In July Ngai Mamanu moved back to Rarotonga from Melbourne Australia where she had lived for the last 34 years.
She says she wanted to spend her remaining years on Rarotonga, where she was born. However, lacking a house to move into, the 75-year-old was forced to live in a tent on family land in Arorangi. Recently the local community rallied to help her, locating a suitable house for sale in Avarua. On Monday, local contractor Paul Mangakahia and his crew loaded it on to the back of a truck trailer and hauled it all the way to its new location in Arorangi village.
Mamanu says it’s the best Christmas present she could have wished for.
“I think it took about a whole day to move it here and Paul Mangakahia is going to come back to take it off the truck.”
Relocation and setting up of the two-bedroom home is being done as an Arorangi community project and Mamanu says she is extremely grateful for the help.
“I’m not sure, but I might even be in my new house by Christmas.”
Mamanu, who gets about with the aid of walking sticks, says living in the tent has been hard going at times, especially when the weather was cold, wet and windy.
“There is no running water and all I have had to cook on is a camp oven. The tent is not very waterproof either and it gets wet inside.”
Over the years most her extended family has moved to New Zealand and Australia, and while she says she misses their company and support, she is delighted to be living on the island of her birth.
However, it’s not the first time she’s been back.
“I have visited on holiday sometimes over the years.
“This is the place that I love.”