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Prime Minister Marurai negotiating with Tahiti

By Helen Greig RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, August 26, 2009) - Prime minister Jim Marurai is heading an urgent mission to French Polynesia for further talks on the charter of a ship to get the northern group tere parties to Rarotonga next month.

[PIR editor’s note: The Pacific Mini Games, scheduled September 21 to October 2 in Rarotonga, Cook Islands, are anticipated to draw hundreds of athletes from across the Pacific. ]

Marurai left for Tahiti yesterday along with secretary of culture Sonny Williams and his private secretary Rosita Taikakara.

The PM is due to meet with French Polynesian president Oscar Temaru today.

Marurai’s executive advisor Trevor Pitt says the mission is to look at the option of using a vessel from French Polynesia for a ‘one-way journey’ to Rarotonga for the northern group Te Maeva Nui teams.

He says the aim is to get the teams to Rarotonga for Te Maeva Nui and the Pacific Mini Games and then organise the return journey later on.

Last year government set aside NZ$200,000 [US$137,000] to charter Tahiti Nui from the French Polynesian government.

On August 13 Temaru wrote to Marurai in response to his letter of July 20 asking for assistance for the transport of the northern group people.

Temaru told Marurai that it would cost NZ$1.29 million or NZ$44,643 per day including fuel for the 29 days government had planned to charter Tahiti Nui.

He said according to new financial regulations, no public property, which includes government vessels could be put at disposal free of charge anymore.

Government had initially rejected the option of chartering the vessel again given the high cost, but is now pinning its hopes on a cheaper deal.

Manihiki MP Apii Piho also flew to Tahiti yesterday on personal business but it is understood he also hopes to influence a positive outcome on the talks with Temaru while there this week. Marurai’s delegation returns on Saturday.

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