Local flavour for Cook Islands' 50th independence anniversary
The formal celebrations to mark the upcoming 50th independence anniversary in the Cooks Islands will take on a more local flavour.
The upcoming independence celebrations in the Cooks Islands will take on a much more local flavour than would have been seen 50 years ago.
The chair of the anniversary organising committee says in a departure from the British style of recognising the constitution, many of the old protocols will be replaced with an island style ceremony.
Bridget Tunnicliffe asked Nick Henry how the anniversary preparations are going.
NICK HENRY: They're actually going very well and particularly from outside of the Cook Islands. All of those Cook Islanders residing throughout New Zealand and Australia are extremely excited to be coming home for Te Maeva Nui which is the July-August ceremony and this is going to be three weeks of just fantastic carnival atmosphere. So I'm absolutely looking forward to it and seeing all of our outer islander families coming in to Rarotonga. It's just going to be a fantastic opportunity for families to get together again and celebrate our 50th year.
BRIDGET TUNNICLIFFE: Do you have any idea of numbers, like how many people, visitors you're expecting from New Zealand and Australia?
NH: From NZ and Australia the numbers are just over 600 that we've got confirmed, Cook Islanders coming home, and from around the outer islands it's 1087.
BT: So you're going to have potentially about 1700 extra folk in the centre there, is the city going to be able to cope with that number?
NH: Yeah no problem. On average we have 2500 visitors a day in the Cook Islands, in Rarotonga, so yeah, no problem. But we have had to make extra effort because most of our families coming home will be staying in the hostels, some of them will be in the schools. We're putting up temporary bathrooms and kitchens and we've got refrigerated containers being plugged in at various locations to help with all the frozen goods that will be coming in from the outer islands as well. It's going to be a huge time of eating and singing and dancing.
BT: So about three weeks of celebration. Is there going to be one day in particular that will be the focal point which it all culminates in?
NH: Yes Bridget, the 4th of August is the day when the constitution was formally recognised, in fact it was my grandfather who was the leader of the country at that time, in 1965. It's going to be a very special moment for a whole lot of people, many of whom were there on that day. We will also be having the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Mr John Key, will be at that ceremony and it's going to be, I'll let a little bit, of the cat out of the bag, it's going to be a very different constitution ceremony than we've ever had.
BT: In what sort of sense?
NH: Well a lot of the protocols are going to be changed as we look forward to the next 50 years so it'll be a lot more Cook Island style than British, Westminster, formal style of recognising our constitution.
The chair of the anniversary organising committee, Nick Henry.
The celebrations kick-off on July 23 and culminate on August 4, when the constitution was formally recognised.
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