Mangaia Island, Cook Islands– Members of the Mangaia Island Council highlights their efforts to generate their own resources and be less dependent on outside assistance.
This was noted by the Pacific Islands Forum Cook Islands Peer Review team during their recent consultation on the Island.
“We have had various donors and groups visit the island and promise development projects and funding. We have yet to hear from a lot of them again and we are not going to wait anymore,” says the Mayor of Mangaia Island, Mr. Tere Atariki.“We are grateful to the current government and welcome their recent initiative to give the local administration and funding to us to manage the resources, allocate and implement it as we see fit”.
Mr Atariki added that as a result of historical poor communication and linkages with previous governments in Rarotonga, the Island Council members and communities have gone through their own initiatives and completed water and power plants on the island which were initially development projects approved by past governments and development partners in the mid 2000s.
“Since then, we have undertaken initiatives around the island to generate our own capital for future development. Our people have started pineapple, banana, dragon fruit, sandalwood, goat and other small farms. While it is small scale, these initiatives empower Mangaia islanders to take ownership and become self-sufficient.”
With a population of less than 700 people and land area of approximately 50 square kilometers (almost the size of Rarotonga), the community expressed that water and infrastructure are a major challenge on the island.
Honourable Tangi Matapo, Member of Parliament and member of the Mangaia Island Council who also resides in Mangaia, called on the Government to allocate resources for the development of infrastructure on the island as this is the only way to improve the lives of people on the island.
“Water is a major problem on the island and currently the water sources are dried up and we can only rely on what we can do,” she added.
The Peer Review team also consulted with the Aitutaki community in Aitutaki Island.
The team which includes regional development officials has been in the Cook Islands for a week and concludes its consultations this week with key political leaders, government ministries, development partners, non- governmental organizations and private sector representatives.
The Peer Review team will present a draft report of their findings to the government of Cook Islands in four weeks time.
Cook Islands is the 12th country in the region to undertake the Forum Compact peer review process after Nauru, Kiribati, Vanuatu, Tuvalu, Niue, RMI, Tonga, PNG, Palau, Solomon Islands.