Saturday, August 1
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!