COOK ISLANDS VISITORS URGED TO RESPECT RAUI

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By Jonathan Harwood

AVARUA, Rarotonga, Cook Islands (December 31 2001 – Cook Islands News)---"Please respect the raui" is the message to visitors to Rarotonga over the festive period from Te Tika Mataipo - Dorice Reid.

She spoke out after reports that some Cook Islanders living abroad, but back for Christmas, and visitors to the country were taking fish and shells from the marine sanctuaries.

The president of the Koutu Nui (a body of traditional sub-chiefs) has called for people to look out for the signs around Rarotonga and respect the preservation areas.

Reid is concerned that many people now on the island may not be aware of the existence of the raui -- which were set up in 1998 -- and are taking marine life from the lagoon to bolster festive feasts.

"Every year during Christmas and the New Year our people overseas come back to Rarotonga to be with their loved ones and share the festive season with them," she said.

"But people are not always aware of the customary laws we have.

"Raui means ‘don’t touch’ and there are several areas called raui around the island.

"So I want to say that to people who don’t know about it to look out for the signs.

"There are placards out there to say where you can’t take things from.

"The majority of people know what raui means and what it is, and we really appreciate the way the areas have been respected.

"I would like to say thank-you and meitaki maata to people who do respect them."

But she urged others to check before harvesting from the lagoon.

"Koutu Nui helped spearhead the introduction of the raui in 1998, and it has been a huge success," explained Reid.

"There are fish in the lagoon that we never used to see; lots of species have come back which we haven’t seen for a long time.

"By respecting the raui we are helping preserve the island for our children."

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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