The works, produced under the supervision of New Zealand artist Michel Tuffery, were created as part of the Sounds Shells project and is part of a year-long programme of events hosted by the New Zealand High Commission to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of what was once called, “the war to end all wars.”
The programme will see Michel return to Rarotonga later this year to carve a memorial stone and gateway for the Cook Islands RSA cemetery with local artist, writer and carver, Mike Tavioni.
Art produced at workshops conducted by Tuffery reflect on the 500 Cook Islanders who served in World War One.
Michel Tuffery said it was a wonderful occasion to witness the younger generations carrying on the message of their forefathers.
“Our soldiers fought for our country during World War One,” said Tuffery.
“We need to take our time to relate their stories to our children who will then be able to relate to these stories through their artistic side.
“Tonight is special; we are here to witness some of the student’s artwork which reflects just that.
Tuffery thanked the Ministry of Education for organising the children to be part of a special initiative which had allowed them to come together for storytelling and creating artworks.
He thanked New Zealand High Commissioner Nick Hurley and his wife Christine for their support, which had made the programme feel more special.
Hurley commends everyone involved for their input and effort towards remembering the Cook Islands soldiers of World War One, and hoped for more participation in the near future.
“The students’ participation (in the story of) our Cook Islands soldiers has been recognised through their artistic side,” said Hurley.
“The New Zealand High Commission works closely with the Retired and Service Association in making sure the contribution of our soldiers during the World War One are properly recognised.”
He said the Sound Shells project had been a resounding success, as was clearly demonstrated by the artworks on display.
“Michel Tuffery’s workshops have been a real catalyst for Cook Islands communities to reconnect with their World War One soldiers who made such an important contribution to New Zealand’s war effort. I encourage everyone to come and see this remarkable exhibition.”
Finance minister Mark Brown was also a guest speaker at the event..
Other activities hosted by the New Zealand High Commission include a commemorative reception at Ngatipa on February 5, marking the date of departure of the 1st Rarotonga Contingent from New Zealand to serve in Egypt in 1916, the WW100 secondary schools speech competition, which will see winner Tamarua Marsters represent the Cook Islands at the anniversary of the Battle of the Somme commemorations in France in September, the launch of Howard Weddell’s book Soldiers from the Pacific, and the publication of a special edition Cook Islands RSA ANZAC booklet.