Women’s league 9s team with their spoils. LOSIRENE LACANIVALU / 23112302 / 23112303 / 23112304
2023 has been a testament to the dedication and talent of Cook Islands athletes across various sports. Cook Islands News’ Losirene Lacanivalu delves into some of the most remarkable sporting achievements that made headlines in 2023.
Avatiu Nikao Eels’ Tamatoa Nicholas scores the winning try against Arorangi Bears I in the League Nines in Paradise men’s final on Saturday at the National Stadium in Nikao. 23010818
Nikao Eels and Lady Panthers were crowned the new champions of the League Nines
in Paradise tournament held at the National Stadium in Nikao.
Carlson was re-elected unopposed as the Cook Islands Rugby League Association
(CIRLA) president at its annual general meeting. He has been in the role since
2004 and will serve for three years.
joins Chelsea football club
English football club Chelsea have hired All Blacks mental skills expert and
Cook Islander Gilbert Enoka.
handed NRL lifeline
in Australia have revealed that former Catalans forward and current Cook
Islands international Dylan Napa has made a return to Sydney Roosters in the
The first individual across the finish-line this year was Maya Postrzygacz with a time of 56:17 minutes. At only 15 years old this was a really impressive performance. CITA/23032723
15, beats mum
Island Triathlon Association hosted the legendary BSP Women’s Triathlon event
at the Tikioki Tri site. The first individual across the finish-line this year
was Maya Postrzygacz with a time of 56:17 min. At only 15 years old this was a
really impressive performance. Second to finish was Maya’s mother Adrianna
Skurosz with a time of 58:04 min.
Power reign supreme
Fighting it out for third place
in the Cook Islands Touch men’s category was KAPs and Germinators. In a closely
contested affair, KAPs won the match 5-4 to finish third in the competition.
In the women’s third place
playoff, 2022 champions FBI took on Nikz. FBI proved to be the stronger team
with a convincing 5-2 win. In the main matches – the finals – GAT played Atiu
Warriors in the men’s division while Nukz Power took on Bounty Hunters in the
women. The Puna Hiro-led Team GAT proved too strong for the Atiu Warriors
winning the “almost” one-sided affair 7-2. Nukz Power held on to win the
closely contested women's clash 3-2.
CIFA dispute lands in court
Islands Football Association (CIFA) leadership dispute has landed in Court,
with ‘dismissed’ president Tiraa Arere filing for an immediate interim order to
restore him to the top role.
Civil Court in Avarua Justice Christopher Toogood oversaw a preliminary hearing
between Arere against several members of the CIFA executive committee and
handball teams finish third
Islands men’s and women’s teams finished third at the Oceania Beach Handball
Championships on the Gold Coast in Australia. The women’s team finished third
after losing to eventual champions Australia 0-2 and New Zealand 1-2 in
preliminary rounds. The side defeated American Samoa 2-0 in the other match.
CISNOC board members
Islands Sports and National Olympic Committee has appointed new board members. The
AGM was held on March 29 where Romani Katoa retained his position as senior
vice president. Clee Marsters, Daphne Brown and Mark Short were welcomed as
newly appointed vice presidents for a four-year term.
Islands Rugby Union (CIRU) held its annual general meeting to discuss its way
forward following a challenging 2022 season. Simiona Teiotu was re-elected the
president of CIRU for a four-year term at the AGM held on Tuesday at CISNOC
House in Nikao. Prime Minister Mark Brown was once again elected patron of the
national governing body.
Arorangi Bears players celebrate their win against Tupapa Panthers in the Cook Islands Rugby League premier men’s final at Nukupure Park in Ngatangiia. LOSIRENE LACANIVALU/23051422
Bears premier men’s side ended their 20-year drought in the Cook Islands Rugby
League domestic 13s competition after beating defending champions Tupapa
Panthers in a pulsating final at Nukupure Park in Ngatangiia. The Bobby
Hansen-coached Bears defeated Darren Piri’s Panthers 28-23 in an exciting final
to complete a clean sweep in the local competition.
