Well-known Cook Islands broadcaster Tony Hakaoro who passed away on Friday after a sudden illness, will be laid to rest today in Titikaveka.
Hakaoro was a popular talkback host and his afternoon show “Karangaranga” on Cook Islands Radio had a big following. It’s understood the broadcaster suffered a massive stroke and went into a coma.
Tributes to the hard-hitting interviewer are being received from many, including the politicians he often took to task on Karangaranga or in media conferences.
Prime Minister’s Office media adviser Thomas Wynne issued a statement on behalf of the OPM describing Hakaoro as a “formidable warrior.”
Wynne said Hakaoro “was not afraid to confront tough issues or tough questions to whomever he needed to ask or to confront. His honest approach and defence of the freedom of expression will be greatly missed by the wider reach of people that Tony and his radio show touched each and every week.”
Wynne said the late broadcaster represented the “segment of society that was of influence and very much part of the political landscape, and commonly known as the fourth estate.”
“He was, however, always first a brother, a father and a part of a larger family who will miss him greatly, simply for who he was. On behalf of the Office of the Prime Minister our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Tony Hakaoro and especially his children during this great time of loss.”
“Aro’anui and farewell our friend Tony and again our thoughts are with those who loved you most and will miss you dearly.”
Finance minister Mark Brown who appeared regularly on Karangarana, described Hakaoro as “a radio reporter who was very forward in putting his opinions out in the public.”
Speaking from the Pacific Forum in Samoa, Browne said: “If you didn’t like them you could ignore them but it certainly wouldn’t stop him.
“If you wanted to challenge his opinions or comments, then you needed to confront him over the radio. I have been interviewed by Tony on many occasions. And although he was tenacious in his probing and questioning, he would always allow me to make my case when we argued over topics or certain points. And although we did not agree on many points of discussion, we would often agree to disagree.”
Brown added that “what many people may not know was that in private discussions with me, Tony was always courteous and friendly and we always shook hands when we met outside of the radio station.
“He had a very popular following for his Karangaranga show, he added colour and interest to his radio listeners. That takes a special talent in a medium that only relies on the sound of your voice. Love him or hate him, radio will be a little bit more boring now without him.”
Freelance journalist Florence Syme-Buchanan who was often invited on to Karangaranga, described her late media colleague as “absolutely courageous.”
“Tony challenged government officials, police, Cabinet ministers and the church about issues that other media workers wouldn’t touch because they are controversial. He really believed in holding authorities accountable for their actions.”
Syme-Buchanan recalls the comments of the late broadcaster who constantly demanded accountability and transparency from government officials: “Face up to our people and be honest with our people. Once you start dodging questions, avoiding interviews, then more and more of our people start getting suspicious and start asking questions. The public and media have every right to ask questions of government when they are suspected of dodgy dealings.”
Those statements typified Tony’s stance. His passing will leave a huge void in the local media.
He will be hugely missed by his many followers and those who believed that Tony truly was the fearless voice of the ordinary Cook Islander, “says Syme-Buchanan.
Germancy Iro, the daughter of the late radio broadcaster, has advised on social media that the funeral will be held at 11am tomorrow at the residence of Papa Teava Iro (opposite Iro’s Beach Villa)