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Tapaitau ready to be island voice

Monday June 18, 2018 Written by Published in Politics

Independent candidate Robert Tapaitau says the people of Penrhyn will now have a voice through him.

 

The 44-year-old, who contested in the elections for the first time, won the Penrhyn seat with 48 votes.

He defeated incumbent Member of Parliament Willie John of Cook Islands Party on 29 votes and Democratic Party candidate and former Cabinet minister Wilkie Rasmussen, who managed 18 votes.

In an interview with CI News from Penrhyn yesterday, Tapaitau said he was confident of the win. He claimed the people in his constituency had not been represented well in the past, adding that would change under his reign as their MP.

“I came back from Australia in 2016. I lived there for 10 to 11 years. The reason why I came back was that I wanted to help my people.

“The people of Tongareva wanted their voice to be heard and for the past years, they haven’t been able to achieve that,” Tapaitau said.

“I came to be their voice and that’s why I chose to stand as an independent in this election.

“I think the result speaks for itself. The people have spoken and supported me overwhelmingly and I thank them for putting their trust in me.”

CI News understands Tapaitau is one of the independent candidates the Democratic Party is negotiating with to form the coalition government. Rose Brown, who won the Teenui-Mapumai seat in Atiu, is the other independent candidate.

“I’m currently having meetings with my committee about the next step and we haven’t decided anything yet,” he said.

Tapaitau, a building contractor by profession, comes from a political background. His father, the late Tepure Tapaitau, who was the first Cook Islander to become the Commissioner of Police, served as an MP and Cabinet minister for the Democratic Party and the Cook Islands Party.