The Nikao MP, known to one and all as “Aunty Mau” says she has triumphed in a total of eight elections in her time. And she says she has “just about seen it all,” as far as Cook Islands politics are concerned.
She’s been minister of internal affairs and agriculture and Ministry of Works and was the first woman to be appointed deputy prime minister. She has also awarded an OBE for her services to the public service and the community.
Speaking at her family home early yesterday afternoon, well before any election results were announced, she was philosophical about her chances in the 2018 election, saying it remained to be seen how well a new and younger generation of politicians rising through the ranks would fare.
As family and supporters began gathering on the shaded deck behind her home, Aunty Mau, who will celebrate her 74th birthday in two months’ time, acknowledged she is getting on in years, but said she still had the energy to represent her constituency for another four-year term.
“But only God really knows how things will go. Every day is another day God has given me and I am thankful for it.”
The hard-working MP, known for her tireless work in the community and her dedication to her family, also reflected yesterday on the early days of her political career and the 1999 election which resulted in a hung parliament.
Prime minister the late Sir Terepai Maote was ousted by his deputy, Dr Robert Woonton, in 2002 and numerous short-lived coalitions and party infighting eventually resulted in cabinet minister Jim Marurai leading the country.
Despite all the political turmoil, Aunty Mau looks back on those times as “the good days.”
“I think politicians were more honest and straightforward back then. People want honesty from their leaders.”
Not given to harsh criticism of her political opponents, Aunty Mau says Henry Puna’s CIP government has done the best they can for the country.
“If we (the Demos) win this time, we will do our best too. There’s a lot to be done in the villages because some of them have had nothing done for them in a long time.
“I don’t want to say too much about the outer islands, but I think the next government should definitely put more money into Rarotonga.
“Our roads and water supply aren’t good. The water supply might be alright when it’s raining, but it doesn’t rain all the time.”
When it comes down to basics, Aunty Mau, who was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2010, says the most important thing is that everyone in the Cook Islands works together.
“What we want is more unity – and to make sure that everyone gets a say.”
Aunty Mau says she is forever grateful to her husband Ngari, their family and her supporters for the help they have given her during the lead up to this year’s snap election.
“I can’t do it all by myself and I am so grateful to my family and my committee. Lots of the original committee members have passed on, but others are still alive and kicking and I thank all the loyal workers who have supported me.”