“I have always been interested in going into the ministry, ever since I can remember. My uncle was a minister as well.”
As a 21-year-old he moved to Brisbane to help his grandfather and met his wife Louise. The now parents of four applied to the college through their Presbyterian minister, and after a short visit back to Pukapuka their study began. Louise, who grew up in her own home church in Brisbane, Australia, finds the college training great but sometimes challenging, “especially when classes are in Maori”.
She is gradually learning the language, “and the kids are picking it up at school as well”.
The couple, who live on site with the other trainees, believe they have made lifelong friends who will be part of their support structure as they graduate and spread to other ministries.
“It will be good to go out and serve in the churches. I’d like to stay here for a while and even spend some time on Pukapuka before heading back to Brisbane,” Talaru says, “but it’s not up to us in the end.”
There are about 20 married couples on campus, as well as two single students, although one student will marry this month. The wives are encouraged to take part in the training as well, and if they complete their studies can also graduate with a four-year degree alongside their husbands.
The students have finished their first and second years and will graduate to second and third year studies this year.
Students come from Cook Islands Christian Churches in Rarotonga, Australia and New Zealand.
Principal Tere Marsters, who holds a Masters degree in Biblical studies, became a student at the college himself for six months in 2015, giving him a different perspective.
“The main aim of the college is to equip and empower our people to be as effective as possible once they are out in the ministry,” he says.
Takamoa Theological College, established in 1839, is the oldest in the South Pacific and the historic Mission House, built in the 1830s, is open to the public. The museum is especially interesting to locals and visitors. A new library, being built by students, is taking shape and will house new computers with internet connections and more books.
“We are constantly looking at raising the standard of learning and keeping up with changes,” Marsters says.