The club formed in 1997 decided to donate some equipment to Aitutaki Hospital to help with disabled patients.
The handover of these equipment was done in presence of prime minister Henry Puna who joined the team in Aitutaki with his wife Akaiti.
Avatiu/Nikao Mongoose Golden Oldies official George George said the club was formed with the aim of introducing the “true spirit of golden oldies rugby” to the outer islands and Aitutaki was chosen as the first destination.
He said true to its theme of “Fun, Friendship and Fraternity”, the trip continued annually for 20 years with a mutual “gentlemen’s agreement” that only the Mongoose get to travel and play the Aitutaki Happy Feet Golden Oldies in “paradise Aitutaki.”
“This arrangement has certainly seen a seed of true friendship, brotherhood and camaraderie sown between these two clubs. Along it came so much fun and excitement every time this two teams clashed in Aitutaki,” George said.
The 20th year anniversary celebrations was no difference and had a whole lot more meaning to celebrate and reminisce about the past, he added.
He said it also came with sadness as both teams remembered some of their comrades that have passed away.
“Of significance on these trips to Aitutaki are the projects that the Mongoose chose to help out with our people in Aitutaki.
“Most of these projects were mostly targeted for schools, hospitals, community in general and individuals under the Mongoose ‘A-OK Project’ (Act-of-Kindness Project).”
Assistance the club provided under their A-OK Project included helping the 73-year-old Papa Pene get a full set of dentures.
“The Mongoose were instrumental in arranging for the Papa to be flown to Rarotonga and get a full set of dentures done,” George said.
“And thankfully we had some great sponsors that came to the party and the Mongoose were grateful for their support.
“Airfares and the full transportation to and from were arranged courtesy of Air Rarotonga and Te Marae Ora-Health Department, especially the dental department for fixing the papa’s full set of dentures for free.
“A big thank-you to Edgewater Resort and Spa for spoiling him to a couple of day’s accommodation and free meals before heading back to Aitutaki.”
Mongoose’s charity work with Aitutaki started during their maiden trip to the island.
The team donated pillow, pillow cases and bed spread to the hospital in their first visit to Aitutaki. Each member was asked to pay and hand carry one pillow each on the plane while the rest of the pillows plus the pillow cases and bed spreads came from the Mongoose kitty.
“I think about 50 pillows, sheets and pillow cases were presented to the hospital before our game started,” George said.
“The funny side of the story was, one of our own players got badly injured and ended up in the hospital and the whole island was heard to have laughed and said that we brought some hospital gifts, only for us to use them as well.”
George said the school in Aitutaki was the main benefactor of their projects. Their team’s donations over the years included painting materials to refurbish the school library, library books and reading resources and sporting equipment such as rugby and league balls, netball balls, volley balls and some sets of rugby and league jerseys.
“The Mongoose visit to Aitutaki also sees the team supporting the local businesses there by way of accommodation, motor vehicle and bike hires, boat hires to the motu and of course the usual ‘top-up’ of the medicine cabinet to quench those thirsty Mongoose ‘taste-buds’ after a hard day or physical game,” he said.
“Sundays on these visits it is a must for all members to attend church services or you get fined in a ‘kangaroo court’ back here at our main headquarters, the Rose’s Garden in Nikao, when we return.
“So it will be fair to say that the team has contributed a substantial amount into the church’s coffers as a result of these services.”
George said to celebrate the 20th anniversary, most of their original members who made the very first trip to Aitutaki had made an effort to visit the island last month.
They wore a newly-designed t-shirt to mark the occasion, he said. The team had been fortunate enough to be able to help out and be part of a worthy project to see the Happy Feet and the Motu to Motu initiatives organised by our brother Stephen Doherty completed and handed over to the islands’ children, George said.
“We want to thank our sponsors Vonnias Rarotonga and Vonnias Aitutaki, CITC Liquor/Coca Cola, Edgewater Resort and Spa, Air Rarotonga, Rino’s Rentals, Aitutaki Happy Feet, Raro Records, Raro Safari Tours, Tepuka Store and Mama Rangi and Papa Pauka of the Pokolong Embassy in Amuri.
“And a big thank you to all the lovely people of Aitutaki.”