Her parents Ngatuaine and Miimetua Raela of Nikaupara are concerned about the welfare of their daughter, their youngest of six children.
Raela was travelling to the US from Rarotonga with a close family friend and Aitutaki resident, US citizen Marc Pearce who had previously taken four of her children for a holiday.
Her mother Ngatuaine said Puna was excited to finally be going on a holiday to the US for a month.
With the traumatic incident, gaining social media attention worldwide, the distressed mother now just wants her daughter back home - “te inangaro ua nei au I taku tamaine kia akaoki ia mai.”
Pearce is a close friend and a neighbour of the Raela family and is a good person to their kids - “e tangata meitaki,” she said.
Sometimes he takes the kids to school and picks them up, always provides a cake for their birthdays if he is on the island, and he is good to the whole family, said Ngatuaine.
She confirmed that Pearce has phoned twice from the US to inform them about their daughter and insists that he does not know where the US authorities are holding her.
Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration (MFAI) Tepaeru Herrmann, responding to an email from Cook Islands News, said they are aware of a Cook Islands national who is currently in the care of United States (US) authorities in Los Angeles following entry into the US on May 26.
“MFAI has prioritised attention to this matter and is continuing to work closely with domestic and international agencies including the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade who are providing consular assistance to the Cook Islands national in California.”
The Ministry are giving priority attention to this matter, that involve a number of complexities which require multi-agency, transnational co-operation.
In an email to Cook Islands News, Aimee Miller who is related to Pearce through marriage, said Pearce is like a second grandfather to this family’s children.
As these children have gotten older he has been bringing them for vacations in the US “to show them there is a huge world beyond their little island”.
Miller said Pearce had all the required documentation showing he had permission from the parents, her passport, notarised documents, everything Customs and Border Protection (CBP) could need to pass them through customs, but CBP stopped them.