Education Through Scuba Diving in the Cook Islands

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We sat down with PADI Master Instructor and proprietor of PADI 5 Star Instructor Development Centre, Dive Rarotonga within the Cook Islands, Neil Davison to debate a tremendous native initiative educating Rarotonga indigenous youth concerning the setting and educating them to dive.

Dive Rarotonga - Hope Rising - Diving

Are you able to inform us a bit of bit about your self and your journey with PADI?

I first skilled scuba diving within the late 1980’s on a attempt dive. It’s one thing I had dreamed of since seeing Jacques Cousteau on TV as a toddler however might by no means afford to do. I managed to get on to a PADI Open Water Diver course within the UK, experiencing chilly waters of inland quarries and lakes as my coaching floor. I've been lucky sufficient to expertise locations such because the Purple Sea in Egypt and the Maldives, the place I developed my style for reefs and heat water diving. After finishing my coaching within the UK, I subsequently turned a Dive Centre proprietor and progressed by means of PADI Employees Teacher to PADI Grasp Teacher & Emergency First Response Teacher Coach. In 2018, after looking for the fitting residence inside the South Pacific, Rarotonga turned my house and I bought Dive Rarotonga.

What's Korero O Te Orau (KOTO) group primarily liable for and what motivated you to start out this program alongside them?

Korero O Te Orau (KOTO) is a Rarotonga based mostly non-governmental organisation (NGO) targeted on life expertise coaching for native indigenous youth (aged 13-20). Chaired by Dr. Teina Rongo, physician of Marine Biology, KOTO’s main focus is to equip youth with cultural and historic information of Rarotonga, in addition to educating them on the land and marine environments of the island.

In January 2020, KOTO approached us to see if we might help with dive coaching for his or her college students. We determined that we might half fund this program alongside KOTO and partially by PADI, who supported us by way of the PADI Scholarship program. This help was generously given and after our first eight college students accomplished their programs, we determined to proceed coaching alongside KOTO. Thus far, we've licensed 68 College students in PADI programs starting from the Skin Diver course, Open Water Diver course, Advanced Open Water Diver course, Rescue Diver course and Emergency First Response.

Why do you assume it’s necessary for indigenous youngsters to hunt journey by means of diving?

The youngsters who develop up on an island like Rarotonga, or any of the Prepare dinner Islands for that matter, are continually surrounded by the surroundings, each land and marine. Studying to dive provides these youngsters an intimate information of the marine ecosystem and a higher appreciation of their ancestral residence. Moreover, with the ability to scuba dive provides them one other option to entry the reef – a tremendous capacity when dwelling in an island nation.

Are you conscious of some other indigenous youngsters who've discovered to scuba dive and gone on to work within the business later in life?

The KOTO college students have an present curiosity within the marine setting which could possibly be influenced by rising up on an island, surrounded by crystal clear waters and vibrant coral reefs. This curiosity, strengthened by KOTO and Dr. Teina Rongo, is a contributing issue to nearly all of our first college students enterprise additional schooling in Marine based mostly programs. Studying to scuba dive and finishing the KOTO course provides these college students a definite benefit when enrolling in additional schooling as diving is one important talent they have already got underneath their belt.

Is there a pathway for the youngsters to proceed their dive schooling?

Most undoubtedly! As soon as college students in this system have accomplished their mainstream schooling and turned 18, our intention is to enrol them within the PADI Divemaster course, offered they return to Rarotonga. For these college students who proceed their skilled dive schooling and develop into PADI Open Water Scuba Instructors and past, there are quite a few employment alternatives for them right here in Rarotonga.

What influence do you assume it will have on the diving group and the group at giant on Rarotonga?

Increasingly more individuals on Rarotonga are benefiting from our unimaginable reef so diving is turning into extra widespread amongst each the native and expat communities. We now have a very good base of certified native divers we take out often. Dive Rarotonga’s actions have additionally proved very fashionable inside the wider group, which has in fact been wonderful publicity for us right here on the island.

What’s subsequent?

We (Dive Rarotonga) have our personal coral restoration venture that sits off the coast in about eight metres/26 ft of water. I’ve written 5 PADI Distinctive Specialty programs overlaying the whole lot from surveying the reef to transplanting coral.

We're additionally operating a secondary program for native youngsters the place we might be taking them on their PADI Open Water Diver course. I hope that this can evolve into the youngsters persevering with their diving journey by enrolling the group within the PADI Superior Open Water Diver course, PADI Rescue Diver course and extra PADI Specialty programs. I hope to have the ability to generate curiosity from these youngsters to hitch the specialty programs to study extra concerning the practicalities of engaged on their reef.

Past that, we’ll proceed to help new intakes of native college students and promote schooling right here from entry degree by way of to teacher.

Share Your Hope Rising Tales with #PADIPeople

Hope is rising throughout. Present us how you make a distinction, and the way you consider that higher days which are attainable proper now by means of diving. Merely submit descriptions, photographs or movies to your social media channels, tagging PADI and #PADIPeople.

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