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Public submissions open for major town project

Saturday 18 March 2023 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Environment, Local, National


Public submissions open  for major town project
Junior Tapoki, National Environment Service senior environmental compliance officer, with Tekura Moeka’a, NES manager environmental policy and planning. MELINA ETCHES/23031752

The Panama beautification and Punanga Nui Market re-organisation project is gaining momentum with the National Environment Service yesterday announcing an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) permit application for public scrutiny.

Cook Islands Investment Corporation, as the project owner for the Te Tau Papa o Avarua – Panama Beautification and Punanga Nui Re-Organisation, has filed for the EIA permit.

The project is part of the long-term strategic plan of the Avarua Town Plan to set out a programme of infrastructure and landscaping activities to be carried out in Rarotonga’s main central business district (CBD) area between Avarua wharf and Rarotonga Airport.

The proposal will address the reorganisation of the Punanga Nui Market and development of facilities “that will enhance customer experience and service delivery from farmers, fishers, providers of arts and crafts etc.”, beautification of green spaces and public toilet upgrades, and beautification of the Panama Reserve area with walkways, picnic sites and public toilet upgrades.

Initiatives of the project encompass proposed improved walkways, lighting, pedestrian accessibility and safety, enrich the landscape with a variety of local flora, entice and promote greater use of public spaces and facilities, and restructure and future-proof the Punanga Nui Market to open up greater potential for economic growth. 

Junior Tapoki, NES senior environmental compliance officer, said the EIA report entails the stages, emergency and infrastructure requirements. 

Management of the impacts is provided on key areas that include land, waste, erosion control, hazards and risks. 

The EIA permit application has an Environment Management Plan section that outlines the measures planned to mitigate any environmental impact. 

Tapoki said NES provides environmental sign off on projects that may have an impact on the environment. 

This particular EIA permit application falls under a Tier 3 category, which is an activity that is likely to cause significant environmental impact, noted Tapoki.

All applications that fall under a Tier 3 category must provide an EIA report.

According to the Environment Act 2003, NES is to undertake a public consultation process for all EIA permit applications in the form of publishing details of the project and making it accessible to the public.

The EIA Report is available on the NES website and for any member of the public to access, a hard copy is also available at the office. 

Members of the public who wish to make a submission for or against this EIA permit application can do so by writing to NES by end of business on April 3, 2023 in either Cook Islands Maori or English. 

The submission can be sent via email to or delivered to the NES office in Tupapa.