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A week of connections and learning on Mangaia

Saturday 21 January 2023 | Written by CI News Staff | Published in Environment, National

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A week of connections and learning on Mangaia
The groups arrived at Mangaia on January 9 for the week-long ‘Ātui'anga ki te Tango (AKTT) programme. Kōrero o te ‘Ōrau/23012017

Young Cook Islanders from Rarotonga and Atiu were joined by Mangaia students to strengthen their connection to their culture, environment, and traditional way of life.

Twenty students and leads from Rarotonga, 24 members from Atiu, and 12 students from Mangaia commenced the week-long ‘Ātui'anga ki te Tango (AKTT) programme on Monday, 9 January. The AKTT programme is run by local non-governmental organisation (NGO), Kōrero o te ‘Ōrau.

Kōrero o te `Ōrau, is an environmental NGO passionate about protecting Cook Islands Maori culture, environment, and natural resources of the nation. The groups name translates to “knowledge of the sky, land, and sea”.

The weeklong education trip was led by Dr Teina Rongo, chairperson of Kōrero O Te `Ōrau.


Weaving kikau hats on day two. Kōrero o te Ōrau/23012018/23012019

Upon their arrival on January 9, the three teams – AKTT Mangaia, AKTT Rarotonga and AKTT Atiu – were introduced to each other before they were divided into groups and rostered duties for the duration of their visit.  The Assemblies of God church provided mattresses for the students, who resided at ‘Āpi’i Mangaia for the week.

On day two – after the daily morning devotion – the participants took part in rangaranga (weaving) before practicing for the AKTT concert later in the week. The day ended with dinner hosted by Nice and Manea (a wedding group that had gone to Atiu in 2022) followed by evening devotion, and preparations for day three events.

Early morning unga (coconut crab) hunting started off day three, followed by morning exercise led by AKTT Rarotonga programme lead Nicolea Mateariki.  Breakfast followed, then participants were given a tour of Mangaia and its history by Papa Moekapiti Tangatakino. They also learnt about the famous geology of Mangaia, something AKTT students have known about for some time, and they got to see this first-hand. The evening ended with the AKTT concert practice.


Early morning unga (coconut crab) hunting started off day three. Kōrero o te ‘Ōrau/23012021

On day four, early morning unga hunting continued while some participants headed for goat hunting. After a morning activity (dance off), the participants attended a presentation from Bank of the Cook Islands before visiting the cave at Lake Tiriara. After lunch, they took part in volleyball competition and got their hands dirty with kumara and maniota weeding. The day ended with a well-earned swim at the harbour followed by practice for AKTT concert.

After their morning activity of reef gleaning (‘angota), day five saw presentation from Dr Rongo on youth issues followed by traditional games. The lunch was hosted by Tui Atiu followed by a volleyball competition. The Papatua family hosted the group for dinner.

On day six, pig hunting and ‘angota dominated the morning activities followed by the completion of the volleyball competition. Lunch was hosted by the Mormon Church. The much anticipated AKTT concert was held later in the evening and participants took turns to show their talents to the amusement of local residents.


Participants study the history and geography of Mangaia. Kōrero o te ‘Ōrau/23012024

The trip concluded on Sunday, January 15 with a visit to CICC Church Mangaia who hosted the group for lunch, the Apostolic Church who hosted the team for dinner, and prizegiving at the end of the evening with devotion, prayer and hugs wrapping up the week-long programme.  

Participants returned to their respective islands on Monday after a full-on week of connections and learning.

When asked what they enjoyed the most about the trip, Tony Ruaau Robert of AKTT Rarotonga said: “I like to learn about my culture and also take part in the fun activities as well as going to taro patch and playing volleyball as a team. It’s like a family coming together.”


A visit to Lake Tiriara. Kōrero o te ‘Ōrau/23012025

Joseph Porio, 15, of AKTT Atiu said: “I like playing sports especially volleyball and learning about discipline and how to respect others. I took part in sports, dancing, cultural activities and modelling, and it helped build my confidence.”

Teata Tiro, 14, of AKTT Mangaia said: “The reason I joined this was to get out of the house to meet new people and learn more about the island. The highlight was creating a bond between the three islands of Rarotonga, Atiu and Mangaia and learning each other’s culture.”

Kōrero O Te `Ōrau would like to acknowledge the Ministry of Agriculture, Nia Tero, GEF Small Grants Programme, Bank of the Cook Islands, Vodafone Cook Islands and Synchronicity Earth for their support. The group also thanked the three pillars of society – Numangatini Ariki and the aronga mana, the various church leaders and groups, and the island government who supported the team while on Mangaia.

Kōrero O Te `Ōrau

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