A vision of the future is only as bold as the willingness of people to make it a reality.
CIDANZ’s nurturing years proved to be a turning point in the development of Cook Islands communities across Auckland. Self-funding, ad hoc grants, the goodwill of volunteers, and raw, youthful ambition sustained the efforts of those rallying to uplift not only the Trust, but also the Cook Islands community.
Business savvy minds developed a three-year strategic plan ad from it, the ‘one’ brand was created. It augmented the vision and defined 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 Islands 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 was 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.