Sir Terepai Maoate
Health minister salutes Sir Terepai
‘Tribute to a great Cook Islander’
Len Brown receives honorary PR
‘An audacious pioneer’
Health minister salutes Sir Terepai
At yesterday’s health conference health minister Nandi Glassie paid tribute to Sir Terepai Maoate, who he said made health in the Cook Islands a personal and political priority.
He credits Sir Terepai’s persistence for his own personal decision to return to the Cook Islands.
”Back in 2001 in February I received a phone call from chief of staff at the time, he said the deputy prime minister would like you to come back and work in the Cook Islands. I said no. At that timethe government leadership was riddled with so many coalitions, in others words job security wasn’t secure at the time,“ he recalled.
”In May of the same time I received another call from Eddie, the chief of staff, that Sir Terepai Maoate would like to have a word with me in a hotel room in downtown Auckland. I went there and over a cup of tea he said ‘I want you to come back to the Cook Islands and head the ministry of outer island affairs’Four months later he sent me a contract.“
During the five years he worked for the then-ministry, and in the five years since, Glassie looked up to Sir Terepai as a political figure.
”I find Sir Terepai a very hardworking politician, a very strong debater, a person with principles, and as I’ve pondered over the past few nights I noticed that Sir Terepai, in my view, in my personal opinion, is a man of principle. He is guided by two key principles – first he wants to set a very high standard of living for the people of the Cook Islands. He is guided by that. Secondly he wants to provide the best quality of life for all Cook Islanders through the provision of quality health care.
”Those two principles as I noted have been pretty strong in Sir Terepai Maoate over the last five years. I’ve watched him debate in parliament and he’s a very strong debater. He wouldn’t stop at anything even if we in the opposition become quite critical, when it comes to budget time he won’t shift.“
He recalled Sir Terepai’s skilful negotiation with the Italian government, which successfully relieved some of the Cook Islands’ outstanding debt. He also recalled Sir Terepai’s passion for extracting profit from the Cook Islands’ manganese deposits.
”When I asked Sir Terepai, ‘Why are you pushing this manganese?’ he said, ‘I want the Cook Islands to have free education. I want the Cook Islands to have free health services. I want us to be like Norway’. That was the vision in Sir Terepai at that time.
”I will miss him in parliament. He is a strong debater. He provides a lot of questions and wisdom for people like myself.
”If I have to summarise Sir Terepai in one sentence I’m reminded of a quote by Sir Winston Churchill: that the price of greatness is responsibility. I find him (Sir Terepai) to be an absolutely responsible leader, not only in politics but in other spheres,“ Glassie said.
‘Tribute to a great Cook Islander’
In honour of the late Sir Terepai Maoate, Dr Joe Williams spoke at length about prostate cancer at yesterday’s annual health conference.
Introduced by session chair Dr Teariki ‘Kiki’ Maoate as a ”giant“ in the Cook Islands – one who hardly warrants an introduction – Dr Williams told the conference that Sir Terepai had specifically asked him to deliver his prostate cancer presentation.
Prostate cancer is a topic Dr Williams has explored extensively over the years, one that hit close to home for Sir Terepai.
”When he (Papa Pai) was in Auckland a month ago he said to me, ‘Would you please give that presentation on prostate cancer? I’ll be there’. And he said, ‘My friend, it’s going to be my last Cook Islands conference so give that presentation and I’ll be there’.“
Unfortunately he passed away the morning Dr Williams arrived in Rarotonga.
”I want to pause for a moment and pay tribute to this great Cook Islander,“ Dr Williams said, and asked the auditorium to stand and observe a moment of silence.
”We all remember him as one of the great sons of this country. This presentation is in his memory,“ he said before beginning his presentation.
Dr Williams talked about Sir Terepai’s passion for health and medicine.
”He was a huge person in the field of politics. He was a former prime minister, a former deputy prime minister, a former minister of health and a former minister of financeThere’s something about doctors in the Cook Islands. It’s the only country in the world where you have doctors that became prime ministers. It began with Sir Thomas Davis, then followed Sir Pupuke Robatithen myself, then Sir Terepai and then Dr Robert Woonton.“
He spoke about Sir Terepai’s work as a doctor in Manihiki and Aitutaki, and his recent involvement with the Cook Islands Prostate Foundation as its founder and first president.
