Nga Teao-Papatua was emotional when discussing the death of the island’s dearly-beloved queen, and was overwhelmed with the response to her passing from not only Cook Islanders, but also people from many other countries.
The government was instrumental in bringing her body back to Rarotonga for a funeral at the Atiu hostel in Tupapa-Maraerenga, and also chartered flights to the island.
“They actually chartered the flight to take a government delegation, which included the Queen’s Representative Tom Marsters, health minister Nandi Glassie, and two representatives of the ariki,” Teao-Papatua said.
“There was also another flight catering for the families from New Zealand and Rarotonga, which I led.”
Teao-Papatua also thanked the bus service, for transporting family members from the morgue to the hostel, as well as New Zealand and Australia for their warm blessings, and especially the Atiu community.
While back on Atiu, she says she was overcome with emotion when it came time to say goodbye.
“I didn’t want to say goodbye. I just wanted to say, ‘may you rest in peace’.”
The next Rongomatane Ariki is Ada’s son, the eldest child, Nicholas “Nicky” Nicholls.
The announcement of his appointment was made last month at a meeting of the kopu ariki (the five tribes of the Kea family).
Kopu ariki spokesperson Apii Porio said the decision was unanimous, and that he was proud that the Rongomatane tradition for ariki selection was clear.
Nicholas asked for a year before taking up the title in order to sort out his work and life in Australia.
In the meantime, Nicholas’s uncle Tauu Porio will carry out the work that comes with the title.
The kopu ariki have delivered all notices according to custom to start the preparations for the inauguration. However, Teao-Papatua said a date for the investiture had not yet been set.
The date for the unveiling of the late Ada Rongomatane’s headstone is likely to be her 70th birthday on August 20 this year.
Another two headstones will be made for her brother Danny, on Atiu, and their father Tetupu here on Rarotonga.