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Candidacy row heads for court

Monday March 26, 2018 Written by Published in Politics
Margaret Matenga has still not been confi rmed as the Cook Islands Party parliamentary candidate for Titikaveka, the village where she has lived in for 29 years. 18032617 Margaret Matenga has still not been confi rmed as the Cook Islands Party parliamentary candidate for Titikaveka, the village where she has lived in for 29 years. 18032617

Members of the Titikaveka Cook Islands Party (TCIP) committee are likely to face court action after they failed to confirm Margaret Matenga as their candidate for this year’s general election.


Matenga won an election for the CIP candidacy in May last year, but when CINews went to print yesterday, her selection had still not been formally acknowledged. 

Three weeks ago the committee received a letter from the Matenga’s lawyer, Norman George, asking for an apology and for Matenga to be named as the candidate. If she wasn’t named, court action would follow, George said.

The deadline given to the committee was 21 days, which expired on Saturday.

Margaret’s husband, Teariki Matenga, said the family would now be speaking to George about legal action.

Margaret, who was chosen in the Silver Ferns Team of the Century, defeated two other nominees on May 15, and her candidacy was expected to be signed off on May 21.

However, the chairperson at the time, Vai Henry, refused to sign.

Matenga said she could not figure out why she had not been announced as the candidate, despite being formally elected.

Four months after the election, when there was still no action, she was approached by the Tupapa Maraerenga CIP committee to run against One Cook Islands (OCI) leader and incumbent George Maggie.

She was approached by the Tupapa committee because she had not formally been announced as the Titikaveka candidate.

However, Matenga declined to run in Tupapa Maraerenga, as she was expecting to be named as the Titikaveka candidate.

When that didn’t happen, she decided to approach George, a family friend.

The letter from George was given the committee three weeks ago, but Matenga said last week that she hadn’t wanted to take the party to court.

“I didn’t want to go to court, I wanted to sort it out in-house.”

Matenga said that before Saturday, her family had been approached by a member of the committee, asking if they would be interested in Margaret re-contesting the election along with the two candidates who had been unsuccessful in the first election. The winner would be named as the official CIP nominee, the committee member said.

The family declined, asking instead for an apology and for TCIP to perform their duty and officially announce Margaret as the election winner.

They later received an apology from the committee acknowledging fault, yet she was still not named as the official candidate.

Teariki Matenga said the committee would have to explain in court why they had failed to name Margaret. Their only excuse so far was that Henry had said last year she was “too busy” to sign off on the election.

“Why would they refuse to put her name forward? They have not been able to answer that question at any step of the process,” Teariki said.

Margaret said she had never expected this situation to occur when she had decided to run last year.

“Next year will be 30 years that I’ve lived in this village. I’ve given my life to the church and to sports of this community, so I don’t know why it’s been such an issue.

“I never thought it would go this far.”

-Conor Leathley


  • Comment Link marion titia john Friday, 30 March 2018 10:53 posted by marion titia john

    OLD school stuff still reigns even in the Cooks

  • Comment Link Inano McMurchy Monday, 26 March 2018 18:22 posted by Inano McMurchy

    This situation should not have been allowed to even get to this stage. This district's election process has been breached and the appointed chief electoral officer, Taggi Tangimetua (?) needs to ensure due process is met under the law.

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