He talked of his personal collaboration with Dr Maoate in 1968 on eradicating the Aitutaki filariasis, which the World Health Organisation eventually adopted as a model for the global elimination of lymphatic filariasis. As a result, similar programmes were conducted in French Polynesia and Samoa.
Dr Williams then changed tune and spoke about prostate cancer, which he said in New Zealand affects 3000 men annually and kills 600. Statistics are not available for Pacific communities.
He encouraged all Cook Islands men to be screened for prostate cancer, which is difficult to detect in stage two but by stage four difficult to control or cure.
The key is that it is preventable if detected early enough.
Dr Williams noted that prostate cancer is more prominent in men over the age of 70.
Symptoms include frequent urination, nocturia (frequent urination at night), blood in the urine, difficulty starting to urinate and retention. However, those symptoms can also be caused by other conditions, including trauma.
Doctors test for levels of an enzyme that is elevated in situations of prostate cancer, and have found that in New Zealand one in nine men is affected, and that in the Pacific one in seven men is at risk of contracting prostate cancer.
Screening reduces prostate cancer by 15 percent and the death rate by 33 percent, Dr Williams said.
He urged all men over 40 to be tested – those between 40 and 49 to be tested biennially, and those over 50 annually.
”I hope you do this for me, every man in the Cooks over the age of 40.“
Dr Stuart Gowland followed with his own research, warning of the risks and high costs associated with mass screening. He encouraged men of the appropriate age to be screened, rather than all men.
The late Sir Terepai with Lady Marito after being knighted at Buckingham Palace.
A state funeral will be held for the late Sir Terepai Maoate tomorrow at the National Auditorium.
The former prime minister, who was knighted by the Queen in 2007 for his long services to Cook Islands politics, died in Rarotonga on Monday after a long battle with prostate cancer.
Sir Terepai’s casket will depart for the public service at the National Auditorium at 9.30am, following a private family service at his family’s residence.
The pall bearers from the Ngatipa store to the Aotearoa Centre will be Ngati Vakatini, from the Aotearoa Centre to Te Pua O Te Ra the pall bearers will be health ministry staff, and members of the police will take it the rest of the way.
At the entrance of the auditorium, the casket will be received by Prime Minister Henry Puna and the leader of the opposition Wilkie Rasmussen.
Sir Terepai was a doctor by trade and was elected a Democratic Party member of parliament for Ngatangiia in 1983. He was prime minister from 1999 until 2002.
Family, friends and other members of the congregation will be invited to lay flowers and wreaths around the casket, before a prayer service is conducted by the Religious Advisory Council.
Tributes will be given by PM Puna, Rasmussen and Democratic Party MP Ngamau Munokoa.
There will also be addresses by Dr Joseph Williams and Sir Terepai’s son Dr Teariki Maoate.
The casket will then travel by hearse to Ngatangiia Cook Islands Christian Church.
Flags will be flown at half-mast for the day, to commemorate the life of Sir Terepai, who was born on September 1, 1934, and died on July 8, 2012.
The full programme is on page 8 today.
Len Brown receives honorary PR
Auckland Mayor Len Brown has been granted honorary permanent residence of the Cook Islands.
Rito-donning Auckland Mayor Len Brown said he was remembering the late Sir Terepai Maoate as he and Prime Minister Henry Puna signed a new memorandum of understanding (MOU) at a luncheon held at the office of the Prime Minister.
The new document replaces the former memorandum that was signed when former prime minister Maoate – who died on Monday – and former Manukau mayor Sir Barry Curtis signed the original memorandum in 2000.
”It was [Maoate] as prime minister of the Cook Islands, together with Sir Barry Curtis, who first signed the MOU cooperation between the former Manukau City Council and the Cook Islands,“ Brown said.
”It was his vision and Sir Barry’s that provided this platform that we now affirm today so I am remembering him and his contribution.
”Our assembling here today is a celebration of our link, of our relationship, of our connection between your country and our super city, the connection between our people, our businesses, our homes and our friends in the Cook Islands.“
Puna hailed the memorandum, which acts as a full partnership between Auckland as a region and the Cook Islands as a whole.
”It’s a relationship that covers a wide range of areas, from education, infrastructure, culture, business and so forth. This is a relationship that we want to strengthen now and into the future,“ said Puna.
