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Environmental impacts of seabed mining brochure
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How to make mozzie traps
Newly elected executive committee plus staff at Te Ipukarea Society AGM 2020 President Teina Mackenzie delivers her Presidents Report for 2020

As we enter the 25th year since our Society was established in 1996, it seems that the task of caring for our Cook Islands Environment is not getting any easier. If anything, the environmental challenges we face have ramped up.

COVID 19 may have given our island home a brief respite in the past few months, but the economic impacts of the virus have not yet fully hit home. This brings with it a whole new set of environmental challenges. In the international and regional fora, the recognition of the link between the loss of biodiversity and the resulting pandemic has been made but this important fact has not yet reached our national shores.

At our AGM in May last year, our guest speaker was Goldman Environment Prize winner, Jacqui Evans. When Jacqui was later dismissed from her role managing the Marae Moana Marine Park, it became clear that her suggestion to move more slowly on seabed mining had played a significant role in the decision not to renew her contract.

In June last year, the new Seabed Minerals Bill was passed by Parliament. We put in a strong submission for changes, but few were accepted. We requested a Select Committee review the Bill, but this didn’t happen. Just this month, Parliament has now passed amendments to the same Act. Again, we put in a submission but as before, only a few of our suggestions were taken on board and again, the changes were not referred to a Select Committee. Decision-makers are receiving only one perspective and that is of
economic gain, the cost to the environment and our communities is not being discussed, which is what was hoped by requesting further consideration through a Select Committee.

On a lighter note, over this past year we have had two wonderful interns working with us, Charlee McLean and Andrea George. They were great ambassadors for the Society and they were exposed to a wide range of learning opportunities. Their enthusiastic work in schools was especially valued. We are proud of their trajectory and hope their time with Te Ipukarea Society will impact their designated career in future.

For the second year running, we have promoted Mana Tiaki Eco Certification for tourism operators, and we launched a new website (manatiaki.org). While the industry is reeling from the impacts of no tourism, many businesses have taking positive steps towards reducing their eco-footprints in preparation for the economy to reopen.

We completed two regional pacific projects last year in Niue and Tokelau under the Global Grant Project. The Cook Islands component for this project is also underway, with work to start soon on erosion control at Avana Harbour.

In August we ran a youth workshop funded by the US Consular General in NZ. The purpose was to stimulate interest in science-based careers. An impressive selection of young local professionals presented on topics from marine biology, deep sea exploration, geographic information systems, to careers in engineering and fisheries.

Following that, we also presented on careers in conservation to younger students at the junior careers expo.

In November 2019 we were excited to welcome Alanna Smith back to the fold, having completed her Masters tudies at Victoria University. She has rejoined our staff in the role of Project Coordinator.

By March 2020, our little paradise was starting to feel the impacts of COVID 19. We raised the question about whether the pandemic was a result of the world not listening to Mother Nature – and how she has sent us all to our rooms to think about what we have done. Well, we are still in our rooms, and hopefully everybody is thinking about the best way to re-engage with our fragile environment once the economy opens up again.

The war on waste has continued to dominate this year. Firstly, we spoke out against burning of rubbish, and in particular plastics. Unfortunately, it is difficult to make real traction on this issue without deterrents such as legal compliance and penalties. Now with our Plastic Free July campaign, we are continuing to raise awareness on the issue.
The amount of plastic recovered in the collaborative Muri beach clean-up for World Oceans Day in June is always an eye opener too. We continue to advocate for an advance disposal fee on imports to assist with managing waste effectively and for the legislative ban on single use plastics.

This term we began our environmental photography project at Tereora College, which will soon roll out for senior students across Rarotonga, Aitutaki and Atiu, again with funding from the US Consul in Auckland. We are excited to have also secured funding for some new waste management projects kicking off very soon.

