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Weatherman hopes to pave the way forward in meteorological service

Friday 18 August 2023 | Written by Supplied | Published in National, Weather


Weatherman hopes to pave the way forward in meteorological service
Arona Ngari, director of the Cook Islands Meteorological Service. PHOTO: AL WILLIAMS/22030718

Director of the Cook Islands Meteorological Service, Arona Ngari, is encouraging Pacific Governments and donor partners to invest in the future of Meteorological Services to ensure communities continue to be protected from all hazards.

Ngari, who is one of the elder statesmen of the Pacific Met Council (PMC), was among Pacific Meteorological directors gathering at Denarau, Fiji, for the Sixth Pacific Meteorological Meeting (PMC-6) this week.

This is where countries express their concerns about the shortage of qualified Met professionals, among other challenges they face in the delivery of services.

Nearly 40 years ago, Ngari started in the Cook Islands Met Service, a job he thought would only be a two-year-term.

At 62 years old today, and often referred to as the “father of the PMC”, Ngari is passionate about paving the way forward to ensure the work continues.

He wants more Pacific people to become qualified Met Service professionals, and he gladly shares his passion for the job.

“I love my job, I really enjoy it,” he said. “For me it’s about being able to help our communities and give them a better chance of surviving weather events we are confronted with.

“This job has taken me all over the world and the chance to be here in meetings like this expressing my country’s concerns and aspirations is the most satisfying part. I enjoy the opportunity to be able to share the challenges we encounter, talk about our vulnerabilities, and promoting our talents, our awareness and our skills as Pacific people.”

It’s a passion he hopes would rub off on younger people. In Denarau this week, Ngari says the PMC has come a long way.

“This is the baby that grew out of the Regional Met Services Meeting many years ago. I’m indebted to Fiji for putting their hand up to host this PMC meeting. It’s been wonderful to see everyone again after Covid-19,” he said.

“It’s nice to see the issue of gender being addressed where we now have a few Met Directors who are female. We are looking at sustainable development from the lens of the Met Services. In a region where we have diverse culture, we need to capture our traditional knowledge as well as our cultural values and reflect them in the work that we do.

“I’m also very pleased that education, communication and other critical issues are being captured in the discussions so it has been a very good meeting.”

PMC-6 precedes the first Development Partners and Donors Engagement Meeting (DPDEM-1) and the third Pacific Ministerial Meeting on Meteorology (PMMM-3) from 14 – 18 August 2023.

Hosted by the Fiji Government through the Fiji Meteorological Service, the meetings attended by government ministers, members of the PMC, officials from the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) member countries and territories, development partners, Council of the Regional Organisations in the Pacific (CROP), United Nations’ agencies, collaborating organisations and institutions are guided by the theme: “Sustaining Weather, Climate, Water and Ocean Services for a Resilient Blue Pacific.”

Weather Ready Pacific (WRP) is one of the key items on the agenda and for the Cook Islands, Ngari said this is one of the most important issues for them.

“Weather Ready is where we’ll try and find the means to upgrade our facilities to provide information to our people in the community. Weather Ready identifies some of the gaps that we can capitalise in ensuring the quality and quantity of the operation are kept within the requirement of WMO,” he said.

“We’re looking at basic Met parameters such as temperature, wind speed, rainfall and pressure. So this allows us to ensure there is a collective of these not only in the Cook Islands but right across the Pacific, let alone the globe so that forecasts can be based on that. If you give them quality data, the chance are you will also get quality forecast.

“It’s essential that any deficiency in the platform of collection for monitoring the weather should be bridged right across the Pacific. We are indebted to Australia for supporting this initiative and this week we have an opportunity to identify the next steps and run with it for the next ten or twenty years.”

The Weather Ready Pacific Decadal Programme of Investment was developed as a result of a call by the Pacific Meteorological Council (PMC). With the support of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), and the Government of Australia through the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) the Weather Ready Pacific Decadal Programme was officially endorsed by the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting in 2021.

WRP has a goal of USD 167 million (NZ$282m) for 10 years to implement the work, with the Government of Australia providing initial funding support of AUD30 million (NZ$32.3m).