NZ Prime Minister visits Just Play Festival

The New Zealand Prime Minister, Hon. Bill English and Minister of Pacific Peoples, Hon. Alfred Ngaro were welcomed onto Victoria Park by CIFA President, Mr. Lee Harmon and Just Play Project Manager, Michelle Paiti to this month’s popular Village Festival on Tuesday.

A much hyped up occasion to look forward to not only for the many children and parents who attended but for the CIFA staff members who stood out in their green Just Play tees.

Prior to Hon. Bill English’s arrival over 250 children from around the islands flocked onto Victoria Park ready to rock out the Village Festival with the various sporting codes, Athletics, Netball, Badminton, Rugby, Cricket, Gymnastics and Soccer on hand to display to the days special guest.

Overwhelmed with the attendance from the children, Michelle Paiti beamed with excitement and no doubt a proud moment and opportunity to showcase to the NZ Prime Minister and his delegation just how their aid programme is assisting the development of our children here in the Cook Islands, as part of the funding for the Just Play Programme is supported by NZ Aid Programme.

“It is great to see the many children and the support from the parents in attending Tuesday’s special Village Festival”, say Michelle.

“I believe that they loved the occasion with the opportunity to see up close and even speak with the Prime Minister and his delegation”.  The children’s response were certainly impressive as they did not shy away and fully embraced their moments”, says Paiti.

In our community we have huge health issue especially with obesity and diabetes and this is one way to get our children started in the healthier path and as agreed by Hon. Bill English who believes in keeping active for a better lifestyle, a very important concept to have in mind.

The NZ Prime Minister tried his hand at cricket only to be run out by the little one who were fielding much to the laughter of onlookers before making his way around the field to chat and participate in a number of activities.

Kicking around the the 6 year old category with a small sided soccer match, he opted to be the goalkeeper, blocking a number of attempts at goal by the keen footballers.

A part of the rotation system were two booths for the Ministry of Internal Affairs who spoke about Respect, Acceptance and Inclusion while the Ministry of Health presented a grilling image on an number of favorite beverages and its number of teaspoons of sugar it contains and how important it is to always drink water, eat fruits and vegetables and be physically active.

Before departing to his next meeting the NZ Prime Minister and Hon. Alfred Ngaro were presented with a small gift from Just Play and a photo op with Mr. Lee Harmon, Michelle Paiti and Eddie Drollett.

We would like to say a huge MEITAKI MAATA to all our partners from their contributions to what was a very successful day.

Just Play is a programme fully funded by the New Zealand Government, Australia Government, Football Federation of Australia, UEFA Foundation for Children and UNICEF.