‘Te Papa o Savaiki Tere’ cyclone shelter for Tetautua in Penrhyn. was held yesterday morning. PHOTO: SUPPLIED/22020430
The “beautiful” opening of ‘Te Papa o Savaiki Tere’ Cyclone Shelter for Tetautua, Penrhyn was held yesterday morning with approximately 150 people in attendance, says the island’s executive officer Puna Vano.
Penrhyn has a population of about 250. Vano says “we have college students who returned from Rarotonga on their school break and others who came over for Christmas and have stayed on for this occasion, so the attendance was awesome”.
Prime Minister Mark Brown and his wife Daphne were accompanied by the Member of Parliament for Penrhyn Robert Tapaitau and his wife Meli for this long-awaited grand occasion.
Vano said: “It was a beautiful occasion, this is the first time Penrhyn has built cyclone shelters. Now we have one on each island - Omoka and Tetautua.”
“The opening (yesterday) was quite emotional because for so many years there has been planning for cyclone shelters for Penrhyn and nothing was done until now, and we finally have these because of our MP Robert Tapaitau, so people were emotional to have him here. We were also honoured to have our Prime Minister join us.”
Earlier this week on Tuesday, ‘Te Tahua o Tarakore’ Omoka Cyclone Shelter on the islet of Omoka held its opening ceremony.
Penrhyn is the largest and northernmost atoll of the Cook Islands and is also known as Tongareva. Its massive lagoon, 275 square kilometres in area, dwarfs its surrounding motu.
The two villages Omoka and Te Tautua lie on opposite ends of the atoll divided by a lagoon highway of about 12 kilometres.
In 2020, a local company Civil Contractors Limited was awarded a $5.3 million contract to construct two multi-story masonry cyclone centres in the two villages.