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Ranger Lo retrieves a rat from a DOC 200 trap just outside the pest-proof fence. One of the beautiful views from Tawharanui Regional Park

While in New Zealand for the Christmas holidays, Liam participated in two separate work attachments in the fields of biosecurity and conservation. The first of which was a three day attachment at Tawharanui Regional Park and the second was with Flybusters Antiants (FBA) during the annual National Invasive Ant Surveillance (NIAS) programme, also for three days. While at Tawharanui from the 4th-6th Jan, Liam spent time with three Auckland Council Park Rangers (David on Monday, Maurice on Tuesday and Lois on Wednesday) to learn more about how the rangers run this regional park and the conservation activities that take place.

Tawharanui is 90km north of central Auckland and is New Zealand’s first integrated open sanctuary – where farming, recreation and conservation of native species combine behind a predator proof fence. During Liam’s time at Tawharanui, he was given a tour of the Council buildings and native tree nursery, observed public relations between rangers and campgoers, performed maintenance work, fed endangered Takahe, and assisted in re-baiting and setting of baitlines. Liam took many ideas and skills away from this attachment which may be of benefit to the Cook Islands and would like to thank the Park Rangers for being such great hosts and Matt Maitland and Steve Cranwell for organising the

Paul and Liam (front, centre and far right) listen to one of the presentations at IUCN ORO in Suva.

From 7-11 December Liam was in Fiji representing Te Ipukarea Society and Marae Moana at a regional meeting for Large MPA’s titled Strengthening Cooperation between Large Marine Protected Areas in the Pacific. Paul Allsworth was also there representing Cook Island traditional leaders (Koutu Nui). The meeting lasted for three days (8th-10th December) and involved a number of presentations from Paul and Liam, as well as engaging with the other participants in order to achieve the meeting’s goals and to learn from one another. This meeting is held annually and organised by IUCN Oceania Regional Office.

The meeting had a number of outputs, including the sharing and updating of information regarding conservation activities occurring in respective MPA’s (including marine spatial planning, biodiversity data, invasive species eradication and restoration of species and habitats) and exchange of lessons learnt between established MPA’s with those in early implementation stages (eg. Marae Moana). The meeting provided a forum for exchange of knowledge on legal aspects of MPA’s and discussed ways to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. Paul and Liam also helped the IUCN ORO to plan for the next proposed meeting which will be in the Cook Islands this year.

The second protest march brought over 300 Cook Islanders together to make a stand against purse seine fishing. Individuals from both the oldest AND youngest sections of our community were there to represent our people at the march.

On the 21st November a group of over 300 protesters marched through Avarua, calling out to the government to stop purse seine fishing in the Cook Islands. This day also happened to be International Fisheries Day. The protesters were not fazed by the rainy start to the march, determined to make their concerns be heard, they marched from Avarua harbour through town ending at the reclaimed land beside Punanga Nui market. Te Ipukarea Society staff not only provided support for organising the march but also the provided well-informed information on the anti-purse seining debate for a number of local and foreign media groups who have been closely following the issue.

This march follows the first anti-purse seining march which was held on the 24th April this year. After this initial march, a petition featuring the signatures of more than 4,000 people was presented on June 12th. Despite these clear messages from the people of the Cook Islands that they do not want purse seine fishing in their waters, the Government has not only ignored them, but they have actually continued to sell further purse seine fishing licenses to foreign countries. The latest controversy is that the Ministry of Marine Resources is hoping for Cabinet is to sign a $9.6million dollar deal to allow a fleet of Spanish super-seiners (under the European Union) to fish in the Cook Islands for eight years or longer.

The anti-purse seining campaign has also received the support of the Aronga Mana, local fishermen, community groups and the general public. We would like to say meitaki ma’ata to all those who have financially contributed funds towards the campaign.

A court case is currently in progress, in which the countries traditional leaders or Aronga mana has teamed up with Te Ipukarea Society, to stop the government issuing a purse seine fishing licence to the European Union. Justice Grice declined the Crown’s application to strike out the petition and has adjourned the case until mid-March.

Sabine was kept busy by not only kids, but also adults who were interested in her re-purposed creations. June explains the composting ‘circle of life’ to fascinated students.

This year’s annual Lagoon Day was held on the 22-23rd October. This year TIS Sponsored Lagoon Day through paying for the use of the Rongohiva big screen, which was fully utilised in displaying numerous environment-related advertisements and short documentaries over the two days. The kids loved watching these clips while they were on their breaks!

Lagoon Day 2015 hosted over 1000 Cook Islands students and adults, and was a great opportunity for Cook Islands kids to learn more about how to look after their natural environment. Lagoon Day does not only focus on issues affecting the lagoon – but also those affecting the land and the ocean – as they are all interconnected.

