Name: Teau Moana McKenzie ,
Vaka: Te Au O Tonga
Occupation: Company Director
Teau’s philosophy for life is to seize every opportunity life presents and to pass on to the next generation all she can.
And it’s with this challenge in mind that Teau has entered this year’s Miss Cook Islands pageant.
Teau was born in Rarotonga on March 12, 1995, the same day traditional voyaging canoe Vaka Te-Au-O-Tonga was launched. Her Dad, Ron McKenzie, played a role getting the vaka ready for its launch (he installed the original engine) and when Teau entered the world Papa Tom Davis suggested to Teau’s father that he name her after the vaka.
Raised mostly by her Dad, until her step mum came along, Teau grew up in a mechanic’s workshop when not at Avarua School. She can speak Maori - something she is very proud of. Together with her Dad, Teau owns a small building company here in Rarotonga. Her love of construction, home design and renovation grew from when she started working part-time at Bunnings whilst attending Westlake Girls High School in Auckland.
It was at Bunnings she learnt about the philosophy of team work. Tiling, painting, décor and renovating skills were all picked up through hands on experience and attending Bunnings courses during the five or so years she worked there.
Growing up in Rarotonga, Teau could be found playing all sorts of sports. She gives credit to the “Potiki Sports” programme that gave young ones the opportunity to try all sports. It was through this initiative that she was introduced to sailing at the age of 12.
Teau is probably best known to us in the Cook Islands for her competitive sailing skills. From the moment she took her first sail she dreamed about competing at the Olympics. Nine years later (in 2016) she represented the Cook Islands at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, in the women’s Laser Radial where she finished in 35th place. Her highlight from 2016 was the opening ceremony which she found incredibly humbling.
Teau has not given up on competing at a future Olympic Games: sailing is a sport many women compete in until their late 30s. For now, her focus is on her business, implementing behaviours that use less plastic in our daily lives and her self-imposed challenge for this year, competing in Miss Cook Islands.
Teau describes her style as “girly, when I get the chance” but most days you will find her wearing a pair of denim shorts, top and work boots!
She likes experimenting with different ways of preparing healthy foods, loves ika mata and if you invited Teau to a pot luck dinner she’d likely bring her signature dish of steak and mushrooms.
- Jaewynn McKay