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11 November 2022

Letter: Rarotonga’s biggest problem

Thursday 19 January 2023 | Written by Supplied | Published in Letters to the Editor, Opinion


Dear Editor, I have been visiting family in Rarotonga for the last month, fortunate to be able to enjoy the natural beauty of the island.

However today (Monday), when I went for a late afternoon swim at the social centre beach, I was appalled at the amount of rubbish scattered across the sand.

As I stood there marveling at the lagoon, I see on my right the remains of a drunken night – an empty bottle of vodka and two empty fizzy drink bottles. Then the worst of all, I see an empty plastic bag. A plastic bag that could have easily been used to take these empty vessels to the bin.

I thought to myself, as the tide was rising, the next wave that comes is going to take these bottles and plastic bag to sea. I couldn’t bear the thought of a turtle getting stuck in this plastic bag or any other sea life suffocating or mistaking the plastic for food.

I grabbed the plastic bag and picked up the bottles. I then looked around to see if there was any other rubbish I could remove from the beach. Guess what – there was. Cans, food, plastic packets, cardboard plates, glad wrap – you name it. I ended up filling two plastic bags with rubbish and recycling that people had dumped on the beach.

As I go to place these bags in the rubbish and recycling bins, I discover they’re overflowing. Rubbish and recycling scattered all over the ground. I see no alternative bins close-by. So I’ve cleaned the beach of rubbish, and now need to take it home to my family’s bin…

I find it ironic that there is a TV segment on Vaka TV almost every night detailing how important and vulnerable the environment is, and that Cook Islands people are “natural scientists and natural conservationists”, yet rubbish is left on the beach to be absorbed by the ocean.

As a part Cook Islander who has a strong connection with Rarotonga, I am appalled and disappointed. This island and ocean deserves better. Speaking to locals I understand that waste is Rarotonga’s biggest issue. I ask, what is being done to improve this failing system?

I write to Cook Islands News in the hope of bringing awareness to the waste issue and to foster change.


Kate Gurran