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Wilkie Rasmussen: Northern self-reliance

Saturday 6 June 2020 | Written by Legacy Author | Published in Letters to the Editor

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Dear editor, Self-determination in the Northern Group islands is dead. Let's look at the pearl industry.

The hard work by forebears in government and private ventures to establish pearl farming in Penrhyn and Rakahanga have long been abandoned. The attempt to set up in Pukapuka came to zilch.

And the boom in Manihiki of an industry raking in hundreds of thousands is now in serious decline.

Let's ask why? Answer, it was neglected by this Government over the past 10 years. Most people on these islands now depend on government wages. Being employed by government made them anti-enterprise.

Why break into sweat and break your back in pearl farming when you can sign in every working morning and disappear for the rest of the day. All workers on Penrhyn are government wage and salary workers, as they are on Manhiki, Pukapuka and Rakahanga.

Attempts to market Cook Islands pearls have now come to nil. The Pearl Authority closed down not long ago and with that disappeared funds to partially buy pearls produced by Manihiki farmers. This government did that and nailed the coffin for the struggling pearl producers.

How sad, the Presbyterian working ethics about owning a business and making money from your labour have disappeared. Instead the state patronises the northern islanders and trap them in the political dynamics of such helplessness.

The people are encouraged to be lazy and to rely on wages. This is grossly irresponsible of this government. It puts political convenience first and independent efforts second.

How can we stand on our own two feet when government is driving self-determination down?

Yours sincerely,

Wilkie Rasmussen