The 13 youngsters are sticking out their chins and flying out to the school-age multi-sports tournament in New Zealand, confident in their immunity to the disease.
While New Zealand immunisation rates have plummeted, Cooks have stayed strong – and that gives them confidence as they venture in among the 11,500 students in the infection zone.
Last night, the New Zealand Ministry of Health confirmed measles infection numbers in the country had topped 1000. Of the 1051 confirmed cases, 877 are in Auckland.
Immunisation Advisory Centre director Dr Nikki Turner said it was a "very sad" milestone to reach. The outbreak was ‘entirely predictable and preventable” she said, because of declining immunisation rates. “So it is very disappointing for us.”
Badminton Cook Islands representatives to the 16th Anchor AIMS Games in Tauranga depart Rarotonga tonight. The games start on Sunday.
With the measles outbreak in New Zealand, the team have cleared all health checks as all have been immunised against the disease.
About 800 AIMS Games participants have not been vaccinated against measles – causing such concern that one Tauranga mum told New Zealand Herald she would isolate her kids at home while the games are on, to protect them.
Some parents are calling for the event to be cancelled to prevent the spread of measles in Tauranga. "I'm far from impressed they are still allowing the games to go ahead with teams from Auckland," concerned mum Aimee Torrie told Stuff.
A letter posted on the AIMS Games website said no children with obvious measles symptoms should be included – such as those with a runny nose or fever. But it went on to state that unvaccinated children were still allowed to attend.
It comes after New Zealand Rugby League chose to cancel its secondary school competition in south Auckland's Takanini in light of the outbreak.
But New Zealand health authorities say event cancellations are not yet necessary; they have sent letters instructing anyone with measles to stay away
The Cooks badmintom team were gifted track suits, T-shirts and glasses from Bank of the South Pacific, who have supported the team since 4 years ago.
“We are thankful and appreciate the sponsorship BSP have continued to give us,” said badminton president Thomas Ngauru.
The sporting event runs over six days, and gives Year 7 and 8 students (11, 12 and 13 year olds) an opportunity to compete against the best of their age groups in New Zealand and invited countries.
The Cook Islands Badminton players are: Loureina Kureta, Nikao; Tehani Matapo, Nukutere; Chiann Naslund, Nukutere; Josephine Kureta, Papaaroa; Te Pa Tupa, Nukutere; Tuaana Mitchell, Nukutere; Emanuela Mataio, Nukutere; Setephano Vakatini, Avarua; Maevarangi Kirikava, Nukutere; Te Pa Kelly, Nikao; Daniel Akava, Nukutere; Zarrian Heather-Rau, Nukutere; Kaiyin Mataio, Apii St Joseph.