President of the Cook Islands Sports and National Olympic Committee, Hugh Graham left home over 13 weeks ago for the Olympics in July and says it’s a great feeling to be going home - 21101307
Cook Islanders landing in Rarotonga from Auckland say they’re excited to be coming home.
Air New Zealand flight expected to land just after two this afternoon will
carry an estimated 232 Cook Islands residents. Included in the group are
Olympians, mothers and the Under 13 Cook Islands badminton team.
will spend two weeks in Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ) at the Edgewater
Resort and Spa after they arrive in Rarotonga.
One of the people in the cohort, Simone
Fe’ao, said she’s most excited about hugging her kids when she’s out.
“I’m super excited,
I can’t wait to be home,” Fe’ao said.
“I know many see
New Zealand as the land of opportunity and the land of plenty. But there’s
something special about our island paradise, the freedoms we have and the
simplicity of life that can’t be matched.”
Visiting her unwell
mother, Fe’ao arrived in Auckland on the evening lockdown was announced. She
said it meant there was no opportunity to do the things she loved about
visiting “the big smoke” like going out to dinner, visiting friends and family
“I’ll be glad to be able to go
grocery shopping without a mask.”
Fe’ao said she was
also excited for family dinners, putting her feet in the sand, being able to
attend church, Reuben
Dearlove’s croissants and a
nice meal of rukau taro and rawfish.
She was still busy
working while in Auckland and said being away was probably tougher for her
husband and children.
Police Sergeant Mereana Hagai was barely recognisable under her personal protective equipment (PPE) on Wednesday morning - 21101308
Fe’ao said she had
plans in place to pass the time while in quarantine.
“You can either focus on the
limitations in MIQ or find a way to enjoy it and use the time wisely.
“I’ve come up with a bit of a
daily routine for myself to make it work because after two weeks I’m sure (my
husband) Tony will be handing over the laundry basket and tea towels and I’ll
be back on mum duty, like I never left.”
Hugh Graham, president of the
Cook Islands Sports and National Olympic Committee, is also arriving this
Graham said the reality of going
home was a great feeling.
will be 13 weeks and three days that we have been away from home since
departing back in mid-July for the Tokyo Olympic Games,” he said yesterday.
Graham spent two
weeks in MIQ in Christchurch then two months in lockdown in Auckland.
“Some days were good,
some days I struggled with being on my own,” he said about his experience in
He thanked friends
and family who delivered groceries to him over the past two months in Auckland.
“I also want to say
a big A1 meitaki to the many community services that provided assistance in
many ways for our members of Team Cook Islands and those of us stranded here in
“In terms of
spending another 14 days in MIQ, if I can get through 14 days MIQ in
Christchurch then eight weeks in lockdown, I can handle it. At least it will be
14 days back home.”
The members of the
national under-13 badminton team are also arriving on the flight. Cook Islands
Badminton president Thomas Ngauru said the eight players in the team are
excited to be returning home.
People on the
flight needed to provide three pre-departure negative Covid-19 tests over 12
Ngauru said waiting
for the test results was the most stressful part of the process.
currently in Covid-19 Alert Level 3, Ngauru said the team enjoyed more freedom
since the alert level drop which included getting KFC and McDonalds.
Ngauru thanked the
families in New Zealand who hosted the team.
“I understand they’re family but I’m sure it
wasn’t what they were expecting, maybe a visit but not a two-month stay,” he
spokesperson said the MIQ process would be identical to the South Island cohort
that arrived last week and left on Tuesday but will last for two weeks instead
of five days.
Police spokesman Trevor Pitt said
police will be engaged at two locations on the outer rim security of the
Edgewater MIQ facility, maintaining order and visibility throughout the 14-day
On Wednesday, assigned police
staff were put through the paces by Te Marae Ora, of “donning and doffing” the
PPE (personal protective equipment), and the required safety level of handling
and managing the gear.
Police have their own staff management processes and will uphold the appropriate security measures, if required at the location, Pitt added.