Letters: The new future of the Cook Islands

Saturday October 12, 2019 Published in Letters to the Editor

Dear editor,

Since 1965 when we gained our independence from New Zealand, we have been flogging the same old political horse and discourse – and how has that been for you?


A chink in our political armour was exposed at the last elections with the emergence of Independents. In some respects, this seems to indicate that a political paradigm shift.

If this is happening and you are not ready for it then you may well end up being confused as we grapple with the complexity of what this means for the future of our country.

In particular questions about are we doing enough for our people, where are we going, who should we align ourselves with, who will take us there and what that means for us as a nation. 

Here is my opinion on what needs to occur: we are going to need a major shift in how we approach the next decades and it ain’t going to work if we continue along the same old track expecting to retain our current living standards let alone aspiring to better living standards and conditions.

We need to be lifting the old scab of convention and having a look underneath and seeing a whole new pink world of opportunities waiting to be challenged, with courage and conviction and with new ideas both conventional and at times unconventional. 

We all know the stories of who and how aspiring politicians are selected and voted in; please for the love of God get someone who can represent us properly, not because they are family, not because they are nice people, not because they come from political dynasties, not because they are good community people, not because they work in the taro patch or sweep the roads, not because they seem to be handing out inducements.

But – and here’s the rub and it’s really simple – it is because they can do the job for us as a country, us as people and represent all our interests and make sound decisions.

You might not like them personally, or their methods but what we are looking for is consistency, honesty and trust, very important values and principles.

We don’t need prima donnas or those with a reputation or, are full of themselves, what we need are people who only have a one Cook Islands focus and the knowledge, skills, experience and ideas and most importantly support and the means to get us there.

We need to be taking everyone on the same journey on our voyaging vaka and cutting across island, village, community, chiefly and party lines is the only way to maximise an investment in our people, our land use, our Pa Enua, our migration policies, our physical resources and dipping our toes into the unconventional to get there.

We need to be investing properly for our children’s futures – if we don’t, we are a splitting up our priorities, resources and finances, catering to the various and sometimes opposing needs of these different groups.

We need fresh new ideas. Look at the All Blacks, a team of champions on the rugby world stage. When the All Blacks went from amateurs to professionals, they went from leading the pack to following the pack, but they quickly realised that to be in front of the pack, they had to reinvent themselves.

They restructured and reformed the NZRFU and the national game and as a result altered their tactics and approach to the game, the coaching systems, player welfare and put in place a proactive plan of options to deal with not winning.

They relished the coming conflicts, adversity and eventual law changes as their opponents through lobbying and pressure changed the rules of rugby to negate or remove the All Blacks’ seeming advantages.

They see an issue as a challenge because they have absolute conviction in their systems and that eventually all this effort would culminate in a consistent winning formula because they took everyone along on their journey of exploration, discounted some ideas and adopted some and most importantly adopted a one team mentality with the All Blacks as the only priority. 

This is what we need to do to not only be seen to be ahead of the pack but reinventing ourselves and being proactive rather than reactive or complaining, we need to see problems and issues as challenges (problems and issues don’t go away) and then be in a position to meet those challenges.

At the moment we are in cruise mode, relying on conventional means and reputation and goodwill and financial handouts from our international relationships with New Zealand, Australia and others to top us up and to get us over the goal line, that’s the price we pay for being a part of globalisation.

We cannot continue to rely on this for ever and a day and as we cosy up to others more and more, believe you me, there will come a reckoning, maybe not in this generation but future generations and which side of the ledger do you think we will be on?  

So, I’m putting it out there: in the next general elections, your vote does count but please for goodness sake use it wisely.

Do your homework and research and make a decision not along family or party lines, don’t be coerced, because your vote means something, be a wolf and not a sheep for once in your life. If you don’t, you cannot in the end complain about what you end up with, walk the talk and don’t waste your vote.

Te Tuhi Kelly
The Progressive Party

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