Facebook Twitter

Download our latest newsletters


PDF Download
July 2019 Newsletter
PDF Download
June 2019 Newsletter
PDF Download
May 2019 Newsletter
PDF Download
April 2019 Newsletter
PDF Download
March 2019 Newsletter
PDF Download
January - February 2019 newsletter
PDF Download
December 2018 Newsletter
PDF Download
November 2018 Newsletter
PDF Download
October 2018 Newsletter
PDF Download
August-September 2018 Newsletter
PDF Download
July 2018 Newsletter
PDF Download
June 2018 Newsletter
PDF Download
April-May 2018 Newsletter
PDF Download
March 2018 Newsletter
PDF Download
February 2018 Newsletter
PDF Download
December-January 2017-18 Newsletter
PDF Download
October-November 2017 Newsletter
PDF Download
September 2017 Newsletter
PDF Download
August 2017 Newsletter
PDF Download
July 2017 Newsletter
PDF Download
June 2017 Newsletter
PDF Download
May 2017 Newsletter
PDF Download
April 2017 Newsletter
PDF Download
March 2017 Newsletter
PDF Download
February 2017 Newsletter
PDF Download
January 2017 Newsletter
PDF Download
December 2016 Newsletter
PDF Download
November 2016 Newsletter
PDF Download
October 2016 Newsletter
PDF Download
September 2016 Newsletter
PDF Download
August 2016 Newsletter
PDF Download
July 2016 Newsletter
PDF Download
June 2016 Newsletter
PDF Download
May 2016 Newsletter
PDF Download
April 2016 Newsletter
PDF Download
March 2016 Newsletter
PDF Download
February 2016 Newsletter
PDF Download
January 2016 Newsletter
PDF Download
November 2015 Newsletter
PDF Download
October 2015 Newsletter
PDF Download
September 2015 Newsletter
PDF Download
August 2015 Newsletter
PDF Download
July 2015 Newsletter
PDF Download
June 2015 Newsletter
PDF Download
May 2015 Newsletter
PDF Download
April 2015 Newsletter
PDF Download
March 2015 Newsletter
PDF Download
February 2015 Newsletter
PDF Download
November 2014 Newsletter
PDF Download
October 2014 Newsletter
PDF Download
September 2014 Newsletter
PDF Download
April May 2014 Newsletter
PDF Download
March 2014 Newsletter
PDF Download
TIS newsletter Oct 2013
PDF Download
TIS newsletter Sept 2013
PDF Download
TIS newsletter Feb 2013
PDF Download
TIS newsletter Jan 2013
PDF Download
TIS newsletter Dec 2012
PDF Download
TIS newsletter Nov 2012
PDF Download
TIS newsletter Oct 2012
PDF Download
Environmental impacts of seabed mining brochure
PDF Download
Te Ipukarea Society Brochure 2017-18
PDF Download
TIS Submission on Draft Seabed Minerals Bill

Meitaki ma’ata to our 2019 Corporate Sponsors!

Join in the World Ocean Day on Saturday June 8th from 8 AM – 12 PM at the Rarotonga Sailing Club for the Beach Clean Up Mission.

We will be targeting Motu of Muri lagoon, in particular the seaward side, to remove all rubbish from big to microplastics. Everyone is welcome and sacks are provided. Bring your own water bottle, reef shoes, insect repellent, gloves and passion for our beautiful lagoon. Transport to the motu is provided and there will be prizes, a sausage sizzle and some drinks afterwards!

2018-2019 has been another busy year for the society with a lot of project activity and changes happening as well. I have enjoyed my first year as President of the Society and have appreciated the support and enthusiasm of the executive committee, most of whom were newly appointed at the 2018 AGM.

Earlier this year we bid farewell to two staff members Liam Kokaua and Alanna Smith, both of whom left to complete postgraduate studies. We wish to thank them both for their dedication and hard work and we look forward to Alanna’s return to the fold towards the end of this year. We were very pleased to welcome a new Project Officer Kate McKessar and have also employed two more young Cook Islanders as environmental interns, thanks to the Dame Margaret Karika Internship, now funded through our Mana Tiaki fundraising efforts.

Below are brief summaries of the past year’s work under our five focal areas.

