Challenge to keep cultural connection

Tuesday May 14, 2019 Written by Published in Culture
Cook Islands high commissioner to New Zealand Elizabeth Wright-Koteka (second from left in the second row) meets with Cook Islands students studying in New Zealand. 19051305 Cook Islands high commissioner to New Zealand Elizabeth Wright-Koteka (second from left in the second row) meets with Cook Islands students studying in New Zealand. 19051305

The high commissioner has been travelling New Zealand meeting Cook Islands students and challenging them to stay closely connected to their cultural traditions.

 As the islands work to stem the brain drain, Elizabeth Wright-Koteka has been speaking to university students in Wellington and Dunedin.

She commends their upcoming Taokotaianga – a gathering of students of Cook Islands descent or affiliation studying in tertiary education institutions in New Zealand.

“As an ex-student who has had involvement with Taokotaianga, it is a valuable way of mobilising the collective Cook Islands intellectual capital and ensuring our students maintain that connection to their tango – as Cook Islanders,” she says.

Last week, Wright-Koteka hosted Victoria University students at the High Commission in Wellington, around the corner from the New Zealand Parliament.

The High Commission staff were joined by Luamanuvao Dame Winnie Laban, a former MP and Victoria University’s assistant vice chancellor for Pasifika, and Doctor Jean Mitaera, a strong advocate for educating Cook Islanders.

In a statement on the Cook Islands in New Zealand Facebook page, the Commission said words of welcome and encouragement were offered by Wright-Koteka and Dr Mitaera, both of whom are graduates of Victoria University.

“Luamanuvao Dame Winnie Laban, provided inspiration as our students Pasifika advocate at the university, and also in relation to the different roles that she has played as a Pasifika member of New Zealand society. Following the formalities, a light supper was enjoyed by all,” the statement added.

A day later, the high commissioner hosted the executive committee of the Otago Cook Islands Students Association in Dunedin.

Wright-Koteka says: “I absolutely commend our Otago students. They are a small association, with only 19 members and have been so proactive in trying to find ways to host such a large crowd.”

The occasion provided for the opportunity to greet and meet on the hosting of the 2019 Taokotaianga.

Taokotaianga is a gathering of students of Cook Islands descent or affiliation studying in tertiary education institutions in New Zealand. It provides a platform to share experiences, identify challenges and provide inspiration to thrive and succeed in the pursuit of higher education.

“Preparations are progressing for the September 2019 event which will see 120 students from Auckland, Waikato, Victoria and Otago congregate in Dunedin for a series of events.”

While in Dunedin, the high commissioner also joined with the Cook Islands congregation at the First Church of Otago for a Mother’s Day Celebration Worship over the weekend. 

-Release/ RK

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