The Manihiki Island Government has commenced dispersing pearl equipment supplied as part of the Cook Islands and New Zealand pearl revitalisation programme. The programme aims to encourage the sustainable growth of the Cook Islands pearl industry through an increase in production and quality.
Eighteen pearl farmers on the Manihiki atoll in the northern group have qualified to receive a portion of the $1.15 million grant. This will be injected into their businesses through the provision of various types of equipment which will assist them to improve production and quality. The equipment include items such as ropes and floats, which are used directly to suspend the pearl producing oysters in the lagoon, as well as building equipment used to revitalise seeding facilities. To be eligible to receive equipment farmers were required to meet specific criteria:
•being an active farmer who has produced at least 500 pearls per annum for at least the previous two years;
•be a member of the Manihiki Pearl Farmer’s Association (MFPA); and
•a current permit holder, compliant with all relevant conditions.
Additionally, farmers are required to sign up to the Manihiki lagoon management plan to help protect the lagoon.
The equipment being supplied forms part of a subsidised grant scheme whereby farmers are required to pay 20 per cent of the cost of the equipment into a revolving fund administered by the Manihiki Island Government. Those funds will then be used to maintain a bulk store of equipment for further pearl industry development.
The initial list of equipment requested by farmers was vetted and agreed to by representatives of the Manihiki Pearl Farmers Association, the Ministry of Marine Resources and the Manihiki Island Government.
A major bonus of the grant programme is a potential cleanup of the Manihiki lagoon. Under the new arrangements, successful pearl farmers are required to sign up to the new management plan to protect the lagoon. It will also provide an orderly procedure for the licensing of new farms.
Mayor of Manihiki Ngamata Napara outlined that after the long wait the farmers are very pleased to get their equipment. “The farmers are very keen to get to work. Two farmers have already been in to pay their deposit and we expect more to come in next week.”
Each farmer has received a mixture of material specific to their individual farming needs:
•farming equipment such as ropes, floats and baskets;
•construction material for the rehabilitation of seeding houses, such as cement, timber, roofing iron and nails (seeding houses are often shared amongst farmers); and
•diving equipment, such as tanks, snorkels, flipper and masks.
The farmers who have been deemed eligible to receive equipment are as follows:
•Trainee Samson $9,349
•Apii Piho $13,462
•Bernadino Kaina $3,865
•Helen McKenzie $24,295
•Kaina Karaponga and Reni Karina $18,861
•Tangi Toka $11,658
•Mataio Johnson $73,531
•Tina Browne $10,300
•Ricaldo William $14,748
•Tuatai Piniata $19,485
•John Koteka $8,419
•John Mc Leod $39,689
•Kora Kora $58,807
•Mehau and Mokoha Johnson $51,091
•Vavia Dean Nimau $15,932
•Sam Karaponga $61,500
•Tangi Napara $15,736
For further information contact: Peter Tierney