The Cook Foundation, a charitable trust, has commenced making grants for charitable causes in the community. For its ongoing charitable work the Foundation will be making at least 2 – 3 grants per month of up to $2,000 each. The hope is to continue to grow this over time.

The trustees who are running the Foundation will be making decisions on grants based on suggestions from two main sources, the Members of Parliament and charitable / community groups.

The trustees – including the Speaker of Parliament Niki Rattle – have asked the Members of Parliament to identify charitable causes in their constituencies. Each MP, in alphabetical order of surname, will be asked once a year to suggest a charitable cause in their electorate for the trustees to consider. The MPs have very clear guidelines that the suggested need must be recognised as being for the benefit of their community as a whole, or if it is for a specific person or thing, that everyone in their community would recognise that as being a most important need.

The first recipients under this scheme are the meeting house project for the village of Mapumai, suggested by the MP for Teenui-Mapumai, Norman George, and three causes recommended by the MP for Tupapa/Maraerenga, George Maggie Angene. Those are a $500 grant to Avarua School for the purchase of specialist learning software, a $500 grant to the Tupapa Maraerenga Culture Art Club, and a $1,000 grant to the Maraerenga Ekalesia to pay for the refurbishment of the bathroom in the Maraerenga meeting house that is used by the whole village.

Separate from the MPs, the Cook Foundation will also be making grants for specific charitable causes identified in communities throughout the Cook Islands. The first of those grants has been given to provide Ake, a 6 year old girl living with a disability, with the opportunity to access education with the appropriate and necessary support in place in school. Thanks to the help from Te Vaerua and the grant from the Cook Foundation, Ake has now been in school for 1 month and is progressing very well.

The trustees of the Cook Foundation will be asking other charitable and community groups to identify specific needs in their community that may fit the aims of the Foundation. In this way those who are closest to the community can request funding for the greatest needs both in Rarotonga and the Pa Enua.

The Cook Foundation has also worked with generous donors in the Cook Islands to provide some stunning exhibits for the Captain Cook Birthplace Museum in Middlesbrough in the United Kingdom.

The trustees of the Cook Foundation – Antony Will, Nadine Newnham, Marie Francis and Niki Rattle – have a wealth of legal, trustee, and charitable experience, not to mention the special respect that the Speaker of Parliament maintains.

The trustees are very excited about the future of the Foundation. They are looking forward to working with the MPs, and community groups, to make a real difference to those in need in the Cook Islands.