‘When Chantal is quiet, she’s learning’

Saturday 23 January 2021 | Written by Katrina Lintonbon | Published in Entertainment, Features, Go Local

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‘When Chantal is quiet, she’s learning’
Chantal Napa and Haydn Adams who run the Kia Orana Podcast recently sat down with Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown. Photo: REBECCA TAVIONI-TAUTALA 21011201

The permanent smile on her face shows that Chantal Napa is a go-getter. In partnership with American Haydn Adams, she turned a bad situation initiated by Covid-19, into a golden opportunity.

“Our life is an apprenticeship to the truth that around every circle another can be drawn; that there is no end in nature, but every end is a beginning; that there is always another dawn risen on midnoon, and under every deep a lower deep opens.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Chantal Napa absolutely loves this poem – to her, raw talent, a spoonful of courage, a dash of inspiration and a cup of perspiration is all you need to make a successful go of anything.

Even after 13 years of being back home, Napa still finds herself learning more and more everyday about Cook Islands people, history and culture.

Through the Kia Orana podcast which she co-hosts with American author Haydn Adams, she is now able to share what she’s learnt with other people worldwide.

“I can multitask when I’m listening to a podcast. I can drive my car, weed my garden, rake my yard tree leaves, tackle household chores, go for a walk, meditate or enjoying the company of friends and family, all while listening to a podcast,” she says.

Prior to the launch of Kia Orana Podcast, Napa says on her Apple devices she had seen the icon for Podcast and had never opened the application up.

What convinced Napa to persevere, was the fact that there were no other podcasts coming out of the Cook Islands yet.

“Challenge accepted, to pioneer and trail-blaze,” she says.

In August last year both Napa and Adams said the aim of the podcast was to create a new media channel for the Cook Islands.

The Kia Orana Podcast is a weekly broadcast of audio episodes to a world-wide audience, showcasing what you will and won’t find in the Cook Islands.

Since it was launched, the free podcast has a strong following with 2968 downloads in Oceania, 929 downloads in North America, 294 downloads in Europe, 104 downloads in Asia, 12 in South America and three downloads in Africa.

So what has she learnt in the last eight months with podcasting?

“I have to be the listener and my guest is actually the star of the show,” Napa says.

“Those of you that know me personally, know that I’m usually always the talker. We all think we know people but if we take the time to listen, we learn more about them and such interestingly enough that others would also be interested to know.”

On the surface you see people around school drop off/pick up, says Napa, adding while out grocery shopping or at work and because of respect for each other’s privacy, we often hesitate to take the time to ask leading questions about them personally.

But when you do, you truly find the layers of characteristics and experiences of people, which is so important.

During their podcast sessions, Napa listen to their passions, their background, what drives them, their motivation, their accumulated skill sets, their dreams and aspirations.

“When you start asking people about their story, they can take you on a life long journey. So what you unearth is the pearl inside the oyster,” Napa says.

“I have said so many times during my last 37 recorded weekly interviews, ‘Oh wow! I never knew that’, or ‘I’ve known you seven years and I never knew that about you’, or ‘As you all know when Chantal is quiet, she’s learning’.”

With Covid, Napa says it’s given people more time to talk and engage with each other, “not having to rush off and be somewhere else”.

Not having the 167,000 yearly visitors that the Cook Islands usually welcome and care for has in some ways been a silver lining.

“Maybe we were not monetary rich as we had lost a large bulk of our revenue streams, but hey we instantly became time rich! I chose to take a step back and help provide a stage for our people to share their voice and their stories - locally and internationally,” she says.

Haydn Adams, Napa’s American co-host, has been instrumental in the application and futuristic design technology of this project.

Together with Adams, they have interviewed some amazing local people including Anthony Brown, historian Jean Mason, Prime Foods managing director Daniel Forsyth and Island Craft’s Fletcher Melvin and they are so appreciative of the positive and inquisitive response that they have received since launching.

But the one person who Napa showed the most restraint to approach and request an interview, purely out of respect and awe, was Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown.

She thought - don’t approach, don’t annoy, don’t ask, he’s a busy man!

“Then in late December and after two hours sitting in the same relaxed social gathering, our Prime Minister says to me: ‘Chantal, E no’o mai rā koe ki taku pae, ka inangaro au i te tuatua kia koe”. My response: ‘Kua pa’u au, e te Prime Minita, e akapeea koe, i te kite, ka kite au i te tuatua Māori?’. To which he laughed and said, ‘I’d like to speak to you about your podcast. I’ll go on as a guest and let’s see if that helps to lift the profile of the Cook Islands podcast channel?’”

“Outwardly I tried to look relaxed and calm but inwardly I was excited and I responded: ‘That would be amazing Mark, I appreciate your support. Your presence on the podcast will not only lift the profile, but also the integrity of the podcast’.”

PM Brown’s podcast episode shines through in a relaxed manner, his personality is brave, his perspective is courageous, his vision is confident and his love for the country and people very endearing, she says.

“Our Prime Minister has a great sense of humour!”

Adams along with businesses, close friends and family have mentored Napa through podcasting and supplied her with honest feedback - all with the best intentions of helping her to be better.

“I appreciate each and every one of you for your time and love to help me, along this challenging yet exciting podcast journey,” she says.

“I have also received feedback via email from overseas clients requesting me to interview certain local people. As they would like to hear their stories. The list of guests that we could interview is endless and we are willing to guide them through the process that podcasting can offer.”