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Two Cook Islanders receive international recognition for their service to the environment

This week 2 Cook Islands eco-warriors received international recognition for their dedication and tireless efforts to conserve our natural resources.

Ian Karika has been awarded the inaugural Pacific Islands Environmental Leadership Award for excellence in national leadership in environmental sustainability and conservation.

Ian is president of Te Ipukarea Society and the Cook Islands Voyaging Society, and has been a key figure for the Takitumu Conservation Area since it was established. The award was presented on Monday night at the 9th Pacific Islands Conference on Nature Conservation and Protected Areas being held in Fiji.  As Ian was unable to attend the conference, the award was received on his behalf by the two Cook Islands youth delegates attending the conference, Tehere Koteka and Myria Rongo. They were supported by the entire Cook Islands delegation!

In supporting Ian’s nomination Prime Minister Henry Puna wrote “Over the many years that I have known Ian, he has always given his time and energy selflessly to environmental conservation and to the revival and promotion of traditional voyaging and navigation – a passion deeply-rooted in the preservation of our marine ecosystem and values as Polynesians.”

The Prime Minister went on to say that Ian is renowned in the Cook Islands for his leadership and management of the Takitumu Conservation Area (TCA). “Under Ian’s stewardship of the TCA, he helped spearhead the key initiative to recover the population of a rare native bird – the Kakerori (Rarotonga Flycatcher). Ian was also part of an important programme to re-establish the Rimatara Lorikeet on the Island of Atiu by transferring birds from French Polynesia. This work necessitated increased efforts in the eradication of rats, as well as waste clean-up projects, to assist bird populations recovery and lift the profile of TCA internationally.

On Tuesday evening Dr. Takiora Ingram was one of eight women of and from Oceania to be honoured at the third “Stars of Oceania” recognition dinner held in Hawai’i.

The “Stars of Oceania” was inaugurated in 2006 with the intent to continue every three to four years. Rather than being an award or reward ceremony, the “Stars of Oceania” event recognises and acknowledges outstanding women for doing the right thing and honours their sense of humanity.

Dr Ingram was recognized for her Regional Leadership. A regional environmental leader; coordinator of the Pacific Regional Ocean Partnership; promoting health and stewardship of the Pacific Ocean’s resources; and former executive director of the All Islands Coral Reef Committee Secretariat based in Honolulu. It was noted that Takiora provides effective leadership and coordination of the US Pacific Islands and the Federal government to sustainably manage ocean resources and promote stewardship of the Pacific Ocean.

The executive and staff of Te Ipukarea Society wish to congratulate both Ian and Takiora on the recognitions they have received this week at the same time we thank them for the significant contribution they have both made to our oceans, our environment and conservation in general, meitaki ma’ata.