EHF fury over ‘conspiracy’

A month after the Esther Honey Foundation closed down on Rarotonga, the animal welfare charity has broken its silence to claim it was the victim of a high-level “conspiracy”, involving government, other bodies and former volunteers, to remove it from the island.

The organisation says it was the victim of “local collusion” that saw Cook Islands Investment Corporation (CIIC) withdraw its offer of a new premises in Arorangi and hand the site to a newly formed local group, Te Are Manu (TAM), which is now operating there.

It says the alleged “conspiracy” was orchestrated by a former employee who, with others involved in TAM, actively worked to undermine the charity, which was left homeless after being told to vacate its base in Nikao.

The US-based charity, which operated on Rarotonga for more than 20 years and treated 45,000 animals, has also alleged that equipment belonging to the organisation was taken from its clinic without the permission of the board.

The claims have been denied by TAM, which insisted that it had been open and honest and always wanted to work alongside Esther Honey for the good of animals in the Cook Islands.

In a statement the Esther Honey Foundation (EHF) said it “never intended” to close its clinic on Rarotonga but had been left with no choice.

“EHF stands committed to providing veterinary care to the Cook Islands, but now, since the local collusion to undermine EHF’s long-standing clinic and with the assets that were stolen from EHF, a clinic is uncertain.”

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