Participants discussed definitions, methods and strategies for voter information and education, and shared their knowledge and experience in the area. Samoan participants presented some of their home voter education advertising and the Tongan delegation presented a case study of their Youth Parliament. The American Samoa voter education program was also presented to the group, and the course ended with each country designing plans for the implementation of voter education programs in their home countries. In addition, guest speaker Ms Maria Gratschew from International IDEA conducted sessions on Increasing Participation and External Voting.
It wasn’t all work, with participants and facilitators accepting the kind invitation of the Minister for Justice, Hon Tangata Vaiva, to attend an enjoyable lunch with the Cook Islands Cabinet at the government building grounds. The Minister was also on hand to present the certificates of completion, and to open and close the course.
The course was organised through the PIANZEA network, with hosts the Cook Islands Ministry of Justice, and funded by AusAID under the Pacific Governance Support Program (PGSP). The facilitators were Ms Yvonne Goudie from the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) and Ms Taggy Tangimetua from the Cook Islands Statistics Office. They were ably assisted by Mr Enua Pakitoa, also from the Cook Islands Statistics Office, and Mrs Tina Harihiru of the Solomon Islands, who both completed their accreditation as BRIDGE facilitators during this course. Congratulations! Thanks are also extended to Mr Terry Hagan, Secretary for Justice, Mr Tai Joseph from the Ministry of Justice, and Mr Hagen Siosikefu, from the Niue Justice Department, who were instrumental in getting the course off the ground.