Foundation Stone Laid For Construction Of Chinese Funded School In Cook Islands

Cook Islands Government
Rarotonga, Cook Islands

May 15, 2017

New ground has been developed in the partnership between the People’s Republic of China and the Cook Islands government as the foundation stone is laid for the new Apii Nikao today.

“Never before,” said prime minister Henry Puna, “has a donor partner allowed the design, build and specifications of a project to be determined by the recipient country as is the case with this project, but it accurately reflects the deepening relationship and trust between our two nations.

“The fire in 2013 and subsequent merging of Nikao Maori and Avatea Primary schools provided the Cook Islands with an opportunity to build an environmentally sustainable school with the capacity to serve young students in a modern and flexible learning environment.

“This fire,” said Puna, “provided the impetus for the phoenix-like new school that is about to rise from the ashes of this terrible tragedy.”

The detailed designs prepared by an engineering company from China underwent a review process by the Cook Islands government and local engineers, and is a first in the world with regard to donor and donor recipient projects.

“Our people can rest assured,” said Puna, “that our strong relationship with the People’s Republic of China has allowed us to have a huge input into the final shape and form of Apii Nikao.

“We can now move forward with a sense of pride and confidence that the new school will guarantee benefits for the students, staff and the good people of Nikao.”

The design and layout of the buildings are largely based on the initial proposal prepared by the Cook Islands in 2014 and incorporates large open learning areas with adjoining group and quiet spaces, and easy to access resources.

On completion, Apii Nikao will set the benchmark for future primary school developments throughout the country, continued Puna.

In October 2015 the Chinese government confirmed its support for the Apii Nikao Rebuild as a gift to Cook Islands education.

Gail Townsend, Secretary of Education, said the new school will accommodate 500 students and 40 staff and draw on the cultural heritage of the local area, consisting of three new buildings, not including the hall, providing comfortable, flexible learning spaces that are focussed on students being able to work in groups or independently. There will also be multiple use spaces so that students see the connections between different areas of learning and can “multi-task” on a project “as we all do in real life”.

“Flexible and stimulating learning environments,” she continued, “will eliminate accessibility barriers for students and staff with disabilities. It will incorporate climate adaptation measures such as solar power, water storage and cyclone protection and will be a school for the 21st Century.”

 “We will measure the success of our relationship building with other countries by the quality of life our children and people enjoy because of these efforts.

“We would also like to thank the work of the Cook Islands Investment Corporation, ICI, MFEM and MFAI, as well as the Nikao PTA and all the Staff, Parents and students of Apii Nikao for your remarkable patience during this time of drawn-out negotiations and planning.

“Finally, a huge thank-you to the landowners for ensuring the continuation of the traditions of Apii Nikao on their gifted land. Na te Atua kotou katoatoa e akameitaki mai.

“We look forward to opening the new Apii Nikao early next year in time for the commencement of the new school year.”

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