COOK ISLANDS PARTY SAYS ‘NO GO’ TO CASINO PROPOSAL

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By Jason Brown

AVARUA, Rarotonga, Cook Islands (July 29, 2000 – Cook Islands News)---Executive and caucus members of the opposition Cook Islands Party (CIP) have joined the growing list of groups opposed to the proposed Vaima Hilton hotel casino.

"It was in the public view and we support that," Arutanga Nikaupara MP Teina Bishop told Cook Islands News yesterday.

There is no way of knowing what would happen in 20 years from now, admits Bishop.

"One of the things that we looked at is that there is enough gambling going on already -- housie, raffles and so on. We don’t need to add some more."

Bishop told a CIP meeting last Wednesday night about going to Auckland.

"I’ve been to the casino there [Skycity] and seen a lot of Cook Islanders and boy, it’s sad. It’s a very sad situation."

Even though there’s some certainty about what kind of casino would be installed, Bishop said there were no guarantees about what would happen in the future.

EXPERIENCE

He has had personal experience with a problem gambler. When he and Aitutaki businessman Junior Maoate started exporting maniota, tarutarua and other root crops to Cook Islanders in New Zealand, payments from their agent for the growers stopped after awhile.

"He was taking it down to the casino. So that’s why we started taking it down there ourselves."

A lot of people have given their views about the casino, said Bishop. "So we thought it was time we gave ours."

CIP joins the Religious Advisory Council, Koutu Nui, the Chamber of Commerce, the Tourism Council, and other petitioners in opposing the casino.

"Now we await with interest what the views of the House of Ariki and government are on the casino," Bishop said.

 

DOUBTS OVER COOK ISLANDS CASINO LOAN

By Jason Brown

AVARUA, Rarotonga, Cook Islands (July 31, 2000 – Cook Islands News)---Developers of the proposed Vaima Hilton Hotel casino have hit a snag with funding — but deny the project is off.

"I’m confident that the arrangements will be completed within the next few days," Mike Mitchell, counsel for Takitumu Royale Holdings Ltd., told Cook Islands News yesterday.

He said he could not comment further until more details emerge today.

Developers are seeking funds for the project from Caisse Central, the French Development Bank.

News of funding trouble went through senior government circles on Friday.

"The casino deal is off," said one source. "The French development bank pulled the plug." He did not want to be named.

Details on the background of the developers have emerged over the last two weeks, starting at the Cook Islands Chamber of Commerce meeting to discuss benefits of the casino proposal.

Takitumu Royale Holdings Ltd. shareholders are landowner Pa Ariki and members of the Ravel family, originally from Tahiti.

Documents shown to Cook Islands News reveal at least two shipping companies linked to principal developer Jean Ravel have gone into receivership.

One company was in New Zealand in 1990 and another after that in New Caledonia in 1996.

Former lawyer Rowan Moss, described as the hotel casino company’s "in-house counsel," was struck off in 1989 for misconduct.

For additional reports from the Cook Islands News Online, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Cook Islands News Online.

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