The weeklong regional meet at the Bluesky Sports Arena in Nikao serves as the qualifier to the Intercontinental Phase of the IHF Trophy to be held in India later in the year.
The national team was unable to match the might of the pre-tournament favourites Aussies in a one-sided affair.
Despite the loss, the team remains positive of a good outing in their remaining matches.
Team member Karika Nicholas said Australia proved a tough challenge for them.
“Australia is one of the top teams in our pool so we really needed to play at the top of our game,” the 17-year-old said.
“We have been training for the duration of our handball competition every Tuesday night which probably could have been a month long.
“The biggest challenge was actually commitment, getting our team together. It can be a bit intimidating for us competing against teams from overseas.”
The tournament is contested between Australia, New Zealand, Cook Islands, Papua New Guinea, Tahiti and New Caledonia, with the top nation qualifying for the Intercontinental Phase.
The national team will play New Caledonia today at 3pm, Tahiti tomorrow at 11am, New Zealand on Thursday at 3pm and Papua New Guinea on Friday at 1pm.
Matches will start at 11am daily except for Friday when it will kick off at 1pm.
Cook Islands managed to get the hosting rights of this event after successfully hosting the IHF U17 Beach Handball World Championship – men’s and women’s qualification games.
Along with the handball competition this week, the IHF will be conducting coaching and refereeing courses until Friday.
The coaching course will be run by Klaus Feldmann, while Javier Moure will lead the refereeing course
“It (the tournament) gives the opportunity for all those member countries to develop in playing handball, coaching, refereeing and also officiating,” said president of the Cook Islands Handball Federation Makiroa Mitchell-John.
The previous IHF Trophy – Oceania in December 2014 was won by Tahiti which defeated Australia in the final.