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Palmerston welcomes PM Brown

Saturday 30 January 2021 | Written by Supplied | Published in Outer Islands

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Palmerston welcomes PM Brown

Making his first official stop on a round trip of several northern group islands that he’ll be visiting this coming week, Prime Minister Mark Brown arrived in Palmerston on Thursday evening – the first time he has visited the island in his official capacity as PM.

Prime Minister Mark Brown is currently leading a delegation of government officials and workers visiting the islands of Palmerston, Suwarrow, Pukapuka and Nassau for a series of consultations on matters regarding Marae Moana, seabed minerals and quarantine-free travel.

The delegation includes representatives from Infrastructure Cook Islands (ICI), Cook Islands Investment Corporation (CIIC), Seabed Minerals Authority, National Environment Service (NES) and the Marae Moana office, as well as the Member of Parliament for Avatiu-Ruatonga-Palmerston and Associate Minister for CIIC, Albert Nicholas.

Having departed Aitutaki on Wednesday evening onboard the MV Taunga Nui barge, the government delegation arrived safely in Palmerston at 6pm on Thursday, with local boats bringing the passengers ashore.

The island executive hosted an official welcome that same evening for Prime Minister Brown, Associate Minister Nicholas, and the other delegation members, followed by public consultations on Marae Moana, seabed minerals and quarantine-free travel issues, which concluded at 11pm.

“Everything ran smoothly and the Prime Minister, Albert Nicholas and the delegation all seemed happy to be on Palmerston,” said island executive officer Arthur Neale.

Early yesterday morning, much-needed cargo for the island was unloaded from the barge, while the Prime Minister and others were treated to a lagoon motu tour.

Later PM Brown and Nicholas officially opened Palmerston’s new Emergency Management Centre/Cyclone Shelter, with the PM planting a two-shoot coconut to commemorate the day and the joint funding of the Centre by the Japanese and Cook Islands governments. The formalities were followed by an ariki’anga kaikai and the gifting of food contributions to the Palmerston community.

“I am very pleased to be here, to meet our people of Palmerston and to attend these important events,” said Brown. “While I wish we could have stayed longer, I feel like we have definitely made the most of our short time here and I look forward to the next visit.”

Speaking after the opening of the Emergency Management Centre/Cyclone Shelter, Nicholas described it as one of his “proudest moments as an MP”.

“This cyclone shelter will provide the people of Palmerston with safe haven in the event of a cyclone, and also serves as a medical and community centre,” he said.

“This project is over 20 years in the making – past and present MPs have all been a part of the struggle to see this project come to fruition.

“In fact, it started during the time of my late father, Albert Peto Nicholas, when he was an MP. I would like to acknowledge his and former MP John Henry’s contributions towards realising this goal for our people of Palmerston.”

Nicholas also thanked the Queen’s Representative Sir Tom Marsters for his continuous contributions, efforts and advocacy on behalf of the cyclone shelter project, as well as past and present Palmerston council members, mayors and executive officers, including Bob Marsters, Tapai Marsters, Lydia Sijp, Tere Marsters and Arthur Neale.

He concluded by thanking current and former prime ministers Mark Brown and Henry Puna, as well as contractor Bill Doherty and his Landholdings crew for their construction work.

“May we all continue to work together for the betterment of the people of Palmerston and all of our Pa Enua. God bless you all.”

Palmerston’s is the third cyclone shelter built in the Pa Enua so far. Two more shelters are currently being built, fully funded by the Cook Islands government.

The barge departed Palmerston on Friday afternoon, the Prime Minister and delegation are expected to spend all of Saturday at sea and should arrive in Suwarrow sometime on Sunday morning.

Further updates will be provided as the charter progresses.

                - Jaewynn McKay (Office of the Prime Minister)