Matavera unmast

Thursday August 22, 2019 Written by Published in Technology
The first piece is removed from the top of the Matavera mast. TOKERAU JIM IMAGES / 19082116 The first piece is removed from the top of the Matavera mast. TOKERAU JIM IMAGES / 19082116

Helen Framhein-Wong has special memories of the Matavera mast when it was first built.


“It was the same time as my parents were building our new house at Matavera, around 1965 or 66 or thereabouts,” she remembers.

“My daughters grew up under the shadow of the mast along with the families of Tangata Simiona, Aneru Tautu, Peter and Teina Etches and Kura and William Cowan’s children.”

Framhein-Wong fondly remembers all of the kids in the village who learnt how to drive their parents car on the Takitumu primary school field, under the shadow of the mast.

Now, the 107-metre Matavera Radio mast is on its way down.

Photographer Tokerau Jim has shared his drone shots of project engineer Esben Torget and Paulo Arnold, climbing the mast to begin dismantling it.

“It is definitely not for the faint-hearted,” said Jim. “I felt ill, nauseous just looking up there at the climbers.”

There were no spectators at the Takitumu primary grounds on yesterday to witness the activity, as the workers prepared to take 30 metres off the top of the mast.

They do it by attaching a temporary support rod with a pulley attached to the top, hanging a section of the mast off the pulley, then cutting it loose and lowering it carefully to the ground, 100 metres below.

The AM radio station 630khz, that had provided the Cook Islands with a national radio service, was turned off for the last time at midnight on Monday August 6.

The demise of that station has raised concern of how to contact and alert the Pa Enua during natural disasters; government is working out better FM and internet solutions to help manage the risk.

Due to the deterioration and risk of the mast collapsing, the children and teachers of Takitumu primary school were relocated in June to other premises in the village for their safety.

Yesterday, locals posted their astonishment at the sight on Facebook.

“Height is not a problem as it if for some of us,” said Oropai Mataroa. “God bless you both.”

Justine Flanagan expressed her thanks to Torget and the team from Rarotonga Welding, who are doing the job. “Our kids are looking forward to getting back to their school.”

Janet Maki said it was sad to see the mast dismantled after its years providing radio services to the Pa Enua, but the workers were “brave alright”.

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