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Singer enlists Atiu teens to monitor climate crisis

Saturday January 18, 2020 Written by Published in Outer Islands
Techelle Kae, centre, with Alex King and Stan Walker on Atiu. Techelle Kae, centre, with Alex King and Stan Walker on Atiu. MELINA TUIRAVAKAI 20011744

Students learn to survey outer island’s environmental changes with smart devices and drones.

Science, technology, statistics – and music. 

Youngsters on Atiu learnt more in a couple of days this summer than they would learn in a week of school, thanks to visiting pop star Stan Walker and a team from Climate Change Cook Islands.

Walker and his partner Alex King, a respected Cook Islands photographer, visited Atiu to help run a workshop on building a resilient Pacific.

“To see, listen to the voices of the vulnerable communities and to carry their message beyond the Cook Islands,” Walker said.

Walker has been a staunch champion of addressing climate change across the Pacific, to strengthen the resilience and livelihoods of the islands and communities.  

Thirty-one participants took part in the Raurau Akamatutu seminar. For Atiu resident and participant Techelle Kae, it was “such a wonderful experience” to meet Walker in Atiu.

“I have listened to his music for years and never thought he would come to visit our island,” Kae said.

“Having the opportunity to work with him during the workshop, conducting surveys, visiting the communities and climate change project sites was incredible. 

“He is such a kind, inspiring person, who wants to learn as much as he can about issues that we are facing in Atiu, and he took the time to meet with our youth and community to hear their personal stories.”

Project coordinator Melina Tuiravakai said they were honoured to have the international star join the team in Atiu. He  has family links to the island and visited the Ngarae family home.

As a Pacific Islander, she said, Walker understood the importance of raising the visibility and awareness of building a resilient Pacific.

“He is passionate at looking to the future with a vision that we strengthen the livelihoods of our islands and communities to climate change.”

Walker mentored the teenagers, and it was “inspiring” to see their dedication to the climate change survey and their ability to learn technology so effortlessly and swiftly. 

“Each of our youth in the Cook Islands have so much talent and ability to achieve anything, if given the chance and the tools to make their goals a reality”, Tuiravakai said.

Ten community and Enuamanu school students participated in the survey.

The Island Government Climate Change Coordinator, Celine Dyer, said the Raurau Akamatutu workshop aimed to help the community build awareness and share knowledge about disaster risk management, water security, health and food security.”

Facilitators were Dyer, Tuiravakai, King, Walker, Lydia Sijp, Otheniel Tangianau, Basilio Kaokao and Krysten Tuufuli.