Team Cook Islands chef de mission Mark Short and his daughter Natalia Short play the drums during the Pacific Games opening ceremony in Honiara, Solomon Islands on Saturday night. Picture: CISNOC/23111909
Team Cook Islands delivered a captivating performance at the official opening ceremony of the 2023 Pacific Games in Honiara, Solomon Islands, on Saturday night (Cook Islands time).
the vibrant beats of the live drum ensemble led by chef de mission Mark Short
and his team, Cook Islands showcased its rich culture to the Pacific via a live
broadcast and to the cheering spectators in attendance.
team was led by flagbearers Julieanne Westrupp (Julz) and Stephen Willis.
expressed her enthusiasm for the games, stating that having attended all
Pacific Games since 2003, this year’s edition stands out as the most
president of the Cook Islands Touch was particularly impressed by the unified
presence of athletes from all corners of the stadium.
“Having athletes seated after coming was nice too. I
think Solomons topped it off by acknowledging their former athletes and by
announcing their history in sports. That was amazing to listen to.”
enthusiastic spectators in the grandstand further enhanced the experience for
the athletes, making them feel truly valued and appreciated.
“I will always have a special place in my heart for the
Solomons,” Westrupp said.
special occasion was made even more memorable by Westrupp’s opportunity to
share it with her daughter, Tashi Kopu, niece Rima Browne, and nephew Tamarua
for Sports Vaine (Mac) Mokoroa, who has been in Honiara supporting the team,
lauded the Solomon Islands for organising a remarkable opening ceremony that
etched itself into the nation’s legacy and history.
“With the whole region looking at the march of athletes and
officials from 24 member countries, the scenery was just awesome.”
commended Team Cook Islands for setting the bar with their well-choreographed
30-second cultural performance, which evoked immense pride among Cook
“All praise to the coordinating committee of the Solomons
Pacific Games for incorporating culture in the games. Credit also goes to our
CDM (Short) and his family for this performance.”
highlighted the significance of a two-day meeting held prior to the opening for
Sports Ministers and Senior Officials to chart the future of sports in the
key emphasis during the meeting was the reaffirmation of support for sports as
a powerful tool in addressing non-communicable diseases, mental and physical
well-being, education, social cohesion, national identity, and providing a
viable alternative to anti-social behaviour.
“Our heartfelt gratitude to the Government of Solomon
Islands and the people of Solomons and more so to our volunteers and caterers
at our Kuki’s Village.”
Mokoroa revealed that Cook Islands is in the process of bidding to host the
2029 Pacific Mini Games, with the next PMG scheduled to be held in Palau in
2025, followed by the Pacific Games in Tahiti in 2027.
“There are other competing countries so we just have to
play our cards right.
“The team is in high spirit and I certainly would like to
thank all of our people for their prayers and words of encouragement to our
athletes, coaches and management.”
acknowledged the heat as the biggest challenge, with many players still
adjusting to the conditions.
“We can compare this weather as going up to Penrhyn and
playing outdoors in the 2pm heat ... but nothing that we can’t adapt to.”
Yesterday, Team Cook Islands participated in tennis,
swimming, weightlifting, basketball and football. The events were underway when
this edition went to print last night.