As the Chancellor of the University of the South Pacific, I attend many meetings of university professors and students, but none as auspicious as the group I spoke to that night.
Our youth are our priority and I was there not only as Prime Minister, but also the Education minister, to let them know how special this event was to me. I reminded them that the first maths competition took place in the mid-1980s, then after a short break, it got going again under the guidance of Strickland Upu from the Ministry of Education.
Besides Te Maeva Nui each year it is the one other time we as your government gather our people, but this time not competing in dance and song, but in the world of mathematics.
I would also like to acknowledge the many sponsors, as well as the Ministry of Education which support and make this event happen each and every year. I acknowledge again the work of Mr Upu, who has driven this maths competition and grown it for well over 20 years.
I told the students and families present, that this is more than just a maths competition; In fact, it brings our mapu together to develop problem-solving and teamwork skills, develops standards of excellence in mathematics, and increases appreciation of mathematics as an enjoyable activity. These skills, I told them, would be invaluable when they left school and entered the workforce wherever that may be, and these skills would serve them well for life.
Maths is more than just a subject. In fact, it is a life skill that we must all manage. I was surrounded by so many who excelled in maths from primary to secondary level and again I applauded every student present that night, competing as schools against other schools throughout Rarotonga and the Southern Cook Islands.
Competition always means there will be winners and losers, but that night you were all winners, because you were representing your families, your schools, your enua and the Cook Islands.
To all the parents and families who supported their children, I thank you. To the teachers and schools that equipped students for this competition I thank you. And to all the staff who organised this event and especially Mr Upu, I thank you and applaud your efforts. We, your government, acknowledge that none of this would be possible without you support, sacrifice and endeavour.
As your prime minister I went home that night, happily assured that our financial sector and Secretary of Finance will never be short of able, young, passionate Cook Islanders to fill those necessary positions in the near future.
Aere ki mua
Cook Islands Prime Minister