9 Apr 2009

Alleged protestor says simple resolution to airport dispute on Manihiki in Cooks

6:49 pm on 9 April 2009

The landowners involved in a long-running dispute over the airport on Manihiki in the Cook Islands' northern group have reached agreement with the Government.

The Government had wanted to lease land on the island, to enable the airport to be upgraded.

Last year three people were charged after a protest - involving planting a coconut tree on the runway - against the Government's plans.

One of those charged is the former politician Temu Okotai, who says the resolution process has been quite simple.

"Whereas initially the landowners were given two options only, either the Government acquired the land by compulsory acquisition under the Public Works Act or by lease and what's happened now is the resolution is simply to go back to the agreement of the original landowners who gave the land to the Government to develop as an airport. There was an agreement, there wasn't a lease, but it was agreed by them, you can use it for the airport."

Temu Okotai says he didn't have anything to do with the protest and as a businessman it's never been in his interests to have any interference with the airport.