The power of beauty

Monday July 29, 2019 Written by Published in Entertainment
Reihana Koteka-Wiki shares her dreams with children around the Cook Islands. 19072516 Reihana Koteka-Wiki shares her dreams with children around the Cook Islands. 19072516

Miss Cook Islands isn’t just a pageant and a title, it’s a platform to make good change in the community, says Reihana Koteka-Wiki.

She should know: as reigning Miss Cook Islands, she’s been living that every day since being crowned last year.

“Having an influential platform and to hold the title of Miss Cook Islands, is a privilege and has opened up so many doors of opportunity to make an impact in my community,” she says.

Reihana was born in Israel, in the midst of a very turbulent and conflicted area and because of this she says she had a very real understanding from a young age of the kinds of suffering and pain that can exist in the world.

She grew up in Kenya and Cambodia, which she says opened her eyes to extreme poverty.

Reihana has a degree in Psychology and is passionate about helping people’s mental wellbeing. Her passion for humanitarian work stemmed from a Red Cross trip abroad where she promoted her mental wellness initiatives.

The founder of her own mental wellness charity Toku Reo, as well as being a Mental Health Ambassador to the National Commission to UNESCO, she has expressed her concern through helping young people since she too was young.

At 11, Reihana signed herself up for Model United Nations, where she spoke at the UN General Assembly advocating for victims of Women and Child trafficking from Western African states.

At 12, she joined a UN youth envoy carrying out humanitarian assistance to orphanages in the Kibera slums of Nairobi, Kenya. Kibera is the largest urban slum in Africa.

At 16, she travelled to the Dominican Republic with the Peace Corps and Builders Beyond Borders organisations where she helped build waterways to bring clean water to rural areas.

One project she holds particularly close to her heart is her Dream Journals project called ‘Te Puka Orama’, giving children positive coping habits to through their life.

Reihana has teamed up with the Ministry of Education to distribute a free dream journal to every child from age 8 to 12.

It includes colouring pages from her ‘color with a cause’ project, that called local artists to design a uniquely Cook Islands colouring book and prompted journaling pages.

Reihana says this is the first resource of its kind targeted at young children. The aim is to help introduce and promote positive mental mindfulness habits at a young age and prevent mental health problems later.

“It’s been my dream for a long time to be able to carry out a project of this magnitude and it means so much be able to make an impact nationwide for our precious tamariki. I’ve lived a very unique life, one that has taught me more than any classroom could, and one that has always kept me grounded and humble.”

·         Those interested in contesting Miss Cook Islands 2019, won last year by Reihana, can contact Mere Short 54409, Addrianne Hosking-Tinirau 55144 or Taina Pittman 76485.

·         Those interested in the separate Miss Cook Islands Pageant, whose titleholder is Lydia Simonis-Tariu, should attend the orientation night tonight at Tuakata Café, from 5pm, of contact Clee Marsters on 70556, or Ellena Tavioni on 23202.

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