The recent spate of incidents is, though, a reminder of the challenging environment in which we operate. We apologise for any inconvenience to our valued customers.”