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Prime Minister’s Address – 6 September 2020

Kia Orana to you all and thank you for your attention this evening.  To those of you fortunate enough to have made the journey home on Friday, I welcome you all and trust you have settled in safe and well.  I’d like to take this opportunity to provide an update on the ongoing threat of the coronavirus, and our national efforts to keep COVID-19 from our shores.

First, I want to lend my support to all of you who may be struggling with the pressures of hardship and loss, and to extend the hand of encouragement and reassurance that we will continue to provide as much assistance as is practicable in the weeks ahead, to face our challenges together.

Scripture reminds us: “The Lord is close to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit”.  We can therefore take comfort knowing that He is with us, to heal our broken hearts and to bind up our wounds.  All we need do is continue to place our faith and trust in our Lord and Saviour.

Over the course of the past 8 months, the affliction of the coronavirus pandemic has cost many countries around the world very dearly.  The spread of COVID-19 and the far-reaching impacts of the disease continues to take lives, bringing tragedy to families, workers, students, the elderly, and those on the frontline of this battle – especially doctors, nurses, and health practitioners everywhere, who are putting their lives on the line for every one of us, every day.

Sadly, we know all too well just how closely this virus can hit home with the loss last week of Dr Joe Williams.  Dr Joe – or just Papa Joe to many – embodied everything a Cook Islander could aspire to be – all that could be achieved, with all the success that was possible, by working tirelessly in the service of others.  Tending to those in need.  Helping them.  Pioneering healthy solutions for our people, the broader Pacific community, and indeed the whole world, and applying the hands of the healer that he was.

When it was his turn to be healed, we added our prayers to the hands of those in charge of his care.  We prayed for the might of God to step in:  to place in the Hands of the Lord what we couldn’t do, so that comfort would come with His purpose.

As a people and as a country, we pray now for his eternal rest in peace, for his wife and family, and in memory of the life he gave.

Dr Joe Williams’ full and busy life truly was a life of service and dedication – an unrelenting service to his people, and an unwavering dedication to their welfare.  He pushed himself constantly to find new and better ways for us to live healthier lives, and ultimately gave his own life to it.  

In doing so, Dr. Joe has shown us just how committed we must be, how steadfast we must remain, and how much perseverance we must endure, to secure our collective health and safety.

Dr. Joe himself would be heartened by our resolve, to uphold those principles and values he stood and worked for, throughout his professional life and leadership.  Today, we honour him and all Fathers, on this special day of remembrance. 

Among those I wish to honour and pay respect to this evening is a former colleague and good friend, Nandi Glassie, who sadly lost his own battle this week, leaving a legacy of service to his people and our national community. 

Nandi upheld the voices of the people of Atiu as a Member of Parliament, and was a former Minister of Health, who also contributed significantly to the advancement of our professional services and care. 

He was a dedicated professional himself, having gained broad recognition in New Zealand for his service to Manukau City, alongside former Mayor Sir Barry Curtis, before moving back home permanently, many years ago.

Irrespective of his political affiliation here at home, Nandi continued the path of dedication and service set by Dr Joe and others before him.  We honour them all.

For those who are no longer with us, and to all the Fathers who strive to provide for their loved ones every day, we extend best wishes and the fondest of memories.

Unfortunately, some of our families will also be celebrating Father’s Day under conditions of quarantine, having just arrived home from New Zealand.  And while we wish you a happy occasion, in paying special attention to your respective fathers, there is an important responsibility to uphold in the days ahead.

Seven months ago, as borders began to close, our community responded favourably and very quickly, to the demands associated with protecting our population from the coronavirus.   Timely decisions and swift action resulted in prompt steps, to provide the legal framework and structures to respond urgently to the virus threat, internally, and from outside of our border.

Key factors have been at stake right from the word go.  As a nation, small though we are, it was vital that we act together, for the health and welfare of us all.  We’ve been in this together from the start, and we shall remain together throughout this ordeal.  

Secondly, the need for patience and vigilance has been a tough call, but an absolutely necessary one.  Abiding by certain measures regarding our mobility, and leisure, has been excellent overall.  We cannot and must not lose sight of the need to be patient and vigilant.

Thirdly, we all recognise how vulnerable our population is – from our very young to the elderly.   Those of us less fortunate and in need of special care, socially and medically, are at risk and must be catered for with the appropriate protection.

