6 Dec 2011

NZ based Cook Islands community group heads to court for control of group

12:02 pm on 6 December 2011

A fight for control of a multimillion dollar Cook Islands community group heads to the High Court at Auckland today.

The court action seeks to remove the president of the Pukapuka Community of New Zealand, Nuku Rapana, in favour of a new president and board elected in September.

A spokesperson for the members bringing the action, Ngatamariki Lulia, says the society is over 1 million US dollars in debt from a failed property deal and unpaid mortgages and taxes.

She says it faces losing its four properties and government funding, but the damage to the Pukapuka community is worst.

"There's a lot of hatred, a lot of anger, frustration and the elders just want this over and we just want it over, and I think the quickest way to that, is that Nuku do the decent thing. This is a elected position not a chiefly position that he inherited."

Ngatamariki Lulia of the Pukapuka Community.

In a statement to the court, Nuku Rapana, says the September elections were unconstitutional and he considers himself still to be president.