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Are Pa Metua ready to welcome back members

Thursday 31 March 2022 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Local, National

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Are Pa Metua ready to  welcome back members
Punua Marsters, Are Pa Metua coordinator Moana-O-Liliuokalani Marsters and Nooroa Rata at the new Are Pa Metua premises at the Punanga Nui Market. MELINA ETCHES/22032904

The newly-built Are Pa Metua is set to resume its services but members will have to undergo a Rapid Antigen Testing (RAT) test and health check prior to the start of their gatherings at the Punanga Nui Market centre.

The coordinator of the Are Pa Metua centre, Moana-O-Liliuokalani Marsters was relieved to finally receive the keys for the new building yesterday morning.

The opening of the new premises at the Punanga Nui Market was held on March 18.

Marsters, who has been serving as Are Pa Metua’s coordinator since 2018, said: “It has been a real challenge at times, not with our elderly, but with the problems we had to go through having to move out of the premises in Nikao and relocating to our home in Titikaveka.”

There were times when she felt like quitting because of the “approach and interference from government agencies… we are a non-government organisation, we are an arm helping the government”.

“It takes courage and strength to do something like this. Our wages are so low and if you don’t have the passion and the love for the old people, you wouldn’t do this for peanut money.”

The centre was set up some time ago with the primary purpose of providing programmes and services that improve the welfare and wellness of the elderly population.

For many years Te Are Pa Metua had operated out of a Nikao property owned and managed by the Cook Islands Airport Authority, until that building was required for other purposes in 2020.

Since then, they have been operating out of a temporary premises in Titikaveka (Marsters’ residence), while government agencies looked to source a property on a more permanent basis to continue their much-valued operations.

In November 2021 it was decided that a completely new building would be built for Te Are Pa Metua towards the eastern end of the Punanga Nui Market, adjacent to the children’s playground.

The construction of the building completed earlier this month and the opening was held on March 18.

Marsters noted some of their mamas were unable to attend the opening of the Are Pa Metua because of Covid-19 restrictions. They were advised that the event was restricted to 20 Are Pa Metua members.

“So we had mamas who couldn’t attend and were very upset to see that so many other people were there…”

Managing to console the mamas, Marsters said she encouraged the members to look forward to meeting in their new place.

In spite of the recent setbacks, Marsters, her husband Punua Marsters and helper Nooroa Rata are keen to get going, start setting up the building and getting the Pa Metua back into their routine.

There are fun activities planned ahead and plans to fundraise for two new vans to transport their increasing number of members.

Marsters would like to acknowledge Chris Vaile, Minister George Angene, the Government and Teariki Heather for their support.

As per a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Cook Islands Investment Corporation (CIIC) and Ministry of Internal Affairs (INTAFF) which was signed at the opening, management of the new Are Pa Metua building will be handled by INTAFF, with CIIC retaining ownership and providing support if needed.