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Being prepared for future emergencies: Govt supports refurbishment of community halls

Tuesday 6 December 2022 | Written by Supplied | Published in Local, National

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Being prepared for future emergencies: Govt supports refurbishment of community halls
Nikao MP Minister Mac Mokoroa, second from right, with Nikao Cook Islands Christian Church representatives including Reverend Oirua Rasmussen. SUPPLIED/22120507

Cook Islands Government is scoping and partly funding refurbishment of community halls on Rarotonga so when there is a cyclone or emergency, there will be suitable centres or facilities available to accommodate the wider community.

Tropical cyclones and other emergencies pose an increasing threat to the safety of the community, especially on island nations like the Cook Islands.

Following a Tropical Depression in January 2022, the Nikao Sunday School Hall suffered significant damage.

It was decided that urgent repairs were needed. Through a collaborative approach between the Cook Islands Government and Nikao Cook Islands Christian Church, these repairs and upgrades were able to be undertaken, to make this hall fit for purpose as a suitable centre for future emergencies.

This specific project cost approximately $300,000, with $100,000 contributed by the government and the remainder by the Nikao CICC community, under a formal Deed of Funding Agreement, which required a formal Memorandum of Understanding be entered into between the parties and outlining arrangements in the use of an emergency.

The project was centred on the refurbishment of community halls so when there is a cyclone or emergency, there will be suitable centres or facilities that Emergency Management Cook Islands (EMCI) and Puna Disaster Risk Management committees can access to accommodate the wider community.

This is the first of many refurbishments being scoped across Rarotonga, following detailed scoping reports undertaken by Cook Islands Investment Corporation (CIIC), with Infrastructure Cook Islands (ICI) and EMCI.

Refurbishment works were extensive and included replacing rotting timber, re-roofing, tiling, bathroom renovations, electrical work, and painting.

The project took about six months and was overseen by a Project Steering Group, made up of representatives from Nikao CICC, and Government agencies, including CIIC, EMCI and ICI.

The refurbished hall was officially opened on Saturday, November 19 and was well attended by more than 250 people including the King’s Representative Sir Tom Marsters and Lady Marsters, Prime Minister Mark Brown, and members of Parliament, Ui Ariki, the wider Nikao community and members of other CICC congregations and other denominations.

Reverend Oirua Rasmussen acknowledged the Member of Parliament for Nikao, Minister Mac Mokoroa, and the many people and organisations who worked tirelessly delivering this project including to the many people who generously volunteered extensive labour and materials to the project.

Reverend Rasmussen says the name of the refurbished hall is Mount Nebo, named in line with their church building – Canaan (Kanaana).

Reverend Rasmussen says the name of the hall comes from the Book of Deuteronomy, chapter 32, verses 48-52.

“In summary, the Lord told Moses, ‘Go up into the Abarim Range, climb to Mount Nebo and view Canaan (Kanaana), the land I am giving the Israelites. There on Mount Nebo, you will die and be gathered to your people, just as your brother Aaron died on Mount Hor and was gathered to his people, because both of you broke faith with me in the presence of the Israelites, and because you did not uphold my holiness among the Israelites; therefore you will see the land only from a distance; you will not enter the land I am giving to the people of Israel’.”

Prime Minister Mark Brown was impressed by the work done to complete the refurbished building.

He says the collaboration between government and the community is essential to ensure that people are prepared in the event of any emergencies in the future.

“This is the first of many refurbishments set to be rolled out, which worked very well, and as this is rolled out further, we will have more of our communities with suitable and fit for purpose centres here in Rarotonga for any future emergencies,” Brown said.