Cook Islanders clean up after extreme weather

The Cook Islands was hit with a tropical depression causing widespread damage, especially to coastal and low-lying areas.

24th January, 2022

Cook Islanders clean up after extreme weather

Khalia Strong -

Cook Islanders are cleaning up in the aftermath of this weekend’s weather damage. Coastal areas were battered with 110 kilometre winds, six-metre waves, road closures and surface flooding. 

Waves lash against waterfront restaurant Trader Jack's at Avarua Harbour.       Photo courtesy of Peter French via RNZ

The iconic Trader Jacks bar and restaurant at Avarua Harbour was hit hard and youth worker Tuaine Papatua says the worst place was the town area. 

“Most of the area is pretty low, a few houses were flooded. The boys have the chainsaw to cut up all the big branches and push it all to the side so the roads are clear.”

In his hometown, crops have been affected, but Papatua says they are all pitching in to help. 

“On the south side of the island in the Titikaveka area, where there’s a lot of greens and plantations and the trees are very close to the road, trees were just falling down like leaves.

“This season, the mango is just amazing. But now, they’re all on the ground. A lot of families have gone around collecting those that are still edible, but the rest are going to make the piggies very happy.

“Today we’re just going to go and check on any elderly people that’s home, to see if there’s any trees blocking the way.”

Fallen tress and debris litter the streets. Photo courtesy Peter French via RNZ

Cook Islands Meteorological Service director Arona Ngari is warning more bad weather could be on the way. 

“The month of February, we always have the most cyclones that occur in any particular season. So these two depressions that have come through could be a sign for us to start exercising what is needed for the upcoming month. 

“It could come, it could not. But at least the best we can do is prepare ourselves.”

Despite the flooding and damage, today is Sunday in the Cook Islands, and Papatua expects many will be sticking to tradition. 

 “Church is running as normal back home today, maybe not everybody is going to turn up, but some people will start cleaning up today what they can, and continue tomorrow” 

The Cook Islands government is meeting to discuss the future of the New Zealand travel bubble​ on Monday afternoon, just 10 days after the bubble with New Zealand resumed.