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Ruta Mave: Be real, be authentic, be transparent

Monday 28 August 2023 | Written by Ruta Tangiiau Mave | Published in Editorials, Opinion


Ruta Mave: Be real, be authentic, be transparent
The renovation work at Minister Rose Brown’s office in Avarua is expected to be completed within two weeks. LOSIRENE LACANIVALU/23081811

They can debate climate change and how everyone else in the world needs to tighten their carbon emission belts while sitting smugly in new electric cars, that ticks some sustainability box.

Nearly four years ago I was given the opportunity to write a weekly opinion column for our daily paper.

Despite it being ‘my opinion’ piece, the editor at the time Jonathan Milne, recognized that I also represented the feelings and opinions of many within the community at large.

I am reminded to represent those who cannot speak for themselves when I am greeted in the supermarket, bakery or at a random gathering with elation from professed fans who are generous in their expression of how they love to read my column.

More often they say they like what I wrote, totally agreed with me, and it was about time someone said those things out loud… and thank you. 

I am always surprised and humbled by the silent audience who share my same dismay disappointments and delight of what our small nation delivers at times.

With all this in mind, I found it difficult to write today’s column because on behalf of the nation I am at a loss for words.  

Not a mind blank or writer’s block, but one of those mouth open, gaping, stunned mullet attractive looks as I digest the latest frontpage headings of our paper.

$75k of renovations for a government office – or the full-time annual wage of four people at $9 per hour.  

As with fraud cases, the number declared is a fraction of the amount missing. I heard the costs were double. For what? What has been done to earn it?

And as for the Health Ministry. I never heard one utterance during Covid-19. I only remember when all the nurses were dismissed after a successful nursing conference. Sure, they have to have a place to work from. But therein lies the point - they have to work, don’t they? Is there a work review done on these members of parliament? Do we know what they actually do? Then, beside the need for renovation, who decides the cost? I have heard from builders who have seen bids for contracts go to the same people all the time at exorbitant charge out rates. Let’s look at the transparency shall we. Show us the money where it went and why and to whom?

$1.7 million in cars for the Pacific Forum. It’s mandated for the Pacific Forum – mind you, not the British royal family - the host must provide the top range of everything.  Really? Everyone is arriving by plane with incredibly large entourages. Why? They want fancy cars to drive 10 kilometres to fancy hotels so they can debate climate change and the carbon foot print and how our islands are going to sink and how everyone else in the world needs to tighten their carbon emission belts while sitting smugly in new electric cars - that ticks some sustainability box.

The electric Nissan car is $30,000 which would give us 56 cars for the same spend.

They say ministers need cars. Why? To drive to the office and sit there. Why not use a taxi firm who can provide transportation to the MPs when needed for work purposes only.

A GA licence plate on a brand-new oversized truck worth $50,000 for one person is not necessary.

Seeing them sit outside sports venues is not work if you are not the sport minister.

And does the golf club and fishing club after dark count as sport?

You want to impress people in the forum, then be real, be authentic, be transparent. Don’t just fix the roads from the airport to Muri where they are staying, do the other side of the island as well.

Don’t show off flash cars, instead show them the hospital toilets. How great are they? Show them our statistics on domestic abuse, NCDs and obesity, and how wonderful we are at reducing the violence in homes and against our vulnerable.

Show them the people who have recently lost their homes to fire who are trying to fundraise by selling food plates, how you have catered to them and provided for them in their time of need.

Show them the sludge created by the addition of chlorine you insist on putting in the water, and where you are dumping this toxic waste when you discuss Japan’s actions.

And when you are eating at your buffet three times a day, lounging in your hotel, while many of the old, sick and vulnerable starve inside tin shacks, you have just driven past, give yourselves a pat on the back for a job well done negotiating more funding, so you can have ecofriendly designer paint for your office.


Tony Heays on 28/08/2023

Well said