She will be accompanied by deputy Clerk of Parliament Helen Maunga, who is attending the conference as acting clerk.
This was confirmed to CI News by the Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives of the New Zealand Parliament, which is hosting the annual conference, to be attended by more than 60 parliamentarians from around the Pacific.
Matapo, who retained her Tamarua seat on Mangaia under the Democratic Party banner in the recent general election, confirmed she would be attending the conference.
However, she said she was unaware of how she came by the title of ‘interim deputy speaker’ for this conference.
When asked if this position meant she might be likely to cross the floor to join the Cook Islands Party (CIP) in their bid to gain a majority and form the government, Matapo replied that “there was nothing like that”.
“I have no idea as to why they have decided to put me as the interim deputy speaker of the parliament for this conference,” Matapo said.
“I just found out that I was attending this conference and when I looked up the details, then I realised that I was attending under that position.
“When I asked how come I was selected, I was informed that normally the MPs who get re-elected get the chance and maybe there wasn’t anyone suitable available from CIP to attend this. But I don’t know how come they placed me in this conference under that (interim deputy speaker) title.”
CINews was unable to obtain comment from Parliamentary Services as to how or why Matapo was elected to attend the conference as the interim deputy speaker.
Attempts made for comment from the governing CIP on Matapo’s new interim position also proved futile.
The previous deputy speaker was CIP’s Mona Ioane, who lost his Vaipae-Tautu seat in Aitutaki in the June 14 election. Ioane was first appointed to the deputy speaker position in 2016 after Rose Brown, who then held the post, crossed the floor to join the Democratic Party.
CINews was also unable to obtain comment from the Democratic Party on their MP’s new interim position, as their leader Tina Browne is currently out of the country. However, a party member contacted by the newspaper said they were unaware of Matapo’s participation in the conference as interim deputy speaker.