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By Ulamila Kurai Wragg

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, Dec. 27) – A decision by the manager of the Mangaia energy division to hit out at government for its lack of interest towards the windmill project on the island did not go unnoticed.

[PIR editor’s note: Mangaia, southernmost of the Cook Islands, is said to be the oldest island in the Pacific.]

Anthony Whyte said last week that he has been accorded a one day visit by a delegation of senior government people to look at the windmill project.

The delegation included deputy Prime Minister Sir Terepai Maoate, Ken Buchanan of the DPM's office, aid management's Steve Barret, Oneroa MP Winton Pickering and they were joined on the island by prime minister Jim Marurai who was already there on holiday.

One of the two wind turbines has been down since last year and there has been no support at all from government. The windmills provide some electricity to the island.

Whyte told the media that providing electricity to the island is a responsibility of the Cook Islands government and with climate change and renewable energy being key words at present, "we would expect far more input from them".

Whyte said that the delegation had confirmed with him that the Cook Islands government will now fund the rehabilitation project, along with the input from SOPAC and from Vergnet, the French company that manufactured the windmill.

It originally was a NZ$350,000 [US$270,000] investment from Australian and French aid but no figure has been put on the repair and rehabilitation work.

Whyte told Cook Islands News early this month that after years of working with the French turbines, he had become very familiar with them and could see a number of design problems.

"I know the turbines can produce electricity and can help save precious diesel fuel.

"This project may not be the whole answer for outer islands, but it will go some way towards solving our energy problems," he said.

"I have had very little budget if any for repairs and maintenance, with central government not particularly interested. They seem happy for me to talk about them at conferences, but not interested in helping me to keep them going. There are many more issues to deal with in regards to these I have seen first hand and hope there is more assistance coming forth rather than just words."

Whyte said it was obvious that his open dialogue via the media about the problems he was facing expedited the attention from government.

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