When we travel abroad we see many exciting and fabulous things.

I've not yet had the pleasure to see the sun go down over the Great Pyramid at Giza, or witness the beauty of the Taj Mahal, or stand on the Great Wall of China, or make the pilgrims' walk - the Camino de Santiago de Compostella.

But I have seen the sun rise over giant sand dunes in Morocco, walked the halls of the Tower of London, sat in the quiet exquisiteness of the 1000-year-old Chapter House in Westminster Abbey, danced sur le pont D'Avignon and proposed to my lady at the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

In my travelling life I have seen the good and the bad of the world and revelled in each experience because visiting other countries teaches you so much.

Recently a young Papamoa lad, Bastien Welch, saw the unpleasant side of a place most Kiwis regard as being an unspoilt paradise.

The Mount Maunganui College student was in Rarotonga and while riding down a back road came across a sight that he said sickened him.

Bastien saw a pig that had been starved. It was tethered, in a small field, to a tree. The rope that held it in place had rubbed the animal's hair away and was close to cutting through its skin. That rope also limited its range and everything to eat within that radius was gone.

He said he was appalled. We contacted the SPCA and its two New Zealand volunteers on Rarotonga - Robyn Kippenberger and Steph Saunders - went out to help the animal.

They, too, were shocked at its condition. Saunders said the sow had clearly not been fed for some weeks as they could count its ribs and its hips showed through its skin.

The animal welfare officers fed the animal and retied it to a different tree allowing it to graze amid the rich bush growth nearby. They also put a small dog collar around its leg and tethered it back on to the original rope. They hoped that would ease its discomfort.

Everyone went home thinking all was good and that the animal was now able to feed itself and didn't have rope eating into its leg.

However, the next day they reported the sow was right back where they had found it, with its same leg tied up - without the collar - and its food bucket gone.

It was clearly a big two-finger salute to those trying to help the animal.

Saunders said the matter was now a clear case of animal cruelty but the maximum fine available was $20. The SPCA immediately called for that to be increased to $200.

What I found interesting was the mindset of a person who would deliberately treat an animal in that way.

I was later told the pig had belonged to a person's father and because they didn't like the dad, when he died this twisted abuser decided to starve the animal.

The day its plight was highlighted in the media it was dispatched with a gunshot to the head.

While most Cook Islanders condemned the wanton cruelty, a few others tried to defend it.

Firstly by saying that instead of upping the animal cruelty fines, maybe authorities should increase fines for trespass.

Then came the anti-tourist comments about how people visiting should keep their noses out of island ways.

To that I say: You ignorant cretins, tourism is the lifeblood of the Cook Islands and without it - and the freely given aid from Western nations that look badly upon animal cruelty - your piece of rock 32 kilometres around would not survive financially.

So get with the modern world and lift your game against animal cruelty, Cook Islands.

And, to Bastien Welch, I say: Well done, young man. You saw something that was terrible and immediately acted to do something about it.

Your parents should be proud.