Koe Kia Ross Ardern
Those of you who followed our story on the impending departure of the NZ High Commissioner to Niue would know that today was Ross Ardern’s last day on the island. He flew out this afternoon.
Mid-morning when I was driving from Fonuakula to the Alofi, I noticed there were signs taped to power poles and other places, but didn’t take much notice. On my return I flashed passed a few of the said signs and when I got closer to R’Linna’s, I slowed down, better able to read the signs. I should have known!
The signs were a farewell to Ross – most simply say: Koe kia Ross Ardern. We’ll miss you.
When I got home, I checked my email; there was a message which says, if Tala Niue is interested, be at the airport an hour before the plane arrives. A Flash Mob event, possibly for the first time on the island ever, was about to enfold.
I duly arrived at the airport with Pat because we wanted to say goodbye to Ross. The first thing I noticed as we walked into the terminal building was the unusually high number of local residents. Mid-week flights are for tourists visiting the island; Friday flights are favoured by returning locals and family. It appears that, true to Flash Mob modus operandi, social media is doing what it’s supposed to be doing.
Soon after we arrived, the High Commissioner pulled up in his distinctive black Honda with the equally distinctive number plate NZ1. As Ross stepped from the car, there was a stirring amongst the crowd. He picked up his hand luggage; he looked around and spotted a big sign: Koe kia Ross Arden. [See photo]
And then from a loudspeaker Bill Medley’s voice boomed out, filling the four corners of the forecourt: Now I, had the time of my life… and then the mob came to life.
The young and old, the business people, a handful of youngsters from the schools, the labourers, the tradespeople, the office workers. Taking their cue from Catherine [see photo] they danced to rehearsed moves.
Others picked up the rhythm and followed suit with their own moves – it didn’t matter. The males were a little shy and held back, but in general this mob was here to dance and sing for the last time to a person they hold in high regard.
As for he-who-was-held- in-high-regard, I think it’s fair to say that Ross was absolutely stunned; he smiled, a lot; he shook his head a lot and his lower lip trembled a lot, but he managed to keep it together, just.
After saying goodbye to Ross, as I walked back to the car, I recalled his final words in my interview with him.
He reminded us of the gift that is Niue, a gift that we sometimes take for granted.
In essence he said take the time to appreciate what we have, our island: “My wife Laurell and I, each morning, as we look our across the lawn towards the sea. . . wow!”