At his son’s funeral service on Thursday, Mona Ioane Sr spoke from the heart about his son Mona, and called on the community to look out for their mapu.
He said his children were the apples of his heart – that to lose one was heart-breaking.
He told young Mona’s friends and family he did not want his son’s death to be in vain; that he did not want other parents to ever have to grieve like he and his wife Grace are now grieving.
“You have an education – we need more doctors and lawyers, there aren’t enough,” he said.
“Make your parents proud: I don’t want to attend another funeral.”
Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna was at young Mona’s funeral service and said he was deeply moved by the words spoken by his grieving father.
“There have been too many fatalities. No one should lose a child, it is devastating beyond belief,” he told Cook Islands News afterwards.
And he has had enough of young people – “our people” – being killed on Rarotonga’s roads.
This week, Puna has held top level meetings with key stakeholders including the Cook Islands Police Commissioner Maara Tetava, senior police staff and Crown Law to discuss proposed changes being implemented to road safety legislation.
“We need to start to open dialogue about speeding, use of helmets and drink driving,” he said.
A March deadline has been set by the Prime Minister to present the revised legislation to the Cabinet. It will include:
· Making the wearing of helmets mandatory for all motorbike users;
· Reducing the breath alcohol limit from 400mcg to 250mcg per litre in breath, in line with New Zealand and Australia laws;
· Banning mobile phone and earphone use on motorbikes and in vehicles;
· Banning the use of motorbikes from 10pm until 6am.
Tougher penalties are set to be imposed under the new legislation, especially in regards to repeat offenders, he said.
The statistics around road fatalities make for grim reading, he said. There had been 24 road deaths in the past five years, mainly in a concentrated area between Matavera and Black Rock.
“You don’t have to be a scientist to realise these statistics are extremely high, they’re too high. We are talking about some of the worst in the world per head of population,” he said.
“Enough is enough, we are taking a strong stance on this and will work with all key agencies to make these changes. My hope is that everyone will agree these are wise steps towards saving the lives of our people.”