Tropical Chronicles

OPINION: Political convenience ahead of proper engineering

Thursday 27 May 2021 | Written by Wilkie Rasmussen | Published in Opinion, Tropical Chronicles

I remember the wise late Professor Papa Ron Crocombe prophesize that in future if we continue our tendency to build on flat, or undulating rich planting land, floods will occur. He is absolutely right, writes Wilkie Rasmussen.


OPINION: Totally reliant on the Golden Goose

Thursday 20 May 2021 | Written by Wilkie Rasmussen | Published in Opinion, Tropical Chronicles

By Jove, like it or not, I was one of those who loved it. I celebrated quietly and sucked in a different air, an air of freedom and lordship over the land and waters, writes Wilkie Rasmussen.


OPINION: Building upon the Henry Puna dynasty

Saturday 8 May 2021 | Written by Wilkie Rasmussen | Published in Opinion, Tropical Chronicles

There are examples of countries that when their leaders retired, they handed over the top job to their wives. Are we seeing this in the Cook Islands now? By Wilkie Rasmussen


In celebration of lifelong friendships

Monday 21 May 2018 | Published in Tropical Chronicles

Friendship is one of the greatest blessings of life, and a lifelong friend is a special blessing.

Tropical Chronicles

Skimming on the edge of unlawful politics

Monday 14 May 2018 | Published in Tropical Chronicles

I once heard a judge warn a defendant who I was acting for during sentencing. “Young man,” said the wise judge. “Your conduct is unacceptable and you are skimming on the edge of the boundary of whether you go to jail or not”. Fortunately, that young man did not become a guest of Her Majesty’s barracks in Arorangi.

Tropical Chronicles

Government seems bereft of new ideas

Monday 7 May 2018 | Published in Tropical Chronicles

‘So-so’ theme does CIP no favours The Cook Islands Party (CIP) made two horrific mistakes lately.

Tropical Chronicles

Another policeman escapes conviction

Tuesday 3 April 2018 | Published in Tropical Chronicles

In writing this column, I run the risk of being anti-police. I certainly am not. However, some situations call for public scrutiny.

Tropical Chronicles

Time to revisit drink-driving laws

Monday 26 March 2018 | Published in Tropical Chronicles

These days, it’s all too common for people to appear in court charged with driving while under the influence of alcohol.

Tropical Chronicles

Demos not just paying lip service

Monday 19 March 2018 | Published in Tropical Chronicles

There are two things I would like to deal with in this column. The first is the notion that the Democratic Party is just paying lip service to the idea of political reform. This was raised by a letter writer to criticise the notion of an independent electoral commission being set up to look into and then carve a way forward. It was obvious that the problem the letter writer sees is that ultimately the decisions and recommendations by such an electoral commission will die a natural death when they are put to parliament to implement. Parliamentarians will simply not, for example, implement cutting the number of parliamentary seats in our country. The writer presumes that with a political party such as the Democratic Party, where two of its leaders (one being the party leader and the other a former party leader) are vying to be elected in constituencies (one with less than 100 electors and the other just over), the likelihood of them voting to cut seats are remote. That of course is a presumption, a discouraging one when for once the Cook Islands might have some traction when it comes to political or parliamentary reform. The writer of course does not propose an alternative and therefore her views are self-defeating and properly driven purely by the political position she has taken, where once she did a stint in the Democratic Party camp with the sole purpose to get elected under that banner, but lost out in the selection process by the constituency she was keen to get elected in. Now that is not to say that she cannot have an opinion to make public, but that discolours how genuine her views are and points more to her being motivated by an agenda to discredit the Democratic Party. I can certainly point to a dossier of anti-Democratic Party views and opinions since her self-removal from the Democratic Party. But let me add this to the fray. This letter writer was the one that provided the vote needed to eliminate the overseas seat that was then held by the Auckland-based Dr Joseph Williams. That’s my record of courage, when after all the huff and puff to have it eliminated there was a change of heart by one political party who had promised the public that it would do the deed. Who knows? Perhaps there was a deal at the time between the Democratic Party and the Cook Islands Party to bluff the people, knowing full well that the government would not have the numbers and the opposition would not support. But on the day the vote was called I told my leader at the time that I could not renege on what was told to the public and I would vote in favour of cutting the seat. I won’t tell more about what happened to me afterwards. I was only a year and a bit as an MP but I was proud of it. That incident shaped my political outlook and it is possible to do such a deed if the best interest of the people is first and foremost. Unfortunately, what the writer is suggesting is like killing the goose before it lays its egg. That’s a defeatist attitude. Of course, as it stands now, incumbent MPs – particularly those with reduced numbers below 100 – will be nervous about committing hara-kiri and they will argue that they want to retain their constituencies in the spirit of being represented. But that is the challenge and it would be better for an independent commission to decide on the configuration of parliament. The notion of doing away with seats was one proposed several decades ago by the then Political Reform Commission headed by Iaveta Short, and since then there has been the adoption of MMP in New Zealand – and Niue’s structure seems to work, where they have more MPs than we do for a population smaller than ours by several thousands. Let me now turn to issues raised by Thomas Tarurongo Wynne regarding the danger that the Democratic Party is signalling to the public through the letter to Prime Minister Jacinda Arden that was published in the Cook Islands News. He says that no one – certainly not him – wants the Cook Islands to be subservient to New Zealand and to be ruled again by New Zealand. Well, he seems to suggest that. In turn I am just being blunt about it. I have to exclaim in astonishment at this notion. I must also say that after all of this time since he has been press officer for the Prime Minister, Mr Wynne appears to have found his political feet because he for once has a sting in his pen. That was refreshing, purely in terms of journalism, but that does not necessarily mean that a letter of this nature could roll back the huge steps towards self-determination taken by our political forefathers and foremothers. That would be tantamount to ceding our right of self-government. I’m sure Mr Wynne would have read my coverage of the views of academics focusing on the constitutional and political development of the Cook Islands in my column last week about the meaning of the Cook Islands having “self-government in free association with New Zealand”. They see the Cook Islands as being on equal terms with New Zealand in their relationship and the Cook Islands Parliament having the power to even legislate over its foreign affairs direction, even to be a member of the United Nations. New Zealand has no power by way of its parliament to pass legislation to nullify Cook Islands legislation. However, let me point this out though. Mr James Beer, who I assume crafted and signed the letter to Ardern, is not a free agent and not without rebuke or opposition from within the Democratic Party. If there are issues that members of the Democratic Party such as me and others disagree with, then such disagreement will be brought to Mr Beer’s attention. The Democratic Party operates democratically and is open to members to raise issues of concern. Certainly, I can say in no uncertain terms that the Democratic Party will not roll back the years and bring back colonial administration. Those days are long gone.

