A world-class facelift is planned for Cook Islands’ harbour capital that would give Avarua a gleaming modern waterfront to match the most glittering in the Pacific.
The 10-year development plan along Te Maire Nui road is backed by Cook Islands Investment Corporation, but still needs government budget sign-off.
It includes the completion of Avatiu Port, and re-organisation of the Punanga Nui markets with a basketball/volleyball court and skate park and a 4-metre wide coastal walk and cycling track around the outside.
At the other end of the walkway would be a playground and saltwater swimming pool, overlooking a redeveloped Avarua Harbour with a small boats marina, a new bus hub, carpark and road to connect to the back route.
The proposal is just the first phase of a 20-year long vision to extend Avarua’s waterfront with a new buffer zone for storm surges, a marina, extended port as well as a playing field, museum and cultural vaka centre.
Scientists and marine biologists have been engaged to study the environmental impacts of the extension of reclamation land within the existing reef.
Architect and project manager Romani Katoa says: “We’ve seen that the existing township has reached its limits so Government has been planning for a while to put a master plan in place just to bring some cohesion and some proper direction in organising and configuring the township area.”
Punanga Nui Market will be the first to undergo development with a new market and toilet block to replace facilities almost 30 years old.
Market manager William Taripo says its current facilities were unable to sustain the growing number of punters.
“When this place originally was built there was only a small amount of tourists,” he said.
“Now we have double or triple the amount of tourists, you can have 600 tourists or more here every Saturday. The toilets were built for a small amount of people at that time and now we are overloading them.”
The plans have been developed over a four-month period with consultation involving House of Ariki, government departments, landowners, Chamber of Commerce, tourism, interest groups and the public.
Katoa says: “What we are trying to do is involve some scientists and marine biologists so that what ever we are doing is sensible development so that we can be more environmentally sensitive with what we are doing.”