8 Sep 2004

Cook Islands election results could lead to a hung parliament

9:14 pm on 8 September 2004

Many of the candidates in the Cook Islands general election may not know until the end of the week whether they have won or lost their seat.

And some high profile ministers could be dumped.

Linda Skates reports from Rarotonga...

"The prime minister, Dr Robert Woonton, the Finance minister, Tapi Taio, the Health Minister, Vaevae Parae, and the Speaker of the House, Pupuke Robati, could all be casualties in this election. Dr Woonton is currently trailing first time candidate, Henry Puna, on Manihiki, 90 votes to 105. Tapi Taio is losing to Teariki Heather - 137 to 172, Vaevae Parae is four votes behind in his electorate, while Pupuke Robati is splitting the numbers equally with Piho Rua on Rakahanga.

Another in danger of losing his seat is the PM's adviser, Norman George, in a close three way split on Atiu. He currently has 64 votes to Eugene Tatuava's 67. The Justice and Agriculture minister, Robert Wigmore, is ahead but only by 11 votes. Looking to be comfortably in are the Democratic party leader, Dr Terepai Maoate, the deputy prime minister, Aunty Mau Munokoa, and the leader of the Cook Islands party, Sir Geoffrey Henry. None of the independents were able to take any seats although Elizabeth Ponga did best with 145 votes to Tupou Faireka's 309. At this point, the Democrats have 12 seats and the Cook Islands party has eleven seats but a total of ten seats have less than 20 votes between the candidates. Rakahanga is split equally. There are still special votes and postal votes to be added. Final count results will not be known until the end of the week. This is Linda Skates reporting from Rarotonga."