Solar panels like these on the tiny island of Nassau are proving to have major health and lifestyle benefits for outer islanders.
New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta yesterday announced new climate finance for the Pa Enua (outer islands) in the Cook Islands during her visit to Manihiki.
Mahuta confirmed $7.5 million will be allocated to
upgrade solar farms in the Northern Group. The investment is part of the
2022-2025 international climate commitment.
“Climate change is the greatest challenge
facing the Pacific. It critically impacts our way of life, our economy and our
shared futures,” Mahuta said in a written statement.
“We know that effective action requires partnership
with our Pacific whānaunga, meeting their priorities and supporting local and
“This investment allows us to stand alongside the Cook
Islands who continue to combat the increasing shocks of climate change. It will
see renewable energy grids upgraded, support for maintenance, and provide
financial stability for technology and electricity supplies.”
Minister Mahuta said they were also building on
previous New Zealand Government investments focused on partnering with the
Cook Islands to reduce emissions and reliance on fossil fuels.
“Climate co-operation has been a key discussion
area with Prime Minster (Mark) Brown on this visit and previous exchanges, and
I expressed that Aotearoa New Zealand is a partner that can be relied upon,
especially when times are tough.”
executive officer Puna John Vano welcomed the announcement.
said he understood that some of the funding would go towards new Tesla
batteries and inverters on the island.
can increase the capacity on the island by threefold,” Vano said.
scoping was done earlier this year. It would be great to have one of those
batteries there. We have two villages on the island, and they’re separated by
the lagoon. Both villages need to have their own needs of power.
about 250 to 270 people on the island. We want to be sustainable.”
During her visit yesterday, Mahuta also reaffirmed
that New Zealand stands ready to support the upgrade of Manihiki Airport which
will provide access to a wider range of aircraft and vital connectivity between
“This will be supported through $40 million
invested earlier in the year in the Cook Islands Infrastructure Trust Fund,”
“New Zealand has a proud history of supporting the
Cook Islands priorities and sustainable development ambitions. This
announcement is about working together to navigate our future challenges and
opportunities,” Mahuta said.
said he was hopeful that work will begin on the Penrhyn Airport within a few
after Manihiki, then it’s us. The work on both airports will boost productivity
and encourage growth,” he said.