New Zealand’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Rt. Hon. Winston Peters, and the Minister for Health and Pacific Peoples Hon. Dr Shane Reti, together with Hon. George Angene the Minister for the Punanga Nui Market and Hon. Albert Nicholas the Minister for the Cook Islands Investment Corporation unveiled the signboard and turned the soil yesterday for the new Te Tapora Kai, or Grassroots Farmers and Crafts Building at the Punanga Nui Market.
Hon Albert Nicholas’s speech at this event is provided below;
Kia orana tatou katoatoa.
- Members of the RAC
- Ui Ariki, Aronga Mana
- Makea Vakatini Ariki represented by Nooroa Teina
- Makea Karika Ariki
- Uirangi Mataiapo Lefou Jack
- Cook Islands Government
- Minister for Punanga Nui Market – George Angene
- Other members of Cabinet
- Key officials
- Members of the Cook Islands Infrastructure Fund Committee
- NZ High Commission
- CIIC Board of Directors and CEO
- Members of the Cook Islands Infrastructure Fund Committee
- Vendors present, to our stalwarts of the market, our lovely mamas, and papas our market vendors here today – members of Te Are Pa Metua
- Our People and the local community
- New Zealand Delegation
- Rt Hon Winston Peters, Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade
- Hon Dr Shane Reti, Minister for Pacific Peoples and Health
- New Zealand High Commissioner Her Excellency Tui Dewes
- Various officials, delegates, and media personnel
I am proud to be standing here to welcome you to the Cook Islands, and to your first official engagement in-country since forming Government.
My fellow ministers and I extend a warm Kia Orana to you all.
Allow me first to share something personal with you all and that is our special turou and welcome to you here today, Minister Winston Peters.
It is well known Winston, that you have been and are a dear and close friend to the Cook Islands, spanning many decades.
This friendship has developed over many years, and grown stronger throughout your remarkable tenures, holding various Ministerial Portfolios, since you entered New Zealand’s Parliament in the late 1970s.
We need to acknowledge your truly remarkable service to Aotearoa New Zealand, and as we say here, Meitaki Maata no taau tauturu i toou iti tangata i toou tuatau i roto i te Paramani o Aotearoa.
Our friendship is based on shared values and culture. It dates back to a shared lineage and is founded on mutual respect.
We know you feel the warmth of our hospitality, and we know this place holds a very special place in your heart.
Turou mai – welcome Winston, to you and to your team.
Let me now share with you a little bit about the Te Tapora Kai, Punanga Nui Market’s new Grassroots Farmers and Crafts Market
In November last year we officially launched the Te Tau Papa o Avarua Phase 1 project, and we unveiled project signboards with Her Excellency Tui Dewes. These signboards highlight the projects and improvements to be implemented here in Avarua over the next 12 months.
This project’s location is between the Avarua harbour at the east end of town, to the Panama cemetery on the western end of town.
These projects range from new buildings, to small yet impactful initiatives such as gardens, footpaths, outdoor furniture, tree works and many more.
At the launch in November last year, we spoke about the significance of the name Te Tau Papa o Avarua, which symbolises collective efforts to reinforce and enhance the landscape of Avarua for the well-being of future generations.
Her Excellency Tui Dewes spoke of the historic ties the New Zealand people have with the Market.
We acknowledged then, and today the tremendous contribution New Zealand has made towards creating a place for our mamas and papas to trade and earn a living.
Today we sit within the boundary of what will soon be a construction site for TE TĀPORA KAI – an important extension to the Punanga Nui Market.
Over the years the market has transformed into a place of trade for all grassroots individuals, small businesses and for our Non-Government Organisations. It is a place where we showcase Cook Islands food, arts, culture and who we are as Cook Islands people.
Throughout the week we have 50 vendors operating at the Market, selling their produce, goods, and services. On Saturdays we have more than 100.
The market is such a popular place for locals and tourists.
As you can see, it has outgrown its original footprint, and now we must extend it to keep up with demand, to provide more opportunities and to support grassroots-led economic development.
TE TĀPORA KAI, meaning one food basket containing many small baskets, is the name given to this new market extension.
It will cater for 70 vendors who will move from the car park into an undercover building. Rain or shine, the market can operate.
The Te Tau Papa o Avarua/the Avarua Town Plan and Te Tāpora Kai – Punanga Nui Market’s new Grassroots Farmers and Crafts Market is funded from the Infrastructure Trust Fund or ITF.
We are so appreciative of the initial $7.6m funding for the Avarua Town Plan.
We are also very grateful for funds set aside from New Zealand for Infrastructure and Climate Change.
Under the ITF, we have been able to get a few things underway, we have been able to replace critical Rarotonga Airport runway slabs, and we have been able to get this Avarua Town Plan off the ground.
We also have a number of projects being scoped and planned to be mobilsed with the support of the ITF including the Manihiki Airport, and the next phase of runway slabs to replace at Rarotonga Airport.
With regard to Climate Change funding, we have identified a number of initiatives for this funding to be directed to, including the Northern Group battery replacement, Aitutaki renewable energy stage 2, various water projects in the Pa Enua, Nassau Harbour, and cyclone centres.
These projects are being scoped and finalised, with the hope of getting these underway in the near future.
A challenge to us both, and let me emphasise this, we do need, both nations, on both sides, need to look at how we can mobilise these projects quicker.
There are many projects, which at times take too long to turn from concept to reality, something we can Winston, press with our officials on both sides, because unnecessary delays in mobilising these projects, results in lost opportunities to our iti tangata, to our people, in terms of reaping the fruits from these investments.
We also have many more projects, which we want to see turn into reality, and we are therefore humbling asking for your assistance to make available additional funding for infrastructure and climate change initiatives, here in the Cook Islands.
This pipeline of projects includes our new centralised government building project, Vaikapuangi, projects in and around our air and seaports, renewable energy projects, and the like.
We look forward to continued discussions to turn more of these projects into reality.
In closing, it is with great pride that I am privileged to be standing here today.
Meitaki maata to our distinguished Guests, to Aotearoa New Zealand for your funding assistance for this project and your broader assistance, meitaki maata to our religious and traditional leaders and our vendors.
Finally, I wish to extend my thanks and best wishes to the CIIC and PNM team and your contractors, in turning the plans for this farmers market into reality.
Kia orana e kia manuia.