Ariki unhappy with Avana plan

Monday August 13, 2018 Written by Published in Environment
Members of the House of Ariki pictured after the close of their annual conference at Betela on Saturday afternoon. 18081207 Members of the House of Ariki pictured after the close of their annual conference at Betela on Saturday afternoon. 18081207

The House of Ariki is not happy with the proposed development at Avana Point as the group comprising high chiefs fear it may destroy historical sites in the area.

 

The proposed development, which has attracted considerable opposition from a wide cross-section of Rarotonga residents, is being planned for the northern side of the Avana Harbour entrance.

House of Ariki secretary Puna Rakanui says they are not happy about any historical sites that may be damaged as a result of this development.

“We respect the rights of the landowners and the House of Ariki is urging the landowners to be aware of this (the importance of historical sites), because once it’s gone, it’s gone for good,” says Rakanui.

“The pinnacle concern for the House of Ariki is the fact that there is a marae over there. How badly that marae is going to be affected by such development is still to be seen. The problem is, we don’t know what’s going to happen. The unknown is out there, there are too many uncertainties.”

The site eyed for development is well-known for its accessibility to the reef and is popular with fishermen and other recreational marine users. Although there are no plans to restrict access, many fear the effects the development could bring.

The site is also recognised for the scared relationship it shares in connection with the first vaka that passed through the Cook Islands, the koiti taukura (fiddler crabs), as well as the moi fish that are native to the area.

A petition opposing the proposed development has been launched. CI News earlier reported protestors were in the process of drafting submissions which will be made to the National Environment Service (NES) and the Rarotonga Environment Authority (REA).

The Koutu Nui, made up of traditional sub-chiefs, also discussed the development issue at length during their monthly executive meetings in May, June and July.

In an earlier statement the Koutu Nui said the development needed to be aligned to the needs and aspirations of the indigenous people, of the Cook Islands first and not to the business interests and objectives of foreign entrepreneurs with substantial capital.

“Whilst the Koutu Nui respects their individual opinions on development, it is our view that (they) fall short of promoting and protecting the rights of our indigenous people, inclusive of permanent residents,” the statement said.

“The outcomes and recommendations from the 2017 Koutu Nui Conference covered six key areas such as land, immigration, business development, Maori language, customs and traditions, Marae Moana and Te Mato Vai. “We ask the question, development for whom and at what cost?

“The Koutu Nui supports working together with mutual benefits alongside approved foreign developers or investors and the indigenous landowners, within the spirit of the National Sustainable Development Plan.

“However, recent investment developments and initiatives have shown that this is not (happening).”

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