Biodiversity
We were very proud of Jacqui Evans for winning the prestigious Goldman Environment Prize in April 2019 for her tireless work with the Marae Moana marine park. This has thrown an international spotlight onto the innovative approach towards conservation of both ocean and land biodiversity in the Cook Islands.

Te Ipukarea Society was involved in the first two years setting up the Marae Moana, with the support of Ocean’s Five, crucially helping to convince government to increase the size of the zones from 24nm to 50nm. This past year, Liam has continued to sit on the Marae Moana Technical Advisory Group and I have sat on the Marae Moana Council, both of us having been elected as the Cook Island NGO representatives. Our presence at these meetings ensures we can contribute to the development of policy and ensure that biodiversity conservation remains a significant part of Marae Moana’s activities.

Throughout January – April 2019 our staff had several opportunities to assist and learn from shark researcher Jess Cramp on her shark tagging trips in Rarotonga. We support and commend Jess on her work to protect our sharks, which spans back to her work in getting the Cook Islands declared a shark sanctuary in 2012.

Following on from the 2018 Suwarrow rat eradication exercise, we have continued to work on two related projects (BirdLife-Pacific Island Forum and BirdLife Young Conservation Leaders) which focus on creating strong policy and advocacy work for Suwarrow to ensure it remains protected and biosecurity is strengthened for the future.

Climate Change
Our first climate change project ‘Learning by Doing’ funded through the SRIC-CC, was completed in July 2018. Pukapuka and Nassau were the final two schools in the Pa Enua to be given weather stations and trainings on how to read these instruments and make climate records for their islands.
Our second climate change project, focusing on building resilient coastlines in the Pacific is also almost complete. The project focuses on providing natural or soft solutions to coastal erosion in Aitutaki and Tokelau plus working with organic farmers in Niue.

Eco-Sustainable Development
In October 2018 we were pleased to learn that the Court of Appeal had upheld the claim by Te Ipukarea Society and the Aronga Mana of Te Au O Tonga against the Government, regarding the European Union agreement for purse seine fishing in Cook Islands waters. The Government was found to have breached its domestic and international legal obligations in several key areas. The Government has elected to appeal this decision to the Privy Council in England. We are currently awaiting the date of hearing to be set. We are very grateful to the financial support to fight this case from both local and overseas supporters through donations and fund raising, plus the assistance from the law firm LeeSalmonLong.

In April 2019 we launched an initiative for sustainable tourism called the Mana Tiaki Eco-Certification programme. It is a joint initiative between Te Ipukarea Society, Cook Islands Tourism Corporation and the Cook Islands Tourism Industry Council. This green accreditation scheme offers local businesses an opportunity to celebrate the things they are doing right when it comes to the environment, and a pathway to best practice for those wanting to do more.

The Society continues to be actively involved in Seabed Minerals Sector consultation and awareness raising. Together with local NGO Korero te Orau, we jointly commissioned a legal opinion on the draft Seabed Minerals Bill, which made several recommendations. This legal opinion formed the basis of our submission on the draft Bill in February 2019. We continue to educate the public about seabed mining through our information brochures and have run a series of newspaper articles on key issues.

Waste Management
In mid 2018 we commenced on a new campaign called ‘Plastic Battle’. We were fortunate that SPS (Save Philippines Seas) provided much of the promotional information for this free of charge. The campaign works through partnership with business establishments, promoting alternative sources of drinking water through refilling stations, or by upscaling bottled water sold to 1 litre sizes and above. In early 2019 the Society ran a promotion selling reusable, insulated stainless steel bottles, which has been a great success with over 90% of the stock sold.

Our GEF SGP funded waste management programme has come to an end. In the end all schools in the Cook Islands received worm farms and composters. Our staff will continue doing checks on the school worm farms and composters this year. Going forwards we are currently developing a proposal on changing behaviours towards waste management in the Pa Enua and will be seeking funding for this through the Global Environment Facility small grants programme. We will continue to advocate for better waste management solutions in the future and we regularly run articles on waste management issues in the newspaper.

Youth
We have continued to engage with youth this year including presentations to schools on a range of topics.
Staff teamed up with the Eat Less Plastic team in September 2018 as they presented to schools on the issue of marine plastics.

