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Wednesday 29 April 2009 | Published in Regional


Saturday 25: The village of Nikao will become the centre of sports development in the Cook Islands when the new Olympic House is built.

A special foundation stone laying ceremony was held at the Tepuka site on the western side of the new multi indoor sports complex yesterday where the cornerstones, or toka tiava, of the building were laid.

Four foundation stones were laid in total with one stone being laid by Avarua student Tyrone Marurai and Dr Teariki Matenga.

Marurai represented athletes of today and of the future and Dr Matenga was there as a representative of past athletes.

Among the invited guests at the small function were former sportswoman of the year Selina Napa, 2008 sportswoman of the year Tamsyn Dearlove plus representatives from the government including minister of youth and sports Ngamau Munokoa, 2009 Pacific Mini Games minister Wilkie Rasmussen, representatives from the House of Ariki, Koutu Nui and the Religious Advisory Council.

The day’s event saw speeches made by CISNOC president Sir Geoffrey Henry, minister Munokoa and Oceania National Olympic Committee president Dr Robin Mitchell.

In his address, Henry says that while most people can just see a vacant piece of land, he can visualise Olympic House as one having a bottom floor for sports development and most importantly an All Blacks wing.

“This is going to be the centre of sports development of the Cook Islands and we will be bringing athletes here to train instead of sending them overseas,” says Henry.

He also alluded to the fact that he would be knocking on government’s doors - or as he put it the ‘bakery of the country’ - to ask for a ‘loaf of bread’ to support the future sports development of the nation.

In return he would put a photo of those members who contributed to the building of the new offices in the board room of the new complex.

In his speech, Dr Robin Mitchell said that ONOC has approved a number of Cook Islands projects including the building of the Olympic House and the delivery of a new Mercedes Benz van for the CISNOC office.

CISNOC chief executive officer Robert Wyllie said that the van would be used to transport CISNOC staff and sports equipment to venues across the island.

Mitchell says that around $US165,000 ($NZ288,057) has been allocated to CISNOC by ONOC for the Olympic House project. Wyllie says that there is no clear date as to when the Olympic House project will begin or when the Mercedes Benz van will arrive.

In her speech, minister Munokoa spoke about the challenges she and her small committee faced when trying to secure land for the new Olympic House.

She says that while the site at Tepuka, to be leased from the government may be small in size it would just mean that a multi story building be built to take advantage of the stunning view from the Tepuka hill site.

The Olympic House design is understood to still be in the concept stages but by the enthusiasm in which the foundation laying ceremony was held there is no doubt that the team at CISNOC will do all they can to have a new office built for them. - MW