Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown has issued new warrants to eight representatives for the Marae Moana Technical Advisory Group.
The Marae Moana Act 2017 was established to protect and conserve the ecological biodiversity and heritage values of the Cook Islands marine environment, known as the Marae Moana. The Marae Moana Technical Advisory Group (TAG) is established under Section 14 of the Marae Moana Act 2017 to provide technical advice on the development of national policies and plans relating to the Marae Moana.
The Prime Minister granted warrants to the following representatives:
- Ben Ponia – Office of the Prime Minister Chief of Staff
- Halatoa Fua – National Environment Service Director
- Pamela Maru – Ministry of Marine Resources Secretary
- John Hosking – Ministry of Transport Secretary
- Alexandrya Herman – Seabed Minerals Commissioner
- Tupuna Rakanui – House of Ariki clerk
- Teina Rongo – NGO Science representative
- Alanna Smith – NGO Social Welfare
Prime Minister Brown says as Cook Islanders, we have a strong sense of stewardship and pride in our oceans. “As a large ocean state, we must carry out our duties as guardians of our oceans to protect our history, culture, marine biodiversity and livelihoods,” PM Brown says.
“Sustainability is the central focus of the Marae Moana TAG and Council to achieve its purpose set out in the Marae Moana Act 2017 and the Cook Islands National Sustainable Development Agenda 2020+.”
These representatives provide a wealth and wide range of knowledge and technical skills from multiple sectors including key heads of Government Agencies, House of Ariki and NGOs in science and social welfare, he says. The technical advisory group has an ambitious work plan that includes administrative and planning duties.
During its first meeting in 2023, the TAG will finalise its rules of procedures, discuss the Marae Moana Outlook Report and finalise its work plan. A significant project for the TAG is to prepare the national marine spatial plan for the Cook Islands. The objective of the national marine spatial plan is to develop a system for area-based management that designates where human activities may occur in the marae moana zone.
This integrated planning process is to ensure ecological, social and economic objectives are achieved through strong collaboration to minimise stakeholder conflict and maintain a sustainable marine environment. The TAG will also discuss the next steps of issuing warrants for members of the Marae Moana Council to conduct its first meeting in 2023.
The Marae Moana Council includes the Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition, President of the House of Ariki, President of the Religious Advisory Council, two representatives from the Pa Enua and a representative from the private sector, NGO and Government. The duties of the Marae Moana Council include approving of the Marae Moana policy, national or islands spatial plan and management and monitoring measures. The Marae Moana Council will also approve the Marae Moana Annual Report, which will be submitted to Parliament.
Office of the Prime Minister Chief of Staff Ben Ponia says the post Covid-19 resurgence of economic activities has renewed calls to prioritise on marine protection and sustainability. “We have started preparations for the first TAG meeting next month and regroup on the agenda required to be tabled at the Marae Moana Council meeting,” he says. “We look forward to providing updates to the public and stakeholders on our progress on the Marae Moana work plan and the development of a blueprint through an ecosystem-based and integrated approach.”
For more information, please visit the Marae Moana website at: https://www.maraemoana.gov.ck/