“The country needs more activities/entertainment for our youth like public skate parks, basketball courts, an arcade etc. We mainly have nightclubs which not everyone enjoys and it can cause trouble for the younger generation,” the smoke signaller said.
After gathering thoughts and opinions from a broad range of teenagers and those involved in such initiatives, there seems to be strong voices proclaiming in agreement with these concerning factors.
Twenty-year-old Cahjun Willis said he absolutely agrees with the idea of having more fun activities for local youth.
“It would be great to keep the younger generation out of trouble and stay active because night clubs seem to be influencing the idea of alcohol as the only way to enjoy themselves and have fun,” he said.
Former Tereora College student Tama Aitken said there is a definite lack of facilities and funding for projects aimed at youth.
“I am not talking about helplines, but physical activities and facilities such as skate parks, local basketball courts or even more attention and funding on sports development for youth.
“We shouldn’t just focus on international athletes, where all the money is spent on bringing in overseas talent.
“We need to invest in the younger generation in the way of equipment and frequent development programmes - something that is appealing to youth,” he said.
Nineteen-year-old Debora Mataio said having entertainment and facilities for our youth is a great way to bring the community closer and combine our efforts to help reduce youth issues.
A mother of three teenagers said there needs to be a recreational facility on the island to provide opportunities for teenagers and families to expend their energy, socialize and have fun in a positive way.
“It seems to be the only places that provide fun for teenagers and young adults, promote the consumption of alcohol,” the mother said.
“The youth in our community would benefit for facilities that promoted fun and enjoyment away from and alcohol environment. We need to change the binge drinking culture of our nation and recreational facilities would help this,” she said.
Another recent smoke signal was sent inquiring what was the current state of the Constitution Park.
“It is such a shame when private sectors want to fund an awesome recreational facility and it gets held up in the system. We should be doing everything we can to utilize the opportunities and generosity of those in the community who want to help,” the smoke signal said.
Toa business owner Brett Porter was named as one who has been involved with suggestions with such initiatives.
Porter said he absolutely agrees that there is a need for more focus on the development of new public recreational spaces.
In 2014 an approach was made to the Government to establish what was going to happen on the reclaimed land on the foreshore in front of the Punanganui markets.
Porter proposed that the ‘new’ land could be given to a public trust for the establishment of a recreational park that was a central for activities and family space.
“The project was designed by renowned New Zealand park architect Richard Smith who spent six weeks on Rarotonga to complete the layout design that was presented to cabinet in September of 2014 and approval was granted to proceed to the construction design detail,” Porter said.
Smith worked with Mac Mokoroa and his team at Infrastructure Cook Islands (ICI) who completed this work, Porter said.
“The project was priced and I provided a commitment to raise the money for the project’s completion in time for our 50th constitution celebrations in 2015 - This would be our ‘new Constitution Park’.
“All costs to this stage were covered with private donations and government input came in the form of technical expertise from ICI,” he said.
Porter said it was a great initiative that could have been completed then it just got stuck somewhere in the bureaucracy of Government and ended up going nowhere.
Meanwhile the reclaimed land known as the Constitution Park is not being used for any youth initiative but rather a car park facility for people who attend the Punanga Nui Market.