Pa Enua schools turn trash into treasure in Sanitarium Creative Art Competition
Saturday 2 December 2023 | Written by webmaster | Published in
Araura College with a roll number of 221, chose the pig and kota’a to represent their island, highlighting the cultural significance of these animals in various ceremonial events. 23112904
Students in the Pa Enua demonstrated their artistic prowess by designing sculptures from recycled Sanitarium product packaging in the Sanitarium Creative Art Schools Competition, facilitated by the Cook Islands Trading Corporation (CITC).
from the northernmost atoll of Penrhyn, Tetautua School emerged victorious,
claiming the first prize of $1200 for their captivating one-metre-long “tavake”
bird sculpture, which now proudly adorns the school’s foyer.
Seven schools participated in the competition
including Omoka School, also in Penrhyn, the Aitutaki schools of Araura College
and Apii Vaitau, Apii Enuamanu in Atiu, Apii Mangaia, and Apii Mauke, who each
received $800 as consolation prizes. A total of $6000 in cash prizes was offered
The competition centred on the theme of “Te Au Manu
Puapinga o Toku Matakeinanga/Enua” – the nation’s cultural theme for the year,
which highlights the importance of animals and birds of their respective tribes
Jane Wichman, CITC sales manager, said the competition
provided a platform for schools to express their creativity and cultural pride.
Each sculpture reflected the respective island’s
cultural diversity exploring their creativity using Sanitarium packaging to
represent the chosen theme.
In acknowledging the dedication and creativity of the
participating schools, the project not only showcased the artistic talent in
the Pa Enua, but also fostered a spirit of cultural celebration and community
The sculptures stand as lasting symbols of the vibrant
artistic spirit thriving in the Pa Enua educational institutions.
Apii Napa, principal of both Penrhyn Schools – Omoka
and Tetautua, said the unique competition offered the opportunity to give back
to a corporation that had been generous to both their schools, “CITC has been
generous in sponsoring our annual prize giving awards.”
She said Omoka and Tetautua schools embarked on the
planning and construction of their sculptures during Term 3, reaching out to
homes for the collection of Sanitarium packaging.
“As you can see, yes we do get to eat Weetbix and
cereal here in the north,” said Napa.
Tetautua School had the expertise of teacher aide
Raewyn Biggs Taia, a renowned artist in Cairns, Australia, to assist with their
Napa explained that the tavake bird is featured on the
Tetautua School monogram, which is why it was chosen for the sculpture.
Interwoven mesh and wire were expertly crafted to
bring the tavake sculpture to life, a collaborative effort involving all 10
students and their dedicated teachers, Moehano Takai and Raewyn Taia.
Napa said she was both proud and overwhelmed that
Tetautua School, the smallest school in the Pa Enua, had won best sculpture,
and that Omoka School was recognised alongside the other schools from the
“I’m humble, proud and grateful since Penrhyn schools
were the only entries from the north.
“For us this was also our way of giving back to a
“It is important to make connections and build
relationships through networks with these industries that support school’s right
around our country,” she said.
Tetautua School’s sculpture pays homage to the
abundant “tavake” seabirds found in their island, particularly in the
uninhabited motu surrounding Penrhyn.
Recognised by its red tail, these bird’s nest and
thrive in the vast lagoon, and are the inspiration of their monogram and motto:
‘Kia Mau te Serenga’ (to hold on firmly) and ‘Kia Mau te Napenga’ (hold with
all your might and never let go).
Omoka School’s sculpture the “poe pipi” also features
on their school monogram.
“Poe pipi is a beautiful gem found in Penrhyn waters
and adorned by all Tongareva men and women,” said Napa.
With an enrolment of 52 students, all senior students
from Years 7 to 10 at Omoka School contributed to the tavake project.
Omoka School had more recycled resources since Napa
had kept all their Sanitarium breakfast packaging from 2021, repurposing some
to hold resources such as school journals.
“However, this competition got the best out of these
boxes and with my senior students, we were able to create our sculpture in a
of Aitutaki had two schools, Apii Vaitau and Araura College, taking part in the
Apii Vaitau Primary with a roll number of 75, highlighted
the kuramo’o bird also known as the Blue Nun which is unique to Aitutaki.
The kuramo’o has vibrant colours which resemble a
nun's outfit, but in shades of blue.
It is often found in banana, coconut, and guava trees,
and delights in feasting on coconut flowers and banana nectar.
Araura College with a roll number of 221, chose the
pig and kota’a to represent their island, highlighting the cultural
significance of these animals in various ceremonial events.
Pigs play a vital role in celebrations like birthdays
and weddings, while the kota’a serves as an environmental indicator, signalling
weather changes and abundant fish in the lagoon.
Atiu’s Apii Enuamanu with a roll number 87 crafted their
“Atiu Bird” sculptures by repurposing discarded Sanitarium items like soy milk
caps and Weetbix cartons.
The sculpture connects to Atiuan traditions and
culture, focussing on the preservation of the island’s bird species.
Under the guidance Sera Naiyaga and the teacher
assistants, the Year 7-8 pupils brought to life Atiu’s emblematic birds.
Symbolising bravery, tradition, and culture, the
sculpture reflects Atiu’s identity as the “Island of Birds”, also emphasising
environmental preservation through creative recycling.
The kopeka (Atiu Swiftlet) was crafted by Melvina
Tamata, Nadia Kura, and Kerekere Samuels; the ngotare bird was created by Jaml
Tipoki, Matamanea, Kamel Matapakia and Keziah Wichman; and the pigeon bird project
was brought to life by Year 7 students Tumaru, Logan Etches, and Aleccia
Mangaia School, which has a roll number of 131
students, featured a sculpture of local free-range chickens celebrating their maintenance-free
nature, self-sufficiency, and abundance on the island.
The artwork underscores the practicality and
accessibility of local chickens compared to commercially available options.
Apii Mauke with a roll number 46 chose a “boar” as
their important animal, reflecting its integral role in the traditional investiture
of chiefs on the island.
The boar signifies celebration and is a central
element in the island’s feasts and gatherings, showcasing its cultural significance
in Mauke’s traditions.