The Cook Islands pride themselves on the ‘Kia Orana values’, representing the essence of their people and islands, encompassing everything from the welcoming and generous hospitality to the kind and friendly attributes. Aspiring residents would even have to attend a workshop on the Kia Orana Values. The recent Oceania Masters in Paradise 2022 aimed to incorporate such cultural elements of Cook Islands life into the finer details of the tournament.
Starting with the player packs which were handed to the players during the opening ceremony by a representative from the Bank of Cook Islands (a tournament sponsor), with the contents representing the hard work of the Badminton Cook Islands organising committee.
The bags and toiletry set (cloth and soaps) were sourced by Badminton Cook Islands Patron, Gail Eraio, who spent many evenings working hard to produce the contents. Gail used leftover crochet cotton to bring the cloth to life with a colourful edging. Aiming to create 100, Gail produced one a day in the 100-day lead up to the tournament.
Moreover, a popular item among the players was the branded beach sarong (referred to as a ‘pareu’ in the Cook Islands) – a staple when spending time in paradise. The organising committee pitched together once more to tie dye pieces of cloth and used a template to screen print the tournament branding onto the pareu.
More members pitched in to create the ‘Kuru chips’ which are made from breadfruit – a popular snack in the Cook Islands. It made a good excuse for an extra working meeting as the committee met specially to prepare these and give the bags an increasingly local flavour.
“This tournament has an innumerable and unmeasurable impact on badminton in the Cook Islands. We wanted to ensure the international players were served with a taste of local life, while domestic players from Rarotonga and the outer islands were able to benefit from the social and physical elements of the tournament”, says Gail Eraio.
Other sponsored gifts came in the form of:
- A Vodafone water bottle
- An Edgewater Resort notepad
- Pacific Federal Insurance Pen
- Badminton Oceania pencil case, face mask, pen and hand sanitiser
- VICTOR sport socks
- VICTOR grips
Meanwhile, the medals told another story about the paradisiac nation as all medals were engraved onto a pearl shell, each with a gold, silver and bronze cord made from local, sustainable sources:
The gold medal ribbon was decorated with ‘yellow ei pupu’ – a type of shell found on the outer island of Mangaia (the southernmost and oldest island in the Cook Islands).
The silver was supported by plaited ‘rito’ which is the material found in the spine of the coconut frong.
Similarly, the bronze medal hugs the neck with ‘sennit’ – the coconut fibre left when you husk a coconut, also plaited to form the ribbon.
The medals were proudly sponsored by Ellena Tavioni (of Tav’s Ltd – clothing and printing company) and Phillip Vakatini. They were presented at the closing function which also put the nation’s leading local beer producers (Rarotonga Brewery) at the forefront as a keg of Cook Islands Lager was donated to the event.
Throughout the week, players had the opportunity to jump aboard Captain Tama’s Lagoon Cruizes which provides a fun-filled day out on a boat, with opportunities to snorkel, swim and relax in crystal clear waters and white sand beaches. Moreover, a fresh fish BBQ lunch and a cultural show extended the entertainment. Many players decided to stay on in Rarotonga post-event to explore more activities, while others are looking forward to the next edition so they can return with friends and discover even more.
“I have had a lovely time. The tournament has been well organised, there’s been a lot of games. I’ve met some really nice people and it’s given me a new found passion for the sport and now I want to continue playing masters and Super vets. Next time, we would like to get more people along to play, including my husband to be a supporter. Then I would like to stay longer and explore more of the local beaches, hikes, cycling and venture into the outer islands” says international player (from New Zealand), Jenny Booth.
The Oceania Masters in Paradise will return to Rarotonga in two years’ time, with more information to be released in the near future.