The programme commenced in August this year, with a number of participants ranging from all ages and backgrounds on Mangaia. After a gruelling four month training and mentoring course, fifteen students proudly celebrated their graduation on Friday the 24th of November in Oneroa, Mangaia.
Destination Development Coordinator, Sieni Tiraa travelled to Mangaia on behalf of the Tourism Corporation for the graduation. Tiraa said that, “The graduation was amazing with a great turnout of support from the Mangaian community for the graduates. It was heart‐warming to witness the pride in the faces of the graduates and their families.” Tiraa also added “Throughout our time in Mangaia it was a common discussion point amongst the local tourism industry that Mangaia has a very unique product with a rich history, unique landmarks and natural resources. However often lacks tours to showcase their stories. So it has been great that this tour guide training course was developed, as it can help address this gap”.
The training led by the President of the Punarua Heritage Trust, Thomas Tarurongo Wynn, is the second course of its kind, with the first being held on Atiu last year. Ngakaara Pureariki of Punarei
Cultural Tours on Aitutaki had the vision to provide tour guide training through a hands on teaching style. The course encourages utilising existing resources and human‐power, and the traditional knowledge of the local people, to share their own hidden treasures through quality eco‐tours. The training is set up into three main modules: History, Culture, and Environment. A 4th Module encompasses an exchange to Aitutaki where selected students experienced some of the tours and underwent post tour‐experience lessons.
Two new tours have emerged from this recent training with more expected in the coming months.
The first tour is a historical tour of the village of Tamarua and surrounding areas. The highlight is a hike to a historical site, the dwelling of a famous ancestor of Mangaia called Rori. Rori was famous for carving the staff Gods of Mangaia in pre‐Christian times, some of which can be found today in museums in London and across Europe. The second tour is showcasing the art of making the famous golden shell necklaces of Mangaia or ‘Ei pupu” which is unique to the island.
Both tours have the potential to do well as they are distinct to the island of Mangaia, and will appeal to the explorer type visitor seeking eco‐tourism experiences. This will also provide an opportunity for local businesses to flourish through tourism. Punarua Heritage Trust will regularly check on the progress of the new tour guides on Mangaia as part of the continued mentoring portion of the programme.
Cook Islands Tourism will now work with the tourism industry on Mangaia and with the new tour guide operators to help market and promote the tours and experiences available there. The Mangaia Tour Guide Training and Mentoring programme is part of the Destination Development Programme of Cook Islands Tourism.
The fifteen graduates from the course are:
1. Janiece Moekapiti
2. Rouruina Taokia
3. Christian Tangimataiti
4. Moekapiti Tangatakino
5. Ngaruaine Tangimataiti
6. Inangaro Papatua
7. Clarke Mautairi
8. Teatuanui Peraua
9. Lynn Peraua
10. Vaiora Teremoana
11. Pangia Teremoana
12. Roimata Tauarea
13. Papa Nooroa
14. Abygail Teatuanui
15. Poroa Arokapiti
(Source: Cook Islands Tourism Corporation Press Release 28 November 2017)