Cook Islands Water Project Gets Underway Soon

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Chinese, New Zealand funded project ‘driven’ by Cooks government

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Oct. 6, 2013) – A batch of workers from China are due in the Cook Islands in coming weeks to start work on an aid project, regarded as a world first.

The 50 million US dollar project to upgrade Rarotonga’s water supply was signed off amid some fanfare at the Pacific Islands Forum last year, as the first joint aid venture involving a traditional western donor and China.

Researcher Dr Philippa Brant has been in the Cook Islands to study the project which will see the Chinese lay 26 kilometres of pipes and New Zealanders install water treatment facilities.

Dr Brant says what is noticeable is how the project is being driven by the Cook Islands government.

"They’ve set up really strong governance structures. They will convene meetings between the New Zealand side, the Chinese and their own people to make sure that the political elements of the project are working as well as the more technical project elements."

Dr Brant says the Cook Islands government negotiated with China to have fewer Chinese workers on the job than originally planned.

[PIR editor’s note: Dr. Brant also said that this "ground-breaking aid project in the Cook Islands … could be a model for other Pacific Island countries."]

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