More than 22,000 hand-woven stars (22,142 to be exact) were created by Cook Islanders to show their support for the campaign to stop violence, particularly domestic violence.
Head of the Cook Islands Star committee Merita Wi-Kaitaia said: “We counted each one. We were making sure we had the right number. The original aim was to make 10,000 stars.”
“It took about eight hours to count. We had a big team, overall about 20, but the last counting sessions there were about three of us.”
Rarotonga artist Ani O’Neill, who first introduced the star project to the Cook Islands, said: “We’d really like to thank the Bergman Gallery for storing them for us and Air New Zealand for packing them off for us and the New Zealand High Commission.”
Each of the seven bags weighed between 14 and 20 kilograms.
The Cook Islands stars will join 300,000 others that are already in Brisbane as part of Festival 2018 during the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.
“That’s the official count. They are coming all the time. Something like 600,000 more are coming from people have pledged them, or will send stars in,” Wi-Kaitaia said.
Air New Zealand’s Marisa Newman said she was approached to see if the stars could be flown through to Brisbane and with the assistance of the High Commissioner Peter Marshall and his team it was made possible.
Marshall said the High Commission was only too willing to help out.
“There’s nothing more important than the whole subject of trying to deal with domestic violence or family violence.
“The New Zealand High Commission gets involved in a number of projects, all of them worthwhile, but there is nothing more significant, or relevant to any country in the world, than getting on top of domestic violence.
“We are delighted to have a small part to play in this whole project and we wish them all the very best with this Brisbane phase.
“It’s fantastic to be associated with it and well done to the team who put this together. We were very much on the sidelines, but interested all the way through.”