Both events were island-wide celebrations with gratitude shown for the funds provided for the project through lavish feasts and joyful singing.
The $1.8 million Mitiaro harbour was opened on Wednesday afternoon with invited guests from Rarotonga including Prime Minister Henry Puna, Deputy Prime Minister Tom Marsters, Finance Minister Mark Brown, cabinet ministers Nandi Glassie and Teina Bishop, opposition leader Wilkie Rasmussen and New Zealand High Commissioner John Carter.
The only member of cabinet absent was Infrastructure and Planning Minister Teariki Heather who has been taking personal leave in New Zealand from Sunday and arrived back in Rarotonga yesterday.
After officially opening the harbour and celebrating with the people of Nukuroa – the Rarotonga delegation flew to Mauke on Wednesday afternoon for the early Thursday morning opening of the $2.5 million Mauke harbour.
Construction of the harbours was completed by Marine construction and transport company Pacific Marine Civil Solutions, based out of Fiji with work on the Mauke port beginning in June last year followed by the Mitiaro harbour redevelopment which began when equipment was shipped to the island from Rarotonga and Mauke.
Both the Mauke and Mitiaro harbour developments received funding from the New Zealand Aid Programme under the Cyclone Recovery and Reconstruction Programme.
Both projects mark the end of a seven year wait after the original harbours suffered significant cyclone damage in 2005.
New Zealand engineering and consultancy firm BECA undertook the consultation process and designed both projects.
In Mauke, the development project included a new concrete jetty and a deepening of the harbour, while Mitiaro’s harbour received wharf upgrades and dredging. Photos of the harbour openings were provided by cabinet minister Mark Brown.