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A gentle Cook Islander

Saturday September 05, 2015 Written by Published in Weekend
Bernard Tairea loves people and always aims to make the most of his life. Bernard Tairea loves people and always aims to make the most of his life.

This profile by Florence Syme Buchanan is another in a series called “50 Tamariki Kuki Airani.” The series, which is also on Facebook, profiles interesting Cook Islanders born after 1965. The page was created in celebration of the Cook Islands’ 50 years of self-governance and as a platform for the stories of ordinary Cook Islanders who have achieved extraordinary things.


Bernard Tairea Gemini is a child of the 1970’s, born on June 19, in Dunedin. His parents are Dr Terepai and Mehau Tairea.

He attended school in the Cook Islands, Australia and Fiji and is a radio producer, New Zealand patient referral officer for the Cook islands Ministry of Health and an in-demand Master of Ceremonies at functions. He is also a Justice of the Peace in New Zealand. He lives in Mangere, South Auckland and has three siblings.

FSB: How did you feel when you had to leave home, Rarotonga?

I was sad to leave everything behind like my work with Telecom, Radio, Rarotongan Beach Resort & Spa and community involvement with Church, Taakoka Dance Troupe and family.

FSB: When and why did you move to New Zealand?

My dad had his second triple bypass and I needed to be here to spend quality time with him and the family who all lived in New Zealand, except me. My first impressions of New Zealand were that I found it to be quite diverse in cultures and the landscape clean and green.

FSB: Did you settle in easily?

Of course! There are more Cook Islanders that live here in comparison to those in our ipukarea. I felt at home and adapted easily to life here.

FSB: What was most difficult about moving to New Zealand and acclimatising to life here?

When I first arrived in New Zealand in 2002, I didn’t know my way around. I even had to pick up my ill dad from Middlemore Hospital to drive me to work at Telecom New Zealand because I didn’t know the way to the city!

FSB: What was the best thing about growing up in the Cook Islands?

The best thing about growing up back in the Cook Islands was learning our diverse culture, customs and dialects and working hard whilst also living off the land. My dad was posted to the outer islands while we were growing up. At the time, electricity was unheard of on some islands. Chilled food like ice cream was a rarity and if the inter-island boat was stranded or turned around due to bad weather, we would have to ration all that we had till the next boat. This sometimes meant a whole year of no contact with the outside world except by listening to the radio. I am a better person having lived these experiences.

FSB: What are you favourite things to do?

My favourite things to do are work, rest and play! I love life to the fullest and enjoy everything I do; from singing, working, church life, meeting people, hosting friends and generally making the most out of life. My work in the media industry gave me great opportunities to use my skills for the benefit of our people. What I love most about our culture is that it is vibrant, energetic, unique and spontaneous. It always excites me to celebrate our culture anywhere and the sound of the drums always gets my feet itching to dance!

FSB: What do you think is the most important thing your father or mother taught you about life?

Be honest and true in everything you do and when you apply yourself to achieving your goals/tasks, do it to the very best of your ability, give it your all!

FSB: What were the best times back home?

Riding my scooter with my friends and just having a good time checking out the parties especially during the 6th Festival of Pacific Arts in 1992. I believe we did a great job hosting that event. I am inspired seeing our people reaching for the stars and striving to achieve their goals and becoming a positive representation of our community.

FSB: What is the greatest reward/gift you think you have received?

Being a New Zealand JP and receiving a Media Award from Tangi Reka. After 27 years in broadcasting and working to promote positive outcomes in our community has been a joy, if not an honour for me. I will continue to do what I can to raise the bar for our people.

FSB: What do you find most challenging?

Understanding people who may not always be understood easily by their peers, and even those closest to them. And finding ways of helping our communities in times of great need and desperation.

FSB: If there was one thing you could do for the Cook Islands what would that be?

I would make our country debt-free so our children and their children will be happy to go back home and live happily ever after.

FSB: If there was one thing you could do for our Cook Islands people in New Zealand what would that be?

Help encourage each other to save for tomorrow and live your dreams the way you want.

FSB: What is it that you most want to impress upon the young people of today?

I would like to see them succeed in all that they do to build and maintain a better future for them and for the generations to come. I hope my involvement on stage, on air, in the community…will inspire them to come out of their shells and be proud advocates of the Cook Islands and patriotic.

FSB: What is most rewarding about being a Cook Islander living in New Zealand?

I find it self-satisfying to be able to help make a difference in the lives of our people. Being a member of the Triple Stars of the Pacific gives us automatic entry here, but working for the betterment of others makes it rewarding for me to being here.

FSB: What do you think are the biggest problems facing our people living in New Zealand?

I may not have lived here long enough to understand the makeup of our people and their problems, but from a broader view, perhaps it could be social services/budgeting support, health, housing, stronger emphasis on higher education and better job security/opportunities to support our growing families.

FSB: How do we overcome those problems?

A concerted “taokotai/akakoromaki” effort is required and there are many agencies that are able to help us understand and work our way out of the doom and gloom but the first step/move will have to be from us ourselves. It has to start with you!

FSB: What do you love most about your job as a broadcaster?

Being of service to connect and reach out to our communities whilst using radio as a bridge to linking our listeners and networks nationwide/worldwide.

FSB: What inspired you to pursue a career in broadcasting?

I had a great interest at the age of four to do just that…at a time when cyclones was a normal part of living in the islands. I wanted to be able to learn the wind directions and be a tool for informing our communities of the latest special weather bulletins and help us get through those hard times and sometimes late nights. I was fortunate to work and learn from my mentors Ngamarama Syme (Aunty Nan), Freddie Keil and Ngapoko Tuara, to name a few.

FSB: Is the Cook Islands still home for you?

Home is always where the heart is. I may be living here to help support my family and the community, but the Cook Islands will always be home to me.

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  • Comment Link Turumetua Hewett Wednesday, 07 September 2016 14:20 posted by Turumetua Hewett

    Just replying to Tony Ryan's comment. Tony the profile above says interesting Cook Islanders born after 1965 not real Cook Islanders as you stated in your comment.

  • Comment Link Pokia N Koteka Friday, 11 September 2015 07:54 posted by Pokia N Koteka

    Akamaroiroi e ta matou tamaiti, Kia hua, kia tata, kia mamaharahara ite tahuatanga o to ui tupuna.

  • Comment Link Anthony Ryan Tuesday, 08 September 2015 23:56 posted by Anthony Ryan

    Lmao........The real Cook Islanders were born before 1965.What a stupid statement to make......

  • Comment Link Rose Akava Tuesday, 08 September 2015 15:43 posted by Rose Akava

    Well done Bernard! To reo tangi reka e tama, navenave ki taku taringa.

    I am so proud of you brother:)

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