We are currently seeking clarification if EIA’s (Environmental Impact Assessments) have been
submitted to NES for the Hotel at Vaimaanga & the Arorangi Jetty project. Any major development such as these, whether Government or Private Sector needs to have EIA’s
approved. An EIA sets out clearly the Project, the specifications, time frame, benefits & challenges and approval is either granted or denied by the Rarotonga Environment Authority. It’s not just about whether the project could be detrimental to the environment. The cultural, community and human resources aspects also need addressing. For example who is going to staff the Vaimaanga Hotel?. Not Cook Islanders that’s for sure as already overseas workers are employed at hotels on Rarotonga due to the lack of locals available. The current prospective developers want the road put around the back of the hotel. If Government agrees to this then a precedent has been set and those tourism properties that exist on both sides of the road will surely apply for the same concession eg The Rarotongan, Palm Grove, Pacific Resort, Sea Change and others. TIS has always been a “watchdog” on sustainable development. We are hopeful that the new Minister for the Environment who also is the Prime Minister, Hon Henry Puna, will promote sustainable development as part of his goal to ensure the Cooks are “green”, rather than be influenced by the big bucks. TIS representatives will meet with the PM to offer
assistance from TIS to help achieve his admirable goal.