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Avaroa Cable opens Aitutaki landing station

Friday 22 July 2022 | Written by Sian Solomon | Published in Local, National

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Avaroa Cable opens Aitutaki landing station
Avaroa Cable Limited board member Tatiana Burns (left), next to New Zealand High Commissioner to the Cook Islands Tui Dewes, Minister for Telecommunications Patrick Arioka, and Asian Development Bank representative Lavinia Tama (right). Photo: AVAROA CABLE LIMITIED/22072040

Government officials along with representatives from Avaroa Cable Limited (ACL), the Asian Development Bank (ADB), and the New Zealand High Commission to the Cook Islands attended the opening ceremony of a new cable landing station in Aitutaki last week.

The official opening was held on July 11, following the successful opening and construction of a landing station for the Manatua cable system in Rarotonga earlier this year.

Like the landing station in Rarotonga, the new building has been designed to house certain equipment which can receive the cable, along with plant and standby generator systems that help to maintain operations during power outages.

It will also help boost international connectivity across the country while allowing people in the Cook Islands to fully engage with the rest of the world and access faster and more affordable internet.

“The new facilities represent years of planning, hard work, and dedication from the ACL team, to ensure that the Manatua Cable project was successfully implemented,” said Avaroa Cable Ltd in a press release provided to Cook Islands News.  

“The opening events (for both Rarotonga and Aitutaki) were also an opportunity to thank key stakeholders, including landowners and the Cook Islands donor funding partners, the Asian Development Bank, and the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.”

According to the programme for the event, guests were welcomed by Pastor Charlie Taamo from Aitutaki who blessed the new landing station, with opening remarks for the ceremony made by the mayor of Aitutaki, Tekura Bishop.

Okesene Moananu, who is the First Secretary (Development) of the New Zealand High Commission to the Cook Islands, also gave a speech, along with Lavinia Tama, who represented the Asian Development Bank, and Mike Schwarz, who is the chief executive officer for Avaroa Cable Limited.

Their speeches were followed by closing remarks from Richard Williams, the board director of ACL, along with the cutting of the ribbon for the station by Mike Henry, the chair of the Cook Islands Investment Corporation (CIIC).

“The entire ACL team has worked very hard to complete the state-of-the-art cable landing facilities in Rarotonga and Aitutaki,” said Schwarz.

“Through diligent operations and ongoing maintenance activities, our local engineering team has ensured that there has been no downtime since the Manatua cable began service in July 2020.

“While the Covid-19 pandemic has caused challenges, competition is coming,” he added.

“ACL will continue to work with the existing internet service providers and any new entrants to make sure that the benefits of this fantastic cable system get passed along to the people of the Cook Islands.”

Patrick Arioka, who is the Minister for Telecommunications, in a statement said that ACL had made a significant achievement in undertaking the project and delivering it on time and within budget.

“The technologically sophisticated new facilities in Rarotonga and Aitutaki are evidence of a long-term government initiative to transform the telecommunications market, and our people should be proud of this investment in our country.

“We encourage all licensed internet service providers to make the most of this wonderful investment and use the cable to pass along cheaper, faster, and more reliable services to the Cook Islands people.”

Lavinia Tama, who represented ADB at the ceremony, said: “On behalf of ADB, I congratulate the government of the Cook Islands, Avarua Cable Company, and the project team for successfully implementing the Manatua cable system, including the critical infrastructure of cable landing stations.”

“Even with restricted movement due to the Covid pandemic during the final phase of the project, the team did an excellent job to meet the final milestone on time and within budget.

“With the Manatua cable system, Cook Islanders now have access to the entire world whether it is for business, leisure, entertainment, education, health services, and many others. 

“We look forward to continuing our partnership with the government on future opportunities for the Cook Islands.”