Areas of learning included: climate change, ozone depleting substances, pearl cultivation, wetland Eco services, how to recycle rubbish through weaving, and planting seedlings in organic objects such as banana stems and eggshells, just to name a few!

Te Ipukarea Society’s display board featured a number of visuals which explained the projects we have been and are currently involved in. The main focus of our display was our worm farm which we brought over from our Tupapa office for the event, the kids loved lifting the lid and observing the miniature ecosystem within. Liam was there to explain the purpose of the worm farm, which is an environmentally friendly way of getting food scraps and other biodegradable materials out of landfills and fire pits, and he also showed the end-product – the compost and liquid fertilizer (tea), and explained the usefulness of these products for growing plants. One of the questions in the student’s questionnaire was “what is worm tea?”, and Liam was able to provide this information to the students. The TIS display also contained a selection of biodegradable containers, and a number of student posters from their Cook Islands Schools Poster Competition earlier this year. Sabine Janneck helped man the display and her recycled rubbish purses and baskets proved a real crowd favourite!

The event has been growing each year since its inception in 2008. TIS would like to congratulate all the students who presented during the Lagoon Day, June Hosking for organising the event, and all the sponsors for helping to make the event a success!

Mat Rima from NES educates the kids on native plants

On Friday 2nd October Liam was fortunate enough to join a school trip of Titikaveka College students up to the Takitumu Conservation Area. The trip was led by TCA staff Ian Karika and Tom Daniels as well as a number of NES staff. This was Liam’s first trip to the TCA and he thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Liam learnt a lot about the history of the area, the history of the Kakerori conservation project, and masses of information about our native (and invasive) plants and their traditional uses. Many students managed to catch a glimpse of Rarotonga’s rarest endemic bird – the kakerori, as well as learning much about nature conservation. Liam would like to thank the TCA and NES staff for allowing him to attend the trip.

The men of Mitiaro fishing for flying fish (maroro) from traditional canoes (paiere) with their large scoop nets. Some of the Maroro which is caught is processed (sun-dried) to create dried fish (ika maro).

Kelvin Passfield and Graham and Mary MacDonald returned to Mitiaro in September with hopes of collecting more footage on the fishing of the annual flying fish spawning (maroro tu). Last year TIS was successful in obtaining funding under the UNESCO participation programme to produce a documentary about the maroro tu, the fishermen who take advantage of this natural phenomenon, and the traditions behind it. In late October and early November 2014 Kelvin, Graham, Mary, and Paolo Cattania travelled to Mitiaro to start work on the project. During this first trip, a number of interviews were conducted with members of the community. Kelvin went on his own for a second trip in August 2015, however wasn’t successful in getting footage due to unfavourable weather conditions, instead Kelvin used his time to get good footage of the sustainable tuna fishery on the island which also uses traditional fishing methods.

This latest trip which lasted from the 18th to the 25th of September was ideal, with Kelvin managing to get a large amount of quality video and images of the maroro tu. This footage will be given to documentary editor Paolo to create the final product, which is hoped to be completed by the end of the year. As his first two trips have not been ideal for underwater filming, Graham may be able to return to Mitiaro one last time in an effort to get some good underwater footage. It is all a matter of being in the right place at the right time!

The TIS and Red Cross teams merged for a successful clean-up of the Tupapa beachfront and roadside.

On Friday the 18th of September a group of TIS members took part in the ‘Clean up the World Day’. Kelvin, Teina, Liam and Miraflor from The Dive Shop in Avarua (one of our new corporate sponsors) all gathered on the beach in Tupapa to pick up rubbish. The TIS contingent teamed up with the Red Cross group and cleaned up the Tupapa coastal area from Club Raro to the TIS office, and some of us even cleaned up the Tupapa main road while walking back to our cars at Club Raro! Meitaki maata to Moana from NES who came by our office to pick up our rubbish (two large rubbish bags and Teina’s two cardboard boxes) and to Matthew who gave us the disposable gloves and rubbish bags to do the job.

TIS would like to congratulate all those who helped organise or took part in Clean up the World Day, all your hard work has helped make our local environment look more beautiful. Unfortunately, picking up rubbish does not solve the root of the rubbish problem, as the real problem lies with people’s consumption patterns, importers and the food-packaging culture which produces the huge amount of waste which not only litters our shores and waterways but also fills up our landfill.

