The transparent and accountable process which the late prime minister and minister of Police Jim Marurai insisted be used to select a new Police Commissioner should set an example for the government, writes Opposition MP William Heather.
The procedure that was used was rigorous and thorough – to ensure that the best possible candidate was selected to be Cook Islands Police Commissioner.
to clear the name of the former prime minister Jim Marurai. I also want to make
it clear that our government made sure that we did the right thing when the job
of Police Commissioner came up.
was nothing underhand, it was all above board and that was what PM Jim insisted
on. Anybody who says any different, like the recent letter writer to Cook
Islands News who made some nasty accusations, doesn’t have a clue what went on
and the principles that Papa Jim stood by. Trevor Pitt, then executive adviser
to PM Marurai who was the point of contact for the whole process has also
to Pitt: “From the outset, PM Jim Marurai, who was also minister of Police,
took the position that the post of Commissioner of Police would be a fully
meritorious appointment. A further
intent by PM Marurai was to ensure the eventual appointment would be
independent and free from political interference.”
comprehensive review of policing in the Cook Islands was conducted in 2006 by
retired NZ Police Commissioner Rob Robinson, who was lead consultant. It
included a robust recruitment process for the post of police commissioner.
said: “The bar was set very high to find the best possible person. He added
that the entire review process had the complete support of the PM at the time.
It was largely driven by the state to which the Police department had
deteriorated - administratively, operationally, and a depressed morale. The confidence of the community had eroded
and the then government recognised the urgency of a major rehabilitation
programme. This was achieved with the
help of a range of professional locals.”
recalls that the recruitment process itself narrowed down to the selection of
one person from the final two best candidates from a field of applicants.
“Those two individuals were Pat Tasker and Maara Tetava. Tasker emerged ahead in the final analysis However, at the time, Tetava was encouraged
to hold firm to his high level of performance so that he could be considered
again should the post be up for consideration.
Marurai agreed to a two-year contract for Tasker to fulfil the role and
lead the Police Service through its recommended changes. Tasker was appointed
in 2007. By the conclusion of the Tasker term, it had become clear to the PM
that the Commissioner’s post could be fulfilled by a highly qualified Cook
Islander. Maara Tetava was that person,
and was recommended to be duly appointed under Warrant by the Queen’s