Waste Management Initiative (WMI)

The $3 million Waste Management Initiative (WMI) was a programme of work designed to improve the management of solid and liquid waste on Rarotonga and Aitutaki, and lessen the impacts of waste on the Cook Islands’ unique environment.

The programme, which began in 2011, is three year partnership between the Cook Islands Government and the New Zealand and Australian aid programmes.

Activities under this programme included:

  • The Muri/Avana Pilot Programme – assessment and upgrading of all residential septic systems in the Muri and Avana areas by end of 2013
  • Improvements to waste management facilities – including purchasing of waste baler for Rarotonga and sludge tanker for Aitutaki
  • Strengthening the regulatory and enforcement environment – completion of Sanitation Policy, and improved coordination of enforcement responsibilities and activities
  • Looking at the longer term – commissioned a report to present a preferred long term option for sanitation on both Rarotonga and Aitutaki, this is currently under consideration by the Cook Islands Government
  • Public awareness – campaigns and activities focussed on animal waste and waterways, water conservation, recycling and wastewater processes and management
  • Research – programme to test Land Application Sewage Systems for best-fit for lagoon environments
  • Water quality monitoring – working with Ministry of Marine Resource on implementing water quality monitoring at key sites
  • Tourist accommodation standards – introduction of a Warrant of Fitness system and provision of technical advice and assistance to improve sanitation systems at commercial sites
The Government of the Cook Islands, with support from the combined New Zealand and Australian Aid Programme, is working on a range of initiatives to prevent pollution and protect the environment around the Muri Lagoon.