Cook Islander for Life!


It’s Kuki Airani (Cook Island) Language Week and to celebrate I’m going to share some stories with you from my book Cook Islands Heroes. To start our week, have you heard about the awesome conservation work of former Cook Islands and Kiwi rugby league player, Kevin Iro?

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Kevin played for the Warriors and Manly in the NRL; and Wigan, Leeds and St Helens in the English Superleague. He played 34 tests for the Kiwis and 3 tests for the Cook Islands. He’s one of the greatest players to come out of the Pacific.

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But it’s what Kevin has done after league that I really admire. When he retired from footy, he and his wife and six children decided to move to Rarotonga to live. “We thought, ‘what a place to bring children up — a place where they can swim in the lagoon every day,'” Kevin said. “You know, it’s a pretty carefree life.”

But there was something that worried Kevin: because of climate change and building, the coral reefs didn’t look the same as he remembered when visiting as a youngster. The coral had turned a weird white colour and fish populations were dying out. Kevin had to take his children to outer islands just to show them what a truly pure coral reef looked like.


Kevin approached the Cook Island government and proposed an idea for a protected Marine Park. He imagined a park with some parts left completely untouched, and other parts to be used for economic activities like fishing and dive tourism.


Thanks to Kevin and others, the Park was established in 2012 and today covers half of the Cook Islands’ waters, one million square kilometers! It’s amazing the influence that one person with passion can have.

You can read more about Kevin and other Cook Islands role models in Cook Islands Heroes

2 Responses

  1. Patricia Visger
    | Reply

    Love this DAvid!
    I purchased the three awesome ‘Heroes’ texts that you had at this year’s Readers Writers Festival in Auckland.
    I have personally used them variously and have made them part of our English Faculty’s Literacy Power-Ups. Our students are so engaged by your stories that link to their cultures and make them proud. Our English teachers are loving learning more themselves and seeing our students’ level of engagement
    Looking forward to more, more, more from you 🙂
    Patricia Visger
    Head of the Faculty of English and Literacy
    Manurewa – Auckland

    • Reading Warrior
      | Reply

      Thank you so much for the warm message and feedback Patricia! Have an awesome CI Language Week 🙂

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