Keeping safe in Rarotonga - COVID-19

By Mānia Clarke-Mamanu

Although the Cook Islands remains at zero Covid-19 cases, one Māori working in Rarotonga has taken the pro-active step of self-isolation due to personal health issues.

In solitude under the coconut tree, Antonia Poa (Waikato, Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāpuhi) is leaving nothing to chance.

"I am asthmatic. So I don't want to (compromised).  We don't have enough inhalers to go around the island. I've got one left - hopefully got some more coming from Australia, from my sister, my family over there," she explains.

During this unprecedented time of border closures and lockdowns worldwide, she's reflected on what matters most.

"I am the only one here. My family are all in Australia and New Zealand, so I might go back there, and be with them. As much as I love it here but it's been hard I guess being away from them," she says.

For eight years she has managed popular tourist attraction Captain Tama's Lagoon tour, but on Sunday (local time) along with Koka Lagoon Tours was their last cruise for several months. 

"It's hard on our crew, like we rely on tourists here. We're in the unknown, we're all not gonna be getting paid. There is the government, they're gonna help us out which is good," she adds.

The government has committed $61mil towards supporting businesses and their staff, as well as laid-off workers, due to the temporary closure of the island's borders to tourists over the following months.

At 6pm tomorrow, the Cook Islands will move to Code Yellow or phase two to increase their fight against the virus as health officials await the results of two people under supervised quarantine.