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Protecting our heritage

Saturday December 28, 2019 Written by Published in Environment
From Suwarrow, it’s a long way to anywhere. A Te Ipukarea team visited the isolated island last year, focusing on pest control. 18051105 From Suwarrow, it’s a long way to anywhere. A Te Ipukarea team visited the isolated island last year, focusing on pest control. 18051105

Te Ipukarea Society is a proactive non-government environment organisation formed to help look after our heritage.


Our philosophy is that we do not own our land and marine resources, but borrow them from our future generations, and we need to leave them in good condition.

We are a collection of individuals and groups who desire a sustainable, healthy and beautiful environment. We are members of IUCN and Birdlife International.

We have among our staff and membership well-respected scientists and active campaigners for environmental sustainability. TIS is managed by a voluntary committee who are elected by members, as per our constitution, at our Annual General Meeting. A small number of paid staff, assisted by volunteers, attend the day-to-day running of the Society

For 23 years, Te Ipukarea Society has worked closely with local individuals, schools, the private and government sectors, providing leadership and encouraging innovative, proactive and positive outcomes for environmental problems. Working in biodiversity, waste management, youth, eco-sustainable development and climate change, the Society covers a wide range of environmental issues. 

The Society provides an avenue for the community in situations where they are concerned with development activities that may cause environmental harm but feel they do not have a voice. Examples include our role supporting the Marae Moana marine park, lobbying government for more sustainability  fisheries that would add value to the conservation goal.

Our main achievement was providing evidence that a ban on commercial fishing out to a 90km exclusion zone for each island would not significantly reduce Government fisheries revenue.  In fact, fisheries revenue increased substantially in the year since the ban was established. TIS disseminates factual information based on scientific evidence and expert opinion amongst local community groups to ensure people are informed of the facts in order to help encourage Government to make valid decisions.

Tourism is very important to the Cook Islands economy, but also has a significant negative impact on the environment. Recognising this, the Society, with support from Tourism Cook Islands and the Ridge to Reef Project, has started an Eco-certification programme, called “Mana Tiaki Eco-certification”.  The aim is to encourage tourism operators to implement sustainable practices that will support our local community and economy.  This includes removing as much plastic from their cleaning and toiletry supplies as possible, using re-useable water bottles, having non-polluting sewage systems, and using ecosystem-based solutions to foreshore protection.

In addition, the Society is recognised as one of the “invasive battlers” of the Pacific, because of our work in rat eradication projects on Suwarrow. Our experience within this area has resulted in requests from other outer island communities within the Cook Islands for us to coordinate eradication projects to improve ecosystem recovery and resilience.

We have also recently campaigned for a 10-year moratorium on seabed mining, in conjunction with the United Nations decade of Ocean Science.  This is to allow sufficient time to better understand the deep sea biodiversity and ecosystem, and the potential impacts that seabed mining could have, and ways this can be mitigated.

If you would like to learn more about our work, or find out how you can support us, go to our website at tiscookislands.org or get in touch at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 -Te Ipukarea Society

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