Sunday, October 27
Rarotonga is still reeling after two schools were targeted by arsonists over the weekend of 19-20 October 2013.
In the early hours of Sunday morning the west wing block at Nukutere College went up in flames.
Classrooms, a science lab and the school canteen were destroyed in a huge blaze that started around 1am.
The same block burned to the ground in 2006.
On Sunday afternoon at about 4pm Avatea Primary School was set alight and the fire quickly spread to engulf an entire block containing six classrooms and the school library.
Both fires were started at times when planes were due at the airport so Rescue Fire Service was unable to attend immediately. Engines and volunteers from Puaikura fought the fires until Crash/Fire units arrived.
The two schools were closed on Monday while the sites were investigated and made safe,
New Zealand fire investigator Peter Wilding arrived on Rarotonga on Tuesday to help local authorities find the cause of the fires and confirmed what everyone suspected – that the fires were started by arsonists.
Police say they have about a dozen suspects who are under investigation.
Students were all back at school later in the week. Nukutere was able to make room in existing classrooms while Nikao Primary School offered spare rooms to their sister school.
The government has pledged that both school blocks will be rebuilt by the time school starts in 2014.
Check out Cook Islands News for more about the fires here and here.
Thursday, October 24
Hmmm. It’s more than three weeks since I last posted to this blog but never fear, I haven’t disappeared completely, it’s just been a busy time.
After getting back from the US I was involved in making a short film, fetching, carrying, holding reflectors and such. It was a follow on from Film Raro earlier this year. The National Women’s Council, a local NGO, wanted to build on the experience of “Little Girl’s War Cry” but to highlight some of the problems that older teens might sometimes (sadly) experience. It was just like old times with many of the Film Raro crew back on board plus a few new faces. Shooting has now finished so we’re all looking forward to seeing first a trailer which should be ready soon and then the finished short film probably in late November or December.
The New Zealand Governor-General, Sir Jerry Mateparae with his wife Janine Lady Mateparae, has just made an official visit to the Cook Islands, spending time on Rarotonga and Mauke.
Among the events they attended was a traditional welcome ceremony at Atu Pare Marae in Puaikura, hosted by members of the House of Ariki, the Koutu Nui and the people of Puaikura.
This video shows some of the highlights.
Sir Jerry arrived on Rarotonga on Sunday afternoon and when planes are due or on the tarmac the Crash-Fire Service fire engine has to stay at the airport. And that was the time when the main classroom block at Avatea School caught fire. Massive damage – six classrooms destroyed. And the previous night Nukutere College also suffered huge damage in a fire with a block containing classrooms, a science laboratory and canteen destroyed. Naturally everyone is saying ‘arson’ but investigations are still going on with a fire expert from NZ here to help out.
The next post to this blog will have footage of the Avatea fire.
Tuesday, October 1
It's been a month since my last post as I've been on holiday.
We were in the USA visiting relatives and taking cross-country train rides.
Spent a few days in Auckland on the way back and now we're home again; time to catch up on the editing.
In the meantime here's another short video from the Maeva Nui dance competition. Atiu Enua is known for its bird-life and the 2013 kapa rima (action song) featured a bird theme.