A group of over 40 Rarotongan students from an environmental advocacy group learn about the lifestyle of the Atiu people and share their knowledge.
Jacky Longo, executive member of Correro O Te Orau Co., said he wants the project to be long-term.
Rarotonga students participated in a variety of activities including local fishing, cultural programs, educational sessions, pig hunting and freediving.
“We saw this as an opportunity to bring young people from Rarotonga to Atiu to collaborate and share information,” Longo said.
“So our young people will learn about Atiu, how it is done here, and the history that is done in the context of Atiu. What we bring is the scientific lessons that our students have learned.
“This is about teaching and sharing knowledge within the context of people. There are people who have a very broad and practical knowledge of
Longo said the organization has visited Aitutaki in the past, but this is the first time the program has worked so closely with young people on Atiu.
She said two youth mentors from Atiu, Joshua Jim and Maui Matakino, were teaching Rarotonga students how to live a self-sufficient life.
“They live traditional lives. Joshua is a planter and fisherman and works with many of the island elders,” Longo said.
“They have also worked with young people in Atiu to teach them healthy habits. It’s the way.”
Longo said the project is also working with climate change in the Cook Islands to gather more information about traditional fishing on the remote islands.
Korero O Te `Orau Inc had hosted a trip to Aitutaki before, but participant Reeana Aviu, 18, said this trip was better.
“I think this trip to Atiu went better than the trip to Aitutaki because I didn’t get to interact with the young people in Aitutaki. You can make new friends and learn from each other,” Aviu said.
“It’s really interesting to see the culture and traditions here and how it differs from Lalo’s life.”
Atiu participant Henry Mingi, 17, said he enjoyed the programme.
“We are learning new things every day,” Mingi said.
“I have made new friends with the children of Rarotonga. I have never participated in a program like this before, but I hope I can continue with it so that I can remember my ancestors.”
Participant Nuku Mahta, 15, said he learned a lot.
“They teach you a lot. In the last few days, I’ve learned what a fish looks like, how to make a trap, and eat crabs that’s right. I just realized that I really like crawfish,” Mahuta said.
Program leader Winton Harman, 21, said the experience was “amazing.”
“It’s interesting to see the dynamics of the children of Rarotongan and Atiu,” Herman said.
“This program is very important for children as it provides holistic learning through cultural and scientific experiences. Here they learn about Atiu culture through fishing and hunting, and science through Dr Teina Longo. I am also learning the aspect of
Marine biologist Dr. Teina Rongo, chairman of Kōrero O Te `Orau Inc, said the organization plans to visit Mangaia to conduct similar activities in the coming months.
“There will be tripartite knowledge sharing between the islands. That’s the long-term plan going forward,” he said.
- Additional report from Tiana Haxton of Kōrero O Te `Orau Inc