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Cook Islands youths on Arctic voyage

Tuesday 23 May 2023 | Written by Losirene Lacanivalu | Published in Environment, Features, National, Travel, Weekend

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Cook Islands youths on Arctic voyage
Kōrero o te 'Ōrau's 'Ātui'anga ki te Tango students Siana Whatarau and Winton Herman at the Auckland Airport on their way to London yesterday. They are part of the Peace Boat US voyage through the Arctic. SUPPLIED/23052204

Two Cook Islanders are on a voyage that they never imagined they would take in their lifetime.

The Kōrero o te 'Ōrau's 'Ātui'anga ki te Tango students Siana Whatarau and Winton Herman will be sailing on the Peace Boat US through the Arctic for the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science’s Youth Sustainable Development programme.

They are sailing from London to Norway and on to Iceland. They are part of the 11-youth team selected from the United States, New Zealand, Panama, Argentina, Japan, Palau, Poland and Saint Lucia.

Yesterday, Whatarau and Herman arrived in Hong Kong for a brief stopover before making their way to London.

Speaking from Hong Kong, Whatarau said she was very excited to be joining the voyage and to be one of two Cook Islands youth representatives in this programme.

“There are only 11 youths in total so I think it is awesome that the Cook Islands has two spots. I think that’s a reflection that Pacific youth are doing a lot to lead initiatives to achieve the SDGs (sustainable development goals).”

Whatarau said they will be participating in a lot of marine science activities during this programme. She hopes to be better equipped and boost her capacity in marine science when she returns.

“I hope to share a youth perspective of the issues we have at home on a global platform. I think this will also be a great opportunity for Winton and I to make connections and partnerships that can help us do great things back home,” she added.

Herman said this will be a journey of a lifetime, an amazing experience and an even better opportunity to broaden his horizons and to upskill.

“I’m happy to represent the Cook Islands on an international scale and will definitely bring the island spirit to the cold Arctic. Kia orana and Kia manuia. This is the way.”

The pair have thanked their families and friends, Kōrero o te 'Ōrau and National Environment Service (NES) for their support.

Meanwhile the Peace Boat US voyage begins in London where they will study marine life and learn how to document wildlife with the whale alert app as part of their citizen science programmes on board.

They will also learn about the Hope Spots around the world, research Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and the positive impact they have on our marine ecosystems.