The primary goal of the joint venture between the two organisations was to promote awareness of the role of the Cook Islands SPCA, discover the key issues and establish the primary needs of animals on both islands.
The collaboration is also aimed at introducing an education programme to young students covering the basics of animal welfare and creating connections with key and potential stakeholders and partners.
Both Aitutaki and Rarotonga residents were pleased to welcome Holly Kendrick of Otago Polytechnic and SPCA Cook Islands manager Tony Jamieson.
The two spent three days visiting children in primary and secondary schools to raise awareness of the SPCA’s role and introduce a new education programme to young students covering the basics of animal welfare.
“For Aitutaki, this was the first time there has been any animal welfare education delivered in schools and the response was overwhelmingly positive,” said Kendrick, a lecturer and learning advisor at Otago Polytechnic.
“Visits were made to Vaitau Primary, Seventh-day Adventist Primary, Araura Primary and Araura College where an interactive programme allowed students to explore their knowledge of basic animal needs and then look more closely at the ‘five freedoms’ which are recognised internationally as the core principles for animal welfare.”
The five freedoms include freedom from hunger and thirst, freedom from discomfort, freedom from pain, injury and disease, freedom to express normal behaviour and freedom from fear and distress.
“The same programme was also delivered to the Year 7 and 8 students of Titikaveka College in Rarotonga. Many of these students recently attended a community day at the SPCA shelter and it was wonderful to visit them and see just how much fantastic knowledge they have,” Kendrick said.
“The children who were able to take part in these sessions were truly impressive; they were enthusiastic and an absolute pleasure to work alongside.”
Kendrick was also impressed with the knowledge displayed by the young people and said the future of animal welfare looked bright in the Cook Islands.
The pioneering project, she said, was only the beginning for animal welfare education in the Cook Islands and they were excited to give more children the opportunity to be involved.
“This project was made possible due to the generosity of our principal sponsors Air Rarotonga, The Rarotongan Beach Resort and Spa and Air New Zealand. We are extremely grateful for their generosity and ongoing support.”