Bears won the women’s title for the first-time beating Lady Panthers 28-16.
crowned triathlon champion
competition runner up Brent Knight of New Zealand claimed the annual Olympic
distance event consisting of a 1.5-kilometre swim, 42km cycle and 10km run at
the 28th Air New Zealand Rarotonga Triathlon event.
Tupapa won the Open 2 final against Takuvaine, ending the latter’s unbeaten run, at the Tupapa Court on Wednesday. LOSIRENE LACANIVALU/23060110, 23060111, 23060112, 23010613, 23060114, 23060115, 23060116, 23060117, 23060118, 23060119
Tupapa claim Open titles
and Tupapa reigned supreme in the Rarotonga Netball Club Competition Opens finals
at Tupapa Courts this week. Tupapa ended
the “Happy Valley ladies” Takuvaine’s unbeaten run in the competition to claim
the Open 2 title.
wins Tri Nations Series
Samoa/Tonga Residents team claimed the inaugural Cook Islands Rugby League
Association Tri Nations Series after beating Cook Islands Residents.
final game of the Tri Series, the Tokouso Residents team made their mark
winning 20-6 over the Cook Islands XIII at Aretere Park in Avatiu.
Winner of the men’s singles Andre Tutaka George, and Reuben Dearlove. TORU NOOROA/23071705
Te Tupu O Te Manava paddlers Andre Tutaka George and Serena Hunter took out the Cook Islands Canoeing Association (CICA) national singles championships over the weekend in a hotly contested 18k race from Avana harbour to the Arorangi jetty.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino and his delegations touched down on Rarotonga yesterday. He was welcomed by Moeroa Tamangaro, acting president of the Cook Islands Football Association (CIFA), and the Minister of Sport, Education and Youth, Vaine (Mac) Mokoroa and MFAI officials. MELINA ETCHES/23072860
president Gianni Infantino touched down on Rarotonga, making a historic first
visit to the Cook Islands, where FIFA Forward funds are boosting football
development. Infantino was welcomed by Moeroa Tamangaro, acting president of
the Cook Islands Football Association (CIFA), and the Minister of Sport,
Education and Youth, Vaine (Mac) Mokoroa.
Lanihei Connolly and Nelio George led the 2023 Team Cook Islands at the 7th Commonwealth Youth Games in Trinidad and Tobago. SUPPLIED/ 23080801
Top 10 finish
Islands athletes participating in the 7th Commonwealth Youth Games
in Trinidad and Tobago performed extremely well having placed in the top 10
rankings in their respective events.
captains of the Lady Panthers and Lady Bears praised their players for their
dedication and sacrifice in the inaugural Cook Islands Rugby Union women’s 10s
competition. The two clubs overcame numerous challenges, including player
availability, to field teams in the three-match series. The Panthers won all
three matches, including the winner-take-all final, beating the Bears 38-0 at
Victoria Park in Tupapa.
Cook Islands is proud of their young players’ performance at the Zespri AIMS
Games in New Zealand. Claude Simpson and Edon Teraitua of Apii Avarua won
silver medals after competing in the Badminton doubles competition at the
Zespri AIMS Games in New Zealand.
Pauka and Siaosi Cowan of Nukutere College won the Division 2 Boys Doubles
Maraea Wichman and Talia Adams of Nukutere College also won the Division 2 Girls Doubles.
Apii Avarua and Te Uki Ou Senior Boys, after their 4x100m relay race. MELINA ETCHES/23062723
Apii Avarua retains athletics
Avarua retained the Prince of Wales Primary Schools Athletics trophy for 13th
consecutive year after winning the 2023 edition.
Islands Men’s Fours bowling team are now placed 8th in the world at
the 2023 World Bowls Championships in Gold Coast, Australia. The bowling team did exceptionally well after
playing against 44 countries.
