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Students share their enviro concerns with authorities

Friday 31 March 2023 | Written by Al Williams | Published in Education, National


Students share their enviro  concerns with authorities
Tereora College student Ngatupuna Kae addresses those gathered on biodiversity. PHOTO: AL WILLIAMS/ 23033002

There was robust debate as Tereora College students tackled the question of whether the environment is well protected for future generations.

The students were joined by the National Environment Service (NES) and various heads of government departments at the college yesterday including Agriculture, Marine Resources, To Tatou Vai, Climate Change Cook Islands and Infrastructure Cook Islands in what was at times a humorous display of public speaking.

Tereora College partnered with NES to launch the National Environment Policy 2022-32 following Cabinet approval in January.

The launch was a speech and debate competition by Year 13 students, designed to engage with youth and hear their perspective on the plans to protect the environment.

Six students were each tasked with delivering speeches on given topics including land, marine, biodiversity, water, air and climate and waste.

Their debating skills were then put to the test when they were split into teams of three to argue for and against whether our environment is well protected for future generations.

Tuaorua Puna took the top prize for the best speech as pressed ahead with the topic of water and had the audience in laughter at times with his candid delivery.

The negative team won the prize for the debate as they combined forces to push their agenda over the winning line.  

Tereora College principal Teremoana Ngaau, delivered welcoming remarks and was followed by an opening speech by the Minister of Environment, Albert Nicholas.

Nicolas called for stronger collaboration and participation of key stakeholders in addressing environmental issues.

Johnjones Elia, Head of Science at Tereora College, expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to host the launch event.

Elia said: “It was an honour to host this event, and I am proud of our students for their hard work and dedication to protecting our environment. They have demonstrated that they are well-tuned in their environment goals and are ready to take action.”

Halatoa Fua, NES director, acknowledged the support from key Government agencies that showed support of the initiative.

He thanked the judges, Secretary of Finance Garth Henderson, Ministry of Education Secretary Danielle Cochrane, and Koutu Nui and NGO representative Imogen Ingram, along with agency heads.   

Each participating student was offered a school holiday internship with various departments.

Fua acknowledged the hard work from Tereora College in preparing the students, despite a busy start to the year.

“May I thank Teremoana Ngaau, Johnjones Elie and Rauhina Tipuna for your dedication and time allocated for this launch.

“A big meitaki maata to our six students who delivered an exceptional presentation today.”

The National Environment Policy 2022-32 is a comprehensive plan to protect the environment and ensure the sustainable use of natural resources for the next decade.

It outlines specific goals and objectives for land, water, biodiversity, marine, air and climate change, and waste, and sets out a roadmap for achieving these goals.