1 NEWS – Sun, Oct 25 • 2020
Despite suffering heavily from a lack of tourism due to Covid-19, many Pacific Islanders are coping by returning to a simpler way of life.
With borders closed, researchers have been monitoring how locals are adapting and found their wellbeing, in some cases, has improved.
While one Cook Island resort pool would typically be teeming with tourists, it’s now seeing an increased demand for its eggs.
“I think it’s the busiest I’ve been not making money,” Muri Beach Club Resort general manager Liana Scott said.
There has also been plenty of fresh food for sale around the island as the Pacific Islands adjust to their new reality.
With tourism being the largest source of income in the Cook Islands, there were major concerns when the borders shut.
However, new research out of Massey University has shown the Pacific is resilient.
“Their well-being has improved – physical well-being, mental well-being – because they are out there on their land, they’re making use of their resources and they’re getting by,” Dr Api Movono said.
A big part of their improved well-being can be attributed to a return to traditional practices.
While 73 per cent of people surveyed said they’d experienced a major financial hit, more than half said they’d returned to growing food, and 15 per cent were fishing for their household.
“I guess a lot of people that are planting right now so, you know, lots of agriculture going around, the local people have gifted some land for use,” Scott said.
The shift is also helping build stronger communities.
“Witnessing people going back to the land not just for planting food, it’s actually re-establishing these connections, those cultural connections that connect them to their land, to the ocean,” Movono said.
“And on top of that, that they’re still able to smile.”
Researchers say the experience will set islanders up for future hardships.
“This pandemic won’t be the first and won’t be the last,” he said.
“There are other shocks such as cyclones and earthquakes and tsunamis, what have you, and there’s loads of learnings from this beyond Covid.”