Monday, June 30

Cook Islands Pearl Market Day

Pearl Market Day is one of a number of initiatives that the Cook Islands Pearl Authority is undertaking to raise the profile of our black pearls. Others include a logo design competition and sponsorship of the national Cook Islands Black Pearls netball team. The aim is to build an international presence so that when people mention 'black pearls' it brings to mind the Cook Islands and not just Tahiti.
Market day included a cultural performance by a local primary school, stalls where lucky buyers could snap up a bargain from producers and jewellers and a fashion parade that showcased beautiful dresses from Tav and stunning pearl jewellery (I was quite taken with some dangly pearl earrings!).
Earlier in the week the weather had been dreadful - cold wet and windy - so bad that CIPA thought they might have to postpone the event, but fortunately Thursday was fine. That was good for locals and tourists who were able to check out a wide range of pearls, pearl shell carvings and jewellery and pick up some real bargains.
CIPA plan to make Pearl Market Day an annual event so watch out for it next year.

Friday, June 27

Jacko Gill's personal best at Oceania champs

The three-day Oceania Area Championships have just ended here in Rarotonga.
The weather was atrocious for the first day - torrential rain and wind. Not much fun for the athletes.
The other two days were better, still windy but the downpour turned into showers.
The highlight of the championships was the appearance of New Zealand shot putter Jacko Gill. He's had an illustrious career already as a junior with many age-group world bests and gold medals to his name.
Jacko was using the Oceania champs as part of his build-up for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in August and must be well satisfied with his performance.  He improved with every throw and his final put of 20.70m was a personal best as well as a new championship record.

Wednesday, June 25

Rarotonga International Triathlon 2014

The annual Rarotonga International Triathlon, the twentieth, took place in early May this year.
It was another outstanding success with over 170 competitors, local and overseas, 106 individuals and 27 teams.
Winner was Dave Vernon (NZ) repeating last year's first place, with other previous winners Steve Farrell (NZ) and Yoann Hotellier (Tahiti) second and third respectively.
First three females were Vanessa Woodger, Serena Hunter and Kate Lahart, all local residents.
Local Roland Neururer came in fifth with Geoff Stoddart tenth.
The weather was wet and a bit windy for the swim and cycle but by the time the run started the sun had come out making for a hot final leg.
For more details see Cook Islands News here.
Full results of the tri, the Boiler Swim and the Tour de Raro cycle race are on the RaroTri website
Plenty of photos on the RaroTri Facebook page.

Thursday, June 19

Cook Islands Black Pearls at the Pacific Netball Series

The recent Pacific Netball Series between Fiji, Samoa, Papua New Guinea and the Cook Islands was a great success and even though our Black Pearls didn't manage a win they improved with every game and came close on several occasions.
Their skills and teamwork kept getting better and they gave the fans some exciting moments - heartstopping even.
If these relative youngsters can stay together and get more quality time on court they have the potential to claw their way back up the netball ladder (once upon a time Cookies were the Queens of Pacific netball!)
After the series coach Trish Wilcox said, “The biggest challenge was the short time frame, coming on board in February with a squad already in place and trying to get them to a fitness level to cope with six games in six days tournament as well as working on the skills and tactics that we would need to be competitive against the other nations.”
Sadly another challenge was dealing with unpleasant criticism from some members of the public over the selection of the final twelve players from a training squad of fourteen.
At a time when we should have been cheering our girls and Netball Cook Islands, they had to deal with a level of negativity towards many of the players and the coach which must have affected team morale.
Well, they overcame that and showed the critics up for the miserable creatures they are - parents and so-called 'friends' included.
We could all learn something from the Fijian community here on Rarotonga.
They were out in full force at every game. They cheered, they sang, they waved flags, sometimes they danced. They clearly were having a wonderful time and, even when their team was behind, the support never wavered.
For more on the Pacific Netball Series check Cook Islands News online here.

Wednesday, June 11

Hip Hop 4 Kidz entertain at Pacific Netball Series

Well, the Pacific Netball Series is over and the Fijian, Samoan and PNG netballers have flown away.
Actually most of the Cook Islands netballers have done the same but in many cases that's because they are studying overseas. Our squad is very young, the youngest just 17, and most of them were born and brought up here in the Cook Islands.
More on the netball later but this video shows some of the between-match entertainment by the Hip Hop 4 Kidz group trained by Natasha Areora.
Tash has done a great job, taking over when Nana Hirata returned to Japan earlier this year.
The kids, from tiny tots upwards, spend their Saturday afternoons perfecting their moves and learning the routines. And you can see from the video what an amazing job they've done.

Saturday, June 7

Pacific Netball Series in Rarotonga

Netball fans have had a week of top class games here on Rarotonga where we've been hosting the Pacific Netball Series.
The four Pacific teams involved are the Cook Islands, Fiji, Samoa and Papua New Guinea and the top two teams in the round-robin competion win spots in next year's Netball World Cup in Sydney, Australia.
With just one round left it's going to be Fiji and Samoa who represent the Pacific.
Here are a couple of videos, one of the teams at the opening and the other of highlights from the first day's play when the Cook Islands went down to Fiji and Samoa defeated Papua New Guinea.
Once the tournament is over I should have a chance to get more highlights edited and online.
For some really stunning PNS photos check out Harvie Allison's Facebook page (Harvpix). Harvpix Facebook page