A big thank you to all our corporate sponsors for this past year. You would have seen your logos regularly in our Newsletter as a small way of saying thank you. The impact of COVID 19 on many of our supporters has resulted in lower than normal corporate members. We fully understand, and very much appreciate those that have been able to continue their support and thank those who have supported in the recent past.

Another big thank you goes to Sarah and David Gordon, from the UK, who very
generously provided some core funds, through Birdlife International, to help cover staffing
costs for this past year. We are also grateful to the Cook Islands government for
providing us with a small business grant and wage subsidy these past few months of the
COVID 19.

There is a group of volunteers I would like to give special mention to, being Peter Huckle
who is helping review our webpage, Jim Perkins, Tokerau Jim, Motone Productions and
Avaiki Aperau who lent their fantastic support for our Plastic Free July advert and
campaign.

We continue to make progress in protecting our little paradise solely by the efforts of our diverse array of volunteers, members, the TIS Executive board, allies and powerful small staff at TIS – Thank you all for your continued engagement – it is in ALL our best interest to protect Nature so she can continue to Nurture our communities.

Meitaki Ngao e Kia Manuia,
Teina Mackenzie

Join us for our annual World Oceans Day -Beach Clean Up mission in Muri from 8.30 AM – 12 PM at the Rarotonga Sailing Club on the NEW DATE of Saturday 27th June.

Call the TIS office for more info on 21144 or email info@tiscookislands.org

#WorldOceansDay #ProtectOurHome

We are very grateful for all of the support we receive from these amazing businesses!

“Protect a Little Paradise Givealittle Page”

TIS has recently started a crowd funding page through Givealittle in New Zealand. This will help fund important environmental work in the Cook Islands, helping to preserve this little paradise for future generations.

This page will make it easier for our supporters, both from overseas and locally based, to donate to TIS, with either credit card (international) or online payments (within NZ). All funds received will be put towards core costs of running our organisation and supporting our projects in Rarotonga and throughout the outer islands.

If you believe in our work and want to help us continue, we would be humbled if you could make a donation. Any amount, big or small, is welcome.

We look forward to working with you all in the future to ensure that our voices are heard and our paradise spanning the land and ocean is preserved, protected and healthy!

Check out Te Ipukarea Society’s environmental intern giving this inspirational video address at the New York Global Landscape Forum this week! Charlee was invited to give this address following her presentation at the GLF in Bonn, Germany earlier this year.

https://youtu.be/cN-5Qu6CCp4

Young Cook Island leaders who are passionate about the environment, science, and technology! Register today to attend our FREE workshop in Rarotonga from 28-29 August!

The SEA (Sea and Earth Advocates) Camp will take place next week Wednesday 28-29 August in Rarotonga. The comprehensive workshop style camp will provide emerging leaders with new skills and knowledge in environment, science, and conservation.

Activities will include:
• Tour of Takitumu Conservation Area
• Trip on the Cook Islands Voyaging canoe Marumaru Atua to learn about traditional navigation
• Snorkeling trip to learn about a fish aggregation device (FAD) (Tentative if time allows)
• Beach clean up exercise
• Virtual tour of the Nautilus research vessel

Guest speakers will include:
• Jacqui Evans, 2019 Goldman Prize Recipient and Marae Moana Director
• Dr. Ashanti Johnson, U.S. ocean scientist
• Dr. Nevada Winrow, U.S. CEO of Black Girls Dive
• Dr. Teina Rongo, Cook Islands Marine Biologist
• Jess Cramp, U.S. shark researcher based in the Cook Islands
• Pamela Maru, Cook Islands Secretary of Marine Resources
• Teuru Passfield, marine biologist
• Rima Browne, on geographic information systems (GIS)
• Mii Nimerota, on study opportunites

And the opportunity continues….One participant will be selected to undertake a 3 month paid internship at Te Ipukarea Society!

This workshop is organized by Te Ipukarea Society with support from the U.S. Embassy

To register or for more information, email info@tiscookislands.org or phone +682 21144

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

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