Exciting times ahead as market makeover begins


Over the years, Punanga Nui Market has become a major focal point not only for locals, but visitors to Rarotonga.

It is a place to meet, eat, find a special treat and most of all, where livelihoods are made.

The public, visitors, and vendors both current and prospective, are expressing their desire to see the busy activity experienced on Saturdays replicated on other trading days so that it presents a viable opportunity to operate through the week. Equally, there has been ample feedback that the PNM has outgrown its physical layout and capacity; and for there to be focus on creating space for growth and opportunity, tapping into, and increasing the potential the market has to offer.

People will soon start seeing significant progress at the market, as stage 1 of Te Tau Papa o Avarua (Avarua Town Plan) Phase 1 Project gets underway. The Cook Islands Investment Corporation (CIIC) is dedicated to achieving a number of objectives for the Punanga Nui Market over the coming 18 months under the Te Tau Papa o Avarua Phase 1 project (TTPA), funded by Cook Islands Infrastructure Trust Fund (ITF). CIIC’s project team have been working tirelessly over the last year, in preparation for the commencement of works.

At a Vendors Meeting held on Monday 22 April over 70 attendees were provided an update on the Punanga Nui Market reorganisation plans and policy development. CIIC staff Alana Short, Sally Hosking-Naea, Bianca Herman and Anne Taoro gave an overview of the project objectives, presented the final design plan, timeline and what the future will look like after project completion.

The overall feeling about the changes to come is positive, vendors are looking forward to the benefits the work will bring for the market and its users. The project team were acknowledged for endeavouring to address the main concerns raised in previous consultations while others expressed reservations around the effectiveness of the updated layout and how it will work in specific circumstances. The project will continue to investigate the workability of the new layout for both vendors and customers, to identify and assess solutions.

There are exciting new changes on the horizon for the Punanga Nui Market!

Stage 1 of the market reorganisation plan is commencing, and successful completion of the plans are now confirmed for Terevete Park. The staged works program ensures there is a new premise for vendors to move in to before it is time to vacate the current one. Construction in Terevete Park commences with Te Tapora Kai that is expected to take 8 months for completion. Developments at Terevete Park will begin to progress significantly in coming months.

In parallel to the physical works progress is ongoing policy development and continuing key stakeholder consultations. This work is as important as the physical changes at the market. The team are now focussed on systematically working through a list of potentially affected vendors, for example some vendors will need to be moved to new locations within the market, to accommodate the markets new layout. The team is focussed on minimising disruptions to their businesses and supporting them through this transition period. Transitioning through these major changes and into a new future of operations is complex. The project has a robust Grievance Redress Mechanism in place to address project concerns, and more information is available on CIIC’s website.

CIIC CEO Allan Jensen says consultation and transparency has been crucial, while reinforcing what the objectives of the project are including making the market a more vibrant place, where everyone’s needs are catered for.

Punanga Nui Market assistant manager Christine Eldridge is driving a number of promotional initiatives on behalf of the PNM and says on the promotional side and coming soon, Punanga Nui Market will be running weekly draws to promote Eastern hut owners currently affected by the project work.

“Come dine or shop at any of these huts, print your name on the entry form and be in the draw to win prizes (prizes vary and will include free coffee, top ups, gift cards, and much more). Raffles will also be drawn every Saturday morning.”

In thanking the public for their patience, Mr Jensen added “the Punanga Nui Market is much visited by both locals and an overwhelming number of tourists, the work we are undertaking will only enhance their experiences.”

Additional notes:

PNM Stage 1 Developments at Taua Terevete

  1. A new, large, undercover, open-plan building called Te Tapora Kai to house 70+ grassroots vendors.
  2. An information hub connected to the eastern entrance of Te Tapora Kai will have an ATM machine, waiting area for public transport or taxis, a PNM office, and accessible toilets.
  3. A new building and location with ocean views and outdoor dining tables for the Maroro Hut vendors and their patrons
  4. A new accessible toilet block next to the Terevete pavilion.
  5. Construction of a promenade along the coastal fringe and a large carpark and connecting walkways

PNM Stage 2 Developments in the central main market area 

  1. Multiple playground options for families with children
  2. A central food court area for temporary setup/onsite cooking vendors to trade from in close vicinity of the east end permanent hut eateries.
  3. Retain and upgrade the Western Carpark for parking
  4. Provision of shaded areas and seating throughout the market
  5. Planting of new gardens and native trees.
  6. Installation of footpaths throughout the PNM to enable wheelchair access through the market and passed all vendors
  7. Installation of pedestrian crossings, allocate a bus pick up and drop off zone, implement one-way entry into the PNM and exit, reorganize parking to enhance pedestrian safety.

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