20 May 2008

Cook Islands businessman says heavy police presence on Manihiki an over reaction

9:40 am on 20 May 2008

Cook Islands businessman, Temu Okotai, who is a landowner involved in a protest action on Manihiki, says sending a boat and 14 policemen to quell a law and order problem on the atoll is a massive over reaction.

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

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

Mr Okotai has also been arrested in relation to the incident.

He says the government won't listen to the landowners' 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.