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Cook Islands teens home after Arctic journey

Tuesday 20 June 2023 | Written by Losirene Lacanivalu | Published in Education, Features, National, Weekend


Cook Islands teens home after Arctic journey
Kōrero o te 'Ōrau's 'Ātui'anga ki te Tango students Winton Herman and Siana Whatarau. SUPPLIED /23061619

The Kōrero o te 'Ōrau's 'Ātui'anga ki te Tango students Siana Whatarau and Winton Herman have arrived home safely from their Arctic journey.

The Cook Islands teenagers sailed on the Peace Boat US through the Arctic for the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science’s Youth Sustainable Development programme.

They represented the country on an Arctic expedition among 11 other youths.

The duo became youth ambassadors for the Blue Planet Alliance with the goal to get island countries to transition to renewable energy.

They started their programme with visits to London and Tilbury in the United Kingdom and Andalsnes and Tromso in Norway.

Read more:

> Cook Islands teens on Arctic expedition see puffins for the first time

> Cook Islands youths on Arctic voyage  

Speaking to Cook Islands News, Whatarau said: “Our last three stops were Reykjavik in Iceland, Akureyri in Iceland and Svalbard in Norway.”

“We’ve learnt a lot including how Iceland is almost 100 per cent run on renewable energy since the 1970s.”

She said they have seen whales and dolphins feeding in the Arctic Circle.

“Something we don’t really see in the Pacific because they usually migrate from the Pacific after breeding and not to eat.”

Whatarau said they then went to the University of Svalbard to learn about oceanography and climate studies in the Arctic and how climate change in the Arctic affects the rest of the world.

Winton, in a post on the Kōrero o te 'Ōrau Facebook page, said: “This was an excellent opportunity to showcase the Cook Islands on an international stage in the far regions of the North. I am grateful for all the support from everyone, Kōrero o te 'Ōrau and to Peace Boat US for giving us this opportunity to represent our small country. I wanted to showcase the work that we do in the climate and marine space and I think we did that well.”

Whatarau said: “I really wanted to bring our traditional knowledge to the stage on this voyage and I think between myself and Winton we did a really good job communicating this in the programme in our different ways. I hope, if anything, we were able to show that even though we come from small places, we can be leaders in the climate and marine space, even as youth. Cook Islands to the world!”