As previously mentioned we have been able to employ young local Cook Islander’s Jessie and Charlee as interns to provide assistance and also to extend their own knowledge and experience in local environmental issues. Our project officer Liam assisted NGO Korero o te ʻOrau in their culture-based holiday programme for Cook Islands youth. Specifically, a field trip up the Takuvaine Valley, an area which Liam is closely affiliated with.

Te Ipukarea Society held its 23rd Annual General Meeting on Thursday 23 May, marking 24 years since the Society was formed in 1996.

Special guest speaker on the evening was Jacqui Evans, who won the Goldman Environment Prize last month. Rather than talk about the prize itself, Jacqui chose to give a little history on how the Society came to be established. She is well qualified to do this, having been one of the founding members back in 1996 (when she was 12 years old, she said!).

Jacqui explained that the need for an environmental NGO became apparent because of the large reduction in the size of the public service, from around 3500 in the early 1990s to around 1500 after the reform process. This meant that a lot of the work that should have been completed by the Cook Islands Conservation Service (now National Environment Service) would not get done.

The Society existed as a purely volunteer organization for the first 14 years of its life, until some funds were found to start employing a part time youth coordinator for 12 months. A few years later more project funds allowed the Society to employ a Coordinator, and Jacqui was the successful applicant for that position. She remains committed to the work the Society does, and was made a life member 2 years ago, along with several other founding members. One of the strengths of the Society that Jacqui highlighted was the very sound financial management, which is reflected in the annual external audits that are conducted for presentation at the AGM.

The meeting agreed to retain the 2 patrons selected at the 2018 AGM, Kamoe Mataiapo Ian Karika and Tinomana Ariki. Re-elected were 6 of the previous 8 executive committee members. These were Teina Mackenzie as President, Avaiki Aperau as vice President, Sabine Janneck as treasurer, and Jessie Sword, Hayley Weeks, and Patricia Tuara. New executive members are Anna Rasmussen, along with long time Society supporter and another of the founding members, Jolene Bosanquet as secretary.

Te Ipukarea Society would like to thank everyone that attended the meeting and signed up on the night. We would also like to especially acknowledge our corporate sponsors and of course all our individual and family members that represent the high level of community support for the Society.

Kelvin Passfield, Technical Director at Te Ipukarea Society speaks to Radio NZ about the new Mana Tiaki Eco Certification project.

Listen to the RNZ interview with Te Ipukarea Society

Te Ipukarea Society is proud to announce the launch of the new Mana Tiaki Eco Certification. The launch is to be held at the Discover Marine and Wildlife Eco Centre in Arorangi on Wednesday the 3rd of April from 8.30am till 10am

TIS has partnered with Tourism Cook Islands, Ridge to Reef, and the Cook Island’s Tourism Council to develop the eco certification standards, which will operate in a similar way to the Cook Islands Quality Assured basic accreditation scheme.

Tourism operators are encouraged to apply for eco certification by demonstrating that they meet environmentally sustainable practices in their operations. Operators that meet the standards are rewarded with the recognition that this type of green accreditation can bring. Application fees will be waived for 2019!

With the growth of tourism in the Cook Islands, the protection of our natural environment is critical. The Mana Tiaki Eco certification provides a framework for best practice, celebrating and recognising those going above and beyond as well as encouraging others to take on more sustainable practices.

Come along to the launch to find out more!. Otherwise feel free to contact our team at Te Ipukarea Society’s office: phone 21144 or email info@tiscookislands.org

Te Ipukarea Society made a submission on the Draft Deep Sea Mining Bill. The link to our submission can be found here:
TIS Submission to DDSMB

One of our key recommendations in the submission was that any seabed mining exploration should involve an independently selected research organization specialising in deep sea biodiversity. This is to ensure that biodiversity information is gathered and biodiversity conservation is prioritized.

The submission includes a substantial legal comment on the Draft, prepared by Catherine J Iorns Magallane, Professor in Law at Victoria University and Academic Adviser to the New Zealand Council of Legal Education. The opinion included suggestions and recommendations for changes to the Bill.

In addition, we recommend that the Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to the Marae Moana should act as the Advisory Committee at least in the early stages, until wider expertise is developed.