To assist us all in the preservation of our health and safety, Frontline professionals, particularly Te Marae Ora and the Police Service, have an overarching supervisory role when it comes to maintaining rules and regulations, associated with quarantine and mobility.  

For the current purposes of those who are quarantined at various domestic and other locations around Rarotonga, it is important that every effort is made to cooperate with your designated Puna Representatives, who are monitoring your compliance with quarantine.

The risk to our country is ever present while the virus threat persists at our door, right outside our border.  Each time that someone crosses our border, the nature and degree of that risk changes, and we must be vigilant about the measures we have put in place.  An emergency level response is not something I want to declare.  Please exercise care and keep to the conditions that have been prescribed for you as a quarantine subject, a family member, a neighbour or friend, or just as a member of the public.

Should our authorities be required to step up their duties of supervisory control, I am pleased to say they are all appropriately equipped to do so, with Personal Protection Equipment – or PPE. 

Te Marae Ora is now in receipt of substantial supplies of the necessary protective equipment, including masks and other gear. 

Absolute safety for everybody, especially those in proximity to any danger or threat is paramount, and we have designated special locations and measures, to cope with any breaches or unlawful behaviour.

Such conditions or harsh measures ought not to happen here, as our community has proven time and time again that we can come together and keep each other safe.  Let us continue to uphold that responsibility together.  With our resolve to work together, and persevere together, the Cook Islands can, and will stay safe from harm.

Above all, our faith should stand firm on knowing “that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”.

Kia Orana e Kia Manuia.

Kia Orana kotou katoatoa I te aroa maata o te Atua, te oronga atu nei au I toku reo akameitakianga kia kotou e akarongorongo mai nei I taku karere I teia aiai.  To tatou au taeake tei oki mai ki te ipukarea I teia Varaire I topa, turou, oro mai.  Te irinaki nei au kua maru to kotou rereanga mai, kua tae mai kotou mate maroiroi, e te akangaroi meitaki mai ra kotou.

Te oronga atu nei au I toku reo akamaroiroi kia kotou tei rokoia I te  tumatetenga e te manamanata, te o’ora atu nei au I toku rima ei tauturu ia kotou, mate akapapu atu e ka vai ta matou tauturu no teia tuatau e tu mai nei, ia tatou e aaere kapipiti nei mate tamaki atu I teia au manamanata I mua ia tatou.

Te akamaara mai nei te tuatua tika a te Atua kia tatou “Te vaitata nei a Iehova I te aronga ngakau paruparu ra; e te akaora nei aia I te aronga ngakau taitaia”.

Kia pumaana tatou, e te noo vaitata mai nei aia kia tatou, ka akameitaki aia I to tatou ngakau e ka rapakau I to tatou mamae.  Kia vai to tatou irinakianga ki roto I to tatou Atu.”

I teia au marama I topa, ko te kino tei akatupuia e te maki korona, kua riro ei akapouanga maata ki te au basileia takapini I teia nei ao.  Ko te totoa’anga o te maki Kotiviti e te au manamanata tana I akatupu e mea rikarika te reira, mei te au tangata e mate mate nei, te tumatetenga I roto I te au kopu tangata, aronga angaanga, au tamariki apii, te au Metua pakari, e ratou tei mua I te mata o teia tamaki’anga koia te au taote, neti, aronga angaanga rapakau maki I te au ngai tuketuke, ratou tei akaatinga I to ratou ora’anga I te au ra ravarai, no tatou.

E mea maromaroa, no te mea kua kite tatou i te ririnui o teia maki me totoa mai aia e kua piri vaitata mai teia kia tatou, na roto I te takake atu’anga o te taote Joe Williams I teia epetoma. Ko te taote Joe me kare Papa Joe tei matauia e tatou I te iku – e toa tumanava aia tei riro ei tutu manea no tatou e te Kuki Airani – ko te au umuumu’anga te ka rauka na roto I te aruaru e te angaanga pakari e te tavini i te iti tangata.  Tauturu’anga ia ratou tei ngere. Raverave’anga ia ratou.  E kite kamaatu tona no te au ravenga rapakau maki ei tauturu i to tatou iti tangata, pera te au matakeinanga o te moana Pacifica, e kua oronga aia i tona rima ora ki te katoatoa.

Kia tae ki te tuatau ka anoano aia I te ora, kua pure pakari tatou no ratou tei riro ei tiaki e te akono iaia.  Kua pure tatou no te mana maata o te Atua kia tomo mai ki roto: kua tuku tatou ki roto I te rima o te Atua te au mea tei kore I rauka ia tatou I te rave, e kia aru katoa mai te vaerua akapumaana I tana ka rave.

