COOKS LAWMAKERS SETTLE MANIHIKI ISLE DISPUTE

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, July 8) – The Cook Islands Member of Parliament for Manihiki Island says a dispute over the appointment of the island’s secretary has been resolved.

[PIR editor’s note: Manihiki is a triangular coral atoll located in the northern Cook Islands, about 600 miles north-northwest of Rarotonga. The tiny island, noted for its black pearls, hosts several pearl farms.]

Cabinet has approved Arthur Neale as Manihiki’s secretary over the former acting island secretary, Rangi Mitaera.

A group of six landowners, including Rangi Mitaera, had protested against the appointment by threatening to force the closure of the airport landing strip.

Member of Parliament Apii Piho was joined in Manihiki by Deputy Prime Minister Sir Terepai Maoate and member of the opposition CIP party, Teina Bishop, to sort out the issue.

Mr Piho says a number of misunderstandings were cleared up.

"The acting island secretary felt that she should have been the successful applicant; we have had the PSC commissioner to clarify the process of selection. There were also accusations that I as a member had laid off CIP workers and then replaced them with democratic workers. And this is a false accusation, false claim so it has been a big misunderstanding."

Apii Piho says the protestors are now happy and the airport is no longer under threat.

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