Mauke Public Utility Office, CCCI and GCCA+SUPA
May 16, 2023
Climate Change Resilience

13 May 2023, Cook Islands.  “Heavenly” or “the best under the sun” are phrases commonly used to describe the drinking water on Mauke. Also known as Akatokamanava, Mauke is part of the Cook Islands archipelago and home to approximately 250 people. Their main source of water is drawn from the aquifer and pumped through a reticulated water supply system.

From 8 -12 May 2023, the Secretariat of the Regional Environment Program (SPREP) team for the Global Climate Change Alliance Plus Scaling Up Pacific Adaptation (GCCA+ SUPA) Project, together with the Cook Islands Climate Change(CICC) office visited Mauke Island to advocate for the Impacts Methodology developed under the project. , as well as apply the methodology to existing climate change interventions on the island.

The visit specifically focused on Mauke’s Water Project, developed in 2009 jointly by the Cook islands Government, New Zealand Aid Programme and the Australian Agency for International Development, to provide a community water supply system that is efficient, cost-effective through sustainable water infrastructure. The project’s specific purpose is to ensure water security and food security during long periods of drought, thus, to ensure resilience of the residents of Mauke to climate change impact.

The water project is under the management and administration of the Mauke Public Utility office. In strengthening their monitoring and evaluation services, the GCCA+ SUPA SPREP project team delivered a capacity building activity on the Kobo toolbox application. The training covered the use of surveys to collect specific data on the water facilities and services on the island from the users of the water resource. SPREP GCCA+ SUPA Research Officer, Ms Gloria Roma lead the training exercise and she reflected on the value of the tool for Mauke, “the data collection tool will assist the Utility teams with tracking and assessing the benefits of their water resource for the people of Mauke, as well as identifying areas for improvement in their service delivery”.   

In addition to the training, the teams jointly carried out field visits to the Mauke Catchment Area and existing boreholes where the light version of the impact methodology checklist was used to assess the impact of the water system.

The methodology not only looks at impact on the providers of the resource but also the beneficiaries. Focus groups and interviews were utilised to determine the level of impact of the water project on the residents of Mauke. Discussions were conducted with representatives from the villages of Ngatiarua, Areroa/Makatea and Kimiangatau. Representatives from different demographics were selected by the village focal point to ensure wide consultation on gaining people’s perspective on the level of impact of the water supply facility and services. Tailored questions were asked to gauge each group’s level of awareness of environmental changes and climate change science, water sources and the quality of water received in individual homes.

Focused sessions were conducted with  the agricultural growers and Vainetini (women) groups to ascertain their feedback on the  water services whilst gauging  awareness level on people’s knowledge of environmental and climate change.

Mauke Island Council and GCCA+ SUPA
Members of the Mauke Island Council with the visiting GCCA+ SUPA project team. 


The week concluded with a report back session to the Mauke Council where Teariki Rongo, the national facilitator provided a brief assessment on the Water Project which supported the infrastructure and facilities as part of its utilities services for the island community. In applying a light version of the Impacts methodology, the use of the focus group interviews coupled with field observation enabled a completion of the checklist to give an impact score per element on water security, from water source to storage and community pride on the quality water received in their taps. Cook Islands GCCA+ SUPA project consultant Mr Teariki Rongo shared that the water supply system checked against a list of characteristics measured based on feedback from focus group discussions, the manager of Public Utilities and data information shared by him.  Mr Rongo says, “the Mauke Water Project, with all conditions and factors considered, scored a four. The water source condition and water quality are great as well as the related services offered through the Public Utility office. However, continued work must be done to safeguard the resource and ensure that this scoring remains.”

The sentiment was echoed by Mauke Public Utility Manager, Mr Geoff Tama who commends the sound infrastructure of the water project while also acknowledging the ongoing work needed to safeguard the water resource for sustainable use, “there is a perception that water will never run out which is not the case, we need to recognise there is a limit and it’s our task to explore how much we can draw from the source sustainably”. 

At the report back meeting, members of the Mauke council, the Mauke Public Utility office, and the visiting team from SPREP GCCA+ SUPA and CICC were in agreement that the water resource is in great condition and the water utilities service is an efficient and effective operation. However, there is a collective responsibility to ensure the groundwater resource is safeguarded. Building resilience into every facet of the island community is essential to ensure the island remains habitable and among the key measures such as the protection of the groundwater resource with an improved water facilities and continued awareness on water conservation, household waste management and agricultural land care are just as important.   

 The GCCA+ SUPA is a European Union (EU) funded initiative aimed at helping the Pacific’s most vulnerable countries and communities address climate change. It focuses on scaling up climate change adaptation (CCA) in specific sectors supported by knowledge management and capacity building. The project is delivered jointly by the Pacific Community (SPC), Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and the University of the South Pacific (USP) and collaborates closely with other programmes and projects in the Pacific region. The EUR 14.89 million project is implemented in ten countries, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Fiji, Kiribati, Republic of Marshall Islands (RMI), Nauru, Niue, Palau, Tonga and Tuvalu, and wherever possible focused on outer island communities.

For more information, please contact: GCCA+ SUPA SPREP Project Lead, Ms. Monifa Fiu on email: [email protected] or GCCA+ SUPA Information and Research Officer, Ms. Gloria Roma on email: [email protected]