Yesterday, students Joseph George, John Tui-Tanga and Zephaniah Turepu welcomed the new addition to their schoolground: “It’s good,” said Turepu. “There are no more dogs wandering leaving their mess, it’s safer for us and we like it.”
The school’s principal Shelley Berry agreed: “Not having a secure perimeter boundary fence around the school highlighted a serious risk of safety and security to the school children.”
The old fencing was a combination of hedges at various heights; barbed wired and wired fencing, or no fencing at all.
There had been incidents in the past: a young child had wandered out of the school property, and the carpark area was a risk to the children.
“The High Commissioner’s Office saw the importance of this and assisted us with $25,000 towards this project that we named ‘Project Aua Paruru no te Anau Apii’,” said Berry.
She said the new fence was beautifully constructed and had received many positive comments from students and parents. “This has uplifted our school, helping our community to take pride in their surroundings, and of course, has made our school more secure. Meitaki maata, we couldn’t have done it without you.”
The school was one of 19 community organisations throughout the Cook Islands that shared $150,000 from the High Commissioner’s funds.
New Zealand’s High Commissioner Tessa Temata said the 19 projects were a fascinating illustration of what was important to Cook Islanders. “The bulk of funds were spent on six things: preserving and promoting traditional arts, on schools, youth activities, water sanitation and disaster relief, safety issues such as road and fire safety and managing growing waste challenges.”
Temata is pleased to see the feedback on the projects, “because it shows me how hard communities are prepared to work to benefit their communities and why New Zealand is happy to supplement and support those efforts. A little can go a long way.”
The Toa Moana Oe Vaka Club Inc of Aitutaki is another recipient. Stephen Doherty said the money paid for two life-saving defibrillator units, one at the main wharf and the other at the ever-popular Ootu Point, “a water sport hotspot for tourists and locals alike”.
The Teimurimotia Voluntary Fire & Rescue Brigade purchased a fire pump for its fire tanker truck; already the truck has attended house fires, not only in the community, but in other areas on Rarotonga.
And Mangaia’s trade school principal Mike Papatua said the High Commissioner’s $4200 investment was helping train up a more skilled workforce on Mangaia, for people who’e been deterred previously by the high cost of travelling and attending school. “The project has afforded the children of Mangaia and the community at large the opportunity to access a fully functional Trade Training Centre at our doorsteps.”
“We are ecstatic about the range of programmes that we can offer,” Papatua said. “The opportunities are limitless.”
New Zealand has provided over $34.4 million to the Cook Islands in 2018/19 through its bilateral aid programme, including $1.6m of funding from Australia via the Delegated Cooperation Arrangement.
It has contributed to core services delivered by the Ministries of Education and Health, Cook Islands Tourism Corporation, infrastructure investments including Te Mato Vai and the Manatua Cable.
Following are recipients and amounts distributed during the last financial year, between the 1 July 1st 2018 and 30 June 2019.
Apii Rutaki: $6,900.00, St Joseph's Scouts troop: $8,845.00, Arorangi Vainetini: $5,984.00, Te Are Manu Inc: $10,000.00, Mangaia School Committee: $4,192.00, Temaora o te Au Mama, Mangaia: $6,652.00, Mauke St Michael Boys scout: $3,853.00, Mauke Bataka working group: $3,489.00, Mangaia Island Administration: $6,191.00, Northern Group Waste management: $14,465.00, Imanuela Akatemia: $1,500.00, Enuamanu School Atiu: $13,669.00, Toa Moana Oe Vaka Club Inc: $5,449.00, Teimurimotia Voluntary Fire & Rescue: $12,685.00, Teau Vainetini Arorangi: $8,846.00, Arutanga, Reureu, Nikaupara Vainetini: $3,772.00, Tupapa Oire Kumiti Tama: $5,000.00, CI Voyaging Society: $9,797.00, St Joseph’s school: $18,500.00.