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By foot for 3200km, air for 3000km

Tuesday June 18, 2019 Written by Published in Opinion
James Talbot with wife Ani at the end of his walk at the top of New Zealand, Cape Reinga. 19061708 James Talbot with wife Ani at the end of his walk at the top of New Zealand, Cape Reinga. 19061708

Welcome home James!


The trustees, staff and members of the Cook Islands Creative Centre are delighted to able to welcome James Talbot back to Rarotonga after his successful 3,200km walk from Bluff to Cape Reinga, completed last week. The Creative Centre is also grateful to James for selecting The Creative Centre as the recipient of funds donated by well-wishers and supporters to encourage his efforts.

The funds raised will help Creative Centre in its endeavours as a special purpose education facility, one that focuses on looking after and educating adults who for one reason or another could benefit from support in improving their quality of life and in helping them maximize their own ‘life potential’, and hopefully become more independent and help them to exist on their own within our community.

James’ determination and persistence were and remain a metaphor for the Creative Centre’s own endeavours. And have been a source of caring inspiration for the staff and members. The Creative Centre not only survives, but thrives on financial support from the likes of James and many other individual donors and fund-raising activities.

The Cook Islands Creative Centre was established in the 80’s through the fore sight of the Cook Islands Rotary Club and Dr Ngaei Tou. They secured the current (government-owned) premises in Tupapa where the Creative Centre is still located.

In 2001 the Centre (while under the leadership of Donna Smith and Mere Raui McDonald), undertook a major fundraising project to refurbish and expand the Centre’s facilities and operational scope.

The opportunity was taken to improve governance through the Establishment of a Trust.

An art auction raised over $35,000 (a lot of money in those days) all thanks to the generosity of Ben Bergman and the Beachcomber Gallery and the artists who donated the artworks, that were auctioned off by celebrity art dealer Marshall Seifert. And thanks too to the generosity of the many local bidders.

Teresa Manarangi-Trott became the first chair of the Trust Board and she and several of the original Trustees remain today: Teresa, Joan Uka, and Paul Carrad. Jaewynn Mckay is a current trustee and the trustees are also looking to replace Loretta Reynolds and Felicity Robinson who resigned as trustees earlier this year.

The Creative Centre operates as a recognized education facility, with the core teaching components funded through the Ministry of Education.

Fortunately there are a number of individual donors who provide annual contributions and or endowments, which supplement other fundraising activities to fund value adding components of the Centre’s programmes.

Arts and crafts and cultural programmes are a big part of the learning processes that help rehabilitation and allows the teaching of life skills that for various reasons might be needed by the students.

The object of the programmes is to help personal development and bring through the best each has to offer and to help them contribute to their own wellbeing, through building self-esteem and pride, according to their individuality. Hence the name Creative Centre.

As a retail outlet for some of the many things created by the members, the Creative Centre was able to build its own hut at the Punanga Nui market (underpinned with a grant from Internal Affairs to establish the pareu dyeing programme). The hut has proven to be popular with market visitors.

Through the generosity of Japan a ‘Respite’ facility was opened last year, which provides a residential facility for shorter and longer term needs. The next phase of the Creative Centre development will focus more on the much- needed care required as the community’s needs change.

All of these activities rely on the generosity of support of so many individuals within the community who provide financial and other support in so many ways, including the Rotary Club who hold their weekly meetings at the Centre and who also help with maintenance and fundraising.

The bi-annual ‘Beats of Betela’ concerts (Tiki Taane, Hollie Smith have been headline acts) are valuable fundraising and fun occasions, thanks to the generosity of Rarotonga’s performing arts community.

Voluntary help has and will always be a big part of The Creative Centre. However the full (and part) time staff are what keeps it going and from the outset the Centre has been blessed with a passionate and committed team.

After Mere, Bob Kimiangatau led the Centre until five years ago when Rodger Harkness took over and helped the Centre continue to grow and develope. The Creative Centre is currently in the process of appointing a new Director and has recently welcomed Emily Pierre to the new role of Administration Manager.

It is not too late to support James’ huge achievement, with a donation to his Givealittle page: