Aere ra, e kia manuia!
The eighth Pacific Mini Games came to a close last night in true Cook Islands fashion.
Drum beats and beautiful ura sent off athletes from the 21 nations that took part in the games and shared the moments over the past 12 days.
And there were some amazing moments including the wonderful closing ceremony.
In fact, Cook Islands culture was the centre of attention on the last night of the games with Te Maeva Nui teams putting on a show for our visitors to remember.
Not a negative word was said about the overall games at the closing with the people of the Cook Islands uniting to say farewell to our Pacific brothers and sisters.
As they did at the opening ceremony, teams paraded again through the BCI stadium with each nation picking their outstanding athlete of the games as their flag bearer.
For the Cook Islands, double tennis gold medallist Kai- rangi Vano was honoured with the role.
The youngster’s awesome performance on the tennis court has taken her from a little known athlete to a household name.
So have a number of other Cook Islands athletes like sailing sensation Helema Williams and golfing pro Elmay Viking and bowls brothers in arms David Akaruru and Nelson Akava to name just a few.
Solomon Islands mini star Betty Babalu who won the 5000m run, albeit causing some controversy, carried her nation’s flag and so did Samoan queen of weightlifting Ele Opeloge.
Not a single team will leave our shores without having had some magic moments – many of which will centre around the generosity of the Cook Islands people.
Not all memories will be fond ones though as some athletes will no doubt never forget about the moment they let a medal slip through their fingers – especially a gold one.
But there will be other games to prove themselves like the next Pacific Mini Games in Wallis and Futuna in 2013, and of course the full-size Pacific Games in New Caledonia in 2011.
Mixed with the joy and celebration of the closing ceremony, a moment of silence was called and candles lit in honour of the tsunami victims in the Samoas and in Tonga, and for their warriors who carried on the fight on the sports field.
The moment of silence also brought home the strength of the love Pacific islanders have for their families and for each other.
After a moving prayer by Bishop Tutai Pere, it was time to reflect on the good times and share them with newfound friends.
Fireworks brought the festivities to an end at the BCI stadium with teams heading to town for some fun.
Rarotonga will no doubt grind back to its slower pace by Sunday – but 2009 Pacific Mini Games moments will be talked about for some time to come. - Cook Islands News