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The story of Tapuaetai

7 January 2022

Even the smallest splash can make a large ripple

Saturday 8 January 2022 | Written by Te Ipukarea Society | Published in On the Street, Opinion

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Even the smallest splash can make a large ripple
Summer intern Itirangi Pennycook assisting with updating rat baiting stations up at the Takitumu Conservation Area. TIS/22010713

Te Ipukarea Society intern Itirangi Pennycook writes about her experience with the local environmental group.

There is a saying that goes “even the smallest splash can make a large ripple”. My name is Itirangi Pennycook, I’m 16 years old and I’m thrilled to have taken up the opportunity for a two-month internship to work with Te Ipukarea Society (TIS). I was awarded this internship for placing excellence in Tereora College Level 2 Biology, and for that I am truly grateful. 

Something that I have in common with, and respect TIS for in all their operations, is that I’m devoted and supportive of keeping the natural environment and biodiversity safe. I’m eager to learn from TIS and can’t wait to assist in any way that I can. I am also a member of ‘Ātui’anga ki te Tango,which is a group run by Kōrero o te ‘Ōrau that teaches youth about sustainability and cultural foundations here in the Cook Islands. 

My first day at TIS was very exciting, I followed the team out to pick up an injured bird that had been rarely spotted on the island and watched as they carried out necessary examinations. A couple days later we went on a thrilling, rat baiting trek through the Takitumu conservation to carry on the endangered, indigenous birdlife protection programme that has been going on since 1996.  I learnt that TIS specialises in birdlife and that they contribute to a lot of bird protection projects across the Cook Islands. 

Furthermore, I am also learning that TIS offers a lot of assistance throughout the Cook Islands to help achieve sustainability for our country. Whether it is eco bricking, barricading our shoreline to protect the coast (project out in Avana), assisting in stream restoration or simply recycling, such as glass jars for cafes, Use Your Own (UYO) reusables for takeaways or encouraging young women to try female sanitary products. 

I’ve also learnt that TIS does a lot of work in marine environment, thus over these last couple weeks, I’ve been educated on the different deep-sea capacity areas throughout the Pacific.

Throughout my association with TIS and ‘Ātui’anga ki te Tango, I have gained a lot of knowledge on the status of our environment and I am becoming aware of the pressures our country faces in how to both care for the environment, while still protecting our economy. I’ve realised that not many people understand the seriousness of some of these environmental issues and I hope to be able to raise more awareness in the community and help the Atuianga Ki Te Tango and TIS become more recognised for what they have contributed to the Cook Islands and receive the acknowledgment by our local community for all the work that they have put in.  

My aspiration in which I’m hoping to accomplish through affiliation with TIS and ‘Ātui’anga ki te Tango, is to be able to have a positive impact on the natural environment here in the Cook Islands by being able to personally help in projects for sustainability also and encourage more people to be proactive in the situation. 

All of this is easy to say and I know that this will take some time to achieve, but as I mentioned earlier, “even the smallest splash can make a large ripple”.