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23 January 2021

OPINION: Looking back, 2020 hindsight for Te Ipukarea Society

Saturday 9 January 2021 | Written by Te Ipukarea Society | Published in Editorials, Opinion

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OPINION: Looking back, 2020 hindsight for Te Ipukarea Society
Te Ipukarea Society President, executive committee and staff wish everyone a great 2021. 21010813

Local environment NGO Te Ipukarea Society has put together a list of highlights from 2020.

What a year 2020 has been! The Covid-19 pandemic has, hopefully, been a wakeup call to make some major changes to how we treat our planet! As we plan for where we are heading in 2021, it is useful to recap on where we have been.

January – This year promised to be an interesting one with some weighty issues to keep abreast of including deep sea mining within Cook Islands waters, the review of the Environment Act and the need to ensure that environmental impacts are being properly considered in project permits – something we were reminded of with To Tatou Vai’s trialing of chemicals in Rarotonga’s water supply.

February – World Wetlands Day was celebrated on February 2nd, reminding us of the many ecosystem services wetlands provide us. Now in January 2021, we are seeing further consequences of having removed so much of our wetlands in the past. Wetlands filter nutrients before they reach our lagoon. As they are mostly now gone, we are today seeing the impacts of those nutrients in Muri lagoon

March – The almost worldwide lockdown with Covid-19 started, and reminded us to stop and consider how we continue to add additional abuse to our Earth, on top of the ravages of climate change.

April – During these Covid-19 days of reduced income from tourism, there has been an increase in people catching reef fish and shellfish. Unfortunately, there has also been an increase in Ciguatera poisoning with 15 cases in March alone.


The mato (Acanthurus gahhm, or black surgeonfish) is one of the species associated with ciguatera fish poisoning. 17111301

May – Working with the youth. One of our favourite and most regular activities is getting involved with our tamariki to teach them about reducing waste, growing vegetables and looking after their worm farms and compost bins. The Society staff have enjoyed teaching primary school students at Te Uki Ou and Avarua in May.

June – On Saturday, June 27, we celebrated World Oceans Day with a big coastal clean-up with Muri Environment Care Group. Around 170 people came and did their bit to give back to their lagoon. Our environment through the lens of youth, the Society worked with youth at Tereora College and other colleges on environmental photography classes.

July – Plastic free July was a big success! Congratulations to all who took part in our Plastic Free July campaign!


Students from Papaaroa school at the glass depot at the landfill. 20070247

August – Tereora Photography launch - A total of 21 individual prints were displayed in the Bergman Gallery for one week. Each image depicted an environmental message which was of personal significance to the individual student, ranging from waste issues to local biodiversity and invasive species.

September – The Society continued their environmental photography classes with Titikaveka College.

October – First ever Cook Islands Bird of The Year competition. People voted on line and the Tanga’eo (Mangaian Kingfisher) was a fly away winner.

November – The northern end of Avana harbour was successfully transformed using geo-textile sandbags placed along the coast to help protect against erosion caused by sea level rise and climate change impacts.


Geo-textile sandbags, each weighing over one ton, are being placed along the Avana coast to help protect against erosion caused by sea-level rise and climate change impacts. (PHOTO: TIS) 20112729.

December – We hosted the local premiere of our new documentary on deep-sea mining at the charming Tamarind House. The event, aptly named ‘Deep Conversations’ really demonstrated the need for these opportunities for local Cook Islanders to voice opinions and ask questions about this issue of deep-sea mining.


The panelists at the screening of Deep Conversations. From right, Teherenui Koteka, Maria Tuoro, Metua Vaiimene, Alanna Smith, Petero Okotai and moderator Teina Mackenzie. TIS/20121838

Te Ipukarea Society would like to thank all their members, partners, supporters and corporate sponsors for their help in 2020. 

We also very much appreciate the Government support through the wage subsidy. We could not do what we do without you all, and we really do appreciate you all very much.

All the best to everyone for 2021, and we look forward to continuing our work together for our environment.