”We have had a partnership in the past with the Manukau City Council. That relationship has resulted in positive outcomes for both parties and one that I can say the Cook Islands have certainly benefitted from.“
The MOU has six objectives. The first is the two-way promotion of the Cook Islands and Auckland, further enhancing the tourism aspect of either area. The second calls for the fostering of closer relationships between Auckland and the Cook Islands, while the management of important educational opportunities are also features.
The fourth objective is to ensure there is an exchange of knowledge, technological experience and economic development in environmental management.
The final two areas consist of the facilitating of professional and technical advice in areas of local government governance, infrastructure development and better links between private and public sectors in Auckland and the Cook Islands.
The other significant moment was the announcement of Brown becoming an honorary permanent resident of the Cook Islands, effective immediately.
After earlier giving the former Manukau mayor a traditional hat, known as a rito, and a Cook Islands rugby league jersey – declaring them the true world champions after New Zealand were ”too scared to show up“ for their one-off match against the hosts in September last year – Puna gave Brown ”the greatest gift we can give to you“.
”This status is in recognition of what you have done for our people in Auckland, but especially in south side Auckland over the years and especially for what you have done with us so far and more importantly what you will continue to do for the Cook Islands.
”On that note, welcome to the family, kia orana and kia manuia.“
Brown said he was ”actually feeling slightly emotional“ after hearing the news.
”Prime minister, a completely unexpected gift. I want to acknowledge you for the outstanding welcome to us and for an opportunity for us to share our respective vision for our relationship between the new super city of Akarana and the beautiful country of the Cook Islands.“
After vowing Auckland would be working with the Cook Islands on waste water and waste management projects, Brown gave Puna a gift of his own, a patu that had a specific meaning.
”It is a gift of peace and unity and our love and passion and as a token of respect from our people to your people.“
There was also another gift given to Puna, though Brown described it a gift for the future – a Blues rugby jersey.
”I’m so rapt that you reflect your love for our city, your city, my city, Auckland, and painstakenly have given your support for our Blues. I want you to receive this as an aspirational gift – not for the efforts of this year, but for next year!“
‘An audacious pioneer’
Drawing on a traditional Polynesian belief, Dr Joe Williams said yesterday that the rain this week was a manifestation of the grief the tupuna felt at the passing of a great Cook Islander.
”They say it’s going to rain when a warrior passes away. The heavens will weep. And indeed they did – it poured buckets and oceans of tears,“ he said to a National Auditorium filled with people who were there to pay their last respects to the late Sir Terepai Maoate, who was a knight of the British Empire, former prime minister, Cook Islands Christian Church deacon, planter, father, grandfather and Golden Oldies enthusiast.
Government arranged a state funeral for the politician whose commitment to serve his people – cultivated during his time working as a medical doctor – is a legacy he leaves behind and an inspiration to his family.
Doctors, politicians, professors, traditional and religious leaders, former prime ministers, the current prime minister, sportspeople and the people of Takitumu attended the service, which exceeded three hours.
Notable guests of honour included Chief Justice Tom Weston and National List MP Alfred Ngaro, and condolences were read out from the embassies of Pakistan, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Mexico, Turkey and Japan, and from the Apostolic Nunciature in Wellington and the International Maritime Organisation.
Prime Minister Henry Puna, who is also the brother of Lady Marito, was first to take the podium.
He admitted that he had been preparing for the occasion for a while, as Sir Terepai had been vocal about his imminent death.
”To me that was a clear demonstration of the man’s courage and dignity to accept the inevitable with grace and purpose and yet to carry on with his life,“ Puna said, calling Sir Terepai a ”great son of Takitumu“ and an ”exemplary father figure for the Cook Islands“.
”I believe he had a vision for the what the Cook Islands could be, a Cook Islands where our people enjoy a greater quality of life,“ he said, recalling a few of the highlights of Sir Terepai’s political career – his successful negotiation with the Italian government to write off the Cook Islands’ debt, his push for seabed mining, his signing of the Centenary Declaration and his bid for extending the Cook Islands’ continental shelf. All were executed with ”unbounded energy“ and in the name of ”serving our country“.
He was a ”formidable political adversary“ whose first priority was always his people.