Ko tatou te iti tangata Kuki Airani, e to tatou basileia katoatoa, kia pure tatou no tona akangaroi’anga mutukore, kia pure katoa tatou no tana vaine, pera tona kopu tangata mate akamaara I te oraanga tana I oronga mai.

Ko te oraanga o te taote Joe Williams e maata tikai tana au angaanga I rave, e oraanga puapinga te reira I te te tavini e te akaatinga’anga iaia no te tauturu atu i tona iti tangata, e te umuumuanga kia rauka tetai turanga rangatira no to tatou oraanga.  Kua timata pakari aia kia rauka tetai au ravenga ou e te meitaki no tatou kia matutu to tatou kopapa e to tatou ora’anga, taopenga mai kua riro ke atu tona ora’anga no tona inangaro maata I tetai ora’anga meitaki no tatou.

Kua riro ta te taote Joe I akaatinga, ei akaairi mai kia tatou, te turanga aruaru ka anoano’ia, kia vai ngaueuekore tatou, e kia tauta pakari noatu eaa te au timataanga, kia rauka te ora’anga meitaki e te ora’anga tau no te katoatoa.

Ka pumaana te taote Joe I ta tatou e umuumu nei, kia vai teia au irinaki’anga e te au vaerua puapinga tana i kauraro e tana i raverave I roto I tona ora’anga Pioro Kaapeape pera tona turanga Arataki. I teia ra te akangateitei nei tatou iaia, pera te au Metua tane katoatoa I teia ra akamaara’anga no te au Metua tane.

Kua tau katoa kia akangateitei e kia akamaara tatou I teia aiai nei, te taeake e te oa piri mou, ko Nandie Glassie, koia katoa tei akaruke mai ia tatou I teia epetoma e topa, e kua akaruke mai I tetai turanga teitei rava I tona tavini’anga I tona iti tangata e to tatou basileia.

Kua ariu atu a Nandi ki te reo o te iti tangata Atiu, i tona tuatau I riro ei aia ei mema Paramani e pera te Minita o te Marae Ora, e kua akameitaki atu I te turanga o te tiaki e te akono’anga aronga maki .

E taeake umuumu tikai aia I tona ora’anga Pioro Kaapeape, e kua rauka iaia tetai akarangatira’anga ngateitei I Aotearoa, no tana au angaanga meitaki I rave I Manukau, e kua akararangi katoa ia te Tama Akatere o Manukau ko Sir Barry Curtis i te pae iaia.  Kua rave’ia teia I mua ake ka oki mai ei aia ki te ipukarea, noo takiri mai.

Noatu e pirianga ke tona I te tuanga Poritiki I te ipukarea nei, kua noo tamou a Nandi ki runga I te arataa o te tauturu e te aruaru tei akanoo’ia e te taote Joe e te au aito I mua ake iaia.  Te akangateitei nei tatou ia ratou katoatoa.

Ko ratou te akaruke mai ia tatou, e te au Metua tane te ngaki nei I te oraanga o tei akaperepere ia e ratou I te au ra ravarai, te oronga atu nei au I te aroa kia kotou e te au manakonako’anga manea no teia ra.

Te tumatetenga nei au no te mea, tetai au kopu tangata ka akamaara ratou I teia ra o te au Papa I raro ake tetai au akanoonooanga no te noo akamatakite’anga, no te mea koi oki mai ratou mei Aotearoa.  Te oronga atu nei au I te reo aroa kia kotou e kia mataora ta kotou akamaara’anga I teia ra, inara, e tuanga puapinga ta kotou, e kia kauraro kotou ki te au akanoonoo’anga tei oronga ia atu, e kia akono’ia te reira I te au ra ka aere ia e tatou.

E itu marama I topa ake nei, I te akamata’anga to tatou au ngutupa basileia I te topiri, kua angaanga kapipiti to tatou au matakeinga I te rave atu I te au akaue’anga no te paruru’anga I to tatou iti tangata mei te maki korona. Te au tukuanga tika tei kimi viviki’ia e te au angaanga tei rave viviki’ia, kua tauturu te reira I te anga I tetai au ture arataki pera tetai au akanoonoo’anga matutu kia rauka ia tatou I te arai I teia maki, mei roto mai I to tatou basileia e no vao mai I to tatou ngutupa basileia.

