Flying the flag for Spain in the Cooks Islands

Monday November 11, 2013 Written by Ben Chapman-Smith Published in National

Susanna Wigmore left a hectic life in Spain 10 years ago and went looking for a tropical island to call home. She found Rarotonga, and has never left.

After years of writing articles about the Cook Islands for Spanish press, Wigmore was in May named Honorary Consul of Spain in the Cook Islands.

The consul role, which was bestowed upon her by the Spanish Embassy in Wellington, involves “anything that happens with Spanish people” in the Cooks.

“If any tourists from Spain come and they lose their passport, I help them,” she said.

Wigmore – whose Spanish name is Susana Conesa Aylagas – said she sees the role as being a service to Spain.

During the Pacific Forum last year, she planned the activities of the Spanish Ambassador and other dignitaries while they were here.

“I was really busy because I had to prepare the meetings, and do the logistics for them. I also educated them about the country.”

She was also called upon last year when the captain of a Spanish fishing vessel cut himself and was rushed to Rarotonga Hospital.

“Not one of them spoke English so I had to get help and translate for them at the hospital. Anything that happens with Spanish people, I need to help.”

Wigmore, who gained permanent residence last year, came to the Cooks after years of working long hours as a journalist in Spain.

“I sold my car, my house and decided to have a break and travel the world. My dream since I was young was to live on a tropical island.

“I have seen so many tropical islands, but I just fell in love with the Cook Islands.”

During her time in the Cooks, Wigmore has promoted the Cook Islands through her published articles in various Spanish magazines.

“Any time I have a chance to talk about the Cook Islands, I do it.”

She also has done Spanish classes and translations, has helped the Cook Islands Tourism Corporation, private companies and recently the Ministry of Marine Resources with translations.

Wigmore married Robert Wigmore in 2003 and will celebrate her 10th year in Rarotonga at the end of this month – she landed here on November 30, 2003.

Spain first entered the Cook Islands history books in the 16th century, when Spanish ships sighted Pukapuka in 1595.

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