We would also like to add to Ms Magallane’s comments on the proposed changes to the Environment Act 2003, and the powers of the Minister and the Director for the Environment. It needs to be noted that the Director of the Environment Service is a politcal appointee, unlike other heads of ministries that come under the Public Service Commission. This means the Director may be appointed for other reasons than their abilities related to conserving the Cook Islands environment, and amounts to an additional lack of separation of powers. We feel that this is particularly dangerous when it comes to protecting our environment

We also request that the government adopt the SPC/EU Project Guidelines in relation to the adaptive management approach to deep seabed mining, i.e :

“An incremental approach to a DSM activity where impacts are uncertain, e.g., staged work programmes, that allow activities to be scaled up or down or cancelled, depending on observed results, or permitting trial mining (or validation sampling) on a small scale, rather than immediately authorising commercial-scale activity.”

We feel that there is insufficient information available on the environmental risks to allow seabed mining in our waters at this time.

Te Ipukarea Society held their AGM on Tuesday 10th July at the USP complex. The evening started with a presentation on the team’s recent work trip to Suwarrow, which was delivered in a documentary form. The Suwarrow documentary included footage of the rat eradication work that took place on Suwarrow along with the bird surveys that were conducted on each of the atolls. It also highlighted the current waste issue Suwarrow is facing with washed up rubbish and FADS now encroaching onto its shores.

The screening of the documentary brought in a number of interested members from the community who wanted to gain a better idea of not only what conservation work was involved but to also visually see what Suwarrow has to show, with its scenery and biodiversity. There was a lot of interest from the audience on the video, and the eradication team fielded a number of questions. If you missed the documentary this has now been uploaded to YouTube and can be viewed through the following link https://youtu.be/pASTAizIxfk

The remainder of the evening comprised of the TIS 2018 AGM. It started with Senior Project Officer Liam Kokaua delivering a thorough overview of the president’s report on behalf of Ian Karika, with a summary of activities TIS got up to between 2017-18. This President’s report can be viewed on our TIS web page www.tiscookislands.org

The election of the new committee members was also completed and resulted in an exciting TIS executive board for 2018. With the passing of Makea Karika Ariki Dame Margaret Karika a new patron for TIS was needed. As a result of nominations, TIS now has two patrons for 2018. The 2017-2018 president of TIS, Kamoe Mataiapo, Ian Karika and Tinomana Ariki, Tokerau Munro. A new president was then required, and this position unanimously went to former TIS Vice President Teina Mackenzie. Vice President was passed onto former TIS executive member Avaiki Aperau. Secretary, is now former executive member Sabine Janneck, while the treasurer remained the same, with Marry MacDonald. Executive members saw some new exciting personal with Hayley Weeks, Patricia Tuara, Jessie Sword and Jerimiah Samuela.

Te Ipukarea Society would like to thank all that turned up to the Suwarrow presentation and AGM, and would like to congratulate all new and former members that were elected onto the executive board.

The evening finished with a meal prepared by the eradication team, made from left over Suwarrow food supplies. The team left a lot of their food for the rangers, but there was some they preferred the team took back with them. The “Suwarrow Pot Luck” dinner consisted of split pea soup (dal), brown rice, chick pea salad, and a baked bean and tinned corn beef stew. It was very well received!

If you wish to become a member or corporate member of Te Ipukarea Society please get in touch with a.smith@tiscookislands.org

