A vision of the future is only as bold as the willingness of people to make it a reality. Effort had been sustained by self-funding, ad hoc grants, goodwill of volunteers, and raw, youthful ambition. Making possible a Cook Island hub of cooperative enterprises and services that would bring people together to market their prosperity now required calculated effort and resources to plant the seeds that would design this future.
Business savvy minds developed a three-year strategic plan. A ‘one’ brand was created to augment the vision and define the big goals of oneCOMMUNITY and oneVILLAGE. An independent board of trustees was elected to transform the trust into a coordinating and delivery-orientated development agency. A working bee of volunteers remade the Kirkbride house into a buzzing hub, and in 2011 the Cook Island Development Agency NZ [CIDANZ] was born at Kirkbride HQ as the custodian and engine room.
A partnership with Vaka Takitumu provided resources to the operational team, and CIDANZ set about weaving together the united and prosperous aspirations of Vaka and Enua groups at a local and national scale. A New Zealand framework for collaborative action was facilitated – the Cook Island Development Action Plan [2013-2015]. Under oneLANGUAGE CIDANZ coordinated New Zealand’s Cook Islands Language week 2013 in association with MPIA. Then a succession of more one-brand seeds were planted. oneAWARDS – a celebration of the achievements of Cook Islanders across New Zealand.
oneBODY – a healthy lifestyles, exercise and nutrition programme. oneFAMILY – a language programme connecting families and children to their te reo and dialects. The possibility of oneCOMMUNITY and oneVILLAGE were ultimately showcased during the 2013 and 2014 Akirata Ou Festival, which boosted the oneEVENT, oneEXPO and oneMARKET brands. This period was topped off when CIDANZ received $1.4m
funding from Ministry of Education for the proposed development of oneCHILD – a Cook Island Early Childhood Centre. At the close of 2014 the Cook Islands Community (NZ) Cooperative agreement was signed. This formalised the desire to synchronise, consolidate and leverage Cook Islanders assets – land, facilities and resources estimated to be worth $20m+ to achieve collective outcomes and impacts.
These successes naturally bred patronage as well as antagonism, both of which CIDANZ is humbly aware as it moved to scale up and operationalise the promise of oneCOMMUNITY and oneVILLAGE at Kirkbride Rd with its Cook Island people and in turn the wider community.