However, this is not a fair portrayal of the discussions between Avaroa Cable Ltd and landowners. Avaroa Cable has patiently and diligently negotiated with landowners for many months precisely in order to reach a fair agreement.
Avaroa has been at pains to make clear that warranting of the narrow land required for the cable is an absolute last resort.
This week, Avaroa and the landowners met in court for further discussions which continued to be positive, dignified, friendly and constructive.
A description of these as “bullying” and “railroading” would not be recognisable to the 40-plus attendees of that meeting.
Landowner James Burns also casts doubt on the benefit the cable will bring. Improved entertainment services is one outcome which residents will welcome.
However, the strong economic and social outcomes the cable will facilitate are not in doubt. The list of mainland and island communities globally that have been transformed by improved connectivity is extensive.
These are views echoed by the 120-plus Cooks Islands citizens who formally shared their views with Avaroa Cable in public consultations held earlier this year.
And finally, no works have been undertaken on private land without the express permission of landowners. Avaroa’s contractors have utilised the new Infrastructure Act 2019 to prepare roadside cable trenches up to the boundaries of private land.
This is not a “rush job” but part of a carefully planned suite of construction activities aligned to the wider Manatua cable project.
Dr Ranulf Scarbrough
Avaroa Cable Ltd