2017-2018 has been a busy and progressive year for the society. There was also a sad time as we mourned the loss of our long serving Patron, Dame Makea Karika Margaret Ariki. Mama Karika had been our Patron since the society’s formation in 1996.
Over the past 13 months we have completed some major projects and commenced other new exciting projects. We have retained our 4 staff members as well as commenced the Dame Margaret Karika Environmental internship with the hiring of an intern in early 2018. We look forward to the coming year with some interesting projects and opportunities in the works. Meitaki ma’ata to our executive committee, staff, volunteers, and supporters for a successful year.
Below are brief summaries of the past year’s work under our five focal areas.
Biodiversity
Our staff have worked more closely with local schools this year, after being approached to do presentations to classes as well as help out with school tours to the Takitumu Conservation Area. Liam has begun assisting Ian with cruise ship groups which visit the TCA, which helps bring in money for the Area, as well as a little for TIS. Alanna and Liam joined New Zealand DoC again in August 2017 to conduct kakerori banding and also started learning some of the baiting tracks.
The Suwarrow team recently returned from a rat eradication exercise funded by the GEF SGP on the National Park. The team successfully conducted bird surveys on the island in between rat baiting rounds, and we will await confirmation that Suwarrow is rat-free in one or two years. In the meanwhile we have two small projects (BirdLife-Pacific Island Forum and BirdLife Young Conservation Leaders) which focus on creating strong policy and advocacy work for Suwarrow to ensure it remains protected and biosecurity is strengthened for the future.
The Marae Moana Bill was passed in parliament on 11th July 2017, which is a huge move for conservation of both ocean and land biodiversity in the Cook Islands. Our technical director worked hard to gather support for 50 nautical mile exclusion zones around each island in the Cook Islands, and through doing this helped to convince government to increase the size of the zones from 24nm to 50nm. We have Liam Kokaua on the Marae Moana Technical Advisory Group to contribute to the development of Marae Moana policy and ensure biodiversity conservation remains a significant part of Marae Moana’s activities. We also have Teina Mackenzie on the Marae Moana Council as the NGO representative.
We have been involved in the development of the new NBSAP as contractors for the Ecosystem Services Valuation, as well as stakeholders providing comment during the development of the new document, which will guide biodiversity activities for the next 4 years.
Alanna won the Miss Cook Islands pageant and travelled to China to participate in Miss World. She used these opportunities to showcase the conservation efforts on the Rimatara lorikeet and the work she has done at Te Ipukarea Society with the Tanga’eo. She has continued her research into Petrels and Shearwaters in the Cook Islands, placing acoustic bird recorders on different mountain peaks, and most recently on Mangaia. She also attended a UNESCO Biosphere reserve meeting on behalf of TIS.
Liam was able to spend two weeks conducting whale research in the Great Barrier Reef, increasing his and TIS’ capacity in cetacean research. He also commenced a postgraduate certificate in Ridge to Reef Sustainability, funded through the Ridge to Reef Programme. Also through the R2R programme, Liam participated in two surveys of the endemic Ara Pepe plant, one in Mauke and one in Atiu.
Climate Change
Our first climate change project, Weather Stations in Schools, has kicked off with the majority of outer island schools now recipients of weather stations and having received trainings in how to read these instruments and make climate records for their islands.
Our second climate change project, focussing on building resilient coastlines in the Pacific focusses on providing natural or soft solutions to coastal erosion and other climate related issues in the Northern Cook Islands. We also have other projects in Niue, and Tokelau. This is the society’s first project to span beyond Cook Islands borders, and has brought in valuable income which helps us maintain our work in the Cook Islands.
Eco-Sustainable Development
Alongside the Cook Islands Aronga Mana, we took the Government to court for the signing of the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement with the EU.
The initial court case was from 3-6th July 2017 and after a number of months we were informed that we were unfortunately unsuccessful. It was agreed between TIS and the Aronga Mana to go to the Court of Appeal in May 2018, and we are currently waiting on the results. We continue to encourage our people to learn more about the status of our fish stocks and to practice or purchase from sustainable fisheries. Our team attended the WCPFC Scientific Commission meeting held in RArotonga in July 2017. The use of FADs by purse seiners continues to be a major contributor to the decline in fish stocks and other marine life.
Tourism – we continue to advocate for a sustainable tourism industry. We are currently working as the TA for the development of a Tourism Acreditation Scheme for tourist accommodations and businesses, which is funded by the Ridge to Reef Project.
Seabed Mining – we have been involved in interviews and providing comments with a number of researchers and during stakeholder consultations. We continue to educate the public about seabed mining through our information brochures particularly at events such as environment week.
Our team, especially Kelvin has continued the reviewing of EIAs distributed by NES
Our Mana Tiaki programme has grown to include a number of businesses on Rarotonga, and includes the placement of donation boxes at local businesses such as bars, cafes, department stores, and hardware stores. Mana Tiaki income for our projects has increased considerably since 2016.
Liam became a youth ambassador for Sustainable Development on the global stage when he was invited to the UNESCO Education for Sustainable Development Conference in Paris. This followed a full day workshop he ran in February 2018 which had 38 high school youth attend to learn more about ESD.
On a very positive note, through publishing an appeal on behalf of the Cook Islands Voyaging Society, one of our BirdLife donor contacts donated 20,000 NZD to CIVS to go towards repairs of their hull which was fire damaged in 2017. We are happy to support CIVS as they are an advocate for both marine conservation and sustainable ocean transport, while maintaining Cook Islands Maori cultural values. The donors also gave 10,000 NZD towards the Dame Margaret Environmental Internship.
Waste Management
Our GEF SGP funded waste management programme has come to an end. In the end all schools except one in the Cook Islands received worm farms and composters. They also received training by competent TIS staff on how to manage these facilities and how they benefit the environment. Through the GEF project we also focussed on awareness raising of waste issues, promoting safe disposal of E-waste, and promoting biodegradable containers and straws which have become vastly more popular over the past 2 years. Our staff will continue doing checks on the worm farms and composters.
Through our Mana Tiaki programme we have also been working with Pacific Resort to help them reduce their environmental impact through presentations and judging their mana tiaki inter-department staff competition.
We organsied a public screening of ‘A Plastic Ocean’ which highlights the dire situation of plastic marine debris currently filling our oceans, which was well attended.
Our Waste Management project won the Energy Globe national award for the Cook Islands for 2017.
We will continue to advocate for better waste management solutions in the future.
Youth
As mentioned previously, we have greatly increased our presence at school and in youth engagement in general this year. This includes presentations to classes on topics such as Endangered Species, Waste Management, and Biodiversity Conservation. Our Waste Management and Weather Stations Project specifically focussed on youth in Schools throughout the Cook Islands. We have also been active in public events which target youth such as the annual Environment Week.

