Learning how to tie a bowline, getting on board police patrol boat Te Kukupa, and watching a search and rescue demonstration in the harbour, were just some of the activities on offer to capture the children’s imagination and interest in all things nautical.
And, if that wasn’t enough, two “movie stars” created a real buzz when “Moana and Maui” arrived on the scene… for photos and to inspire little wannabe warriors and seafarers.
The students listened intently to prime minister Henry Puna’s opening speech, when he told the youngsters how very important the ocean is to the Cook Islands, with around just two per cent land mass, spread over a two million square kilometre area.
He also said how important ships and ports were to the livelihood of the country and explained the theme for World Maritime Day was “connecting ships, ports and people.” And how they all go together, but without one, the other two would not be useful.
Puna said that the country was now a world leader in preserving our ocean, under Marae Moana, which recognises the surrounding ocean around the Cook Islands as being “a sacred meeting place for everybody.”
He told the children that no other country has done this, and as future leaders of the country, they will hold the responsibility of “protecting the sacredness of our ocean, not just for your generation, but the generations after you.”
After declaring the day open, kids jumped at the opportunity to get on board Te Kukupa for a demonstration by maritime police, and a tour of roll-on roll-off (RoRo) barge Layar Mas, back in port from a circuit of the Southern Group.
Staff from Bluesky demonstrated VHF radio, a key tool for day-to-day maritime operations, and tested children on the phonetic alphabet, Alpha, Bravo, Charlie… getting them to spell names, with some lucky kids taking home prizes.
Children also got hands-on with Cook Islands Tourism and the Ministry of Transport learning how to tie boating knots.
And Marae Moana’s, Jacqui Evans, and the Cook Islands Voyaging Society, also educated more children on the importance of the Cook Islands multi-use marine park, and preserving its environment.
Kids also got to jump on a rubber inflatable boat, and motor across the harbour to upright a small yacht; and helped discover how many children could fit inside a container beside the wharf.
Maritime Cook Islands chief executive officer, Glenn Armstrong said the day was aimed at heightening the youngsters’ understanding of the industry in the younger generation; “the future of maritime.”