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About us


Students at Bird Sanctuary

Who is Te Ipukarea Society Inc?

Te Ipukarea translates as “our heritage”. We are a Cook Islands environmental NGO (non‐
government organisation) formed to help look after our heritage. We were the very first Cook
Islands environmental NGO, registered as an Incorporated Society on 12th June 1996. You can download our brochure here

We are members of IUCN and Birdlife International. Among our staff and membership we have well respected scientists and active campaigners for environmental sustainability. Te Ipukarea Society is managed by a voluntary committee who are elected by members at our Annual General Meeting, as per our constitution. Paid staff and volunteers attend to the day‐to‐day running of the Society. At present, these include:

Kelvin Passfield – Technical Director
Alanna Smith – Conservation Programme Manager
Kate McKessar – Senior Project Officer
Mary McDonald – Finance Manager
Charlee McLean – Environmental Intern

Our Philosophy

TIS encourages innovative, proactive and positive outcomes to environmental problems, by working with individuals, families, community organizations, private sector and government. We provide leadership on key environmental issues and a voice for local, regional and nation-wide environmental groups. We recognize and incorporate into our campaign objectives the connection between environmental sustainability and social and economic justice. We believe individuals must avoid actions that have negative effects on the wider community, including plants and animals and future generations. We promote the philosophy that we do not own our land and marine resources but we borrow them from our ancestors.

History

TIS was the first Cook Islands environmental NGO and was established in 1996 as a direct result of the downsizing of the Environment Service. TIS was formed by a group of citizens who felt some of the projects axed were worthwhile continuing for the benefit of the Cook Islands. Since then the National Environment Service has strengthened, and TIS works closely with them where NGO involvement is needed. This may be in a supportive role or through campaigns that raise awareness on specific topics that affect our country.

How do we work?

TIS has a Constitution and is managed by a President and voluntary committee which comprises of a cross section of the community , who are elected by members at our Annual General Meeting. The Society is registered at the Cook Islands Ministry of Justice under the Incorporated Societies Act 1994. TIS has an overall Programme Manager who co-ordinates the day-to-day running of TIS as well as several Project Managers. Members participate in their specific area of focus.

What does TIS do?

Te Ipukarea Society encourages innovative,proactive and positive outcomes to environmental problems, by working with individuals,community organisations, private sector and government. We provide leadership on key environmental issues and a voice for our community. We incorporate the connection
between environmental sustainability and social and economic justice. We believe individuals must avoid actions that negatively impact our plants, animals, current and future generations.

We coordinate important local and nation‐wide campaigns on a broad range of environmental
issues in the Cook Islands. We also implement environmental projects and lobby Government.
We have 5 Key Focal Areas:

BIODIVERSITY – e.g Invasive species eradications, native bird surveys and monitoring, advocating conservation efforts for both terrestrial and marine ecosystems.

CLIMATE CHANGE – e.g Promoting nature-based adaptation to climate change; Educational programmes amongst schools across the Cook Islands.

ECOLOGICALLY SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT – e.g Raising awareness on the potential impacts of deep sea mining, overfishing, commenting on Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) which threaten wetlands and coastal areas, promoting a sustainable tourism industry.

WASTE – e.g Advocating the benefits of compost bins and worm farms which we provide to local communities; promoting the use of re-useable and biodegradable packaging and nappies; awareness raising documentaries and short clips.

YOUTH – e.g School presentations on various environmental issues, youth science camps, environmental competitions and training on environmental monitoring. Annual internship opportunities through the Dame Margaret Karika Internship Award.

Mana Tiaki

Mana Tiaki simply means being a guardian of something, and in this case being a guardian of our environment. Being an NGO it’s hard to try and find funds to go towards projects we feel are needed, and Mana Tiaki provides these unrestricted funds to conduct projects across our 5 focal areas (Biodiversity, Youth, Climate Change, Eco Sustainable Development and Waste Management). Mana Tiaki is made possible through the assistance of our visiting guests, who give back to our environment by making a donation of their choice at participating accomodation, bars, cafes and recreational businesses. Typically there is a Mana Tiaki donation box made present at the front counter, or at participating accomodations such as Muri Beachcomber, Pacific Resort and Ikurangi Eco Retreat guests are asked upon checkout to make a donation of their choice which is then channeled into the 5 different focal areas TIS works around.

Check out our Mana Tiaki tab to see how donations have been used.
Meitaki maata to all those who have supported our Mana Tiaki campaign

Our Mission

The mission of the Society is to promote the balance and harmony, which should characterise the relationship of the Cook Islands people with other components of our environment.

Our Objectives

- To disseminate information and create public awareness amongst members and the community regarding environmental matters.

- To demonstrate sound ideas and practices for the purpose of promoting conservative and sustainable development through carefully selected field projects; such demonstrations to draw on the traditional knowledge and practices where they are considered beneficial.

- To co-operate with similar organizations within the Cook Islands and throughout the world for the purpose of advancing the course of conservation and sustainable e development.