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LETTER: ‘We’re still living in the past’

Thursday 7 July 2022 | Written by Supplied | Published in Letters to the Editor, Opinion

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LETTER: ‘We’re still living in the past’

Dear Editor, Kia orana e te ititangata kuki airani. No te mea e ko teia taku tataanga mua kia kotou, te aravei nei au ia tatou, i roto i te aroa o te Atua. Manea tikae te Ra o te Ui Ariki ta matou i akaepaepa i Nukuroa nei i te ra tai o Tiurai. Kua tae mai oki te Kaumaiti Nui, koia a Tou Ariki pera katoa, a Tiatava Tiki Tetava Ariki ki Nukuroa nei. Kua maeva e kua mataora te Ra o te Ui Ariki.

As a candidate standing for the Cook Islands United Party for Nukuroa, I want to give thanks to all my extended family, the supporters of the Cook Islands United Party and the people of the Cook Islands. To our family matriarch, Te Maeu o te Rangi Teikamata Ariki, te ngati Te Akatauira, ngati Paruarangi e te ngati Nurau, kia orana kia kotou katoatoa. E tae uatu ki te au upoko ariki o Ngaputoru.

I am saddened that unfortunately, Nukuroa and some sister islands, are the forgotten ones. We are literally out of sight and out of mind, so to speak. Why do I say this? Well, we have no radio, no television and no newspapers and public information on the island. The internet connection at most times is very weak. It’s like, this place is back in the 60’s.

Which brings me to 1968. The seed was sown back then by my Papa, Raui Pokoati, who raised me and led Nukuroa, as its first member of the legislative assembly, together with the founding architect of our country, Papa Arapati and other leaders. I wish my good friend and Atiu warriors, Nooroa Paratainga and Vaine Tutai Boaza, all the best for their campaign in Enuamanu. Not forgetting our sister Lotiola Mateariki, in Akatokamanava. Ironically, Papa Mariri Paratainga and Papa Raui were close colleagues in the legislative assembly back in the days. Now generations later, in fact, 54 years, their respective sons would follow their same footsteps.

A lot of people have asked me, why are you standing for the United Party? Well, the simple answer is, our people. Our people are crying out for real change. Change for a new and fresh governance! People have openly said to me, we are sick and tired of the dirty and corrupt politics. As president for the Koutu Nui for the period 2011 to 2021, over a period of 10 years, I have seen some remarkably poor policy decisions by Government. Don’t get me wrong, there have been some good policies initiatives and projects by government but these have largely been overshadowed by policy directives that really goes against the will of the people. I know, because on both these occasions, I joined the march to Parliament to voice and protest against the purse seining fishing agreement with the European Union. Government selling our fish to the EU for a mere pittance.

Secondly, Te Mato Vai. Not so much as replacing our old decaying water pipes, as this was essential, but the plan to charge our people water rates, another tax burden, for a God given resource, from willing landowners, who’s land the water catchments are located. To add salt to the wound, government intends to chlorinate, adding chemicals, to clean our fresh water supply. People strongly objected to any chemicals being added to our water supply. That is why they marched to Parliament. Sadly, both public petitions were not given its rightful place and ignored by Government. This dictatorial approach by Government needs to be stopped and remedied.

Now, is this Government for the people and by the people? You answer this question, yourself. May I suggest to the incoming new Government, to consider implementing a Council of Imminent Advisors, representing all pillars of our community. Their principal task is to provide good advice to Cabinet on matters of national importance.

I was asked during my campaign on Nukuroa, what do I intend to do for the island? Well, I replied, fixing the radio and television is easy, I will find the necessary budget and purchase the appropriate equipment and materials. This only proves that funds are directed to other islands where political allegiances are more important. Just look at the economic and capital disparities between those preferred and those not so preferred islands. What is going to be hard and difficult is, trying to convince the aging and remaining population on Nukuroa, over time, to shift from a public service employment mentality to a more diversified focus on providing small cottage type economic development businesses, that will sustain and provide more meaningful employment and economic benefit for the people. We have ample land and lake resources to tap into viable ventures with external funding assistance that can be provided for small business start-ups in these areas. Doing nothing, is not an option.

I remember, as the past coach of the Nukuroa rugby and league teams, we fielded a 13 and 15 aside teams to complete in Rarotonga, Today, we cannot even get a 7s team. That’s how serious outwards migration has hit these island groups. There is virtually nothing to stay back for, except when one is on the government payroll – 98 per cent of the work-force, are public servants. The main roll of 96 voters reveals this terrible state. A sad legacy that stretches from generation to generation, from son to grandfather.

I believe, the Cook Islands United Party can break this impoverished employment and living cycle, by providing opportunities in agriculture, itiki, roto-fish farming and eco-tourism home based businesses. That’s why I am backing the Leader of the Cook Islands United Party, Teariki Heather. I know he can move and do things. He’s a shaker and doer. He walks the talk and creates opportunities for others to follow. E ara e tumutevarovaro, e ara e ngaputoru, e ara e te basileia. Kua tau te tuatau, no te tienianga i te kavamani. E tu e ara.

Paul Raui Pokoati Allsworth

Cook Islands United PartyMitiaro