O3B satellite dishes on Rarotonga, Cook Islands
PRIMARY CONTACT: Maureen Hilyard (ALAC)
Chair: Maureen Hilyard
Vice Chair: Anonga Tisam
Secretary: Mii Nimerota
Treasurer: Pua Hunter (Primary contact - GAC / CIIAG / APRALO)
Kia Orana and Welcome to the Cook Islands Internet Action Group (CIIAG) Website. The goal of the Cook Islands Internet Action Group is to further the development of Information and Communication Technologies for the sustainable and inclusive development of the Cook Islands. Specifically the organisation aims to promote and further the development of:
- Internet Governance
- e-Governance and m-Governance
- ICT capacity building
- ICT Policy
- ICT's Strategic Role
- CIIAG's involvement in ICANN
CIIAG was registered in July 2010 to advocate for the development of the internet and of the Cook Islands communities on Rarotonga and the outer islands who will make use of it.
CIIAG’s members are also members of the Pacific Islands Chapter of the Internet Society - PICISOC (an international organisation that focuses on the development and governance of the internet). CIIAG is a registered (2010) At Large Structure (ALS) of ICANN (the Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers – dealing with the management of domain names and IP addresses).
The full membership of CIIAG originally consisted of about 30 people who are currently working in IT-related occupations in both the public and private sector. The core of the organisation is a group of young people who are engaged in studies towards a Master of Information Systems and other IT qualifications. CIIAG is determined to ensure that its young ICT graduates be given every opportunity possible to demonstrate their knowledge and skills. The activities in which they will participate will enable them to demonstrate their expertise as local IT specialists to and within the wider community. Unfortunately depopulation due to few ICT positions being available for the expertise that many of our members, have forced them to seek positions overseas, some of them still in the Pacific.
Our main role in the past has been to advocate for the development of the internet and telecommunication in the Cook Islands. In keeping with the direction from the United Nations, it is the belief of CIIAG that every Cook Islander has a right to access to the internet, and that every Cook Islander has the right to quality internet connectivity whether they are on Rarotonga or on the outer islands. This access is inclusive of women, the elderly and people with disabilities who feature as our main target groups in our project proposals.
Sponsorship from key partners in the community have assisted CIIAG to achieve its objectives. These include the University of the South Pacific (USP) who have offered their computer facilities and equipment to provide the training programmes provided by CIIAG personnel. Also, in order to enhance the quality of internet connection, we have developed a positive working relationship with Telecom Cook Islands who have been very supportive of our projects and are providing sponsorship so that we can achieve our objectives.
As an internet-related organisation our proposed activities are all linked by our targetted focus groups as potentially active beneficiaries of internet technology, given the appropriate equipment, resources and training – basically highlighting the use of the technology to benefit the wider community.
In March 2013, CIIAG put forward a proposal to the Social Impact Fund (NZAID) to establish a telecentre in the outer island of Mangaia. This is the first telecentre in the Cook Islands and has regularly been used to upskill locals in the use of IT technology. A focus has been to upskill the elderly in the community to use the internet for communication, especially for use in the case of an emergency or a natural disaster. Another project was to establish a Cook Islands social services website on which information has been gathered that will better inform the government and the public of social service organisations about civil society support of government objectives in the community - the status of these services and the capacity within the Cook Islands.
In January 2014 CIIAG was granted an ISIF grant (APNIC) to initially build a Cook Islands Maori Language database and also to build an App that Cook Islanders who don't speak the language fluently, can pick up and use more vocabulary. There is now an Apple and an Android version of the app available on line, and educational programmes have been developed to use the app in Maori Language classrooms, in both the Cook Islands and overseas. These projects demonstrate how CIIAG can assist in the development of the people of the Cook Islands towards enhancing their skills and knowledge to better meet the their information and communication needs and enable them to contribute to the economic development of our country. In 2015, Anonga Tisam who was the leader of the Maori Language Database Project was given "The most innovative digital developer in the Pacific" award at the Vanuatu Government IT AWARDS. He was also acknowledged by the Government of the Cook Islands during its 50th year celebration of self-government.
In February 2015, the Maureen Hilyard attended the APRICOT meeting in Fukuoka, Japan (courtesy of the ICANN CROPP programme). Not only was she able to strengthen ties with APNIC, but also established links for the USP student and other academic members of CIIAG with APAN (Asia Pacific Advanced Network) - a key driver organisation in promoting and facilitating network-enabled research and education activities - including research collaboration, knowledge discovery and sharing, tele-health and natural disaster mitigation. At the ICANN meeting in Dublin, November 2015, Maureen took up her second two-year term on the At-Large Advisory Council (ALAC) as elected by the APRALO ALSes. She also continues in her role as the ALAC Liaison to the ccNSO.
