11 Feb 2016

Cooks ignore Aitutaki referendum

3:53 pm on 11 February 2016
Aitutaki, Cook Islands

Aitutaki, Cook Islands Photo: Ewan Smith

The Cook Islands government says it will not act on the results of last April's referendum it organised on Aitutaki, saying whether to keep Sunday flights is now a non-issue.

A majority on Aitutaki voted for an end to the flights, with those wanting the ban saying Sunday is a sacred day when businesses shouldn't operate.

But tourist operators said the flights were essential, and canning them would have a severe impact on Aitutaki's tourism industry and economy.

The prime minister Henry Puna called the referendum as part of a campaign promise in the lead-up to a by-election on the island.

Mr Puna has since gone quiet on whether he would honour the results.

A spokesperson for the prime minister's office said there had been no discussion on the issue for some time and no one was in any frame of mind to resurrect it.

He said Mr Puna held the referendum because he wanted to fulfill an obligation of the previous government.

He said the issue had been resolved in Aitutaki between the communities there.

The spokesperson said he did not remember how much the referendum cost.

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