Tropical Chronicles

Another step in voyage to nationhood

Monday 12 March 2018 | Published in Tropical Chronicles

Surely there is great cause to celebrate after the flurry of protocol, colour, dances, drumbeats, songs, speeches and meetings.

Tropical Chronicles

Would-be developers should stay home

Monday 18 December 2017 | Published in Tropical Chronicles

This drive to develop Penryhn, home to a people unwilling for their island to be developed, shows no sign of stopping.

Tropical Chronicles

The story behind Tongareva 'blowout'

Wednesday 5 July 2017 | Published in Tropical Chronicles

Being Tongareva-born, I have an ongoing interest in the affairs of the island.

Tropical Chronicles

Audacious Demos doing right thing

Tuesday 13 September 2016 | Published in Tropical Chronicles

I HAVE long advocated for the Democratic Party to boot Albert Nicholas out of the party he had betrayed and abandoned.

Tropical Chronicles

DPM's quote could mean several things

Monday 8 August 2016 | Published in Tropical Chronicles

HERE’S what deputy prime minister Teariki Heather said in his Constitution Day speech: “It is not what your country can do for you but it is what you can do for your country.”

Tropical Chronicles

Moana Ioane next on list to prosecute

Monday 1 August 2016 | Written by Supplied | Published in Editorials, Opinion, Tropical Chronicles

TO BE consistent, the next MP that the Cook Islands Police Service should prosecute is Moana Ioane.


Would a new government be any better?

Monday 18 July 2016 | Published in Tropical Chronicles

I KNOW you people can see what I mean. A change will inevitably result in a bad government being replaced by another bad one, or worse, by an incompetent one - and even worse, by an incompetent one run by rogues.

Tropical Chronicles

Huff and puff fizzles in parliament

Monday 13 June 2016 | Published in Tropical Chronicles

IN HIS inaugural Parliamentary sitting as the new Leader of the Opposition, my friend Teina Bishop has been indeterminable and inconspicuous.

Tropical Chronicles

Danger lurks in the corridors of power

Monday 18 April 2016 | Published in Tropical Chronicles

Pleasant surprises don’t come that often in our political democracy.

Tropical Chronicles

Lessons of the past elude government

Tuesday 26 January 2016 | Published in Tropical Chronicles

Do many of you remember the “Toagate” saga?

Tropical Chronicles

Lacking scruples in Parliament this week

Saturday 5 April 2014 | Published in Tropical Chronicles

In my decade, or more, of being a Member of Parliament, this week of sitting must stand out as one of the most extraordinary.

Tropical Chronicles

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