In 2016,Anonga Tisam, the Vice Chair, went to work as the database whiz for the Forum Fisheries Association based in the Solomon Islands, and tracking tuna boats and other fishing craft across the Pacific. As well as attending ICANN meetings in Marrakech, Helsinki and Hyderabad with Pua Hunter who is the Cook Islands GAC representative, Maureen also attended the APRICOT meeting in Auckland where, with other members of the APRALO Leadership Team was able to participate in a range of outreach activities involving APTLD, APNIC, and Women in Technology; and also the China Internet Forum in Beijing along with Siranush, Satish and Kaili Kan. At the APrIGF was held in Taipei, Taiwan, and Maureen co-chaired the coordination of the Synthesis Document discussions with Chat Ramira Garcia (Philippines); and was also given a similar opportunity to co-Chair the AP* meeting at the APNIC meeting in Colombo, Sri Lanka as well as present on the status of Pacific broadband as part of the Cooperation SIG. The year ended with a meeting with the Dot Asia Board in Hong Kong, followed a few days later by attendance at the Global IGF in Guadalajara, Mexico where she participated in a SIDs session on "Disasters, Death and the Internet" involving small islands developing states from the Pacific, Caribbean and Africa, and an APRALO session on IDNs. .
In 2017, Maureen attended the APRICOT meeting in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The AP* and Dot Asia Board meetings were also held at the Vietnam event. Pua Hunter and Maureen Hilyard attended ICANN meetings in Copenhagen, Denmark (February) and Johannesburg, South Africa (June). Prior to the South Africa meeting Maureen attended the WSIS2017 meeting in Geneva courtesy of the Diplo Foundation. Having completed a curators course before Geneva, Maureen acted as a curator and reporter for the Geneva Internet Platform - an online record of all the sessions held at the WSIS.
In 2023, it has been a long time since the last report and quite a lot has happened in between times. This includes the COVID-19 pandemic that swept the world into a chaos that was to last for two and a half years from March 2020 - when during our last face to face APRICOT meeting in Melbourne, we were told that the proposed ICANN meeting at Cancun, Mexico the following week, was to be cancelled. This began 27 months of zoom meetings (both ICANN public meetings and intersessional working group meetings) until June 2022 when the ICANN meetings were resumed in The Hague, Netherlands.
In the interim, there were several developments within the membership of CIIAG.
Maureen Hilyard became the Vice Chair of the ALAC at the 2017 AGM (relinquishing her ccNSO Liaison position to Barrack Otieno of Kenya) and then was elected as the ALAC Chair from 2018 AGM - 2022 AGM. During this time frame Pua Hunter was also the Asia Pacific Vice Chair of The Government Advisory Committee (GAC).
Maureen Hilyard and Tracy Hackshaw of ISOC Trinidad and Tobago founded the IGF Dynamic Coalition of Small Island States in the Internet Economy in 2018 and held their first SIDS-IGF incorporating SIDS participation from the Pacific, Caribbean and AIMS (African, Indian Mediterranean and South China Seas) regions. This was held out of Trinidad and Tobago, with the support of the Caribbean Telecommunications Union.
Maureen had earlier in 2016 been elected to the DotAsia Board and became its first elected Board Chair in January 2021. Her term on the Board ended in January 2022.
In 2016, Maureen was also appointed to the Advisory Council of the Public Interest Registry (PIR) which sells .org domains on behalf of the Internet Society, and remained a member until May 2021 when she was then appointed to the DNS Abuse Institute which was established by PIR to research incidents of DNS Abuse which is being reported to the Institute by endusers. In collaboration with other responsble registries and registrars they have developed a DNS Response Framework whereby they have established a procedure to deal with reports of DNS Abuse. The Advisory Council held its first face-to-face meeting in The Hague, Netherland in June 2022.
During 2022, Maureen participated as a speaker and mentor at the Asia Pacific Internet Governance Academy (APIGA) in South Korea in September, and as a participant at the Asia Pacific Regional IGF (APRIGF) in Singapore, which was held in the week prior to the ICANN meeting in Kuala Lumpur in October 2022 (her final meeting as the Chair of the ALAC). Maureen continues as an ALAC member until the 2023 AGM as Vice Chair in charge of Outreach and Engagement.
Pua continues in her role as the Director of ICT based at the Office of the Prime Minister on Rarotonga in the Cook Islands. She has been a Pacific representative at global cybersecurity training events and contributed to the development of the updated National ICT Policy.
(CIIAG January 2023)