19 May 2008

Cook Islands politician says heavy police presence on Manihiki an overreaction

7:53 pm on 19 May 2008

Politician and landowner on the Cook Islands atoll of Manihiki, Temu Okotai, says sending a boat and 14 policemen to quell a law and order problem is a massive overreaction.

The police patrol boat, Te Kukupa, arrived at the atoll on the weekend.

Two people were arrested after a flight had to be sent back to Rarotonga, when landowners, protesting a land court hearing, planted a small coconut tree on the atoll's airstrip.

Temu Okotai says the government won't listen to their grievances.

"I think it's grossly gone overboard in their reaction. I'm not aware there are problems on Manihiki. The last I heard was that they actually had a meeting where they discussed the problems and they seemed to be quite peaceful. Unfortunately nobody's focussing now on saying OK, how do we move forward. There are now side issues of these arrests and the police going over there."

Temu Okotai