A Rarotonga favourite pulls down the shutters – for now

Thursday March 26, 2020 Written by Published in Local
Steven (Moko) and Jill Kavana have closed the “Mooring Fish Café” indefinitely, for the first time in ten years. 20032505 Steven (Moko) and Jill Kavana have closed the “Mooring Fish Café” indefinitely, for the first time in ten years. 20032505

The well-loved Mooring Fish Café closed its shutters indefinitely on Tuesday–for the first time in 10 years.


Owner Jill Kavana believes that as a prominent business, they need to lead by example and to show that they are taking things seriously.

She is also as concerned for her employees. “And it’s also good that your staff need time to come to grips with what’s happening; we all do, and that they need to be home to consolidate.”

Kavana employs five permanent staff who are in all in different situations; one of them is from Mangaia and lives here alone; another has shared custody of a child.

“It’s as matter of everyone being conscious that each person’s situation is different.”

Her staff received two weeks’ holiday pay, and Kavana is still waiting for the government stimulus package papers.

She is worried for her staff, and wants to sort out the subsidies and help that they can receive to survive.

“Many small businesses are worried when we can get the paperwork, to actually apply for that subsidy for our employees.

“I just worry, until I’ve that paperwork into place, in order for my staff to get that subsidy … rent still has to be paid, people have to eat.”

Kavana is appreciative of what government  has offered.

“The government has been outstanding with what they’re offering … and the help we’re getting from Te Aponga Uira and Vodafone, has been quite overwhelming.”

Tourism is the backbone of our island, “and the sooner that we all resolve and stop the spread of this virus, the sooner we welcome all our visitors back, and get back into business,” she says.

“We need to really think about what is happening.

“Because, if this was a disease that was affecting young children, we as parents and grandparents, would absolutely eliminate them from any risks.”

“So, it’s actually our responsibility now, because it’s affecting older people, to actually do everything that we can for them. Because they would absolutely put their lives on the line, for us.

“If it was our children, we would be completely 100 per cent, we would do everything that we can for them; we need to play our bit in order to ensure, that they are safe.”

Kavana is also adamant that this is not the time to make money: “You can’t be thinking about making money.”

“Everyone’s got to put their financial goals to the side at the moment and focus on the community, keep everyone safe, look after themselves, keep healthy, keep thoughtful.”

Kavana’s two daughters Carly and Gaby, reside in New Zealand.

She is pleased Gaby managed to return to New Zealand, having to cut her two year world trip short.

Carly a teacher, lives in Christchurch and currently teaches her classes online to her students.

Gaby has volunteered to assist “meals on wheels” –  as a lot of the previous people involved in the charity are old, and cant be put into that situation, said Kavana.

She knows it will be tough in New Zealand, now that they are on lock down for 28 days.

“It is a long period, for mental health as well as physical health. People will have to try and do whatever they can.”

Looking around at the lush native scenery, the deep blue of the lagoon, Kavana is thankful.

“We are so lucky here, people can still go to the beach and breathe in fresh air; people need to appreciate that.

“Slow down a little bit, let the world try and heal.

Her husband Steven (Moko) continues to go out fishing.

With no fishing charters to cater for, he understands how important it is to keep fishing to provide for the community.

Kavana herself, has had to adjust to what’s going on.

Her usual day off is a Saturday, when the café is closed.

Yesterday, she felt slightly disoriented wandering around thinking, it’s not Saturday, we are closed.

Once the green light is given for businesses to open up again, Kavana said, “we will open up immediately”.

“Everyone will be determined to get up and start up again, people will come together.”

She is pleased that people don’t seem to be panic buying and emptying shelves in the stores, like overseas.

“We have to be conscious, and the media has a role to play, we’ve got to be updated. We will appreciate responsible journalism, conscious journalism and factual journalism.

“There is no place at this present time for any drama or any sensationalism or any opinions going on, at the moment; it’s got to be factual and informative.”

Kavana plans to have a rest, potter around in her garden and hopes everyone will keep safe and healthy and look after each other.

Like she said earlier, “let the world try and heal.” 


  • Comment Link Rev. Tangimetua Taomia Friday, 27 March 2020 16:21 posted by Rev. Tangimetua Taomia

    Bless you, Beautiful statement of a great
    Value of concern for the future of all, God blessed people's hearts who have a love for others, bless you and your family.

  • Comment Link David rourke Friday, 27 March 2020 14:03 posted by David rourke

    Hi there I was coming back from Australia in August for my 5 trip to the cooks I first came in August 2006 an fell in love with the cook island hospitality lifestyle an I attended the disability conference in August I haveade friends with people an will make more when this is over god bless my cook island friends dave

  • Comment Link Albert Numanga Thursday, 26 March 2020 20:18 posted by Albert Numanga

    My heart go out to you and your business. Ive had friends visit and eaten at your foodie place n have loved the experience and the quicker this blows over im imagining the quicker youll b back doing what you do best

  • Comment Link Randall Nelson Thursday, 26 March 2020 13:14 posted by Randall Nelson

    Good on ya' Jillymae - setting an example today, for minimizing impacts tomorrow. Impressed by your caring for the people and your staff. Hope to see you next year!

  • Comment Link Sher Pokia Thursday, 26 March 2020 12:42 posted by Sher Pokia

    Well said Jill. You have a heart of gold looking out for your employees. I would come and have a wine with you after work on Fridays and enjoyed the company. May you keep well and healthy too you and your Whanau.

  • Comment Link Penny Sutherland Thursday, 26 March 2020 12:14 posted by Penny Sutherland

    So well said Jill. We are hoping and praying that you will all be safe there on your beautiful island. All our best wishes and love from NZ and we can’t wait to come back and see you soon. Penny and Paul Sutherland. X

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