Hauser is aiming to have the centre up and running again by the end of September.
“We’re working on it really hard,” she said. “We’ve got a lot of people behind us that are helping and we’ve painted the whole thing.”
Hauser said “it was very distressing to the entire island” when the centre closed down last year.
“When I came back after the whale centre closed, the first person I saw, an old man at customs, said to me, ‘What happened to the whale centre? Don’t close it, please don’t close it, we need it – we want it’.
“And I said, ‘I know, I built it for the people of the Cook Islands – I want it too.
“But everybody wants it back – everybody. So we’re working on it.”
Hauser said “a lot of damage” had been done at the centre and significant restoration work was required.
“They ripped the doors off the cabinets, they ripped out the front desk, they ripped out the sink – they took everything out. They ripped it to shreds,” she said.
According to the Projects For Good website, through which Hauser has been attempting to raise money for restoration work, one of the exhibits housed at the reopened centre will display “CT scans with MRI details of rare beaked whales and their inner ears and brains”.
The website also mentions collaborations with the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, the New England Aquarium, Aquarium of the Pacific, and “other institutions throughout the US”.
First opened in 2000, the centre closed down last year after former managers Sheryl and Huw John removed the exhibits owned by their company, Cook Islands Wildlife Centre Ltd and put them into storage.
Those exhibits have since been purchased by Reef Sub owner-operator Stephanie Jansen, who plans to use them in a new venture, Discover Marine & Wildlife Eco-Centre in Arorangi, which is also currently scheduled to be open by the end of September.
Jansen says the two centres will be able to operate in conjunction with each other and that she will “work in with Nan as much as possible”.