An exclusive summary by the website author who is a former BBC TV and radio journalist
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CORONAVIRUS LATEST  (Islands remain free from Covid-19)
Quarantine-free travel to and from New Zealand is still "weeks away" according to the Cook Islands government. They hoped a two way travel 'bubble' would be in place by the end of March, but the pre-requisite of mass testing won't be in place until April. The development of a robust contact tracing system is also still a work in progress. The aim is add more functionality to the existing CookSafe system so it's aligned to New Zealand's system.


 
The content of this page - unless otherwise credited - is a summary of stories from  Cook Islands News, the daily newspaper of the Cook Islands which is published Monday to Saturday inclusive

Its web site www.cookislandsnews.com is updated daily and is highly recommended as a trusted source of news.  This summary is published with permission of the copyright owners Cook Islands News Ltd.  Click on any underlined headlines for the full story on the newpaper's own website.  Photos unless otherwise credited are copyright Cook Islands News
 
Te Tauta village
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Cultural village dancers
The government is backing a bid to get world heritage status for a 600 year old village high in the hills around Rarotonga. Maungaroa was inhabited by Tinomana Ariki and his tribe long before the arrival of Christianity and was unihabited for many years before it was transformed into a cultural village visitor attraction. The   Ministry of Culture says HIghland Paradise is an "unparallelled example of a living marae" and its asking UNESCO to designate it.  Photo: Highland Paradise website
Two hydroponics and school gardens have been established on Penrhyn (Tongareva) to increase the consumption of locally produced fruit and vegetables. Handing them over, the Agriculture Secretary, Marama Anguna-Kamana said growing using water without soil was an innovative way of dealing with the challenges of the sandy soil on the remote outer islands. It would also increase food resilience in the event of disasters.
Photo:Te Tautua on the eastern side of the island is where most of the population of 226 live (Photo: Robert Broussard)

A new king has been crowned on Mangaia, and the entire population of the island was there to watch.  Tangi Tereapii was installed Numangatini Ariki at Te Maruata-Nui-o-Numangatini marae. The day long event was also attended by friends and families from Rarotonga, Aitutaki and Atiu. Marguees 20 metres long were filled with food to share.
Mangaia's new king
NEWS FROM THE OUTER ISLANDS
The Japanese government is giving a grant of up to NZ$131,700 to improve water supplies on Mauke.  The money will pay for eight new concrete water tanks and a mobile tank for fire emergencies
A New Zealand businessman is planning to launch a new airline which will provide direct flights to Rarotonga from Wellington and Christchurch. Mike Pero's Pasifika Air is proposing six return flights a week from June. But multi-millionaire Pero says it won't be a low cost carrier. And the start date will depend on a travel "bubble" being agreed between the Cook Islands and New Zealand governments. Above: artist's impression of the new plane's livery
washed up green turtle
A green sea turtle which died after ingesting a plastic bag has led to a renewed call to end plastic pollution.  The turtle was washed up on Rutaki beach on Rarotonga just before Christmas. Award winning ocean photographer, Charlotte Pioho has add her voice to the local environmental group, Te Ipukarea Society in urging islanders to eliminate their use of plastics. 
Polluted Muri lagoon
Muri lagoon, normally the jewel in Rarotonga's crown for swimming and snorkelling is now unsafe because of pollution caused by environmental conditions and human activity. Government scientists are advising that locals avoid it because it's saturated with a foul smelling dark coloured sediment.  Dead fish, eels, sea cucumber and marine worms have also been found along the shoreline. The scientists say swimming in the water could result in illness and they're closely monitoring it.
The Health Ministry has confirmed a new outbreak of dengue fever on Rarotonga. There have been 140 presumed cases since the start of the year. 14 cases are currently confirmed  on Rarotonga where the "hot spots" are Titikaveka, Ngatangiia and around the villages of Arorangi, Tereora to Pokoinu, Tupapa and Matavera. There are no cases on the outer islands.
Plans to upgrade the airport on remote Manihiki are on hold because there's no funding to start the project. The aim is to seal and extend the tiny coral runway so it can handle larger planes and enable 34 people to land on the island at a time instead of the current 15. But the government is hoping work can start in July