Crying foul over our poultry

Monday September 18, 2017 Written by Published in Opinion

It was interesting reading in CI News yesterday comments made by a tourist from New Zealand complaining about the chickens and chicken poo everywhere on Rarotonga.


Their point was that if we don’t do something about the plethora of chickens and the poo that comes with them, then “quality tourists” will not come here and we then look like a third world destination.

Imagine you’ve invited guests from another country to dinner. The house is all ready for their arrival and you all put on a smiley face so they feel welcome. You talk about how the weather is better than where they are from and then as they leave they tell you, “by the way we think your house is a mess.

“And do something about those chickens in your yard because they are annoying.”

In this situation, I would probably show them the door before dessert. Politely place my hand behind their backs and direct them to the roadside, where they would find the quickest exit home. And they would never be invited to my home again.

This idea that we are somehow at the beckoning call of “quality tourists” from New Zealand is arrogance beyond belief. I remember one time walking through town on a Sunday morning and an Australian tourist stopped me to ask where was a good place to buy a coffee. She asked why everything was shut. I politely said to her most things were closed on a Sunday because that’s the way we choose to live here.

Her response was an agitated, “Well if you want us to come here, then don’t you think you should make it more open and somewhere for us to get a coffee on a Sunday?”

I was incensed by her sense of entitlement. She had bought a ticket and paid for accommodation, so that somehow also meant that we, the people of the Cook Islands, should be at her beck and call and when she wanted coffee, then coffee should be available to her.

I politely reminded her that this was more than just a holiday destination. In fact this was our home. First and foremost, I told her, we live here and we like this lifestyle, not having everything open on a Sunday. And with that, she went off looking for her coffee.

Fortunately, she is part of a minority. Most visitors who come here, and with whom we have all probably interacted, do remember this is our home first. They are careful and mindful of our customs and our ways and don’t want to intrude on them, recognising that although they’ve paid money to get here, they are still guests and not entitled spoilt brats.

I had to smile as I read the tourist’s comment that if we didn’t get rid of chickens then “quality tourists” wouldn’t come here. I have met many quality tourists and for the most part they would never see our chicken population as something that diminishes the kinds of experience they can enjoy here.

For the most part, quality tourists are too overcome and overwhelmed with the many good people, the many helpful and accommodating people of the Cook Islands, to be bothered by the odd crowing rooster or chicken poo on the grass.

I have never been to a “third world” country, but I do know enough to know we have little in common with the likes of the city of Mogadishu or any third world country that I can think of. To say we are “third world” is simply insulting.

Whether it be too many dogs or too many chickens, too many thefts or assaults, can we please not ask for these things to change simply because it would make our tourists guests feel more comfortable. We must never forget that this is first and foremost our home, our Enua, the place where we live and breathe and raise our families. Surely the needs of our people, who live here, wherever they may come from, should be first and foremost in our minds. Followed, of course by the needs of our many quality guests from around the world.

 As for our unhappy tourists, I was thinking as to where in the world they could find the tourist destination they are so desperately seeking. I actually found it, and I know just the place where they won’t have to worry about chickens and chicken poo.

They will find this place sitting in the lounge of their home in New Zealand. It will be cold and wet outside but they will be able keep themselves busy surfing the TV channels or watching re-runs of Shortland Street.

- Thomas Wynne


  • Comment Link Tim Davies Monday, 25 September 2017 19:09 posted by Tim Davies

    When we visited Rarotonga a couple of years ago, one of the things we liked the best were the chickens everywhere we went, and the friendly people that we met made us feel very welcome.
    We may not be "Quality" but we loved your island home and would have no hesitation in returning.

  • Comment Link Grant NZ Wednesday, 20 September 2017 18:16 posted by Grant NZ

    I couldn't agree more. I love coming over to Raro. The people there are welcoming and friendly. That is one of the main reasons we keep coming back. The crowing roosters, the roaming dogs and the quiet Sundays are all part of the attraction of the islands. I too have met these entitled people and don't worry, they behave the same in their own country. They are usually wealthy, unhappy people so please take their attitudes with a grain of salt. We don't like them either.

  • Comment Link June Tupai Tuesday, 19 September 2017 13:34 posted by June Tupai

    Just got back from Raro, first visit for some of my family members, no one complained about the chickens or poo, didnt really notice that, too busy gawking elsewhere and admiring the scenery etc. Its a shame that tourists bother to focus on such travel flaws of the island instead of the beauty of the people, sea, land if anything the island community do well to accommodate foreigners and keep their culture intact.

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