CITTI continuing education co-ordinator Violet Tisam said the idea behind the workshops was thought up last year, before the seminars held this year by lawyer Paul Lynch.
Course tutor Lynnsay Rongokea Francis said one of the main differences between her course and Lynch’s, involved the way the information was delivered.
“First and foremost ours is a training programme while Paul’s seems to be more of a seminar.
“Our aim is to provide people with the legal basics - to understand what their rights are and how to protect themselves as well as their children and grand-children for what they can receive in the future.”
Francis said she called on her own personal experiences in dealing with land ownership to share with the workshop.
“Our way of teaching is participatory, which is an exchange of information amongst people.
“So I share my experiences over 30-year period, and tell all of the class that all the problems they are coming up with I have experienced and I started off from their base. So I’m sharing my knowledge with them on how they can be empowered.”
Registrations opened for the workshops four weeks ago with high demand from the community, and some people even had to be turned away, Tisam says.
“At our Ngatangiia workshop we had people turn up on the night wanting to join in but we just had to say ‘no, sorry we have a full group’.”
Workshop participant Mere Campbell said she would recommend the course “to anyone who would listen”.
“We are so lucky to have someone like Lynnsay; for what you pay to do the course, you just get so much out of it.
“At the back of the room we have tea and coffee but it never gets touched as no-one wants to waste a minute of the two hours we have with her. She even lets us ask her to have a look at our own personal situations and paperwork which she is happy to do.”
Campbell said it was sad that issues surrounding land ownership could break up families.
“You can get along with your family but when you get to a family land meeting, it’s dog eat dog.
“A lot of us get lost, like me, scratching around in the dark but it just comes back to our sense of being a Cook Islander and this information is needing to be shared to help others.”
Tonight is the final night of the Ngatangiia course.
The workshop then moves to Arorangi next week, which is already sold out with a waiting list, before finishing in Avarua the following week with limited spaces available.
Those wanting to register for the Avarua course should contact CITTI on 21471 or 22628.