A beach clean-up is part of a wider community focus for the organiser of a Cook Islands Language Week event in Whanganui.

Jasmine Ariata Kiri, who lives in Whanganui, is the national youth representative for Whanganui and Palmerston North on CIDANZ (Cook Islands Development Agency New Zealand).

"My grandparents are migrants from the Cook Islands," Jasmine said.

"I'm connected to five islands - Rarotonga, Aitutaki, Manihiki, Mangaia and Atiu.

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"I've been doing Cook Islands dancing for more than eight years, since I was 10, and I've performed at lots of different events - fundraising events for the Cancer Society, Diwali, the Festival of Cultures.

"I'm a mix of lots of other cultures too. I'm part of the Multicultural Council and I like to celebrate other cultures."

Jasmine Ariata Kiri is organising the event to mark Cook Islands Language Week.
Jasmine Ariata Kiri is organising the event to mark Cook Islands Language Week.

Jasmine, who is studying business with a view to starting her own business, said there are "not a lot" of Cook Islanders in Whanganui and she was keen to do something for the whole community to mark Cook Islands Language Week which ends on Saturday, August 8.

She has organised a clean-up at Castlecliff Beach on Saturday morning. There will also be activities, including rock painting, a community art project to make a tivaevae (Cook Islands blanket) with a twist, quizzes and a "bucket list" competition with a prize for collecting the most items on a list of rubbish. There will be a range of other prizes, most with a sustainability theme, and refreshments will be available.

"We'll meet at the Duncan Pavilion for registration and briefing and then go further along the beach towards the mole," Jasmine said.

"There'll be an ATV and 4WD that can take people along the beach if they want. There's also the chance to do planting with Coast Care in the sand dunes behind the Duncan Pavilion for people who don't want to walk down the beach.

"I'm working alongside the Department of Conservation and Progress Castlecliff. They have been great support. All the equipment for the clean-up is provided by DoC.

"I remember hearing a few years back about the coral reefs dying in the Cook Islands. The clean-up is something good we can do for the environment with global warming."

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Keeping the oceans free of waste would help to protect marine life, Jasmine said.

"I remember doing a beach clean-up when I was little. At first I thought it was gross but at the end I felt real good about it.

"It's a great way for the community to come together and make a difference. It's also good for our mental health - it's outdoors, getting exercise, connecting with nature and you can meet other people. I've invited migrants to help them feel included in Whanganui."

People who want to participate should meet outside the Duncan Pavilion at 10am on Saturday. Jasmine said light rain is expected so participants should take rain jackets.