New child-size life jackets and a Zodiac inflatable boat were handed over to Tua Pittman and Ian Karika from the Cook Islands Voyaging Society yesterday.
Pittman says they contacted the High Commission to ask for assistance in terms of supporting their education programme.
The voyaging society go out to schools and young children, mostly in the Southern Islands, and bring them onto the canoe to teach them the voyaging culture.
Pittman says to achieve this they needed to have some life vests so they could have the children on board as safety on the vaka is paramount.
When going around the islands, they also needed a way to get into the passageways to pick up the children and bring them on board.
“We didn’t have those things, but now we do, and it’s thanks to the New Zealand High Commissioner himself,” Pittman says.
He says they are thankful to New Zealand High Commissioner Nick Hurley for supporting them, and supporting the cause.
“One of our visions is to work with youth and to educate them in the ways of our ancestors and join that with the future.”
Pittman says the future is all about caring for the environment and ensuring that conservation is taken care of.
The new equipment was paid for using the New Zealand High Commission fund, formerly known as the Head of Mission fund.
The fund is aimed at supporting small-scale development activities led by non-government organisations and community groups.
Funding is prioritised for activities that benefit the broader community, build capacity, are based on sound environmental and ecological practices, and have a focus on youth and women’s development.
In this financial year the fund has up to $100,000 available for community-related development projects.
Hurley says they were happy to support the work project to introduce children to traditional voyaging, as well as learning more about the marine environment and conservation.
“This will enable them to carry out their project safely, and of course these days safety is paramount.”
Hurley says there is a lot of personal satisfaction in helping small community groups mostly led by volunteers who don’t always have the means to carry out their programmes.
“It’s about community development and making a difference,” he says.
The Cook Islands Voyaging Society is also putting out a call to anyone interested in joining their crew.
“We’re currently doing crew recruitment, and we would love to have as many Cook Islands people as possible join up,” Pittman says.
Anyone interested can keep and eye out for the call on their Facebook page.