Members of the Cook Islands 7s team to the Oceania 7s and Pacific Games during their fundraiser at Punanga Nui Market in October. MELINA ETCHES/23101534
Concerns have been raised over the distribution of a government grant, reportedly worth $500,000, to the Cook Islands Sports and National Olympic Committee (CISNOC) for the upcoming Pacific Games in Honiara, Solomon Islands.
As participating national federations ramp up their fundraising efforts for the regional games to be held from November 19 to December 2, 2023, questions surrounding the distribution of taxpayer-funded grant have emerged.
Responding to questions from Cook Islands News, CISNOC secretary general Owen Lewis said the funding that they received on September 28 will be strictly allocated for athletes’ travel, insurance, medical team support, and uniform support.
Lewis could not confirm the amount, saying, “we are not in a position to provide specific details of the Cabinet submissions as they are not our submissions”.
However, he said the national federations will receive funding between 50 per cent and 75 per cent of the average travel costs of athletes and teams.
CISNOC general secretary Owen Lewis.
national federation that wishes to remain anonymous has raised its concerns
about the lack of information on the government funding, including its
were initially informed that there might not be government funds available, and
as a result, we diligently started fundraising to ensure the team’s
participation,” a senior official from the federation said.
later we were informed that there may be some funds allocated, but
unfortunately, we have yet to receive any concrete information regarding the
amount we will be receiving.
lack of timely information has posed challenges for the team, as we have been
working tirelessly to raise funds independently. It has caused unnecessary
stress and uncertainty for both the athletes and the management, hindering our
ability to plan effectively for the games.”
The federation said they believe that transparent communication and prompt
updates on the funding status would greatly assist them in managing their
financial efforts more efficiently.
believe some teams have received notification (last week) of government funding
they will receive. Whilst this is appreciated this is really late given the
Pacific Games have been known about for at least the last four years and the
initial engagement with sporting codes started in December 2022.
majority of athletes and management are non-professional i.e. they have full
time study or employment so need to train and prepare after hours and the added
stress and commitment of fundraising takes away from the games preparation to
be able to put our best foot forward.”
the funding process, Lewis said it is vital to understand the intricate steps
and the time required to make the funding happen.
said their application for government support underwent a detailed procedure,
involving a Cabinet submission endorsed by the Minister for Sport.
is a separate entity from the government, and thus, any financial support
cannot be received directly but must go through a government department.
decision to support team Cook Islands was made during a Cabinet meeting and
went through further processes with the Ministry of Finance & Economic
Management and the Ministry of Cultural Development. A Memorandum of
Understanding was crafted to ensure the appropriate allocation and reporting of
Lewis said this “meticulous” process reflected the highest standards of
financial accountability, and was essential, given that taxpayer funds are
are immensely grateful to those staff involved from these departments for their
support in making this happen in the timeframes they have.”
the anonymous federation said while they understood the complexities involved
in government processes, they would sincerely appreciate a more timely approach
going forward and that the issues causing the delay are identified and
communication, earlier communication and planning to be able to present the
best Team Cook Islands can. Our team is dedicated and determined, and with the
necessary support, we aim to represent our country with pride and excellence.”
Lewis said that over a year ago, national federations were informed that they
should expect to cover their own costs and not depend on any government
message was clear – government support was not guaranteed, and it would be
received with profound gratitude if extended. We genuinely appreciate the
support we received.
need for national federations to take responsibility for funding their
respective selected athletes and teams is historical. Since my tenure as
Secretary General began in 2018, this has been the case.”
He said they hope that moving forward, national federations will consider
planning and budgeting for these events as part of their long-term growth and
part of our commitment at CISNOC, we intend to work closely with national
federations to assist in their future planning and preparation for such
Westrupp, Cook Islands Touch Association president, said that as one of the
largest contingents with 28 athletes, six management/medical personnel and two
officials going to the Solomon Islands Games, the association have had to
do a large amount of fundraising.
said: “National federations are always responsible to raise the funds for
overseas competitions, and the Pacific Games is no exception. Any
financial assistance received from the Government via CISNOC is always a bonus
and very much appreciated.”
are not new to fundraising, in fact we have been at it all year! We took
an U18 Youth Men’s and Women’s teams to Brisbane in May this year to compete at
the Asia Pacific Youth Touch Cup where they came away with the bronze medals in
both categories behind Australia 1st and New Zealand 2nd. We had to raise $50,000
to send the two teams.
“When we got back it was straight back into the fundraising for Pacific Games. We’ve had a major raffle, a weight loss challenge, a quiz night and lots and lots of car washes!"
Lewis said: “The government’s support has never been intended to fully fund Team Cook Islands participation in Honiara but if received it would serve as a valuable supplement to our resources; CISNOC and our national federations retain the primary responsibility for funding Team Cook Islands participation.
is however CISNOC’s duty to manage, distribute and account for the funds
received from government in a manner appropriate of the use of taxpayer funds.”
added that CISNOC will take responsibility for funding travel and accommodation
for any officials they send, in addition to covering remaining uniform costs,
obligations to the hosts, Pacific Games Council fees, and other fees associated
with the administrative and medical entourage.
Islands News had asked how many CISNOC officials would be attending the event
and in what capacity.
are committed to ensuring the team’s readiness for the Games through pre-games
events and preparation funding, as well as providing appropriate gifts and
covering other associated costs. These costs are sizable and will come out of
our operation funds.
be well aware that CISNOC unlike where the Olympic and Commonwealth Games are
concerned, CISNOC receives no funds to assist Team Cook Islands participation
at Pacific Games or Pacific Mini-Games.”