Heaven on Earth

The Cook Islands – isolated, idyllic.  Fifteen beautiful islands scattered over 2 million square kilometres of the Pacific Ocean.  But can this fragile environment survive the onslaught of development?

Produced by NHNZ

Even though the Cook Islands are so remote, they haven’t escaped the influence of the modern world, but can these fragile islands survive the onslaught of development?

The recently established Conservation Service is trying to soften the impact of development on the vulnerable and special Cook Island animals and plants, but their resources are tiny – just four field officers to cover an area that’s larger than France, Spain and Germany put together.

Their projects range from protecting an uninhabited island rich in bird-life, to preventing the destruction of the beautiful white coral sand beaches; and preserving the bushclad interior of the main island Rarotonga, full of rare and undiscovered plants, to saving the last thirty Kakerori – one of the rarest birds in the world.

They’re running a race between making the people aware of their wildlife, and the speed of economic development. But is it a race between the tortoise and the hare?

It’s a delicate balance between exploitation and protection which has been faced by many nations, but will the Cook Islanders – particularly the younger ones – be able to avoid making other islands mistakes, or will this “heaven on earth” become yet another “paradise lost”?

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