An exclusive summary by the website author who is a former BBC TV and radio journalist
The following - 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
Each of the two villages on Penrhyn is going to get its own cyclone shelter to help protect against the increasing threat of climate change. Some homes have already been moved back from the shoreline because of rising sea levels and storm surges. The island, also known as Tongareva, is just 5 metres about sea level at its highest point. Left: Te Tautua on the eastern side of the island is where most of the population of 226 live (Photo: Robert Broussard)
SOME RESTRICTIONS LIFTED AS ISLANDS DECLARED A "COVID-19 FREE ZONE"
The coral reefs around Rarotonga, Aitutaki and Palmerston are showing signs of recovery, according to a long-term study by scientists. IN just published findings, the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation says they're showing signs of resilience in the face of the crown of thorns starfish, although it's still a serious concern around Aitutaki. And they're optimistic for the future of the reefs.
A young actor says his Cook Islands background has played an important part in his acting career which has now seen him land a role in a potential new Hollywood blockbuster. 16 year old Duane Wichman-Evans Jr is playing Rotxo of the reef tribe Metkayina clan in a sequel to the hugely successful film, 'Avatar'. He was one of seven chosen from 15,000 young people who auditioned. HIs acting career which has included role in NZ soap 'Shortland Street' began when he was three and went with his Cook Islands mother to an audition for a TV commercial.
A United Nations committee has called on the Cook Islands to repeal laws which disriminate against same-sex relations. It's particularly concerned about the 1969 Crimes Act which criminalises consensual sexual activity between gay men. And it wants the government to set a clear age of consent to ensure adolescents who engage in sexual acts are not criminalised. Te Tiare Association, which represents LGBT+ people in the Islands has welcomed the recommendations and says current laws breach the country's constitution which enshrines equal rights.
The Prime Minister has declared the Cook Islands a Covid-19 free zone and announced the lifting of some of the restrictions introduced last month. Schools have re-opened and church services are allowed provided social distancing is practiced. Free movement is also be allowed within the country enabling inter-island travel, but international travel is stil banned. Restaurants and cafes are be allowed to re-open with physical distancing measures in place.
The Cook Islands' recently acquired status as a developed nation should be revoked because of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Government and opposition MPs agree that the backward step is necessary to enable the country to tap into much needed donor funds. The Islands were upgraded becaue of a strong economic performance led by tourism. But the tourism industry has ground to a halt after the Islands closed its borders. Deputy Prime Minister, Mark Brown has confirmed they're in discussions with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development about the status.
Prime Minister, Henry Puna says reopening the international border may be the only way to kickstart the Islands' faltering economy. A tourism marketing campaign is being planned to target the New Zealand market which makes up 67% of the country's overseas visitors. But the timing of it is dependent on the resources being in place to welcome tourists safely.
Hundreds of people on Rarotonga have been on their bikes calling for the government to revoke a new law which makes the wearing of crash helmets compulsory from 26 June. They say it should only apply to those under 25 or who exceed the 40kmph speed limit. Protestors claim the amendment to the existing law was rushed through without proper consultation.
NIghtclubs on Rarotonga are allowed to reopen again after the mandatory shut down because of the risk of coronavirus. Social distancing is still required and all premises must provide hand sanitister
The country's biggest and most important cultural event, Te Maeva Nui has been cancelled - but a national dance competition will still take place in July. Drummers will be spaced apart on the stage of the National Auditorium, and the slow beat songs will be pre-recorded so there will be no singing. The event will take place from 13 to 24 July and has been approved by the Health Ministry. Constitution Day on 4 August will also be celebrated and will be the last event in the National Auditorium for at least four to six months while the venue is refurbished.