Thursday 4 May 2023 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Environment, National
Well-known pineapple farmers John and Anne Maoate had their banana trees which had lined the backroad bulldozed without any consultation.
The elderly couple’s son Paul Maoate says he is “disappointed” at the process of the improvement works and lack of discussions with growers in the area by Infrastructure Cook Islands (ICI).
“Those banana trees were also a barrier for my dad’s pineapple plantation, and since they have been bulldozed all the pineapple shoots he had ready to plant were exposed and have all been stolen,” said Paul.
“That’s what I’m disappointed about – the whole process of the way they’re widening the road with no consultation, not telling him (had) what they’re doing.”
Paul said he was prompted to contact the media when after his father had ploughed an area near the road ready to plant again, “the ICI trucks drove all over it and parked, and now he has to plough it again”.
“I feel for my dad, he’s 83-years-old and he maintains the plantation on his own. We come from Aitutaki and plant it for him.
“I want people to know that he checks the plantation and it keeps him mobile which actually helps keep him going.”
Paul said he had spoken to ICI’s Metua Taamaru who was apologetic, “but the damage had been done”.
Taamaru yesterday told Cook Islands News that the workers had cleared the overgrowth near the side of the road but unfortunately did not see that they had moved the top soil which had been ploughed.
A meeting of landowners and residents of Vaimaanga Ara Metua (from Vaimaanga to Avaavaroa) to discuss the improvements of the backroad will be held today at Vaimaanga Meeting House at 5pm. The meeting has been called by Infrastructure Cook Islands and Titikaveka MP Sonny Williams.
Paul said: “I want to voice my disappointment in how the whole thing has happened, it looks like they’re just bulldozing through without talking to people.”
“And, we’re still going to carry on planting.”