The third meeting was at Aroa Nui Hall in Arorangi and was attended by more than 40 interested residents, mainly from the Vaka of Puaikura.
The update presentations were led by deputy prime minister Mark Brown, minister for Natural Resources and Minerals, and his team.
The first meeting at the Sinai Hall last week and the Titikaveka CICC Hall on Tuesday were conducted the same way with presentations consisting of a comprehensive 20-30 minute slideshow focused on sharing information on the history and current status of our national seabed minerals sector.
Information was then shared on the upcoming second tender in 2019.
Other topics included the renewed international interest in the Cook Islands’ cobalt-rich manganese nodule resource and related environmental, legal, financial and social issues. This was followed by one-and-a-half hours of an important question and answer period.
Many attendees asked questions about the environmental and financial risks and opportunities, related to the later possible harvesting phase.
It is expected that any future preliminary exploration phase of three to five years would deliver information, data and samples relevant to our ocean within the Cook Islands exclusive economic zone. This could then assist the licensed exploration companies and the Cook Islands to decide whether and how to undertake and licence the next possible phase, being the actual harvesting the manganese nodules from the deep seabed at 5-6,000 metres.
Local consultations have taken place, and are continuing with non-government organisations, the House of Ariki, the Koutu Nui, the Religious Advisory Council, special stakeholder groups and in the Pa Enua over the next few months.