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Familiar faces, but different roles

Tuesday 20 June 2017 | Written by Richard Moore | Published in Politics


Familiar faces, but different roles
A relieved-looking Rose Brown about to enter parliament yesterday. 17061939

The Cook Island parliament opened its new session yesterday with the swearing in of two Members of Parliament.

One Cook Islands’ Pumati Israela (Are Nikau) took his oath in front of the House first, assisted by the Clerk of Parliament John Tangi, while returning MP Albert Nicholas (RAPPA) waited outside for his call for the honour.

Fellow parliamentarians applauded each man, welcoming them warmly, and the Speaker of the House Nikki Rattle gave them a hug and a kiss on the cheek.

Israela took his seat, receiving handshakes as he made his way to it. He later admitted he felt nervous.

Nicholas quickly moved to his place, returning to it after a few months of political upheaval in which the former Democratic MP and former Cook Islands Party minister had resigned his seat of RAPPA, fought a by-election for it and was overwhelmingly returned to parliament by his constituency.

He resigned so as not to trigger vaka-hopping laws - as an elected Democrat MP he was unable to vote against that party or even abstain from supporting them in parliament.

Now, as an elected CIP member, he said he could be an unrestricted member of the government.

As Nicholas passed in front of him, the prime minister Henry Puna clearly told him “no limits”, a reference to him no longer being held by the vaka-hopping legislation.

Another MP to receive a warm welcome – at least to government ranks – was former Opposition parliamentary leader Rose Brown who returned to her former CIP colleagues having quit their opponents last week.