The warehouse will be used to store medicine and pharmaceuticals, replacing the former storage site behind the Tupapa Health Clinic.
Secretary of Health, Liz Iro, said the main reason behind the move from Tupapa was for both safety and accessibility.
“It was a really unsafe place to have it because when there are cyclones, we had to cart everything from Tupapa up to a basement in the hospital,” she said.
Iro said now staff don’t have to do any shifting, as all supplies are in the one place, and it also makes it easier to supply the pharmacy inside the hospital.
The pharmacy was officially opened by Minister of Health Nandi Glassie and representatives of the Tuoro family landowners, Ruta Hosking Tane and Maria Tuoro.
Many other government staff showed up to celebrate the opening, including Deputy Prime Minister Teariki Heather, Minister of Agriculture Kiriau Turepu and New Zealand High Commissioner Nick Hurley.
Representatives from the health sector including director of hospital services, Henry Tikaka and CITC pharmacy manager, Shannon Saunders also attended.
Health Minister Glassie said the opening of the new warehouse was another milestone, and a proud moment for the Ministry of Health.
The new location for pharmaceutical storage would make it easier for hospital staff to access the medicine they needed, he said.
“Over the last four years we have been improving the ministry, and through the changes you can see, I am one of the proudest servants of the country,” he said.
This Are Vairakau was another fully-funded initiative by the government, said Glassie
To the landowners’ representatives, Glassie said “thank-you for your gift to the Cook Islands.”
Glassie said he would continue to pursue opportunities to strengthen health areas, and was already in the process of talking to New Zealand’s Ministry of Health about how they could further support the Cook Islands.
Representatives of the landowners, Ruta Hosking Tane and Maria Tuoro both said they were very privileged to be the first to open the doors to the warehouse, signalling its official opening.
Tuoro said giving the land made sense because the new storage facilities were better and safer in emergencies. The new building was also closer to the hospital.
“We are honouring out ancestors who gave the site for the hospital, and now the pharmacy as well,” said Tuoro.