Cook Islands

Cook Islands claim first semi-final berth in OFC U 16 meet

Although their final placing won’t be confirmed until the last matches for Group B on Friday, Cook Islands secured at least a second place finish in the group – enough to qualify – after Fiji and Tonga’s 0-0 draw in the opening match of the day.

Tahiti upset Cook Islands to keep RWC hopes alive

In wet and windy conditions, the French territory scored two unanswered tries and kept the Cookies scoreless in the second half.

The test was marred by ill-discipline, with Tahiti prop Martin Taeae, winger James Tekurio and Cook Islands centre Samuela Longo Leuta sent off amid a flurry of eight cards.

President of Tahiti Rugby Union, Charles Tauziet, claimed the "underdog" tag prior to kick-off but said the visitors ultimately won the game up front.

Cooks may legalise homosexuality

A proposed overhaul of the 1969 Crimes Act excludes sections that ban homosexuality.

Currently, the law bans "indecent acts" between two men, and "consensual sodomy" with prison terms of between five and seven years, although convictions are rare.

LGBT activists in the country have long been pushing for an amendment, and the draft Crimes Bill 2017 brings that one step closer.

The Solicitor General, David James, says the new bill makes laws suitable for the modern era, and means people will no longer be locked up for their private conduct.

China likely to team up more on aid to Pacific

An expert on China's foreign aid programme, Denghua Zhang, said the Te Mato Vai project in the Cook Islands was helping China learn about aid delivery and monitoring.

According to his research, about four percent of China's total aid spends goes to Oceania, most of that in soft loans for new roads and other infrastructure.

Mr Zhang said China was increasingly teaming up with traditional donor countries and agencies like the UN Development Programme and it saw the Pacific as a good testing ground for such co-operation.

Cooks agency assures power funds will stay in Aitutaki

Late last month the board of the Aitutaki Power Authority was removed and former chair Allan Mills claimed this was to give the CIIC access to its financial reserves.

The corporation's Mike Henry rejected that.

He said the old authority was unable to use the funds, and the new Aitutaki agency, which would essentially be a state owned enterprise, will have the power to spend them.

Cook Islands applauded for marine management

The country recently announced all water within its 50 nautical mile zone would be protected from commercial fishing,

The government wants to reduce interaction between commercial fishers and whales within Cook Islands waters.

The Cook Islands Minister of Environment, Kiriau Turepu, says his country recognises the importance of whales in the oceans, environment, economy and culture.

He says calving happens in Cooks' waters, which makes them even more special to Cook Islanders.

Efforts underway to save Cook Islands jewel

Consultants are on the job to help save the waterway, which has been suffering from an algal bloom and coral bleaching.

Despite its problems, Muri is still one of the Cook Islands' biggest drawcards for tourists and several were out paddling, snorkelling and lolling in the warm shallows last week.

"It's a peaceful lagoon and I'm not too strong in the water so it's about my speed and it's sheltered and you can snorkel right off the beach. This is perfect for us," said Richard Smith, who had just arrived from Canada.

Drastic action urged over Muri lagoon

A combination of factors is believed to be behind the algal growth which has been spreading in the tourist hotspot since late 2015 and consultants have been engaged to find a solution within 18 months.

Manavaroa Mataiapo Tutara of Avana, Philip Nicholas, said there was no time to wait for another consultants' report and drastic action was needed.

He said one of the channels into the lagoon, the Avana-Ngatangiia harbour, was virtually silted up affecting not only Muri but the local community and fishers.

UN seat remains long-term goal for Cook Islands

New Zealand had knocked back the government's aspirations for a seat, saying it was not an option if the Cook Islands wanted to retain New Zealand passports for its people.

The Cook Islands 'free association' relationship with New Zealand leaves Wellington responsible for defence and foreign policy and while the Cook Islands had separate membership of some UN agencies it was represented by New Zealand at the main international body.

Cooks sells 100 extra fishing days to US

The deal between the two countries struck last month comes on top of the United States' regional arrangement for access to tuna via the vessel day scheme.

The Finance Minister Mark Brown said the US firms like the way the Cook Islands manages its fishery and it had established a reputation for being fair and reasonable.

"They want additional days from our surplus stock of vessel fishing days that we have available so we've managed to sell to the US fleets another hundred days of fishing access."