Ko teia I reira te au tumu’anga kia paruru vave ia tatou.  Noatu to tatou basileia e tu meangiti tona, e mea puapinga kia angaanga kapipiti tatou, no te ora’anga e te turanga meitaki o te katoatoa.  Kua angaanga kapipiti tatou mei te akamata’anga, e kia noo okotai rai tatou I roto I teia manamanata e kite nei tatou.

Te rua, ko te pati’anga kia akakoromaki e kia matakite tatou e pati’anga pakari te reira, inara e pati’anga tau.  Ko te aru’anga I te au akatere’anga no runga I to tatou aaere’anga pera te au anga’anga tamataora, kua mako te reira.  No reira auraka tatou kia akangaropoina I te pati’anga kia akakoromaki e kia Matakite tatou.

Te toru, kua kite ua tatou I te tu matutukore o to tatou iti tangata – mei te tamariki ki te au Metua pakari.  Ko ratou tei ngere, e ka anoano’ia kia akono meitaki’ia ratou I te turanga kopapa e tona uaroai ora’anga, ko ratou tei ngoie I te rokoia e teia maki e ka tau kia paruru ia.

Ei tauturu ia tatou katoatoa I te taporoporo’anga I to tatou ora’anga e te turanga tau, te au Pioro Kaapeape I mua I te raini paruru, koia oki Te Mare Ora e te au Akava, e turanga akateretere to ratou no te akono I te au ture e te au ture akanoonoo tei anga’ia no te tuanga noo Matakite e te aaere’anga na te atea.

No te akakoroanga o te aronga e Noo Matakite nei I roto I to ratou au ngutuare e te au ngai takake I runga ia Rarotonga, e mea puapinga kia tauta pakari kotou I te angaanga kapipiti ki to kotou au Puna, ko ratou oki teia e akarakara nei ia kotou me te aru nei rai kotou, I te au akanoonoo’anga Noo Matakite.

Ko te tumatetenga ki to tatou basiliea te vaitata mai nei te reira, no te mea tei te ngutupa ua teia manumanu, tei vao ake aia I to tatou ngutupa basileia.  I te au atianga ka tomo mai tetai tangata na roto I to tatou ngutupa basileia, ko te turanga e te vaito o te reira tumatetenga ka taui te reira, no reira kia matakite tatou e kia kauraro ki te au ravenga tei akanoo’ia.  Ko tetai turanga Akamatakiteanga Pakari, kare au e inangaro I te akaue atu I te reira.  No reira te pati akaaka atu nei au kia akono e kia kauraro tatou ki te au takaianga tei oronga ia kia kotou tei roto I te turanga Noo Matakite, to kotou kopu tangata, to kotou taeake I te pae ia kotou, to kotou ai taeake e pera to tatou iti tangata.

Me ka anoano’ia to tatou au aronga anga’anga kia putuputu mai ta ratou akatorotoro’anga, te mataora nei au I te akakite atu e kua rava ta ratou au apinga tauturu no te rave atu I te reira mei te au apinga paruru I te tangata tatakitai.

Kua oronga’ia mai ki te Marae Ora tetai au pakau paruru mei te arai va’a e tetai uatu pakau paruru puapinga.

Te turanga tau meitaki no te katoatoa, e ratou tei vaitata ki tetai uatu tumatetenga ko te mea maata I konei, kua akanoo’ia tetai au ngai meitaki e tetai au ravenga, no te aronga kare I aru I te au matakite’anga e te au ture tei akanoonoo’ia e pera no te aronga tu manakokore.

Ko teia au turanga me kare au ravenga pakari kare e inangaro’ia ki konei, no te mea kua akairi mai to tatou iti tangata I te au atianga ravarai, e ka rauka ia tatou I te akono ia tatou uaorai.  Kia vai teia vaerua akono e kia rave kapipiti tatou I te reira.  Na roto I te angaanga kapipiti’anga, e te aruaru kapipiti’anga, ko te Kuki Airani ka vai meitaki ua aia kare te mate e vaitata mai.

I rungao I teia, ko to tatou irinaki’anga kia vai tiratiratu no te mea “I te au mea katoa ra, ka angaanga te Atua no ratou tei inangaro iaia, ratou tei kapiki’ia no tona akakoro’anga”

Kia Orana e Kia Manuia.

ENDS: Enquiries to Jaewynn McKay +682 55486;