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Holly Kendrick said she had been linked to Te Are Manu, Rarotonga's only veterinary clinic, its predecessor the Esther Honey Foundation, and was now connected to the SPCA.
Altogether, her connection to the country had lasted one and a-half decades.
"I was involved with the Esther Honey Foundation, then they closed up shop. I was part of the executive committee for the new clinic."
It was "wonderful" to be able to help Rarotonga manage its stray dog population.
There are about 5000 dogs on the island, which has a human population of only 11,000.
She had cut ties with the clinic, but was working with the SPCA's shelter there and was also participating in education programmes, including education programmes on Aitutaki, where they did not have "a single dog" and she was mainly helping people with and looking at goats, cats and horses.
Ms Kendrick had arranged for flea and worm treatment to be sent over for the animals.
"It's nice for me to be able to use my industry connections here."
Most recently, in November last year, she took part in a project microchipping and desexing 804 dogs, and she also had two students placed there. About eight volunteers also helped, and she recruited people and co-ordinated the trip.
In the last two years, she believed she had sent about a dozen students over to work in the country, and she was preparing to send another one over soon, who would spend about two months in there.
Ms Kendrick said the work the SPCA was doing in the Cook Islands was "really, really valuable".
As an academic, she felt she had a "duty to give back".
"I feel really lucky to be teaching the next generation."
She split her time between the Cook Islands and New Zealand, saying she returned to there four times last year, and had to juggle it with managing her work and looking after her young family.
One of the key advantages of working for the polytechnic was they were "really, really flexible" helping her cope with polytechnic work and other commitments.
"They are all for that."
The work Ms Kendrick does is one of several charity projects the polytechnic gets involved in, including sending engineering students to help build infrastructure in Vanuatu.
Last year, a party of 17 travelled to the island of Paama, to design and implement projects such as water disinfection, desalination, pumps and gravity-based water systems.
The group included 10 civil engineering students and recent graduates, as well as polytechnic staff members and representatives from Fulton Hogan and the Otago Regional Council.