Tupapa Maraerenga performing Ura Pa’u in the cultural section of Te Maeva Nui celebrations on Wednesday night at the National Auditorium. Photo: MELINA ETCHES/22080411
I do hope that the Constitution of the Cook Islands is protecting the long-term future of the country. That it is not just being used to reward the present occupiers of this land, writes Bishop Paul Donoghue from the Catholic Church.
The Cook Islands Constitution Day which is acknowledged on August 4 is when Cook Islanders celebrate their independence from European colonial rule which happened in 1965. On the 4th of August, 1965 Cook Islands became self-governing in free association with New Zealand.
Day in 2022, in my opinion should be the final and most anticipated part of ‘Te
Maeva Nui’ – a week-long national event highlighting Cook Islands culture,
history, and heritage. I certainly look forward to this week. The challenge for
most of us is not to lose sight of the Constitution when it has to compete with
floats, choirs, dancing and drumming competitions. This year added to these
annual events has been polling day when the nation has chosen who will govern
the country for the next four years. I suspect this is being talked over more
than anything else that has happened this week.
of us, myself included, take the likes of the Constitution for granted; yet
when we look at some other nations struggling and in some cases turning to
violence to achieve a harmonious nation we should be appreciative of the
strengths in the Cook Islands allowing us to live with freedom and in peace.
For without a fabric of trust and friendship, and without the moral and
intellectual education that takes place in families above all, neither
political nor economic society could function for long. This fabric is often
called civil society.
the course of the week of Te Maeva Nui many more distinguished persons than
myself will have spoken on the value of the Constitution and there is no need
for me to repeat that. Given the focus has been on what has been achieved in
the past 57 years up until the present time I would like to write on the aspect
of the future, thinking about what we do now and how it will affect the future.
“I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike.” Matthew 11:25
is complicated. Or is it? That’s a good question. At times things can
seem very complicated. Situations we find ourselves in, relationships with
family and friends, our future, our past, and so on, can all seem burdensome
and complicated at times. But the truth is that it doesn’t have to
be. The truth is that God’s answers to the most “complex” questions in
life are often simple enough for a child to understand.
the passage above, Jesus affirms that the Father reveals His answers and wisdom
to those who are childlike. Interestingly, He also states that the Father
has “hidden these things from the wise and learned”. So this begs the
question…is it better to be “wise and learned” or “childlike?”. Obviously, the
answer is that it’s better to be childlike.
may seem confusing at first. It can seem strange to say that it’s not good to
be “wise and learned”. But what that means is that it’s not good to be a person
who thinks they have it all figured out. It’s not good to be arrogant and
a know-it-all. It’s not good to be so filled with pride that we think we have
all the answers.
ideal is to have certain characteristics of a child. In particular, it’s
good to be one who is open, curious, and willing to learn. It’s good to
look at life in the simplest of ways and to stick to the basics. Sure,
it’s good to grow in wisdom and knowledge of the things of God. But true wisdom
and knowledge always maintain a certain innocence and simplicity. They maintain
a basic goodness and acceptance of right and wrong. Life does not have to be
complicated, it needs to become exceptionally simple.
do hope that the Constitution of the Cook Islands is protecting the long-term future
of the country. That it is not just being used to reward the present occupiers
of this land.
I am at a low point with modern day political leaders. What is the legacy of
President Trump? What has he contributed to the long-term future of the United States
of America? The manipulating of truth? Undermining democracy? Unable to graciously
accept defeat? How has Boris Johnstone made the world a better place as Prime Minister?
Or President Putin daily bombarding the neighbour of Russia, the Ukraine for whatever
gain? The result is that the individual is now more important than the common
good, no matter the cost.
this very moment as I look at Europe and America on the news I note how many
countries are burning from bush fires. Great Britain and other European countries
are experiencing record temperatures. Closer to home are the recent floods in New
South Wales and New Zealand. It is not just one river or a province but the
whole State or country is subject to floods, gales and huge swells. All this
now is attributed to climate change. A few years ago,
so called experts and major political leaders were denying climate change
In this article I would like to introduce a notion that the likes of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle grabbled with thousands of years ago. I am speaking of what is known as Natural Law which Wikipedia defines as a system of law based on a close observation of human nature. According to the natural law theory, all people have inherent rights, conferred not by act of legislation but by “God, nature, or reason”.
It seems to me timely to pay more attention to
nature. Let’s start with the pandemic. At the beginning of the pandemic I and
others wrote on the topic that the pandemic provides us with an opportunity to
review the directions that businesses have taken the world with the concept of globalisation.
E.g. Capping tourism to suit the resources of the country. I was most
uncomfortable with the headline in the Cook Island News on July 15th,
“Getting back to business,” or on July 25th, “Tourism industry
making hay while the sun shines”. Have we made any changes as a result of the Covid
pandemic? Profit or possibly greed rules once again.
I end by sharing the two things that give me heart.
One is Greta Thunberg, a Swedish environmental activist, a child, who has spoken on climate change and whose message has been
heard by the world. She stated the following in one of her speeches – “I am here to
remind you of the promises that you have made to your children and
grandchildren. And to tell you that we are not willing to compromise on the
very minimum safety levels that still remain.”
And the second is my own church leader Pope Francis
who has asked the question of the world – “What world
do we want to leave to our children and our young? Our selfishness, our
indifference and our irresponsible ways are threatening the future of our
At this time spare a prayer that the Constitution
of the Cook Islands will guarantee a sustainable future for our children, “IN THE HOLY NAME
OF GOD, THE ALMIGHTY, THE EVERLOVING AND THE EVERLASTING.” (Title to the
Preamble in the Constitution of the Cook Islands)