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Palmerston resolves mayor impasse

Friday 8 October 2021 | Written by Supplied | Published in National, Outer Islands

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Palmerston resolves mayor impasse
New Palmerston Island mayor Bill Marsters, left, with George George. MARAE MOANA/21100718

Bill Marsters has been appointed the Mayor of Palmerston Island after the three family heads on the island – Papa Bill for the Akakaingaro line, Bob Marsters (Matauia line) and Taepae Marsters (Tepou line) – agreed to resolve the impasse over this issue amicably.

Bob Marsters take over the deputy mayor role.

In a statement, the Office of the Prime Minister said while the rest of the Cook Islands (with the exception of Rarotonga) have a democratic voting system to choose their mayor, Palmerston has a convention whereby the heads of the three families on the atoll, take turns in rotation to be mayor.

In 2016 Taepae Marsters assumed the role of mayor but after the July 2020 election there was a dispute between himself and Bill Marsters over whom should hold the title.

Since then, negotiations between the family heads, together with staff from the Office of the Prime Minister and the Member of Parliament for Palmerston, have been ongoing. This culminated with Prime Minister Mark Brown providing formal advice to the Queen’s Representative.

The Warrant of Appointment was signed yesterday by the Queen’s Representative Sir Tom Marsters, who is himself descended from the island’s European ancestor William Marsters.

In a zoom meeting convened by the Prime Minister’s chief of staff Ben Ponia and Palmerston’s MP Albert Nicholas to convey the final decision, all family heads graciously accepted the announcement and committed to work together as one family to support each other and their island, the statement said.

Prime Minister Brown congratulated Bill Marsters on his appointment and acknowledged the three family heads for agreeing to resolve the impasse.

Brown and MP Nicholas have both thanked the former mayor for his service to the people of Palmerston.

The tiny atoll just over five hundred kilometres northwest of Rarotonga currently has a population of 35 people. It does not have a harbour or an airstrip and is reliant on supplies and fish exports being ferried ashore through narrow passages in its reef. Palmerston Lucky School has 10 enrolled students.

On January 29 this year, the Prime Minister and MP Nicholas visited the island for the opening of its $1.5 million Emergency Management/Cyclone Centre.