Prominent Cook Islands traditional leader Pauline Margaret Rakera Taripo has been bestowed the title of Dame in the 2012 Queens New Year Honours.
Taripo locally known properly as Makea Karika Margaret Ariki has received the highest honour of all Cook Islanders in this years list.
She has been made a Dame Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (DBE) the second highest rank in the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.
The DBE is Taripos second Queens honour.
In 1993 she was made a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the New Year honours list.
Taripo is an important tribal leader in the Cook Islands, as well as a patron and member of various community organisations and groups.
Born on December 12, 1919 she was the second child of Karika Pa George Ariki DCM and Kamoe Mataiapo Ngapoko.
Taripo went to Avarua primary school and St Josephs school before gaining employment as a sales assistant with the Cook Islands Trading Company and in a Takuvaine farmers store.
On the death of her elder sister in 1928 she became an aide to her grandmother Karika Takau Ariki.
It was during this period, until the death of her grandmother in 1942, that Taripos ariki duties were fostered.
Her father acceded the Makea Karika Ariki title from 1942 to 1949, and at 29 years of age Taripo succeeded her father to the title on May 14, 1949.
That year she was appointed to the Rarotonga Island Council and served until self-government in 1965.
In 1942 Taripo also married her late husband Ernest Teiho Taripo, who was from the Tinomana Ariki family and held the tribal title of Teariki Tapurangi Rangatira.
They had five children and Taripo now has many grandchildren as well as great grandchildren.
She served on the legislative assembly from 1957 to 1959 and represented the Cook Islands at a south Pacific conference in Papua New Guinea during that time.
Taripo is an inaugural member of the House of Ariki, established in 1967.
She served as vice president for the first term of the house then became president in 1978 a position she held until 1980 and again between 1990 and 1994.
Still an executive member of the House of Ariki, Taripo has also represented the organisation at a Polynesian indigenous peoples conference held in Auckland during 1992.
A Girl Guide since the organisations inception in the Cook Islands in 1928, Taripo served as president for more than six years.
She is a devoted member of the Avarua Cook Islands Christian Church (CICC) and an advocate of the Takuvaine Ekalesia.
Taripo accepts invitations to and supports other church denomination activities on Rarotonga and is patroness of the CICC womens fellowship.
She is a past patroness of the Cook Islands National Council of Women, as well as the Child Welfare Association with which she was an active member for many years and served as president. From 1902 to 1922 Taripos grandmother made land available to the crown for public purposes and government buildings in Avarua, and Taripo still honours the agreement.
In 2004 she officially opened Rarotongas new courthouse. Taripo is a landowner of the Takitumu Conservation Area and ardently supports the protection of wildlife and surrounds.
She was one of the landowners who carried the first endangered Kakerori birds to Atiu for resettlement in 2001, and since its inception in 1996 she has been patroness of the Te Ipukarea Society.
Taripo was also an active sportswoman, excelling in tennis and athletics winning the Cook Islands womens sprint champion title in 1939.
She is also a past president of the Pan Pacific Southeast Asia Womens Association.
In 2009 the National Environment Service launched an annual environment award called Makona Aorangi, and Taripo was the first to receive it for her long standing commitment to environmental causes.