Norman George: Our islands of opportunities and potential

Wednesday June 03, 2020 Written by Norman George Published in Editorials
Manihiki locals show off their impressive harvest of paua meat. PHOTO: Ministry of Culture/18041214 Manihiki locals show off their impressive harvest of paua meat. PHOTO: Ministry of Culture/18041214

OPINION: It’s time to think locally but act globally.

When the mist rises, the clouds open up and the sun ascends to claim its omnipotence, a group of islands scattered around the far, far north can be seen jutting out of the ocean floor.

They have been there for millions of years. Some are shaped like tear drops, some like gigantic turtles, and others like elongated dinosaurs strutted with elegant coconut trees, leaves waving and flowing welcoming motions.

These are our northern group islands, God’s gift to the Cook Islands and the jewels of Te Moananui a Kiva. These islands have unlimited potential.

The lagoons are rich in fish and shell fish. Careful management can turn it into a successful fish and seafood export market. Filleted lagoon fish, packaged and blast frozen, smoked or sundried are all potential export products from the far north. Frozen and dried or smoked paua can be added to the list.

Careful harvesting should not be mistaken for decimation. The lagoons must be carefully monitored to ensure it remains rich, balanced, disease free and full of natural sea life.

There are limitless ocean fish potential as well. Frozen tuna fillets, smoked or sundried can be added to the export inventory.

Can you imagine the marketing angles? “From the pollution free lagoon of Manihiki Island”, “Freshly filleted parrot fish, a sea fresh product of Pamati Island”, “Penrhyn Island smoked or sundried paua” or “Suwarrow Island parrot fish.”

Of course none of this will happen without blast freezer plants, smoked fish and sun dried facilities, processing, cleaning and packaging plants. All to be powered by solar power, to reduce costs.

We make no mention of the black pearl industry. That is well established. All we can do is encourage it to go from strength to strength. Pearl shells and carving it has good potential. 

To our northern group cousins, fast forward your thinking. Think locally but act globally. Keep your eyes on ball! Let’s play to win! It is all there for the taking.

I also wish to add my two dollars’ worth for the four day week concept. Work Monday to Thursday.  Friday is work on the home front, “tanu tanu” day, “production day”, “bush knife day” or “taro patch day”.

For the gym regulars, take those muscles and test it with some real physical work. 

If you don’t have a plantation, volunteer to go and work for someone who does.  

You never know, you might go home with some free vegetables. Let’s turn the four day week into a cultural flashpoint, change of lifestyle.

I want to quickly add to the list of products we can develop in the southern group. Honey, as suggested by Ms Mave is an excellent idea. We used to harvest wild honey in Atiu when we were kids. They were sweet and beautiful. Atiu tere parties used to take honey as gifts to other islands. All islands are capable of going into honey production. 

Stonemason skills are needed. We have a marble stone pounder at home, made on Mangaia. Heavy, durable, attractive; good for medicinal pounding, or softening tough meat, I also use it to break up party ice. There are some marble stones in Atiu, both Mangaia and Atiu should latch onto this. Master carver Mike Tavioni is the expert on this.

My one two punch for the week – Will those opposed to the compulsory wearing of road safety helmets accept responsibility for all future deaths of road accident victims not wearing helmets? Many accidents are not caused by the unlucky victims. Fatalities caused by not wearing a helmet is the direct responsibility of the victim!  

Kua rava teia! Ka kite!

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