She said about 18 people had attended the Takitumu on November 11, 30 the Puaikura meeting on November 27 and 20 the meeting two days later in Te Au o Tonga
“However in saying that, the smaller groups were also easier to manage in terms of issues and addressing on many occasions personal process issues that those attending wanted to highlight.
“There were also other public consultations going on.
“In addition to the public meeting there were also meetings during the day with the House of Ariki/Koutu Nui, related government ministries whose functions overlap Immigration such as the Labour divisions of Internal Affairs, Customs and Police etc, and various people from the private sector including the Chamber of Commerce and members of the Law Society and public sector. There were two public meetings in Aitutaki and one with the island council there.”
Samuela said the majority of people commented on the permanent residence provisions and application criteria, and the work permit provisions. The proposed changes to the permit system were highlighted in a CINews story last week.
“Once the Bill and regulations have been drafted, we will disseminate them for comments and this is another opportunity to highlight gaps or strengthen the bill,” Samuela said.
“There seems to have been a misunderstanding that these provisions are immediate and I would like to assure the public that these are proposed instructions for a new Act and don’t come into effect until Parliament has passed it.”
Meanwhile, the three vaka meetings held to discuss the Cook Islands Seabed Minerals strategy each attracted around 40 people, says Seabed Minerals Commissioner Paul Lynch
He said there were “maybe” five people who had voiced concerns about seabed minerals mining – “and more supporting or non-vocal.”
“These are basically update meetings with no decisions being made yet,” he said.
“So we don't expect hundreds of people attending in their own time, as people are always busy and people seem less concerned prior to (seabed minerals) exploration. That might step up later if nodule collection was ever likely to go ahead in five to eight years.
“We had a better turnout than the recent Immigration meetings I think.”
In a media release announcing the continuation of seabed minerals consultations earlier this month, deputy prime minister Mark Brown said “the majority of the community” had shown positive support for steady progress towards the proposed first steps for more exploration and research of seabed mineral mining.