Future vision: Avarua, the Monaco of the Pacific

Thursday January 30, 2020 Written by Published in Economy
An artist impression of the five year development plan of Avarua Town. An artist impression of the five year development plan of Avarua Town.

Architects have laid out bold new plans to transform Avarua’s waterfront with a swimming pool, sports courts and – ultimately – a museum, cultural centre and sweeping new park reclaiming the lagoon right out to the reef. 

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.”


  • Comment Link Tony moxham Friday, 31 January 2020 15:54 posted by Tony moxham

    As a kiwi who has loved visiting the Cooks for 30 years I would ask why you want to become the “Monaco of the South Pacific”? Sounds like the last thing you want to become, super rich foreigners driving round in luxury cars they can’t get out of 1st and paying no tax. I’d be very wary of where the money was coming from and the long term implications. I’m sure everyone is still very aware of the last big international hotel project? By all means upgrade infrastructure and add pathways etc but keep the essential character of your own little island paradise, don’t sell out to overseas investors. Maybe it’s just an unfortunate title the newspaper has chosen for the project? Whatever happens l plan on continuing to visit the Cooks islands for another 30 years and pray that it doesn’t get overdeveloped and spoilt like so many other places.

  • Comment Link Vince Johnson Friday, 31 January 2020 10:27 posted by Vince Johnson

    Where's the money coming from to pay for this idea?

  • Comment Link Raina Boaza Thursday, 30 January 2020 23:51 posted by Raina Boaza

    I'm all for upgrades, revamps if its going to benefit the Cook Islands and its people, they are what matters first and foremost. Tourists will keep coming because they love the natural beauty, the peaceful and relaxing vibe. The friendly and humble people, no traffic,(thats debatable). The fact that there is no building higher than a coconut tree. This is what they look for, why do I know this? Because I talk to tourists, I'm interested in what they think of our Island and it makes me so proud when they have nothing but good things to say. Salt water swimming pool? why, there's the sea, skate park, really? This is money that can be used somewhere more beneficial. Tourists have these things in their own countries, they don't want to travel around the world to see a skate park. Keep the Island charm thats what sets the Cook Islands apart from other Island nations.

  • Comment Link Apai Turoa Thursday, 30 January 2020 12:48 posted by Apai Turoa

    I'm all for the development of the waterfront Avarua connect to Avatiu harbour, it's good for our country going forward into the future. Im looking forward , hopefully to see the changes on the waterfront , it's been a long time coming. Meitaki Maata e Kia Manuia.

  • Comment Link Terresa Aretere Andrews Thursday, 30 January 2020 12:09 posted by Terresa Aretere Andrews

    I am loving the plan, it's well overdue for an upgrade. The structured plan is at it's uttermost & should accomadate future capacity, look ahead; our tourisim is just going to grow & will continue to do so. Every year I return home, I have witnessed the amount of people at our Punanga Nui Market and it's time to install permenant food stalls there for returning residentials & tourists.

    Our nation might be small but it has the attractions to lure visitors and may our people benefit from this valuable enviroment. Meitaki maata e kia manuia.

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