(Samoa and Tonga) claimed their second Vodafone Tri Nations Rugby Union Series
title after Tabusoro Fiji defeated Cook Islands Residents in the final match of
the series. Tabusoro, the 2021 and 2022 champions, defeated Cook Islands
Residents 31-24 at Aretere Park in Avatiu.
The Cook Islands Under 16 junior
girls oe vaka world champions are proud and excited to finally be presented
with their bronze medals, after their epic race at the 2023 International Va’a
Federation (IVF) World Paddling Distance Championships (10 - 19th August) in
Hunt named new Kuki coach
Having been robbed of the chance to represent his Cook Island heritage on the playing field two years ago, Karmichael Hunt is relishing his new role as the country’s head coach. During a brief return to the NRL in 2021, Hunt was convinced by his then teammate Alex Glenn to head away to that year’s World Cup with the Cook Islands, a nation he qualified for through his mum Matera who hails from the island of Rarotonga.
Tupapa Panthers players and management after winning the 2023 Raro Rugby 7s tournament at the National Stadium in Nikao. LOSIRENE LACANIVALU/ 23100701
Panthers, Burraneer Rays claim 7s titles
Panthers retained the Raro Rugby 7s men’s title while Sydney’s Burraneer Rays
were crowned the new women’s champions at the National Stadium in Nikao. The
Panthers took on Manatoa – made up of Rarotonga-based national players – in the
men’s final after round robin competition held on Friday and Saturday.
Concerns have been raised over the distribution of a government grant, reportedly worth $500,000, to the Cook Islands Sports and National Olympic Committee (CISNOC) for the upcoming Pacific Games in Honiara, Solomon Islands. As participating national federations ramp up their fundraising efforts for the regional games to be held from November 19 to December 2, 2023, questions surrounding the distribution of taxpayer-funded grant have emerged. Responding to questions from Cook Islands News, CISNOC secretary general Owen Lewis said the funding that they received on September 28 will be strictly allocated for athletes’ travel, insurance, medical team support, and uniform support.
Cecil, Schofield win Aitutaki Golf Open
Maputai Cecil, who is bound for the Pacific Games, put on a good show at the annual Air Rarotonga Aitutaki Golf Open tournament to win the top prize in the senior ladies division. The tournament provided a good platform for Cecil and other national golfers to prepare for the Pacific Games in Honiara, Solomon Islands, from November 22 to December 2. Young Quinton Schofield took out the men’s outright honours, also winning in two categories: the Aitutaki residence’s award and the open men’s division.
Team Cook Islands chef de mission Mark Short and his daughter Natalia Short play the drums during the Pacific Games opening ceremony in Honiara, Solomon Islands on Saturday night. Picture: CISNOC/23111909
Islands delivered a captivating performance at the official opening ceremony of
the 2023 Pacific Games in Honiara, Solomon Islands. Amidst the vibrant beats of
the live drum ensemble led by chef de mission Mark Short and his team, Cook
Islands showcased its rich culture to the Pacific via a live broadcast and to
the cheering spectators in attendance.
was led by flag bearers Julieanne Westrupp (Julz) and Stephen Willis.
Nines teams win medals at Pacific Games
The Cook Islands rugby league 9s teams that were stranded in New Zealand and Fiji on their way to the Solomon Islands due to flight cancellations had their perseverance rewarded when they won medals at the Pacific Games. The women’s team created history after winning the country’s first Pacific Games gold medal in the league 9s competition. The men’s team claimed bronze in the third-place playoff.
Cook Islands Aquatics Federation (CIAF) president Romani Katoa with Pacific Games dual record holder and gold medallists Wesley Roberts. LOSIRENE LACANIVALU / 23112501
Aquatics dives into record books
Islands swim team’s journey at the 2023 Pacific Games in Honiara, Solomon
Islands, has been nothing short of remarkable. The two swimmers and the
management team returned home with seven medals and two games records, a
testament to their hard work and determination. Australian-based swimmer Wesley
Roberts became the first Cook Islander to set a Pacific Games record – two
records at the Solomon Islands Games. The 26-year-old secured his and the
country’s first gold medal with a time of 3 minutes 58.41 seconds in a closely
contested and intense final in the 400m freestyle.
