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Cook Islands: Govmedia Disappears

Cook Islands: Govmedia Disappears

By Jason Brown

AVARUA, Rarotonga (/Avaiki Nius Agency/Pacific Media Watch/): The Cook Islands government has yet to name a replacement for its media relations office.

Former Govmedia head Cameron Scott did not have a three-year extended contract renewed at the end of 2004.

"Much later," was the forecast from chief-of-staff in the Office of the Prime Minister, Denise Rairi, when asked about the timing of a replacement.

Government website - the main portal for links to ministries is no longer loading from its address. Instead, it defaults to the host ISP home page, Hurricane Electric internet services.

Government press releases have disappeared as a result.

Rairi told /Cook Islands News/ a Govmedia replacement is not a priority compared to cyclone relief efforts.

The Cooks recently went through five cyclones, including three supercyclones - one direct hit on a northern island, Pukapuka, and two side swipes of the main island of Rarotonga.

The daily paper reports Rairi is also the coordinator for the National Disaster Management committee that oversees relief work and supplies and assessments of damage throughout the islands.

³It is not priority right now. Bobby Turua currently looks after Govmedia so appointing a replacement is now delayed.²

Turua was formerly the Cook Islands first political talkback host before being fired by the Pitt Media Group a few years ago.

Along with /Cook Islands News/, the family Pitt Media Group is one of just two main media outlets in this tiny country of just 13,000 residents.

The group has now hired Scott to head its Mana Publications section, consisting of three weekly newspapers, the /Cook Islands Herald/, the /Cook Islands Times/ and the /Cook Islands Independent/.

This represents the third position for Scott since arriving in 2000 from New Zealand and a position with the /Bay of Plenty Times/.

At Pitt Media Group, Scott replaces former Mana Publications editor Trevor Pitt who is said to be taking up a senior position in government, possibly in the Office of the Prime Minister.

Pitt has previously worked in the same office, as well as that of the Deputy Prime Minister and as an adviser in Foreign Affairs.

He has also been a member of the former National Information Infrastructure Committee.

The Pitt Media Group has been closely associated with all corners of the Cook Islands political scene.

Family directors have been in and out of government since starting operations after the economic crisis of 1996, and at least six different coalition governments since 1999.

Brother George Pitt has previously chaired the country's environmental council as well as its Telecom board.

He collected payments from the former government of Terepai Maoate for policy advice.

Earlier, Pitt worked in an official capacity as chief adviser to former deputy prime minister Norman George.

George is now the country's Speaker of Parliament after losing his seat of 21 years in general elections last September.

The current Prime Minister, Jim Marurai, is a former supporter of Norman George, who in turn has had close links with George Pitt.

© Scoop Media

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