The Cook Islands rugby league internationals were joined by New Zealand Rugby’s regional coach development manager Wayne Marsters, women’s rugby development manager Anna Darling, and Pacific Sporting Partnership project manager Tim Gilkison.
Gilkison said the introduction of non-contact ‘Quick Rip’ rugby to the island had been a success.
“We have had a really good week,” he said. “We have got the game out in front of so many of the kids, primary and secondary, who have all enjoyed playing it.
“The kids also had an opportunity to experience and hear the experiences of the Black Ferns, which is also important.
“We have all learned a bit along the way this week, but the bottom line is that we know the youth of the Cook Islands are going to enjoy it going forward.”
Both Gilkison and Marsters praised the support they’d received during the week from Cook Islands Rugby, and in particular rugby development manager Ben Koteka.
Gilkison also confirmed that there will be another visit by New Zealand Rugby later in the year.
“It is important from here that we walk the talk. We have launched it and now it is time to set up the framework for the tournament.”
Natua and Ngata-Aerengamate both said they had enjoyed their time back in the Cook Islands.
“I’ve loved every moment of it – being able to share our knowledge and our experiences with the kids has been awesome,” Natua said.
“Being in all the schools and seeing the talent that is in front of us is really good to see, especially our girls,” said Ngata-Aerengamate.
For the next trip however, Natua said she hopes they can visit her home of Aitutaki.
The launch of the Cook Islands rugby programme forms part of the Pacific Sporting Partnerships – Sports for Health initiative announced by the New Zealand government in 2016.
The programme is a partnership between New Zealand Rugby and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and is designed as one way to address the issue of chronic non-communicable diseases in the Pacific.