Frustration over school closure

Wednesday July 31, 2019 Written by Published in Education
The gates of Takitumu School will remain shut until the Matavera mast is removed. 19072904 The gates of Takitumu School will remain shut until the Matavera mast is removed. 19072904

The chairman of Takitumu School fears teachers and students may never be able to return to their classrooms after being forced to relocate after the weak and deteriorating 107-metre-high Matavera radio mast near its buildings threatened to fall apart.


Aware of the dangers, the school had to make do over the past two months and now it is eagerly awaiting the dismantling of the structure so students can return to their classrooms.

Vogel has three children who attend Takitumu School, his son Teina, 11, and two daughters Moana, 5, Malea, 8. He had originally feared for the safety of all the students and staff that sat beneath the looming mast but he says he is now more frustrated that they have not received any updates on when the work will begin to remove the mast.

“We were hoping our kids would get back into their classrooms after these school holidays, but I don’t see anything happening,” Vogel said.

Cook Islands Investment Cooperation general manager Tamarii Tutangata said they are negotiating with a local company for the removal with the aim of finalising a contract with them over the next couple of days.

“The company is in a position to start the process of dismantling the mast as soon as we reach agreement on a contract,” said Tutangata.

The government-owned mast was erected as an AM radio transmitter in 1965, then rebuilt almost from scratch by a local team of engineers in 1989. It was intended to transmit news of national importance and interest, locally and to the outer islands. The mast poses a real danger to the school buildings and nearby homes. The guy ropes are now so frayed that one is holding on barely by a thread and there is rust up and down the length of the mast.

Meanwhile, Vogel said one of the locations the school is currently operating out of is the Revival church hall which is not a good learning environment because it is very noisy. The teachers are working back to back and everyone is speaking over each other, he said.

For now the school’s senior students have been relocated to the Matavera Cook Islands Christian Church, while the juniors are accommodated at the Holy Spirit Revival Church, and the pre-schoolers have merged with the Titikaveka early childhood education centre.

“We just want our kids to be able to use their classrooms again,” said Vogel.

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