Te Ipukarea Society joined with the expertise of BirdLife international and support of the National Environment Service, have just recently returned back from a rat eradication and bird surveying project on Suwarrow. Suwarrow is the Cook islands first national park and is homed to sharks, turtles, rays and of course thousands of breeding seabirds.

This is the 3rd attempt Te Ipukarea Society have made to remove the invasive rodents (Pacific rat Rattus exults) from the atoll since 2003. The last baiting occurred in 2013, and at that time rats were successfully removed from Anchorage, the main Motu where the National Environment Service (NES) rangers are based, and also where the visiting yachts anchor. Unfortunately a few survived on Motu Tou and Motu Kena.

One of the reasons it was thought that the 2013 operation on Motu Tou had failed was because of the very high numbers of coconut crabs there that love eating the rat bait. So this time, the team planned to apply more than double the amount of rat bait as last time, in the hope that there would be plenty for both the rats and the crabs. Crabs are totally unaffected by the rat bait, though it is recommended that humans do not eat the crabs for at least 6 months after a baiting operating such as this.

The eradication work required a lot of physical strength, with the clearing of bush to create tracks to make an island sized grid. This cleared grid then allowed for the rat baiters to track down each line to manually hand throw rat bait in a circular motion evenly across the island. This whole procedure took about 17 days in total.

Once the first round of bait was laid the eradication team left the baited motus for 10 days to allow for the poison to take effect.

During this 10 day period bird surveys were conducted on each of the islet. Sooty terns and Frigate birds were nesting and present in great numbers during the survey, with the sooty terns reaching numbers in the tens of thousands. Brown boobies, white terns and red tailed tropic birds were also nesting in healthy numbers across the islets. Interesting finds included spotting the masked boobie, and the globally threatened bristle thighed curlew which breeds in Alaska and spends its non breeding season on tropical pacific atolls.

Visiting each of the islets however, also highlighted the impacts of plastic waste and FADS that are now littering our oceans and islands. On a number of motus, plastic waste would trail along the high tide mark and would be scattered throughout the islet from past storm surveys. 50 + FADS were also spotted either washed up on land or tangled on coral heads.

On completion of the bird surveys the team returned back to Motu Kena and Motu Tou to distribute the final round of bait along each grid line. The second round was required in case the first round of baiting was affected by external circumstances such as rain or any inconsistences that may have occurred in the first round of baiting.

A week later rat traps were put out across Motu Tou to give some insight as to whether the eradication was a success. Having been left over night and checked the next day, it was definitely a sigh of relief to have not caught one rat in any of the traps, giving some level of confidence that the eradication was a success.
It will be a years time before the team are certain the eradication project was a success by re trapping. And if successful, history would have been made with Suwarrow being named rat free for the first time since human habitation.

Read more of our news ...


Page 1 of 16 Next