English was travelling with a group of New Zealand VIPs, including Foreign minister Gerry Brownlee. Tereora principal Tania Morgan said she had been looking forward to the PM’s presence at the school, where a major construction project is taking place, funded by New Zealand aid money.
“It’s an opportunity for us to meet him. It’s obviously the first time that he’s been to the Cook Islands in this capacity, so yes, it is a good day.”
Greeted by Finance minister Mark Brown, English and his party were presented with traditional ei and rauti from the college’s Anau (house) leaders and members of the student council.
Head boy Tamativa-Ariki Mateariki said he was honoured to be in the presence of New Zealand’s leader.
“An honour to meet him, probably a once in a lifetime meeting… most of the time we see on him the news or TV, so (here) we actually get to see him face-to-face and talk.”
Both the head boy and head girl, Tia Rani Marae Henderson, were then tasked with leading English and his party through the Tereora College construction site and discussing the project.
“He was asking us about the buildings and what’s going to happen, what they’re going to be used for,” Henderson explained.
“He was just asking questions about the old classrooms.”
Though English and his group were scheduled to leave early today (Wednesday), Mateariki was hopeful that he would see him again soon.
“He will come back again, I’m sure of it, for the opening of the school. He should be back.”