Tuesday, March 19

The story of Te Are Manu

Te Are Manu is the only vet clinic in the Cook Islands and it's now a busy, well-equipped place.
But it didn't start out that way.
In July 2017 we leased a building behind the Ministry of Agriculture in Arorangi.
Cook Islands Investment Corporation did a great job of cleaning and painting our new clinic.
The back yard needed clearing of discarded rubbish.
Volunteers and board members put together donated shelves and sanded and painted second-hand cupboards and tables.
We also had an operating table and trolleys to be assembled.
Early volunteer vets and vet nurses organised the supplies that were now coming in.
The Te Are Manu sign on the main road showed we were getting ready for business.
Donated vet supplies were now arriving from clinics overseas, mainly in New Zealand.
A washing machine, dryer and fridge were donated by previous Rarotonga residents now living in New Zealand.
Although we weren't yet officially open we had our first furry patient.
Pinot Gris came along for a check up and de-flea.
On 13 October 2017 we had our official opening ...
and after a rousing imene tuki, board chairman Trish Barton and board members asked Tinomana Ariki, the ariki of Puaikura, and Taamo Heather, the landowner representative, to cut the ei.
We were now officially up and running.
The Aronga Mana of Puaikura nominated Te Are Manu for a Village Pride award.
We put our $1500 prize towards buying a van for the clinic.
The back of the room was organised into an office space and a work space.
The main purpose of our clinic is to look after sick animals
and our operating theatre was well-set up for this.
Many generous vet clinics overseas have given us equipment that's surplus to their needs.
Our volunteer vets and vet nurses make full use of the theatre.
Our lovely new operating theatre was originally set up by CareVet
for the SPCA dog de-sexing team and is now fully functional.
Dr Sean Owens and Dr Jessica Sanchez from the University of California at Davis have set up a diagnostic lab to help detect parasites in animals.
Te Are Manu doesn't work in a vacuum.
We assisted Aitutaki Vet Trek, an American group, including two vets and two vet nurses, travelling to Aitutaki for a cat de-sexing programme. They've gone two years in a row, 2018 and 2019.
We also work closely with the Cook Islands SPCA – Te Are Manu is the vet clinical side and SPCA is the animal rescue and shelter side.
Whenever we have enough volunteers Te Are Manu sets up a stall at the Saturday morning market.
This means people can meet our volunteers and learn about our services.
And we bring along kittens and Sonny the clinic dog - always popular, especially with children.
The yard at the back of the clinic has always been a place for our dogs to play and especially clinic dog Sonny who mentors young pups spending the day with us.
In July 2018 we started building a kennel for our recovering animals – cats as well as dogs – to make things less stressful (and smelly) for everybody.
The kennel is now in use and can be accessed directly from the new operating theatre.
We couldn't do all this without our volunteers.
The vets and vet nurses come from all over the world, mainly New Zealand and Australia but we've also had people from England, Ireland, all parts of Europe, the United States and even Singapore. It's a real united nations.
They are all dedicated professionals willing to donate their time and expertise to help our furry friends here in the Cook Islands.
Meitaki maata – thank you all very much.

Saturday, February 2

Rarotonga's Creative Centre


The Creative Centre was founded in 2002 as a place where people with disabilities, over the age of sixteen, could get together and find a pathway to as much independence as possible.
The programme included activities, lessons about various crafts and visits to the outside community. In the past these have included street festivals, watching the annual float parade, exercise classes at a local gym and being part of an environment day presentation, depending on what is going on locally.

The Centre

The centre is open for 48 weeks of the year – it closes doors over the Christmas/New Year period.
The Creative Centre owns a couple of large people-mover vans and every weekday morning many members are collected and taken to the premises behind the Tupapa Public Health building although some members are able to make their own way, travelling by Cooks buses – all free of charge.


There are various activities during the day with those who are able making items for sale while others might colour in pictures or do puzzles.
In the past the members have had painting and pottery classes but that depends on having teachers available.
A favourite activity right now is pareu and t-shirt making, as you can see in the video.
These items are tagged with the maker's name and when sold a portion of the price goes to the one who wielded the roller.
The printing screens have all been provided by local artists.
Other crafts include making bead jewellery such as necklaces, earrings and bracelets. The beads come from donated items that must first be picked apart before being reassembled. It needs good eyesight and patience.
The craft is sold either at the centre or at the Creative Hut down at Punange Nui Market. That's open on Saturdays and another couple of days a week and is run by volunteers.
The staff try to see that everyone gets a small pay packet at the end of the week.

The garden

One of the members is a wizard with a weed-eater and keeps the area tidy. He sometimes works in the community – all part of becoming as independent as possible.
The garden beside the centre has herb and vegetable beds and a shade-house where seeds are raised in pots either for sale or to plant in the beds. At the moment there's a healthy crop of basil.
The produce is used in the centre's kitchen where lunch is cooked every day.
And some of the members help with the cooking.


There have been some changes over the years.
For example the centre now has more older members. This may be because strokes or heart disease lead to disabilities but also because of the early stages of dementia.
But regardless of age, the dedicated staff look after everyone. They are all caring and compassionate but also very practical.
The atmosphere at the centre is absolutely positive. It's a happy place.


None of this would be possible without the help of generous donors.
The Japanese government funding the respite area is an obvious major example, as is James Talbot, currently walking the length of New Zealand to raise money to run this area. There is more about the Creative Trail walk on the previous blog post.
But many local businesses and individuals give support like Cooks Buses mentioned above, retail stores with discounts and the women's housie groups that often donate up to $5000 a year.

Visitors welcome

People are welcome to visit the centre and in particular tourists can come along and make their own pareus or T-shirts.
They will always receive a hearty welcome.

Monday, January 28

Kiwi walker helps Rarotonga's Creative Centre

This story by Barbara Dreaver, TVNZ's Pacific Correspondent, is about James Talbot who is walking the length of New Zealand to raise money for the Creative Centre.
At the beginning of her media career Barbara worked for Cook Islands News. She still has a soft spot for the Cooks and is very popular here.
See this story about James Talbot on the Cook Islands News website.
Follow James Talbot's walk on Facebook.
Make a donation on the Creative Trail Givealittle page.