Maoate Jr in, Heather out

Friday October 05, 2018 Written by Published in Politics
Terepai Maoate Jr. Picture: Facebook. 18100427 Terepai Maoate Jr. Picture: Facebook. 18100427

Terepai Maoate Jr has been appointed the new parliamentary Leader of the Opposition taking over from William “Smiley” Heather.


The Member of Parliament (MP) from Amuri-Ureia, who is believed to have been appointed to the post this week, will lead the Democratic Party in Parliament.

Tina Browne will remain the party leader until their annual conference which is yet to be confirmed. Browne, who was appointed as the party leader last year, was unsuccessful in winning the Rakahanga seat in the 2018 general election.

Former Opposition leader Heather said he decided to step aside to “keep the unity among the members”.

He wished his successor Maoate Jr the very best in his new role.

In Parliament last week, Heather was questioned by Cultural Development minister George Maggie about the Opposition leadership and he indicated he was in control.

Maoate Jr said he would comment about his appointment after meeting with some of the party members.

He was one of the outspoken Opposition MPs in the opening session of the Parliament which was adjourned sine die on Friday last week.

Maoate Jr, also known as Junior Maoate, is the eldest son of former Cook Islands prime minister, the late Sir Terepai Maoate.

He was born on the island of Manihiki and currently resides on Aitutaki, where his family is originally from.

The 56-year-old Maoate Jr was first elected as a MP in 2004 general election and re-elected in the 2006 snap election.

He served as the associate minister of Finance and Health during his time in Parliament. He also served as a member on the Special Marine Select Committee (2005), Commerce Select Committee (2007) and was the chairman of the Finance and Expenditure Select Committee in 2007.

In 2010, Maoate Jr threatened to quit the Democratic Party if his father’s nomination for the seat of Ngatangiia was not confirmed. However he ran as a Democratic candidate, but failed to win re-election in 2010 and 2014.

Maoate Jr was re-elected into Parliament at the 2018 election after managing 192 votes against Cook Islands Party’s Toanui Isamaela, who received 132 votes.

He owns and runs a number of businesses on Aitutaki including tourist accommodation. Maoate Jr is also known for his community service having served in various, youth, sports and cultural bodies on the island.

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