He used to have a story on the island of Penryhn/Tongareva. He would open up one year, close the next, and reopen … on customer demand.
His grandniece, Helen Lina Kirikava from Omoka, remembers how some customers didn’t pay what they owed – but most of the time he didn’t bother to collect the debts.
“He was very generous and still fishing, even sharing his catch with people half his age; for him these are just simple things and a way of life,” she says.
Papa Saitu Raukarere Joe Marsters passed away last week, on his home island.
Just this year, before the closures to the Pa Enua borders, Queen’s Representative Sir Tom Marsters had presented him with the British Empire Medal in 2018 for his contribution to the community.
Not only was he a man of faith, he was a man of the people, says Kirikava, who recalled her “special Papa” with a heavy heart, knowing he would never read it.
“I saw the tears from the eyes of his granddaughter that he cherished and loved dearly,” she said.
“These memories I share are parts of the life about a humble man who I was lucky enough to call “Soa” Saitu Raukarere Joe Marsters.”
Papa Saitu was born on May 7, 1939, to Heture Takumeahinangaro vahine and Takaikura Takumeahinangaro tane Joe Marsters in Tetautua, Tongareva. He hailed from the genealogical line of William and Matauia Marsters.
In 1963 he married his true love Mama Roriki Mose. They raised their 10 children, many feeding children and grandchildren. Mama Roriki passed away in 2018.
On their return from Rarotonga to Tongareva in 1967, both were appointed deacons for the Tetautua Ekalesia church; in 1971 he became the deacon secretary – a role he held for 45 years.
He served as mayor of Penrhyn from 1987 to 1994. Papa Saitu was also the Boys Brigade captain for more than 20 years, and a member of the island council for the past 36 years.
“Not only was he striving in his faith, he was also wining the hearts of his people,” Kirikava said.
“Oh how he loved to sing and dance, he and his wife were hymn books in the making.
“I loved how he would always add insult to insult when we were mucking around, and I will miss our knucklebone chur chur greetings and jam sessions on his visits to the bank. “
She said it was his life’s wish to enter the gates of the Cook Islands Christian Church at the Takamoa Theological College to serve the Lord, but due to circumstances beyond his control, that wasn’t possible.
However, he was proud to see his dreams fulfilled by five of his children and three grandsons.
“Papa Saitu was as humble as they come, not an ounce of hatred or selfishness in him,” she said.
“He was always full of joy and happiness and loved by all who knew him; a loving and faithful servant to his family, to his people and to his God.
“Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble.
“Ka oronga uaia mai oki te o no kotou ki roto i te basileia mutukore o to tatou Atu o Iesu Mesia, to tatou ora ra.
“And you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
“E teianei, e aku au taeake, ka akamaroiroi, kia kitea tikaia to koutou kapiki angaia e te iki angaia; kia pera oki koutou, kare ua ia e inga.” (2 Peter 1:10-11)
“Te akaloha e, thank you for the wonderful memories.
“Te ra e hi!”