Election candidates explain their aims

Tuesday May 22, 2018 Written by Published in Politics
Election candidates explain their aims

CINews this week begins a series of articles profiling candidates in next month’s general election.

Pumati Isaraela

One Cook Islands

Constituency: Arutanga-Reureu-Nikaupara

OCI candidate Pumati Isaraela says determination and hard work keeps him focused in his bid to win next month’s election in Are Nikau for a second term.

His involvement with the church and community, plus his experiences as a former mayor, councillor, mataiapo, cultural leader, orator, adviser, elder, diakono, grower, departmental manager and teacher are some of the leadership qualities Isaraela says he brings when representing the people of Are Nikau in Parliament.

Pumati’s term in parliament has earned him the respect from his colleagues as a man of mana, integrity and honesty. He is regarded as a “quiet achiever” but his determination and decision-making abilities are well known and he is articulate in his efforts to communicate with everyone in his constituency to achieve results.

His strong Christian beliefs and community involvement plays a major part in his life and he is supported by the community, his wife and family. He believes it’s time for change and is confident, his supporters will maintain that view and return him back to parliament.

Amongst his busy schedule, Isaraela spends time in his plantation growing pineapples and vegetables. A family orientated man, he also loves spending time with his children and grandchildren which he says keeps him active and busy. If he’s not at church or attending village and council meetings, he is involved with cultural or sporting activities that support Aitutaki initiatives.

He believes Cook Islands youth are the key to the future and his focus is to support the building of low cost housing for them to encourage them to remain on Aitutaki. Water storage is another priority. “With the support of our people, this will definitely be a priority after June,” Isaraela says


Teresa Manarangi-Trott


Constituency: Tupapa Maraerenga

Teresa is from the family of Upokotokoa, second child of Makea Apera, through her grandmother Tutamaeva, who married Ringiao Manarangi, an orator Potikitaua for the Makea Ariki.

Manarangi-Trott’s father is Tutamaeva and Ringiao’s son Nono Manarangi, who married Kathleen from Mangaia and had 10 children.

She grew up in Tupapa after moving there from Auckland at a young age in 1964, at a time when Cook Islands was governed by New Zealand.

She later returned to New Zealand to attend boarding school and eventually became a teacher in Auckland before returning home to Tupapa in 1987 with her husband Owen and their two children, Lara and Charles.

Since then Teresa has spent a lot of time working in the community, with the Chamber of Commerce, and has been involved to a large degree in the periphery of government.

She has also worked extensively with government agencies around the Pacific, and is a member of the Specialist Sub-Committee for Regionalism, which supports the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.

A cornerstone of her campaign is to bring back the Vaka Councils, established with an annual budget, to give more power to the actual community to decide what needs to be done and how to do it.

“Vaka Councils can deal with things like local environment issues, animal care, drainage and the clearing of streams,” she says.

Other important issues for Manarangi-Trott include electoral reform, a strong and affordable telecommunications network, strengthening government decision-making, and encouraging private-sector investment in the Cook Islands.

She says she is an ideal candidate in terms of understanding different aspects of how government should be run, and aspects of what needs to happen for the future.


Margharet Matenga


Constituency: Titikaveka

Margharet Matenga believes strongly in Christian values that will keep Titikaveka achieving goals that help everyone in the village - young and old, the wealthy and the not so well-off,

Her drive is to enable the community to rise to its best levels. 

Recent issues with party politics consolidated Matenga’s determination to stand as an Independent candidate.

“Party politics and manoeuvring wastes time and takes away from talking about the issues that affect us in our homes, our businesses with our families and futures,” Matenga said.

“I understand that we all have grown up with party connections and I know that we often vote with our family traditions. But 2018 is a different time and I am asking you to join me in stepping out of that mould.

“We can’t waste any more years talking and not acting. Titikaveka needs new directions and a Member of Parliament that will bring benefits back to our village.”

Matenga said that her upbringing by father the late Papa Dan Kamana had been instrumental in making her the successful person she is today.

“I’ve been brought up in a very strong Christian family. He taught us a work ethic, as he planted food every day that we would eat. He’s the reason that I’m here,” Matenga said.

Papa Dan was also a Cabinet minister from the late 1960s to the early 1990s, so Matenga is aware of what it takes to be an MP.

She said her father believed in “no excuses”, and as a result she sets the highest standards for herself.

Making her New Zealand international netball debut at a young age, Matenga went on to be one of the greatest Silver Ferns ever. As a goal shoot, she was an integral part of the side that won the 1987 World Cup, New Zealand’s first, and in 1999 she was named in the Silver Ferns Team of the Century.

In her campaign, Matenga is focusing on the core village issues that have not been addressed over the past eight years.

