Police dog in fishing boat search

Wednesday March 07, 2018 Written by Published in Outer Islands
The Ecuadorian fishing vessel Nino Maravilla has been detained at Aitutaki for more than a week now. 18030608 The Ecuadorian fishing vessel Nino Maravilla has been detained at Aitutaki for more than a week now. 18030608

Aitutaki may have seen its first kuri on the island for a very long time, after a police dog was brought over from Rarotonga to inspect the Nino Maravilla, an old Ecuadorian fishing vessel widely rumoured to have been involved in transporting illegal drugs to the Cook Islands.

 

The vessel has been detained at Aitutaki for more than a week now, and while assumptions have been made the vessel has somehow been involved in drug trafficking, a reliable source has told CINews that no drugs have been found on board.

Official police statements have also made no mention of drugs, although neither have they gone into any detail about just why the boat and its crew have become the subject of a high-level investigation involving several local government agencies as well as members of the Australian police.

Further requests for information from the Cook Islands Police Service on the Nino Maravilla case have so far been declined, the implication being that more will be released at a later date. However, earlier statements revealed that most of the boat’s crew are without valid passports, and that a man from Fiji with some connection to the vessel is “assisting the authorities with their enquiries”.

The detained crew members are also said to be cooperating with authorities and have been accommodated near Arutanga Harbour.

Several Aitutaki residents have commented online about the novelty of seeing a dog on the island for the first time, given that they’ve been banned for more than a century now. Local children were even queueing up to pet the animal, whose name is Seega.

According to naturalist Gerald McCormack, dogs were removed from Aitutaki around the year 1900.

He says the two best explanations for Aitutaki’s dog ban are that their promiscuity on the lawns outside the church offended the pastor on the island, or that the resident New Zealand commissioner got fed up with having his cover blown on his nightly patrols.

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