Vakaho and Tokoteru receive the signboard from Liam

On Monday 17th August, Te Ipukarea Society Project Officer Liam Kokaua visited the Rakahanga Hostel to present prizes to three of the students of Rakuraku School. Rierson Tupou, who was at school at the time, won the 4-7 age category and received a $50 Bounty Bookshop voucher and $150 for their school. Vakaho Takai who won the 16-20 age category, received a cheque for $200 and $150 for her school. Tokoteru Tarau, winner of the People’s Choice award (voted by the public) won a $40 voucher to the Whale & Wildlife Centre, a double pass on the Raro Reef Sub and a hand-made purse made of recycled materials. Meitaki ma’ata to the Whale & Wildlife Centre, Raro Reef Subs and Sabine Janneck for sponsoring the People’s Choice Award. Loveinio Oti who won the 8-11 age category has since relocated to Mitiaro and received his voucher from Kelvin during his visit to the island. Having 3 of the 4 age category winners, Rakuraku School received a total of $450 for their school, which has been received by Principal Bazza Ross. Mr Ross had the following to say: “On behalf of our students at Rakuraku School, we are grateful to have been included in this project. Our school is currently working on Climate change and investigating Life processes and Environmental factors that affect them…so the timing was right for our artists”.

In total, 4 age category prizes and a People’s Choice Award were up for grabs. The other prize went to Taylor Tara from Araura College, who won the 12-15 age category. She is back in Aitutaki however she has received a $150 Bounty Bookshop voucher and $150 for her school for her poster.

Te Ipukarea Society (TIS) is concerned with what it sees as the Government’s lack of transparency over the issuing of fishing licences.

TIS which has been voicing concern over the purse seine fishing issue for most of the year, has presented an anti-purse seine fishing petition to Parliament bearing 4000-plus signatures.

The organisation’s technical advisor, Kelvin Passfield, says TIS is concerned that, in spite of the voting public asking for a ban on purse seining, government has since issued licences to at least two additional fishing companies to fish in Cook Islands waters.

He says this has been done without any disclosure to the public.

CI News sent an email to the Ministry of Marine Resources secretary Ben Ponia on Friday last week, asking questions about the additional fishing licences, but has yet to receive a response.

And Clerk of Parliament, John Tangi, could not be reached for an update on the petition as he was out of the country. He was expected to return to Rarotonga late yesterday.

However, in June, CI News reported that Murienua MP James Beer would table the petition in parliament once Tangi and his team had checked the credibility of the petition and the signatures, and once the Speaker of the House had sanctioned it.

Beer said he would ensure all the views and concerns of the campaign were properly dealt with in parliament.

Passfield says TIS believes the issuing of licences to two additional fishing companies is in direct contravention of the Marine Resources Act 2005.

“This is because purse seine fishing using FADs (Fishing Aggregate Devices) is contributing to the over-exploitation of bigeye tuna stocks.”

The Act, Passfield says, says that the secretary or minister as appropriate should make decisions based on the best scientific evidence available and be designed to maintain or restore target stocks at levels capable of producing maximum sustainable yield and as qualified by relevant environmental and economic factors.

He says the Act also states a precautionary approach should be applied and that the impacts of fishing on non-target species and the marine environment should be minimised while making decisions regarding issuing of the fishing licences.

The issue of extra licences being issued came to Passfield’s attention after Ponia did a television interview on Mangaia where he had traveled to present his side of the purse seine fishing issue to island residents.

“In that interview he was asked about purse seine boats licenced to fish in the Cook Islands exclusive economic zone,” Passfield said.

“He responded that a US fleet, Korean companies, and a New Zealand company, were all licenced for purse seining in the Cook Islands.

“This is particularly worrying because up until Ponia’s interview, the public had only been told about the 40 boats in the US purse seine fleet, the involvement of Korean company Silla, and the intention of future negotiations with the European Union.

“Now we hear about Korean companies (plural) and a New Zealand company. When did these come into the picture and who are these companies?

“How many boats are there and how many fishing days have been granted to these additional boats?

“Are they allowed to use FADs, and was there any public consultation on these additional licences?”

There are strong opinions on both sides of the purse seine fishing debate, with Finance Minister Mark Brown saying earlier this year that banning purse seining in the Cook Islands was not the solution.

He said the country was expected to collect over $12 million in fishing licence fees in this financial year and added that banning purse seining would mean giving away that revenue to neighbouring countries

- Cook Islands News, 12th August 2015

IAN Karika has been re-elected president of the Te Ipukarea Society (TIS) for another term.

The well-known environmentalist and traditional voyager had the support of members at the organisation’s annual general meeting a week ago.

TIS technical director Kelvin Passfield says Dame Margaret Karika remains as patron, as she has been with the organisation since it was formed in 1996.

Teina Mackenzie was elected vice-president, Jolene Bosanquet treasurer and Inano McMurchy secretary.

A new executive committee was elected, made up of Avaiki Aperau, Helen Greig, David Furnell and Sabine Janeck.

In addition, the AGM agreed to award lifetime membership to those who have been members of TIS since its initiation.

They include Kelvin Passfield, Ana Tiraa, Jacqui Evans, Ian Karika, Tamara Suchodolsky, Ed Saul and Jolene Bosanquet.

- Cook Islands News, 30th June 2015

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