OPINION: It’s not what you know, it’s who you know

Monday 25 January 2021 | Written by Ruta Tangiiau Mave | Published in Editorials, Opinion


OPINION: It’s not what you know, it’s who you know
Cook Islands News columnist Ruta Tangiiau Mave uses pop music as an analogy for the government’s SMART Initiative Fund. 21012404

Is government’s financial assistance and funding going to the right people? Ruta Tangiiau Mave writes.

Pop, pop, pop, pop music, talk about pop music, pop, pop, pop pop music, New York, London, Paris, Munich, everybody’s talking about pop music, pop, pop, pop, pop music.

Everybody is talking about it, all around the rock, about the ‘SMART initiative’ fund of $2million aimed to support new commercial business ventures providing innovative ICT applications and services to business and consumers in the Cook Islands and abroad, who awarded an application $100,000+ funding from Ministry of Finance and Economic Management to play 80s music to the Cook Islands. 

Talk about pop music, pop pop, shoo wop dance in the supermarket, dig it in the fast lane listen to the countdown their playin’ our song again, pop pop pop pop music.

Music of the 80s, no longer has copyright fees to pay, there’s no large investment into our music industry or upcoming vocal music artists planned, but hey everyone’s talking about the big new truck that came after it. 

Knick knack paddy whack, pop music, yeah, we so need this right now.

Garth Henderson must be a groover from way back, he is pleased with the response saying: “To date we have approved 23 grant applications 16 for SMART Economy initiatives…this significant injection of funding will help transform our economy to become more dynamic, complex and diverse – this will in turn make our country more resilient to changing circumstances and economic shocks.”

Yeah, right, whatever, smells like nothing has changed in the top quarters, it’s not what you know it’s who you know if you want funding, support or safe haven from police prosecution.

Do you want to know who didn’t get funding?

I’ll tell you, the innovative and enterprising Chantal Napa with her Kia Orana podcast, featured in Cook Islands News on Saturday January 23.

This is innovation, new cutting edge, ahead of our time stuff, that can and will transform our economy because it’s just what MFEM wants, dynamic, complex and diverse. This is a locally produced against all odds, obstacles and push backs from our Ministries, struggling success story. 

But, rather than employing her experience and expertise they’ll rather copy her and start building their own from scratch, even our prime minister sees value and future in it, after featuring on her broadcast, Napa has weathered the storm, trail blazed the path she’s established a global audience promoting our people our culture our lifestyle.

The numbers may be small, she is a one-woman show, and she has accomplished all this on the smell of an oily rag. Her SMART application didn’t even make it past the gate keeper, to the panel, instead she was advised to apply for a loan.

Note, at writing Napa just confirmed PM Mark Brown has signed up for the next 12 months.

Back in September I talked about how we were paying foreign workers to stay here with no work, that is seasonal in nature, and could be fulfilled by locals.

A papa’a business owner messaged me saying: “we don’t employ locals because locals bludge off the government… are lazy and don’t give a s&#t”. Also, “if it was not for us white people you would have all eaten yourselves by now”.

Actually, this reminds me to ask them how well they are eating now they are ‘bludging’ off our Government subsidies to pay themselves and their foreign workers. 

This broad brush, labelling exists despite knowing many locals like Chantal aren’t lazy, and, who give more of a s&#t about our country, people and culture than many above her paygrade.

The reason it seems she was turned down was because she was innovative and entrepreneurial a few months early, but there’s no reward for ingenuity from SMART. 

Similarly, is local businessmen and winner of the Supreme Tourism award for his development of the Jason guide from the antiquated to the new and dynamic world of ICT, Brett Baudinet. 

Despite his immediate response to Covid-19 and producing a contact tracing system Exploresafe mobile app which uses Bluetooth technology, he proposed in June 2020 he’s still sitting on the side lines while Ministry of Health look at what New Zealand is using.

 Again, what’s wrong with you people?

Are you going to take that old patriarchal line that we’re just simple island folk, who don’t have the brains, or global experience to handle what’s best for our people?

Shoobie doobie do wop, I want to dedicate this, to local innovators, pop, pop, shoo wop, everybody made it through 2020, shoobie doobie do wop, stop feeding the gravy train, pop pop shoo wop.

Activate it, look at the wealth in our local population first.  Because, eenie, meanie minee moe, we deserve more than pop, pop, pop music.

  • CORRECTION: The Government's SMART initiative has a budget of $2 million, not $76 million as was stated in the original version which appeared in the print edition of CI News on Monday January 25, 2021.


Bais Playa on 25/01/2021

This is not only true but sad

Keepit Real on 25/01/2021

It saddens me to read  Ruta Tangiiau Mave’s opinion piece on Monday “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”, bringing attention to funding for playing license free music to the Cook Islands, Wow, you can get money for that?! Who were these forward thinkers and what was their criteria for giving out the grant. Will it ever be audited? No mention of promoting new Cook Islands music/ artists, or even old ones. Why was the grant given, what was the “sell”? I have a shed full of old bike parts I’d like to get to the people… if only I had a $100,000 grant to make it happen. I promise I’d do it as economically as possible, and with the loose change?… maybe a 2021Jeep Wrangler, nothing flash, especially during these economic times, I wouldn’t want to seem obnoxious. Greedy Sad Guy