29 Jul 2020

Cook Island landowners say consultations just window dressing

4:19 pm on 29 July 2020

Cook Islanders upset over the government's To Tatou Vai bill say public consultations on the legislation are no more than window dressing.

Aerial landscape view of the beautiful Muri Lagoon and a Motu (Islet) in Rarotonga Island in the Cook Islands.

Photo: Rafael Ben-Ari/ 123RF

The bill, which is to establish the state entity to run the new water system about to be commissioned for Rarotonga, is now to go to the public.

The legislation has had its second reading, and Tere Carr, one of the people who organised a weekend protest march by landowners, claimed the people's views won't be taken on board.

"The history of bills such as this, and we seem to have a lot of them being thrown at us at the moment, is that no matter the objections that are made, submissions that are made, 99 percent of it will pass," she said.

"So it is just ticking a box for government. That's the way we landowners see it, to say they're consulted, and it's a done deal.

Carr said the landowners feared they would lose control over their property.

She said some of the clauses in the bill would will ultimately lead to Rarotonga residents being charged for water

"It will restrict the usage rights in the areas where our intakes are," Carr said.

But the government said claims around a loss of control over land were baseless.

A second protest is planned this weekend.

Tere Carr

Tere Carr Photo: Tere Carr