The Prime Minister and Minister Responsible for the Cook Islands Investment Corporation (CIIC), the Honourable Mark Brown, returned with the other members of his government delegation from a successful mission to the Northern Group yesterday.
Taking in Penrhyn, Manihiki and Rakahanga, the purpose of the trip was to address various CIIC project and land matters and to undertake important data capture work for the government’s asset management programme, all in line with the corporation’s vision of providing quality assets that serve the Cook Islands people.
“This was a great opportunity to accompany our officials from CIIC in my capacity as the Minister responsible for CIIC but also as the Minister responsible for ICI at the moment. Whilst the CIIC staff, including the CEO Allan Jensen and new legal counsel Henry Herman, were able to get on with their important work, I was joined by the MPs for Manihiki and Penryhn/Tongareva in attending landowner meetings aimed at progressing our projects that are dependent on landowner consents on identified lands. Taking the right people particularly to the northern group islands is vital. The MPs have that intimate understanding of the landowners that our officials do not have, yet. Their active role in the landowner meetings has enabled CIIC to progress the projects at a much faster rate than without them,” said Prime Minister Brown.
“A key part of this mission to the Northern Group was also about strengthening Government’s working relationships with constituents across all of our islands and for that reason I was grateful to have our MPs along with us to help streamline that process.
“Their assistance was invaluable and will continue to be so as we look to the future and the significant infrastructure projects that we have planned for these three islands.
“This work is all about investing in our people and communities in the Pa Enua and, as I have said before, it is particularly important to my government that as much of it as possible is carried out using local labour and expertise. Projects delivered for the Pa Enua, by the Pa Enua.”
Engaging closely with the island councils and communities, the delegation of Ministers and CIIC staff made great headway in scoping and firming up the pipeline of infrastructure projects planned for Penrhyn/Tongareva, Manihiki and Rakahanga. Many of these projects will also require cross-government efforts involving various ministries, including Infrastructure Cook Islands (ICI), Te Marae Ora and the Ministries of Education and Agriculture.
In Penrhyn, ICI will be working in partnership with the people of Te Tautua village on the island’s planned medical facility. Funding for this project has now been confirmed and with the support of the community, a Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) will be entered into by ICI, CIIC and the Island Council, with an estimated project timeline running from March to September 2022.
Other projects were scoped in Penrhyn to potentially coincide with medical centre at Te Tautua, including minor works at the Omoka Hospital and works at the schools.
Mr Puna Vano, the EO for Tongareva/Penrhyn, said prior to the delegation departing “I roto I teia tuatau poto…. ka karanga au kua matutu atu te pirianga… Kare rauka I te tapu I te rekareka no teia tere, marira kia tu mai kotou kia akari atu eaa te ka tupu note katoatoa I Tongareva no teia nga mataiti ei tu mai nei. Te mataora nei matou no teia araveianga poto tei akatupuia.”
In Manihiki, ICI, along with CIIC will be working in partnership with the island community on the highly anticipated Manihiki airport project. Again, with the support of the community, an MOU will be entered into by ICI, CIIC and the Island Council, with an estimated project timeline running from May 2022 to March 2023.
Mayor for Manihiki, Mrs Ngamata Napara commented Kua mataora te katoatoa no teia akakoranga poto ei tae mai te Kavamani e te aronga angaanga no te CIIC. Kua mataora te au kopu tangata e te atu enua I te kite I te au parana tei tukunaia mai no te enua, mei te Airport I Tukao e te ngutuare note kavamani enua I Tauhunu. Kua mataora I te akarongoanga eaa tei tamanakoia I te kavamani kia tauturu I te kopu tangata……nothing beats face to face meetings.”
In addition to the airport project, various other Manihiki projects have already had funding allocated as part of CIIC’s 2021/22 and 2022/23 budgets. These include an Island Council administration building in Tauhunu under the 2021/22 budget, while the 2022/23 budget has made provision for improvements to cyclone shelters and schools in Tukao and Tauhunu, a works depot in Tauhunu, and improvements to water infrastructure in Tukao and Tauhunu.
Mr Nimeti Nimeti, the EO for Manihiki, said the projects being driven by CIIC were transformational for Manihiki and that the delegation addressed a whole range of matters for the benefit, so these projects are on a good footing to be progressed into the future.”
In Rakahanga, in addition to the completion of building assessments for the government’s asset management programme, scoping was carried out with regard to planned work on the Rakahanga school and principal’s office, the hospital, administration office and water infrastructure. CIIC funding is yet to be defined for these Rakahanga-based projects.
As well as all of the work mentioned above, every government asset across the islands of Penrhyn/Tongareva and Manihiki has now been assessed using drone footage, a process which has helped capture vital information for the government’s asset management programme.