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Working Professionally with Children and Youth in Care
CYC-Online Issue 113 JULY 2008 / CONTENTS / BACK
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From the Cook Islands

Kia Orana from out “time out” transition in paradise between Auckland and Los Angeles. It rained all week, so I don’t feel too guilty. Several images have been floating around my head about the Cook Islands for this month’s postcard. Each image offered something new to think about for child and youth care workers – anywhere. Think about a new child and youth care metaphor: If one misses the bus first time around, try going the other way!

The clockwise and the anti-clockwise buses circulate hourly

Airlines fly into Avarua, the principal town of Rarotonga, biggest of the Cook Islands, a self-governing parliamentary democracy in free association with New Zealand. The fifteen small islands in this South Pacific Ocean country have a total land area of 240 square kilometres (92.7 sq. mi). The Cook Islands Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) covers 1.8 million square kilometres (0.7 million sq miles) of ocean.

Walk along the road, anywhere around Rarotonga and one becomes acquainted with the tipuna – ancestors or elder relatives who have passed away. Their remains lie beside ancestral homes. Memorial stones are unveiled and roofs erected to keep Nanny and Papa dry during torrential rains or when typhoons blow through the islands now and again. Isn’t that an interesting child and youth care metaphor? Keep the teachings of our elders near to us, acknowledge their daily influence in our lives.

Whanaungatanga (Maintaining ties – keeping family together)

The Weather Rock

The main population centres are on the island of Rarotonga (c.10,000) where there is an international airport. The largest population of Cook Islanders live in New Zealand, particularly in the North Island. In the 2006 census, 58,008 self-identified as being of ethnic Cook Island Maori descent. We chuckled upon finding the Weather Rock and the weather report explanations. The Weather Rock was wet most of the time we were there, and one occasion it was both wet and swinging. That was the day we went for a 3-hour dune buggy excursion and did wheelies in the mud! Another child and youth care metaphor. No matter what age, kids love to play “the wetter and muddier the better!

The wetter and muddier the better!

A major highlight of any week on Rarotonga has to be the Avarua Saturday Market where locals meet visitors and others on the island. Anywhere there is food, music and entertainments, there one will find children and young people taking it all in. Time spent catching up with mates; family time; inter-generational time: all highlighting another child and youth care metaphor: Hanging out with mates is what young people do; they respond when you’re hanging in and hanging out with them!

Youths hanging out at the Avarua Saturday Market

Time flies by quickly, especially when you’re having fun! No sooner had we arrived in Rarotonga than we were getting back onto an airplane for our flight into culture shock – Los Angeles. How about another metaphor for child and youth care? Like shift work fatigue, travel fatigue is real! Don’t you forget it! Try the Cook Islands!

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