Rangi Kimiora (far right) with his family in front of their family bakery in Mitiaro. LOSIRENE LACANIVALU/20112201
Rangi Kimiora enjoyed a comfortable life while growing up in Melbourne. But after spending a decade there, he decided to return home to Mitiaro to help improve the lives of his people on the island.
At the tender age of nine, Rangi Kimiora left his village
Mangarei on the island of Mitiaro for Melbourne, Australia, for further
Life in Melbourne was great. But Kimiora, who grew up with
seven siblings, did not lose track of the advice his mother Cecilia gave when
he left the island:
“Try to do your best in school, because you will see the
easiness and the beauty of education.”
After 10 years of studies, he managed to graduate with a
diploma in business and management.
In 2018, he returned to Mitiaro with the aim to give back to
the community through knowledge and skills he had gained in Australia and to
boost the island’s tourism economy. Kimiora also wanted to actively participate
with the youth, church and other island activities he had missed while studying
“I thank mum and God for the knowledge and gift I have. I
came back to share that knowledge. I thought I had to do something to improve
the development of our youth on our island and I am trying my best for the
Soon after returning home, Kimiora opened up a bakery with
his family. The bakery also sells snacks and fizzy drinks.
“This all started when I returned from Melbourne in 2018 and
started to develop our business here. This has helped us get income and now we
can afford what we need,” says Kimiora.
“At the same time, we are able to help build the economy in
Mitiaro and give back to the community.”
The bakery is named after his mother Cecilia because the
family believe “she is the backbone of their business”.
Kimiora now plans to build a supermarket on the island and
hopes his parents will be around to see the fruit of his hard work.
Apart from his business interest, Kimiora is also the
chairman of the Mitiaro Youth Group. His vision is to ensure young people do
not give up in finding their way to success.
The 20-year-old says he has a gift from God that he wishes
to share with his peers and help them get on track to a successful future.
“Youths are advised if they do not succeed in education or
school there is a way to find success. I believe many of our youth are going
through some kind of hardship. I encourage them whatever they may be facing,
there is always a way to get through it and become who they want to be and to
do what they want to do,” he says.
“There are so many opportunities on our island, there’s
food, there’s money, we don’t have to rely on anyone. Even for those youth in
Raro we can do it together. Support each other rather than pulling people down.
Encourage each other.”
Kimiora has many plans for the youth group and some of their
projects include beautifying tourism sites such as the famous lakes and caves
on the island.
They are looking at applying for grants to help them with
the beautification project as well as to clear the roads and set up solar
lights around the caves for both locals and tourists.
Kimiora hopes his success story will inspire other Cook
Islanders living in New Zealand and Australia to return home and give back to
“Because I believe your home, your paradise will always
remain in your hearts, no matter what. There will be a time and day you will
feel homesick, come back and build here, give back to your community, love your
“Especially for Mitiaro, we need to build tourism up, have
some businesses going so all those who are overseas, come back serve your
people, share your knowledge and your gift.
“Mitiaro is a beautiful island and I can never leave home,
even though I studied in Melbourne for 10 years, this is a place I call home –
it is my identity.
“It is small community, small population but striving forward and aiming high, that’s why we are called the Might Arrow.”
The writer’s trip to Mitiaro was sponsored by Cook Islands Tourism Corporation and Island Hopper Vacations as part of an initiative to promote domestic travel experiences in the outer islands.