24 Sep 2015

Claims Manihiki landowners got special treatment

1:53 pm on 24 September 2015

A Cook Islands businessman says landowners on Manihiki have been given special treatment because they are from the prime minister's constituency.

George Pitt has made a police complaint following a government payout to the landowners who had earlier threatened vandalism if they were not paid.

In August, the Prime Minister Henry Puna agreed to give the landowners about US$26,000 from the government's contingency fund - a reserve of public money meant for emergencies.

Aerial view of Manihiki in the Cook Islands.

Aerial view of Manihiki in the Cook Islands. Photo: NASA via Wikicommons

Earlier the government said the payment was made after the landowners threatened to vandalise the two solar plants on Manihiki.

Mr Pitt says the landowners committed a criminal offence which was aided and abetted by the prime minister and he says both parties should be charged.

"You got to take into account that Manihiki is the prime minister's constituency, where the prime minister got in by 78 votes from a very small constituency. So he's just pandering to his constituents, I would just go as far to say he is just buying their vote for the next election."