Fifteen year old Ngatangiia boy Kiikoro Totini has made his mark on history, by becoming the youngest culinary apprentice ever to be accepted at the Cook Islands Tertiary Training Institute in Ngatangiia. And it’s all part of an important life lesson for Totini. Attending a private school in Muri, Kiikoro realised that his time there was less than productive and noticed his school struggles had escalated to a point where he had completely lost interest.
“My wife and I could see that he wasn’t happy, and when we would meet with the school, we were told his results were not getting any better,” says Totini’s dad, Enua. He says that in his day, if you told your parents you don’t want to go to school, or once your parents knew something was wrong at school, their instruction would automatically be, “get into the taro patch, or find a job.” However, Enua and his wife Teroro knew the best thing they could do for their son was to support him in whatever he wanted to do. Earlier this year, while struggling to find suitable options for their son, Kiikoro’s parents made contact with the Cook Islands Tertiary Training Institute to see what they could offer.
Culinary Arts tutor, Sam Timoko says when he spoke to Totini’s parents and heard about their situation, he was compelled to offer his assistance as that had been his whole reason for becoming an educator.