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Suwarrow park rangers return home

Thursday 10 November 2022 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Local, National


Suwarrow park rangers return home
The Cook Islands National Heritage Park Suwarrow rangers Harry Papa’i and Teina Vakapora returned to Rarotonga this week. 22110910

After five months of living on Suwarrow – the Cook Islands National Heritage Park – park rangers Harry Papa’i and Teina Vakapora returned safely to Rarotonga onboard Te Kukupa II on Monday morning.

Papa’i is a seasoned caretaker of the uninhabited island having lived there several times each year. The latest trip was his 10th season. For Vakapora, the “amazing” experience was a first.

“Suwarrow is just so beautiful, it has been such a wonderful experience,” said Vakapora.

Papa’i and Vakapora are happy to be back on Rarotonga, reuniting with their families, reconnecting to the outside world and enjoying fresh fruit and steak meals.

Each year the National Environment Service sends two park rangers to Suwarrow for up to six months. They are returned to Rarotonga every November when cyclone season starts.

The rangers play a key role in ensuring that the National Park remains protected particularly with the visiting yachts travelling through our waters and wish to make a stop in Suwarrow.

No yachties were permitted to land on Suwarrow during this season, however a few yachts anchored inside the lagoon to attend to maintenance issues.

Suwarrow, its reef and a six-kilometre area around it, are totally protected under Cook Islands law. Yachts require special permission before visiting the island.


Paul Montbatten on 11/11/2022

In the early 80’s I came across a copy of Tom Neale’s book “ an island to myself” You two are fortunate to be able to spend time there.

Tina Mose on 10/11/2022

Relieved to see you both home safe and sound. Looking happy, very bronzed up and sun kissed. Well done, Teina!