Tuesday, August 25

World Youth Netball Champs Closing

The excitement's over, the netballers have all flown home but Rarotonga has plenty of happy memories to look back on.
Now it's on to the next one, the Pacific Mini Games starting on 21 September.

Sunday, August 23

Ninth to twentieth world netball placings

In the previous post I put a list of the final positions in the World Youth Netball Championships. This video is short clips of the ninth to twentieth teams.
The last day of the competition, Thursday 20 August, had four finals for the top eight places so I'm planning to do a separate video for that. It was quite a day of sport and entertainment. I think the highlight for me was the team from Malawi. They played the Cook Islands for 5th and 6th place and came away the winners in fine style. You might think that the spectators would have been disappointed but those girls were just so much fun to watch as they celebrated the win that everyone loved them. Even the Cooks team joined in the dancing. Wonderful stuff.
However, before then I've got the final march past and medal presentation to put online.
All good fun!

Friday, August 21

All good things come to an end

The world youth netball championships are over after ten days of top class netball by young athletes from twenty countries.
The final positions are:
1 Australia
2 New Zealand
3 Jamaica
4 England
5 Malawi
6 Cook Islands
7 South Africa
8 Northern Ireland
9 Fiji
10 Trinidad and Tobago
11 Samoa
12 Barbados
13 Wales
14 Singapore
15 Malaysia
16 PNG
17 Scotland
18 Botswana
19 USA
20 Vanuatu
I’ve got a heap of video and now I should have a bit of time to do some editing and get it online … before the pacific Mini Games begin on 21 September.Before then we’ve got the Maeva Nui cultural dance festival, although the culture department don’t allow people to video that. They keep talking about ‘intellectual property rights’ though it seems to me that they’re a bit lacking in the ‘intellectual’ stakes themselves. Most people would consider it to be free advertising!
Unfortunately the government is having a problem organising transport to Rarotonga from the northern group islands so it remains to be seen if they all get here in time. It would be a shame if some of the teams can’t make it because the outer islands dancers always add a new dimension to the competition.
This video is of the Cook Islanders’ first game, against Wales, which we won.

Friday, August 14

World netball championships in Rarotonga

Things are certainly busy here at the moment.
The World Youth Netball Championships are being hosted by the Cook Islands this year.
Twenty teams of under-21 netballers from around the world are in Rarotonga for the ten-day tournament which started last Monday (10 August).
The weather was lovely for the first few days but it’s turned cold and windy now (that’s by Rarotonga standards when anything under 20C feels a bit chilly).
The Cook Islands team is comprised mainly of New Zealand and Australia based players but they are still obviously the local favourites and they have done well so far winning all three of their matches. Today they face England who are the top seeds in our group. We should finish second in the group and go on to fight it out for the top eight places.
All the other teams have local supporters thanks to an adopt-a-county scheme for the schools on Rarotonga. Each school has one or more teams to support (depending on the size of the school) and the kids go along to their matches with flags, banners, pom poms and loud voices. All good fun.
More details and photos of the tournament are on the Pacific Mini Games 2009 website – yes the games will be the next international sporting event coming up in September. Check it out here at http://www.2009pacificgames.co.ck/
(This video of the opening ceremony and another of the first game are already on the site.)

Sunday, August 9

Oire Nikao prepares for Te Maeva Nui

Constitution Day in the Cook Islands is 4 August. It celebrates internal self government, a scheme in which we have our own political system (based on the Westminster model) but New Zealand looks after things like defence and Cook Islanders are NZ citizens and have NZ passports.
Most years we have a cultural dance competition, Te Maeva Nui, during the week or so before Constitution Day but this year it’s been delayed until September because the Cooks are hosting two big international sporting events, the World Youth Netball Championships from 10 – 20 August and the Pacific Mini Games from 21 September – 2 October (more about those later).
The theme for this year’s competition is ‘Welcomes and farewells’ to take into account all the people who will be here for the events.
Various village teams have been getting ready for Te Maeva Nui for some time. The people of Nikao village have been busy practicing the dances and preparing their costumes. This video is about getting the materials for the so-called grass skirts.
They aren’t made from grass at all but from the inner bark of the beach hibiscus (or au) tree.
Last month the boys cut hibiscus branches and saplings – long straight ones are best. Au is very fast-growing – grows like a weed in fact.
The women, young and old, strip off the outer bark. The usual Rarotonga method is for thinner branches then to be bundled and put into the lagoon, weighed down with rocks. With thick branches the inner bark is also removed, tied up in bundles and put into the lagoon.
Now, some of the outer islands in the Southern Group have lagoons that are shallow and not suitable for the bundles-of-sticks method so they strip the bark from everything, thick or thin. Either way, things are left in the lagoon for two to three weeks to soften the fibres ready for the next stage in the costume making process.
As you can see, lots of people are involved and everyone has a lot of fun.

Wednesday, August 5

Te Hiva Nui at the Billingham Festival

Rarotonga dance group Te Hiva Nui has been performing at the Billingham Folk Festival in England and this video was posted on YouTube by Emmerrr who says they were excellent.
And a story appeared in a local newspaper the Evening Gazette, about their visit to the home of James Cook after whom our country was named. Check it out here:

Saturday, August 1

Cook Islands government accepts new sports centre

It’s been eight months in the building and there have been delays and hold ups, mainly caused by shipping problems, but on Friday 31 July 2009 the Chinese builders handed over the multi sports centre to the Cook Islands, as promised.
The building will be known as the Telecom Sports Arena, at least for the next three years, as part of the sponsorship deal for the World Youth Netball Champs and the Pacific Mini Games.
It was a fairly standard handover ceremony in terms of speeches and invited guests (including the Queen’s Representative Sir Frederick Goodwin and the deputy prime minister Sir Terepai Maoate) but it was good to see that the Chinese workmen were part of the proceedings.
A prayer from the local pastor, Rev Tereora Tereora of Nikao Ekalesia, was followed by the signing of the handover documents by Cook Islands Investment Corporation chairman Tapi Taio, CIIC CEO John Tini, CCECC general deputy manager Zhongning Zhao and another CCECC representative, Mr Liu I think.
Most of the speeches were same old same old; too long and rambling. But local MP and minister of sports Ngamau Munukoa (universally known as Aunty Mau which is much easier to say) gave an emotional address thanking the workers who have become part of the Nikao community.
After the ‘ribbon’ cutting (actually made from maire) everyone went into the arena where Oire Nikao cultural troupe danced and chanted. Ushers demonstrated the retractable seating which really is very quick to deploy. Then it was time for the food without which no Cook Islands function is complete.
The new arena will certainly look good and do its job for the netball champs and during the mini games – it’s the venue for squash, weightlifting and netball again. What happens after that when it comes to maintenance is anyone’s guess!