Tuesday, October 14

Canoes and court cases

The big court story here is the corruption case, Operation Slush, involving MP Norman George and two others. It involves alleged kickbacks and dodgy accounting when buying heavy machinery on behalf of government. (Details are on the Cook Islands News website).
Norman’s been in and out of just about every political party in the Cook Islands. As a matter of fact he’s formed most of them after being thrown out of the big two, the Democratic Party and the Cook Islands Party. He then coalesces with one or other after a general election in a bid to get a cabinet position. A lot of people breathed a sigh of relief when he lost his seat to Nandi Glassie at the last election; it was one of two on Atiu, an outer island with a population of about 600. You might wonder why Atiu requires two MPs and so do a lot of other people but that’s another story.
Well, Norman is a great survivor. The second Atiu MP resigned due to ill-health and Norman changed constituencies, won the by-election and now treats Glassie as a cross between a mouthpiece and a lapdog.
It remains to be seen whether he can survive what is thought to be the biggest trial in the history of the Cook Islands High Court.
The trial started on Monday and is expected to last about three weeks.

This albesia log will be turned into a canoe over thenext two weeks

Mike Tavioni (right) starting work

Also starting on Monday was ‘Akateni i te vaka’ a vaka (canoe) carving project organised by artist Mike Tavioni. Groups of carvers from Mauke, Atiu and Mitiaro as well as Rarotonga are turning albesia logs into beautifully decorated dugout canoes (although since modern tools are used perhaps they should be called chainsawed canoes). It’s fascinating watching the canoes take shape and the launch last year was a big occasion made even more memorable when one of the boats overturned dumping the prime minister and others into the harbour!