First Cook Islands repatriates released home

By Mānia Clarke-Mamanu

The first repatriation cohort have been released from final 14-day supervised quarantine at Edgewater Resort in Rarotonga to their families.  Pacific correspondent Mānia Clarke-Mamanu spoke with some Māori repatriates after weeks of imposed isolation.

Tania Kauri (Ngāpuhi, Waikato) and husband Paul are stoked to be home at last.

“Being back home in Raro, yeah it’s just good, it’s good to be out. It’s good to see our daughter, it’s good to be home,” she says.

Tania and Paul Kauri, pastors of Are Pua Gateway Church.  Photo/File

The final leg home for the pair, who are also pastors of Are Pua Gateway Church, began early this morning after returning to home soil two weeks ago.

“To have the drums playing on the tarmac, to have dignitaries like the prime minister and some of the ministers there to welcome us,” says Paul Kauri.

“The warmth, the aroha of our people, the smiles, the waves, even people lining the streets as we were taken on our buses to the Edgewater Resort.”

The 130-strong cohort became stuck in New Zealand seven weeks ago when the country closed its borders. 

For Baby Pancakes owner and operator, Dion Teau, it has given him a fresh perspective.

“In the car and just saying to my other half, man isn’t it nice to be on the road here, seeing the trees and everything is something you just take for granted you know.

“It’s not until something like this happens to you that it gives you a new appreciation," he says.

Dion Teau, owner-operator of Baby Pancakes.  Photo/File

“You just realise what the most important things are,” says Tania Kauri, “It’s your family, close friends.

“For us, especially the church family here in Rarotonga. I think that helps to set up how you move forward from here because it can’t be just the ‘same old’.”

The third repatriation cohort of 26 returned today, along with more flu vaccines and medical supplies. 

The group will undergo supervised quarantine at Edgewater along with the second cohort that returned last week.