Yesterday the Brisbane girl guides ventured across Rutaki lagoon to look at the MV Wairau fishing vessel stranded on the reef.
The tide was low so they could walk along the coral and sand. Other passersby also took the opportunity to get a closer look and search for some seafood at the same time.
Cook Islands Girl Guide Association president Ngara Katuke said she earlier took time to show the girls the the Ngatoe Intake and family waterfall. She showed them how to husk the and collect coconuts to feed the pigs.
They had a good time but it was a lot of hardwork, said Katuke. They arranged a weekend camp with the girls, there were around fifty girl guides all together joined by Brisbane’s seven girl guides.
The cultural exchange also included a community project where the Australian girl guides donated crafts and books to the Creative Centre, Ara Pa Metua and conducted a reading programme yesterday at Rutaki Primary School.
“I think they are really enjoying this trip,” said Katuke.
However, like many young people, they were concerned about the environment. Since visiting Rarotonga they have been blown away. It’s beautiful, they all remarked and so spacious.
They were curious and concerned to see a digger on the reef and a large fishing boat, which ran aground to the anger of community members.
One of the girl guides Izzy Goodman looked down at the crushed coral beneath her as she followed the diggers’ tracks to the reef.
“It doesn’t seem like this is very good for the environment,” said Goodman.
As she got closer to the vessel, she watched the workers lift a heavy chain, one end connected to the boat and the other connected to the digger.
Plans were being made to pull the boat to the land instead of trying to get it back over the reef. The broken coral was bright white on the inside and the girl guides listened to it crunch along the lagoon.
It was one of their goals to go for a reef walk and they made the most of the low tide and were keen to check out the boat but were puzzled as to how the boat would eventually be salvaged.
“If this was Australia, we wouldn’t be able to get this close,” one girl guide said.
Either way, they have enjoyed being treated to local food like the seaweed from the outer islands and corned beef stew.