Mii Matamaki of the Cook Islands' National Environment Service was the keynote speaker at the final of four forums held in February at the Cook Islands' campus of The University of the South Pacific (USP). The forums celebrated 50 years of independence for the Cook Islands, as well as the 40th anniversary of the establishment of USP Cook Islands.
The forums brought together people from the Pa Enua (outer islands), as well as those living on Rarotonga, to discuss their concerns about climate change as well as to highlight actions already undertaken along with the issues still needing to be addressed.
This Open Forum focussed on the Northern Group, with ten individuals sharing their views and then responding to the questions and comments from the audience, in an active and wide-ranging discussion. The programme is below.
The next Forum, the last of a series of four, will take place on Wednesday February 25. The focus will be on Rarotonga.
Vaine Wichman delivered the keynote address. She drew on a variety of vulnerability and adaptation assessments, as well as other information, to give a well-informed and clearly delivered overview of the climate-related issues facing the Northern Group, and the actions that need to be undertaken. In some cases climate change impacts are already already being reduced as a result of adaptation and other initiatives.
This Forum focussed on climate-related concerns and actions for the Pa Enua of the Southern Group.
The programme is below.
The keynote speaker was Steve Barrett.
He has lived and worked in the Pa Enua, including as Island Secretary in Mauke.
Steve now works at the New Zealand High Commission in Rarotonga.
There were five other speakers. Their presentations were followed by a lively discussion.
Professor John Hay, welcomed fifty or more interested persons to the first open forum on International Perspectives and the National Overview of climate change in the Cook Islands.
The Keynote Presentation by Ana Tiraa was a clear and well informed summary of international perspectives and the national context. This laid an excellent foundation for the rest of the evening. A highlight of the evening was a summary of the roll out of Renewable Energy in the Northern Pa Enua, presented by Mr Tangi Tereapii. Rakahanga and Pukapuka now have 24/7 power after decades of putting up with varied hours ranging from 6 to maybe 18 hours a day. Can YOU imagine the excitement of the communities to know they can have a hot cup of coffee or tea at any time of the day?
Dr Teina Ronga gave an impressive and enthusiastic presentation to launch his well documented report.
"Using Local Knowledge to Understand Climate Variability in the Cook Islands".
Cook Islands 50th Anniversary Logo
The circle characterises – our shared journey of nationhood. It also depicts unity – the key ingredient which will ensure that our journey is one which will progress all of us as a people and a nation.
The logo symbolises the ‘pito’ – the umbilical cord. This signifies the birth of a person and application to the founding of our nation from its infancy and its growth. It also represents connection - the connection of our people to our God, our land, our ocean, and to
The 16 ‘manutai’, are the traditional ‘ara matangi’ – the wind directions that have scattered our people across the globe. This serves to remind us that our development should not be restricted to our geographical boundaries and that our people abroad are an important part of our nation. The Cook Islands is made up of its people and our people are global. The ‘manutai’ facing outwards portrays continual growth – our need to continuously strive for progress that will be beneficial for our country and people.
The fifteen ‘mou rima’ in a circle further emphasises the need for unity and the linkages that our islands and peoples share. Only through the holding of hands and togetherness can we find strength as a people and a nation.
In the centre is the ‘Matariki’ constellation of stars. This is referred to by some of our islands as ‘Mata Ariki’ – the eyes of God. This reminds us that our belief in God is the foundation of our nation. Matariki also serves as a principal constellation for traditional navigation and direction, cautioning us that we must always seek God’s guidance, direction and blessing in our nation’s journey. We are all born under the stars of Matariki and we all share the journey of the Cook Islands.