Tupuna Rakanui, Te-O-Tari-Kura o te Are Ariki (Clerk) of the House of Ariki and former Clerk of Parliament. PHOTO: CI NEWS.
A special service at the Atupare Marae will be held today to honour the arrival of New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta.
The Minister is scheduled to arrive at Rarotonga
Airport about 4pm, and then arrive at the Marae just before 5pm.
House of Ariki clerk Puna Rakanui said the event had
been several months in the planning.
“It’s great she’s finally coming here, we had been
planning for her to arrive earlier this year,” Rakanui said.
“Mahuta has got strong connections to the Cook Islands
The event will also include representatives from
Aitutaki, along with students from Takamoa College.
‘We’re hoping to get about 30 representatives from
Aitutaki for the event, but that will depend on how many have commitments with
the Cook Islands Games at the moment,” Rakanui said.
“We’re also looking forward to seeing how the Minister
reacts to the occasion.”
“It’s the chance for us to celebrate the Cook
Islands,” Rakanui said.
Rakanui said it was an opportunity to strengthen ties
between Cook Islands and New Zealand.
“In 2015, the house of Airki made a visit to New
Zealand, and met with 15 different iwi,” he said.
“It was a very special experience, and we’re hoping
tomorrow will continue that bond between the House of Ariki and New Zealand
Mahuta is also Māori Development Minister, which
Rakanui said was important in terms of also strengthening indigenous ties
between the Pacific Islands and New Zealand.
“I’m very much looking forward to meeting her.
“The last time we had a New Zealand Government
Minister visit was when New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern came about a
year or so ago.”
Adern also visited the Marae.
“We hope the Minister enjoys her time in the Cook
Islands, although we appreciate her time will be very busy.”
On Thursday, the Minister has a busy schedule, which
includes a visit to Rarotonga Hospital, a bilateral visit with Cook Islands
Prime Minister Mark Brown which includes the signing of the statement of
partnership between New Zealand and the Cook Islands, a visit to the
Te Mato Vai project and to the Te Mana o te Vaka Project at the Tavioni Gallery.