The most recent edition of the Te Ipukarea Society newsletter has proven to be especially rewarding for the Cook Islands Voyaging Society and Te Ipukarea Society.
The newsletter has a wide distribution both locally and overseas. The October edition included a short story on the fire that caused severe damage to the Cook Islands traditional voyaging canoe Marumaru Atua.
It also included a story on the recent passing of Te Ipukarea Society patron, Dame Margaret Karika Ariki. When British conservationists David and Sarah Gordon read the stories, they were moved to make a very generous donation of $20,000 to the Voyaging Society towards repairs. In addition, they made a $10,000 donation to Te Ipukarea Society, in memory of Dame Margaret’s long term association with Te Ipukarea Society
The Gordons have shown lifelong commitment to bird conservation and provided ongoing support and assistance to Birdlife Pacific Partners. Together they established the Birdlife International Community Conservation Fund, which has contributed directly to recovery operations for threatened bird species. They have been visiting the Cook Islands for many years, and have previously made donations to support the work of the Takitumu Conservation Area.
Their last visit was in October last year, for the Birdlife Pacific Partnership Meeting hosted by Te Ipukarea Society. At that meeting they also made generous donations to the Palau Conservation Society, the Ornithological Society of French Polynesia, and Te Ipukarea Society to support the bird conservation work of those organisations.
In a letter to Te Ipukarea Society, the Gordon’s said that the Cook Islands Voyaging Society is a wonderful concept, conserving the traditions of the Cook Islands people and, most importantly, passing on to the next generation both the skills and the gift of their inheritance.
They added that this is so important in a world where traditional values are being lost to the detriment of mankind. It is also a bonus for the natural environment in that these traditions bring people closer to nature so that they feel an affinity and a need to conserve. They have met the Voyaging Society’s president, Ian Karika (who is also Te Ipukarea Society president), a number of times, and know him to be an outstanding man whose values are the real values of the natural world. Hearing of the devastating fire, they felt that it was of the greatest importance that the vaka be repaired, and they hope that their gift will also encourage others to contribute in whatever way they are able
As for Te Ipukarea Society, they said the organisation is an excellent example of what a small organisation can do to make a difference, if led by capable and enthusiastic people. It is a model of how a BirdLife partner can and should develop in a small country. They were very glad to have met Liam, Alanna and Kelvin when they attended the Pacific conference in Rarotonga last year. They said it was particularly heartening to see two young people developing their conservation skills under Kelvin’s leadership. They have the capacity to really make a difference in their lifetime.
The gift to TIS remembers Dame Margaret and adds thanks to all the other great people who worked on bird conservation in the Cook Islands. This includes the great contribution to the recovery of the previously endangered Rarotonga Fly Catcher, the kakerori, by Ed Saul, whom they also know, as well as Linda Nia, Gerald McCormack and others associated with the Takitumu Conservation Area.
Te Ipukarea Society and the Cook Islands Voyaging Society would like to express their sincere gratitude to the Gordon’s for their very generous donations, and look forward to seeing them back in the Cook Islands in the near future.