No-one should be left behind

Wednesday March 06, 2019 Written by Published in Opinion

A washing machine, microwave, bedding … the list went on as a plea for a mama in our community went out as she desperately needed what amounted to the necessities for living here in Rarotonga.


As I read it I couldn’t help but wonder where her family was and what were the circumstances that brought this mama’s cry for help.

Many of us driving by may have looked through our car or truck window, seeing her house for a fleeting moment, her sitting outside and wondered maybe like I did does anyone even live there?

Or where I live, drive past houses at night and see the dim light piercing through curtainless windows and housing bare and stark with the movement of people inside, dogs playing outside and car wrecks littering the section and wonder how do they get by?

Amongst the swimming pools that now proliferate Rarotonga and the rapid increase of holiday homes pushing out of reach the accommodation market for our own people, there are those that have not yet seen, nor are likely to see, the benefit of this tourism boom.

They will not delight as I am able to delight in the cuisine on offer at so many of our busy and bustling restaurants and cafes. They will instead be consigned to the budget brand noodles and bread and survive as best as they know how because survive is often what they have done for longer than most of us would like to imagine.

After navigating through the car wrecks, I arrived at a place just like this, a shack if you could call it that, with pareu for walls, and barely a bed that housed a family of four. The tin for a roof hardly kept the rain out and neither did the tarpaulin covering another room. They had no power, though at least there was running water.

From house to house the mother’s story went on, broken families, alcohol abuse and few choices this family of four found themselves today in a situation that most of us would consider simply uninhabitable.

Sitting there with them, a bag of groceries in my hand and dinner cooked for tonight and tomorrow, I felt utterly helpless in what could be done to improve their situation long term.

What was clear in my mind was that we may need to consider how as a community we better assist and help up those in need.

 I acknowledge that there are many in our community doing this work and can I take this time to applaud their often silent service to those in great need and without payment or recognition.

And yet despite this, we are confronted with the harsh reality that the volunteer work of the few is just not enough.

Shelter, food, and work, should be available to all of us and this should not be a luxury, though for some, in Rarotonga these are luxury items and almost out of reach.

As Samoa, balances its economy with $55 million coming into the country from their families overseas, I wondered if any money at all comes to the Cook Islands for the same reason.

Do we show we really care for our communities and families as we profess, or have we sadly taken on this idea that it is each one for themselves, each family for themselves while those that live only a stone’s throw from us go without?

We celebrate our success, and so we should because it is time that we as a country were able to benefit from our successes. We should be driving into the accommodation, business and tourism market and getting our share of what others have enjoyed for way too long.

But in that success, never to forget those around us who do not have access to what we do today and to simply love others as we are commanded and compelled to do.

Because this is what it means to be Maori, and a citizen of this beautiful country a member of our vibrant communities we are all a part of for no one in our tribe should ever be left behind and no one in the village should ever be forgotten.

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