Cook Islands

Call for decision on Cooks Sunday flights

In a referendum in April, a majority of the island's population voted to end Sunday flights to and from Rarotonga, with those wanting the ban saying Sunday is a sacred day when businesses shouldn't operate.

The prime minister, Henry Puna, called the referendum as part of a campaign promise in the lead-up to a by-election on the island, but has still not said whether he will honour the result.

The corporation's director of destination development, Metua Vaiimene, says the tourism industry is firmly in support of keeping the flights.

Call to conserve water supplies in Rarotonga

Infrastructure Cook Islands (ICI) water works division manager Wilson Rani says water intake capacity around Rarotonga is working at just 20 per cent to 50 per cent, mainly around Avatiu, Nikao and other elevated areas on the island.

The stream flow at water intakes across the island has dropped, reducing the pressure in the pipeline network and the flow of water to homes and businesses.

The stream at the Avatiu intake usually supplies up to 40 to 60 litres of water a second, but because of limited rainfall now supplies just 6 litres of water a second.

The Cooks return to the world of league

The Kukis haven't played a match since the 2013 World Cup, having been overlooked for the first three years of the Pacific Test programme.

They face Tonga later this month in a winner-takes-all qualifier for the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.

This Saturday's match-up against Niue is a chance to test players and combinations but coach Alex Chan says it's just nice to finally put a Cook Islands team back on the park.

Cooks pensioners to march again against NZ tax

The President of Grey Power, Dennis Tunui, says they're already preparing placards and are determined to ensure the demonstrations match their efforts last year.

Grey Power says the New Zealand pension was previously not taxed and it should stay that way.

A core group of 60 pensioners are still refusing to pay the tax, despite the Financial Secretary, Richard Neves, saying it's a simple matter of Cook Islands law.

Mr Tunui says the group will march as soon as Parliament sits again.

Cook Islands children receive savings bond

The Jubilee Jumpstart savings bond programme was launched on Wednesday at a presentation to Avarua primary school students.

As part of the 50th anniversary celebrations, the government and the Bank of the Cook Islands are providing the certificates to every year 1 to year 6 student enrolled in the country this August.

The interest over five years means each child will be entitled to collect US$97 in 2020.

Former Cooks officer fatal chase found not guilty

While a senior sergeant in 2013, Cymon Ratai Kaivananga pursued a 16-year-old motorcyclist in Tupapa, who later crashed into a police patrol truck and died of internal injuries.

The 20-minute, 16-kilometre chase involved flashing lights and sirens, but Chief Justice Tom Weston advised the jury that did not amount to a legal defence.

Mr Kaivananga cited his 34 years of police service and 20 years in traffic enforcement without causing a single accident, to show he was a careful and competent driver.

Dog owners on Rarotonga told to desex dogs

Police officer Solomona Tuaati says he was called to a property in Ngatangiia on Saturday after a complaint, and then instructed a dog control officer to destroy the dogs, as they were dangerous and a risk to other livestock.

Following criticism from one of the dog's owners Mr Tuaati says all the dogs were unregistered and not desexed.

The SPCA president, Sharon Reichardt, says while she is sorry for the goats, she is concerned with the apparent lack of evidence to justify the shooting of the dogs.

Cooks PM stands by money advance

Mr Puna, who is from Manihiki, agreed to give the landowners just under US$26,000 during Te Maeva Nui celebrations so they could go shopping before returning to the island.

The Government has previously said that the payment was made after the landowners threatened to vandalise the two solar plants on the island if they were not paid.

In a statement from his office Mr Puna expressed surprised that the early payout had sparked a police complaint.

PM stands by Manihiki advance

The money was urgently paid to the land claimants while they were in Rarotonga for Te Maeva Nui celebrations so they could go shopping before returning to Manihiki.

In a rare statement issued by his press officer Trevor Pitt, PM Puna professed to be surprised that a complaint had been laid with police about the threats made by the  land claimants to vandalise the two solar power plants on Manihiki if they weren’t paid out.

NZDF helps to refurbish Cooks schools, hospitals

The senior national officer, Captain Andrew Blackburn, says the buildings are being refurbished to address potential electrical hazards and ensure they can better withstand cyclones.

Around 40 NZDF engineers, plumbers, carpenters and electricians are working alongside 20 military engineers from China, the United Kingdom and the United States to build a new fuel depot.

The depot will support maritime patrols working to combat illegal fishing in the northern Cooks.