Sunday, September 27

Athletics action in Rarotonga

I reckon athletics is the prime sporting code at events like these.
There have been some really great moments - unfortunately I've not been around for all of them but here's a selection.

Half way at the Pacific Mini Games

The first week of the Pacific Mini Games is over and I've not had time to put up any video of it!
There's plenty of action on the various fields of play and it's been hectic trying to get information onto the website. Thank goodness for Cook Islands News who have allowed us to use many of their stories and stunnign photographs.
Actually the web side of things was supposed to be organised months ago, especially getting results online quickly, but it hasn't always happened the way it was supposed to! Fortunately we've had an expert here retraining people on the fly - the main problem seems to be finding people to retrain!
I got involved so I'd be able to get videos of some of the action but getting out into the field hasn't been easy. And editing and putting it online is even harder.
Never mind. I'm not really complaining. It's great being able to get close to the action so here is a video of the opening ceremony (it's been on the website since Tuesdsay!)
I'll follow it immediately with a video of some of the athletics so keep watching.

Sunday, September 20

Pacific Mini Games start tomorrow

The waiting’s nearly over.
The athletes are just about all here, the games’ villages are filling up, flags flying as each country arrives.
The venues are sparkling.
The vitally important caterers, cooks and cleaners are operational.
Even the sun is shining after a couple of wet, cloudy, cold weeks.
Tomorrow, (Monday Cook Islands time) the opening ceremony gets underway at 2pm. It’s supposed to be relatively short so that the athletes don’t have to hang around for hours in the hot sun, but I’ve got a feeling that the part of the programme that says each country will ‘keep moving slowly and never stop’ is going to be ignored. A lot of these guys are natural showmen. Why move slowly when you can dance, chant or do the island version of a haka?
Oire Nikao, the overall winners of the Maeva Nui cultural dance competition, play a part in the festivities. Once the games are over I’m looking forward to getting some of the footage I took of their rehearsals on the web.
There was a rehearsal on Saturday, a bit of a walk through of the various parts of the programme (excluding the speeches thank goodness – there’ll be enough of them on Monday). It gave the choir a chance to sing the mini games theme song ‘Share the moments’. They’ve been practicing of course but it’s different in the open air at the stadium than it has been inside the auditorium.
This video is a brief look at the practice with the theme song as a soundtrack.
Don’t forget to keep checking the games website for stories, photographs and videos of what’s going on. It will be updated daily – hourly in the case of some sports and results. And we’ll be using reports from the Supporter to Reporter group of young journalists from the UK so there should be plenty to keep Cookies and fans of the Cooks occupied.

Tuesday, September 15

Rarotonga busy with festivals and preparations

Wow! Talk about busy – both me and the country.
At the moment Rarotonga is in the midst of Te Maeva Nui as well as preparing for the mini games.
The outer islands teams all arrived in the end. The government chartered a vessel from Tahiti to visit northern group islands and pick up teams.
But there was still controversy because the first two islands loaded too many people which meant Pukapuka was left with only thirty or so places instead of the fifty promised. Rather than leave behind team members who had all been practising hard for months, they decided not to come at all. This naturally caused a fuss back in Rarotonga and in the end the government stepped in again and chartered some flights to get them here.
How they’re all going to get back home goodness knows!
So Te Maeva Nui is underway and is the usual popular and spectacular affair. I haven’t been able to go – too busy with mini games preparations. Anyway, as I mentioned earlier, people aren’t allowed to take videos which I find annoying. I’ve got some footage of Nikao practicing their drum dance but I’m not putting it on the web until Te Maeva Nui is over because the team don’t want to give any secrets away. I’ll tell you what, though. The costumes are fantastic.
But back to the mini games.
The weather has improved so let’s hope it stays warm and dry for the next few weeks. Last week the national stadium was renamed the BCI stadium at a fun event with Team Cook Islands marching in, races between mascots, kids and athletes to test the new track and a mass fitness session – the zumbathon – to get everyone warmed up.
The stadium is looking good and everyone had a great time as the video show.
Don’t forget to check out the mini games website to see what’s going on.

Monday, September 7

Cook Islands mini games mascot

The World Youth Netball Champs may be over but here on Rarotonga we’re counting down to the Pacific mini games.
For those who don’t live in the Pacific, the mini games take place every four years.
In between times we have the Pacific games which I suppose must be considered the major version with a programme of 22 or more sporting codes spread over ten days or so. The mini games are supposed to be for smaller countries to host without crippling themselves financially. We’re hosting fifteen codes, probably a few too many, and there’s been plenty of controversy about ballooning costs but we’re at the pointed end now and it all gets under way in a fortnight.
We have a mascot – Kuki the Kukupa – and he’s definitely the fun face of the games. He’s been pretty busy recently visiting sponsors and schools; he’s likely to be even busier as opening day gets closer.
The weather at the moment is atrocious – cold, wet and windy – so let’s hope all the bad stuff is out of the way by the time the games start. It’s nice watching sports performed by experts when the sun is shining, not so nice when the rain pours down.
The video shows some of Kuki’s activities.
We’re hoping for a few gold medals. Netball and touch rugby look promising and we should get medals in weightlifting and va’a (outrigger canoeing) although Tahiti are the gun paddlers in the region so maybe not gold. The real excitement comes when our athletes perform above expectations. Can’t wait!
For more about the games check out our website (

Tuesday, September 1

Top 8 world junior netball teams

Well, this will be the last of the netball videos (although I still have some footage of the kids in action around the World Youth Netball Championships.
This is a composite of the last four matches. They took place on finals day and saw the allocation of the top eight places for junior netballers in the world. Our girls were fighting for fifth /sixth sport with Malawi. An online newspaper report from Malawi said they couldn't see the Cooks beating Malawi and they were right. The final score was Malawi 61 CI 48. This takes nothing away from the Cook Islanders who had some really good games and a few that weren't so good. But the Malawi team were just superb. They were deserved winners and they celebrated with such gusto at the end of the game that everyone amongst the spectators were cheering along with them as they danced and sang around the court. The biggest cheer probably occurred when the Cookies came out to join in their celebrations.
In the closest match South Africa 43 beat Northern Ireland 41 for the seventh and eighth spots.
The bronze medal game between Jamaica and England was a pretty brutal affair - well let's be fair about this - it wasn't an all out rough game but there were a few nudges and tumbles including one that resembled the notorious spear tackle in rugby league (sorry, I didn't catch that one on video). Jamaica were ahead for just about the whole game and eventually won 48-42.
The grand final was a bit of a disappointment. The Aussies looked unbeatable throughout the tournament and in this game the kiwis just didn't fire. The final score was 64-46 and the under 21 Australian side were deserved winners.
It was a fantastic occasion, everyone loved having all the overseas netballers here and now we are looking forward to the Pacific Mini Games starting on 21 September.
In the meantime, if you're interested in sport or how the Cooks will handle all the hoohah surrounding the games, check out the games website at