9 Jul 2015

Cooks PM advisor defends cost of trip to Penrhyn

11:37 am on 9 July 2015

The Cook Islands advisor to the Prime Minister, Trevor Pitt, has defended the cost of Henry Puna's recent trip to Penrhyn to open the Te Tautua village solar project.

The opposition leader, William Heather, has criticised the just over US$18 thousand cost of the trip.

Mr Heather also questioned why it had not been opened when New Zealand's foreign minister Murray McCully visited the Pa Enua in April.

Cook Islands News says in response to criticism, Mr Pitt says the Tautua project was not completed at the time of Mr McCully's visit due to a scheduling issue.

He says the cost of the trip came from the existing 2014/2015 budget of the Office of the Prime Minister, the department responsible for the Renewable Energy Division.

Mr Puna was accompanied by a number of Cook Islands Party MPs and officials, and Trevor Pitt says since it was a renewable energy trip, the officials were required to sign off on the completed project.