The first bronze marker of the planned Commonwealth Walkway in The Cook Islands capital has been unveiled outside the Court House as a practical legacy of the historic 50th anniversary of the nation’s constitution.
The Walkway is a gift to the people of The Cook Islands, which has been created in a partnership between the Cook Islands Government, Cook Island Commonwealth Games Association and The Outdoor Trust. The full 2km route, which is already fully accessible, connects 15 of the capital’s main highlights to help share a flavour of the country’s historic and cultural significance to both residents and visitors.
The marker was formally unveiled by The Queen’s Representative, His Excellency Tom Masters, in the company of The Cook Island’s Minister for Sport Hon. Albert Nicholas, The President of the Cook Island Commonwealth Games Association, Hugh Graham, and Outdoor Trust CEO, Jim Walker.
Her Majesty The Queen has graciously given her permission for the markers to include her personal EIIR royal cipher. Over the coming months the other 14 markers will be placed around the route, and finally an interpretive panel outside The Court House will be unveiled, explaining what the route is and highlighting special iconic moments in Cook Island history.
The Commonwealth Walkway in Rarotonga is the first in the Pacific Region though it will soon to be joined in September by Apia in Samoa as a legacy of hosting the Commonwealth Youth Games. It is hoped that all 71 Commonwealth Nations and Territories will have a Commonwealth Walkway before 2018.
Hugo Vickers, The Outdoor Trust Chairman said “I am very pleased that the route is now coming to fruition and will give Cook Islanders the opportunity to mark the extraordinary constitutional moment permanently and furthermore to share with visitors some of the important Cook Island culture and heritage”.
His Excellency Tom Masters said “ I am delighted that The Commonwealth Walkway unveiling is part of the historic 50th anniversary celebrations. The 10 days of festivities have been enjoyed by literally thousands including the Heads of State, High Commissioners and Ambassadors from more than 42 countries but this will provide an ongoing opportunity to celebrate Cook Island’s heritage for everyone”.
Hugh Graham said “ We are thrilled that The Cook Islands were able to be one of the first to have a Commonwealth Walkway. Despite a great week of competitive sport at the Cook Island Games this Walkway, once complete, will give everyone an opportunity to walk more as part of a healthier life style”.
The Commonwealth Walkway in Rarotogna is 2.1km, takes approximately 1 hour to complete and connects 15 points of Commonwealth Significance starting at The Ministry of Justice, site where the Treaty of Independence was signed on 4th August 1965. The 15 Points of interest to be marked permanently in Bronze are:
01 Ministry of Justice
02 Makea Bridge
03 Palace of Makea
04 First Parliament
05 Cook Island’s Christian Church
06 Cook Island Peace Museum
07 Constitutional Park
08 National Archives
09 National Museum
10 Sir Geoff Henry National Cultural Centre
11 National Library
12 Old Government House
13 The Theology College
14 Papae Preaching Stone
15 Dame Margaret Karika DBE
A map of the route, which will be added to a free app once completed, can be viewed Online here.