Cook Islands main island battered by storm

Yesterday strong gusts and heavy rain battered Rarotonga, with sea surges flooding low lying areas and inundating roads with debris.

Cook Islands Meteorological Service Director Arona Ngari said it will be a significant clean up operation.

"It has been a long week or so for us, but things have abated, so just waiting for another two three days for the whole momentum of the system to calm down. No major damage apart from coastal inundation, mostly from the waves. A bit of flooding last night and the day before from the rainfall," he said.

Pacific health chiefs meet in Rarotonga

The World Health Organisation says the biennial meeting is an opportunity to develop a unified view of NCDs as a development priority rather than a health concern.

The WHO said Pacific Island countries are struggling to cope with NCDs, including childhood obesity and diabetes, which it says are a burden on health systems and Pacific economies.

It said the causes of NCDs are diverse, therefore, the solutions must be multi-sectoral.

Developing the Pacific's health workforce will also be brought to the attention of ministers.

Beauty of taro showcased in Cook Islands exhibition

'This Woman's Work' exhibition is at the Bergman Gallery in Rarotonga and features colourful glass taro vases in a performance installation that includes contemporary dance and a taro-patch inside the gallery.

New Zealand based Cook-Islands artist Niaval Ngaro made the glass taro sculptures and collaborated with performance director Dione [Dee-oh-knee] Joseph who created the dance work installation.

Dione Joseph said the exhibition was inspired by women from Pukapuka, who traditionally work and harvest the taro fields as well as sell the taro.

Cooks Govt hopes to increase renewable energy for Rarotonga

The Green Climate Fund, a United Nations fund to help developing countries adapt to climate change, has granted the Cook Islands US$12 million to expand the main island's energy grid.

The announcement is the first of a series of projects, which will be led by the Asia Development Bank, to expand renewable energy around the Pacific.

The Chief of Staff of the Prime Minister's office, Elizabeth Wright-Koteka, said the current grid cannot handle the current uptake of renewable energy, and the expansion will help solve that.

New brand for South Pacific tourism

This was after it was approved at the 26th Council of Tourism Ministers Meeting in Rarotonga, Cook Islands, recently.

Organised by the South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO), the region’s peak tourism development and marketing body, the council meeting was attended by tourism ministers and government representatives from 13 Pacific Island countries and China.

Cooks PM 'has solution' to Aitutaki flights debate

In a referendum in April, a majority of the island's population voted to end Sunday flights to Rarotonga, with those in support saying Sunday is a sacred day when businesses shouldn't operate.

But tourist operators says the flights are essential, and canning them would have a severe impact on Aitutaki's tourism industry and economy.

At a news conference on Friday, Prime Minister Henry Puna said he will be meeting with Aitutaki's leaders and representatives from both sides of the issue at a meeting in Rarotonga.

$74 million yacht too big to berth in harbour

The yacht, named simply ‘M5’, is a sloop-rigged super yacht launched in 2003 as the Mirabella. 

The 75 metre yacht, which hails from the United Kingdom, arrived Thursday last week but was unable to berth at Avatiu harbour because of its 97m mast height which would run it foul of airspace laws.  

The yacht’s captain, Don Anderson, said the yacht had cost about US$50m to build. Anderson is accompanied by 15 other crew on the M5’s maiden world tour and the super yacht will be here for two weeks before leaving for French Polynesia.