Monica Young and Mii Upu celebrate Australia Day at Vaiana’s Bar & Bistro back in January. PHOTO: SUPPLIED/22012702
Although the crowd was not as big as last year’s event, a decent number of locals and visitors turned up to celebrate Australia Day at the Vaiana’s Bar & Bistro in Nikao on Wednesday night.
Mii Upu, one of the organisers, has fond memories of
Australia. She first visited the country in 1972 with her cultural dance group
performing shows all over the country, and has lived there for many years.
“My children have settled in Western Australia and
have bought homes, so Australia is like second home to me,” Upu said.
Her connection to the country was one of the reasons she joined the Australia Day celebrations.
However, not everyone sees Australia Day as a day to celebrate. In recent years, the celebration has become controversial because of a “change the date” campaign.
January 26, which is observed as Australia Day, is the
date that commemorates the arrival of the “First Fleet” of British ships at
Sydney in 1788. Some critics call it “Invasion Day” or “Survival Day” as it
marks the beginning of dispossession of the continent’s indigenous people.
The Australian High Commissioner to the Cook Islands Dr Christopher Watkins in a statement said: “Australia Day is a complicated day for many Australians. Here in Rarotonga the High Commission will take the opportunity to quietly mark the friendship between our peoples, and also to reflect on Australia’s ongoing reconciliation journey.”
“I hope all Australians in the Cook Islands will find
an opportunity to pause and look to our future, and to acknowledge the
incredible legacy of our rich continuing indigenous culture and the diverse
peoples, including tens of thousands of ‘Cozzies’, which make up modern