Some of the issues that she has highlighted include village infrastructure and the way forward for Titikaveka, community spirit, safety and unity, agriculture, environmental sustainability and security, future generations, the country’s resources, education and commercial opportunities.

If elected Matenga says she will give these issues 24/7 focus, not simply two months around election time.           

“The time for Independent MPs in our government has never been more relevant than right now.

“Too much time has been wasted with parties bickering and point-scoring off each other instead of doing the work to make our communities safer, healthier and more prosperous places for all of us to live in.”

            - CL/Release


Lee Harmon

Democratic Party

Constituency: Tupapa Maraerenga

Lee Harmon was born in Tupapa Maraerenga and has lived all his life in the village. He describes himself as a successful but private family man.

Outside of his immediate family, Harmon says he is well connected genealogically with a number of tribes and he is very close to the Tupapa Maraerenga community, whether through his family connections and links with the work he does, whether in providing social assistance, or in his professional capacity.

Harmon regards himself, a professional and firmly believes that Tupapa Maraerenga is well overdue for the professional representation it deserves in parliament and should have.

If he is elected to parliament, Harmon says he will be able to share his wealth of experience in the aspects of accountability, attendance, discipline, honesty, skills in debate and transparency, which he practices as President of the Cook Islands Football Association and as a member of the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) Council.

FIFA has given Harmon the green light to stand in these elections. He says this means if he is successfully elected to represent Tupapa Maraerenga in parliament, he will be able to make the visions of many people become a reality both in Tupapa Maraerenga and nationally.

Harmon officially launched his campaign on May 3, with speeches made by party leader Tina Browne, finance spokesman James Beer and Harmon. 


George (Maggie) Angene

One Cook Islands

Constituency: Tupapa Maraerenga

Angene was born in Tupapa Rarotonga and is married to Ngamataiti. They have six children – five boys and a girl.

The current MP for Tupapa Maraerenga, he attended primary school in Rarotonga but did not proceed to secondary level education.

He says he experienced a rough childhood upbringing resulting in lengthy terms of imprisonment. Angene was converted to the Christian faith while in prison, where he learnt to read and write. He also learned new skills such as carpentry, electrical work, engineering and block laying. He left prison with the sole purpose of helping his people.

Since that time, he has built over 40 homes, assisted with the restoration of a number of church and community facilities, schools and participated in various community activities including fundraising, renovations and building projects. He has been credited with installing two community water stations in Tupapa to help his people obtain clean, filtered water.

An active sportsman, he is involved in rugby, rugby league, soccer, table tennis and represented the Cook Islands at league and rugby. Angene has also written several poems and has had several songs composed in honour of his achievements.

He entered parliament in 2010 under the Cook Islands Party banner and represented the Cook Islands at the 2013 Commonwealth Parliamentary Associations Meeting in Tonga.

Angene says he stands to represent his constituency of Tupapa and believes One Cook Islands will help him achieve those objectives. His nickname, “Action Man”, is widely recognised and he is probably the most visible and colourful MP the Cook Islands has seen during this last parliamentary term.


Tungane (Nane) Williams

One Cook Islands


Born in Rarotonga and married to Keta Williams, Williams has devoted her life to raising her family and serving her Lord, church and community.

She was educated on both Rarotonga and Mauke and is proud to be a fulltime housewife and volunteer community worker.

She is also a well known business woman with business interests in Mauke and Rarotonga and served as a Board Member on the Business Trade and Investment Board from 2011 – 2013.

She began her career working for government in 1977 with the Statistics office and since then, has worked for the Ministry of Education as Personnel Officer and Lands and Survey as chief administration officer. She also spent time as an administrator for the Cook Islands Christian Church in 2003.

Her extensive background in the church and women’s organisations includes: Youth Adviser to the Pacific Conference of Churches in 1985, Youth representative to the Youth World Council of Churches 1987, Central Committee Member – Pacific representative on the Controlling Body of the World Council of Churches; Pacific Women and Pacific representative World Council of Churches Executive Committee; Co-ordinator of the WCC/SPC and CICC HIV & AIDS Committee; former Resource person on the Laiety Committee of the WCC, Corporate Member World Association for Christian Communication (previously held positions of Vice President, Pacific Regional representative and Executive member; former member of CIANGO; first woman captain of the Matavera Boys Brigade and Secretary of the Cook Islands Battalion in 1993.

Williams has many other affiliated interests including sports and community but her main focus for now is gender. In 2004, she was awarded Woman of the Year by the American Biographical Institute USA for outstanding services to women in the church. She intends to promote gender issues at the highest level if successful at the elections and is keen to progress the relationship between Mauke and her New Zealand Maori ancestors related to Paikea. This is Nane’s second attempt to secure the seat in Mauke.

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