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.