Taking place at Tupapa’s Coastal Kitchen, the expo provided a less formal setting for Cook Islands MPs, civil servants, Non-Governmental Organisation staff and local business community representatives to meet, mix and mingle with some of their New Zealand counterparts.
These included Green Party leader and New Zealand climate change minister James Shaw, New Zealand ‘first man’ Clarke Gayford, and even the late-arriving New Zealand deputy prime minister Winston Peters.
Cook Islands Investment Corporation director Caren Rangi described the event as a fabulous opportunity to “engage with people, to find out what the local projects are, what the challenges are, and possibly look for points of connection”.
“And I can see that many have been made this morning,” she added. Chamber of Commerce president Stephen Lyon agreed, saying that “because there’s no agenda it means conversations can go in the natural directions that they take, so overall I think everyone had a good morning”.
“It gave the delegation an opportunity to talk to various organisations here and see what we do on the ground.”
Organisers and Coastal Kitchen proprietors Jaewynn McKay and Derek Fox were more than pleased with how the morning went.
“I thought it went really, really well,” said Fox. “Jaewynn and I have known many of the delegation for a few years now, so it was quite nice catching up with them.
“There will have been an exchange of cards and there’ll be emails that’ll be going backwards and forwards as a result of this now.”