Eyebrows were raised in a sense of familiarity among the team as the arrival to the host nation of the Pacific Mini Games was not unlike touching down in Rarotonga or the Pa Enua.
Bright smiles, fragrant garlands of tiare maori and tiare teina were adorned on the team and members of the Fiji team who the local team joined on their chartered flight to Wallis and Futuna.
Outside the arrival terminal – mamas and young women in bright muu’muu waited with arm loads of ei to adorn the arriving athletes and officials from the Cook Islands team as well as members of Team Fiji.
One team member mentioned that she felt that the mamas reminded her of the vainetini on the island of Manihiki and their language similar to that of Tonga and Samoa with a few words recognisable to the Cook Islanders ears.
While the friendly faces and familiar greetings were very much welcomed by the team – the humid conditions on the wet evening sent the team racing for their pareu and face cloths.
Team Cook Islands were then transported to their accommodation – Lycee d’Etat de Wallis et Futuna, one of the universities on the island of Wallis.
At the new home of Team Cook Islands – the final member of the team joins the 16 member Cook Islands team.
National sprinter Patricia Taea travelled on her own to Wallis from the Gold Coast where she is training at the Regional Development Centre.
She was hugged and greeted by her fellow team mates – sailors Taua Elisa, Teau McKenzie, Junior Charlie, fellow track athletes Tereapii Tapoki and Alex Beddoes and weightlifter Luisa Peters.
Team Cook Islands is sharing the university with Papua New Guinea, some members of team Fiji, team American Samoa and Samoa, Guam, Palau and Tonga.
After the first uncomfortably humid evening in Wallis – the local sports team is using island intuition and has moved their bunks outdoors to cope with the heat as competition day’s inch closer and the need for good night sleep become more imperative.
Mini games sports competition got underway yesterday.