1. Bishop slams Puna’s $22,000 flight
One Cook Islands founder Teina Bishop drew attention online when he criticised post-election travel arrangements for Henry Puna. Some members of the public sided with Bishop, calling the flight a “waste of money” – with Toru Tara saying on Facebook, “Voted in by the people so let the spending begin – nothing changes”. Others dismissed Bishop’s criticism of Puna, with one member of the public commenting on the CINews website, “It is ok for Mr Bishop to criticise when his airfares from Aitutaki that are covered under the Civil List are substantially less than the cost of flying between the northern Cooks and Rarotonga. The PM of this country needs to get back to work and run the nation. This is merely political grandstanding by Bishop”.
2. All Black flees the Kiwi winter
All Black veteran Cory Jane arrived in Rarotonga for a “spur of the moment” holiday, capturing the interest of many online readers. The 40-cap winger/fullback posted on Twitter, “Had an awesome week in Rarotonga. Been very good for the body & mind but now it’s time to swap the beach runs & get back on the grass”.
3. Political reform needed: Rasmussen
Democratic Party leader Wilkie Rasmussen’s call for political reform sparked debate online. On Facebook, Mo Hosea floated the idea of doing away with parties in favour of voting in the best candidate for each constituency, adding “What’s best for large countries isn’t necessarily best for us. Why not create a political model that’s best for the Cook Islands?” William Numanga didn’t think getting rid of political parties would be possible, adding, “I agree there is room for improvement and we may need to make some changes, but there isn’t a single political system that is ideal or perfect”. Readers with good memories also noted that Rasmussen indicated in March that the Demos would not support the political reform bill, which had been due to be tabled before Parliament was dissolved, at least “in the current form”.
4. Dogs an ‘incredible bonus’ in Raro
A letter to the editor from a pair of tourists, who praised the friendly natures of dogs on Muri Beach, received mixed reactions from readers. On Facebook, Carmel Beattie said, “So nice to have someone say something positive about our beautiful dogs! All the visitors that I meet love them – still waiting to meet ‘all’ of those tourists that complain!” Commenting on the CINews website, Warren Wichman disagreed with the letter, saying “Dogs on the loose are not what I want to see a lot of in a beautiful holiday setting like the Cook Islands, especially being a family person where safety is of concern”. Sheena Tavioni defended Raro’s dogs on Facebook, saying “They only roam if they haven’t been desexed… or they haven’t been looked after by their humans. Simple, if people want dogs in Raro, make sure they can afford it”.
5. Mysterious votes due to walk-in electors
Reports of an unexpected surge in declaratory votes had online readers intrigued, with Chief Electoral Officer Taggy Tangimetua saying she didn’t expect all the votes to prove valid. On the CINews website, Adrian Nair commented that “It is very well for the Chief Electoral Officer to pass the buck onto the Justice Ministry, however, as the Chief Presiding Officer it is her responsibility to ensure the Electoral Roll was duly completed in compliance with the Electoral Act before she had fixed the date for the General Election.” On Facebook, a more light-hearted member of the public quipped, “My vote better be valid!”