added a bronze medal to his tally in the men’s 200-metre individual medley,
clocking in at 2:09.81 minutes. He then shattered the 100-metre freestyle
record for men, which had stood since 2015. He clocked a blistering 50.05
seconds in the final, showcasing his exceptional speed and skill. On the same
night he competed in the 50m men’s butterfly final where he managed silver
medal after finishing the race in 24.86 seconds. In his final race, Roberts
secured another gold medal – his second at the Games – in the 200-metre
freestyle and set another record of 1.49.78 minutes, surpassing the 2007 record
of 1.50.27 mins set by Pacific Games legend Ryan Pini.
who is focused on representing the Cook Islands at the next Olympic Games, also
made her mark at the Pacific Games. She claimed two medals, a gold and a
silver, in her debut appearances. She won gold in the 50-metre breaststroke for
women and silver in the 100-metre breaststroke.
forfeits playoff matches
Islands football men’s and women’s football teams were asked by their governing
body to forfeit their playoff matches at the Pacific Games without the
knowledge of Team Cook Islands management. The Pacific Games Council will not
take any action against the Cook Islands Football Association for forfeiting
its final matches at the Pacific Games in Honiara, Solomon Islands.
Islands Sports and National Olympic Committee (CISNOC) lauded Team Cook Islands
for their victories and dedication at the Pacific Games in Honiara, Solomon
Islands. CISNOC secretary general Owen Lewis in a message to the athletes on
the Cook Islands Sports Facebook page said that despite the challenges they
faced they managed to secure 18 medals in a difficult playing condition. Team
Cook Islands won five gold, three silver, and 10 bronze medals at this year’s
Games. Swimmer Wesley Roberts also set two Pacific Games records at the event.
At the 2019 Pacific Games in Samoa, Cook Islands won 18 medals, including five
gold, five silver, and eight bronze medals.
The target this year was 25 medals.
Winners of the Open Women’s - V6 18km, Cook Islands, Te Tupu O Te Manava club, Team Maroro. 22112005
blazes through Round Raro Relay
Vaka Eiva concluded with the exhilarating Round Raro Relay, a 36-kilometre race
where paddlers navigated challenging sea conditions to reach the finish line. New
Zealand’s Makoha recorded the fastest time in the V6 Round Rarotonga Relay 36km
The men’s champions Nikao Black Wolves. Back row (left to right) - Teokoitu Pana, Harison Toni Piira, Pita Ravarua, Deacon Teapa, Wayken Punga and Pati Ataera. Front row (left to right): Melody Melota, Teaute Ravarua, Tomoare Pana, Samuela Vai Peua and Tim Paero Anker. SUPPLIED/23121211
New champions crowned
Black Wolves and Turangi Young Guns won the men’s and women’s Rarotonga T20
Cookie Sadaraka Cup at Nikao Field and Turangi Oval.
WAKA makes third time the charm in Rarotonga
netball team from Australia won the 2023 Netball in Paradise mixed division. WAKA
president Mo Hosea said this was their third year participating in the
tournament, with their teams having previously lost the mixed division grand
final in each of the past two years.
Islands soar in rugby league
Islands men climbed three spots to number 10 in the world in the latest
International Rugby League rankings. Previously ranked 13th, Cook Islands is now placed
ahead of the likes of Serbia, Italy, Wales, Scotland and others. The Cook
Islands Moana, who also competed in the World Cup and Pacific Championship,
retained their sixth spot.
Senior Women’s Knockout Final of the Rarotonga Football Season bore witness to
a spectacle that was nothing short of extraordinary. The women of Matavera-Ngatangiia Football Club
(MNFC) shattered the glass ceiling and etched their names in the history books,
clinching a victory that has been decades in the making. Tupapa won the men’s
title. In the Round Cup women’s division, Avatiu made history by winning the
title for the first time while Tupapa claimed the men’s competition.