”Mistakes he did make, for sure, but hey, we all make mistakes, don’t we? The sincerity of his intentions could not be faulted,“ Puna said.
A ”man of the people“ who stayed close to his family and his village even in the political whirlwind, ”he had a legendary commitment to serve his country while retaining a humble lifestyle and profile“.
Puna said he will continue to toast Papa Pai’s courage, steadfastness and devotion.
”His contribution to the people, the country, the wider Pacific and indeed the international community will always live on in our collective memory.“
Ngamau ‘Aunty Mau’ Munokoa recalled Sir Terepai as her political mentor and as a shrewd finance minister who told his fellow parliamentarians to avoid stopovers in Auckland as ”hotels cost money“ and pressed them to justify their travel plans.
”I admire him as one of the best leaders I have worked with,“ she said.
Opposition leader Wilkie Rasmussen called Sir Terepai ”handsome“ in a Marlon Brando kind of way, with ”hands shaped by his toiling of the earth“ and a ”commanding presence as a wise statesman of this country“.
Sir Terepai was well-versed in the ”colourful“ game that is Cook Islands politics.
”His political life symbolised the colourful nature of Cook Islands politics,“ Rasmussen said. ”He swung from one end of the pendulum to another. He was prime minister and removed, deputy prime minister on three separate occasions, cabinet ministers, leader of the opposition and Democratic Party and removed from both, he resigned several times... what a man.“
Sir Terepai was successful in his career and in educating and raising his children. He was involved in ”the traditional world“ in his capacity as a titleholder (Maoate Mataiapo), and able to ”traverse both worlds“ with ease.
”You go to Ngatangiia and you will feel his presence almost everywhere you walk in that village,“ Rasmussen said. He noted that Sir Terepai’s extensive involvement with his people on every level earned him knighthood, and for good reason.
”What I hope is that we remember him as a warrior, as a man who had a passion and commitment to this beautiful country of ours.“
Chief Justice Tom Weston, who flew to Rarotonga specifically for the state funeral, conveyed his condolences and those of the judiciary of the Cook Islands.
He used words like ”sparkling“, ”eloquent“ and ”charming“ to describe the late Sir Terepai.
”These are all words that capture the man as he was and will remain in our memory,“ he said, recalling his first meeting with Sir Terepai about 13 years ago.
To Weston, Sir Terepai was a ”remarkable man“ with ”enormous courage“, a ”man who lived for the Cook Islands and whose passion for the Cook Islands was extraordinary“.
”He could stride on the world stage and carry the mana of the Cook Islands with him. He could stride his plantation and have the same mana.“
Norman George, who was elected to parliament in the same year as Sir Terepai, said he enjoyed a ”love-hate relationship“ with the late politician. George was candid and cracked jokes about Cook Islands politics, drawing fits of laughter from those gathered at the auditorium.
He remembered Sir Terepai as ”stubborn, aggressive, relentless and unforgiving“, as a man who had no tolerance for failure. He remembered Sir Terepai’s quirks – the way he would silently absorb an argument or debate and at its conclusion intervene with his famous ‘Aria...’, the way he would speak for 25 minutes during question time in parliament so as to deprive the opposition of the opportunity to ask any more questions, his ability to put on a ”face of innocence“ when political controversy made headlines.
He remembered that Sir Terepai sacked him, then shook his hand and together they shared a laugh. ”The next morning he personally visited me in my office and handed me my dismissal notice,“ George recalled, adding that six months later Sir Terepai himself was ousted by the same politicians who reportedly encouraged him to sack George.
”Treachery is like rum and Coke in the Cook Islands,“ George joked.
He commended Lady Marito’s strength, as Papa Pai’s ”soul mate“ and ”protector“ and ”guardian angel“.
”If you say the wrong things about her Pai you will hear about it. You will get a phone call and if you happen to be on air she’ll ring that line direct and say whatever she thinks of you,“ George said.
Switching to a more serious tune, he called Sir Terepai a self-driven achiever who leaves a ”towering reputation of exceptional leadership“.
”What a huge tamanu tree has fallen. What a man.“
Dr Joe Williams, himself a former Cook Islands prime minister, recalled the two greatest medical achievements of Sir Terepai’s life.
The first was the eradication of the Aitutaki filariasis, a condition that once plagued 46 percent of the population. Together, Dr Williams and Dr Maoate orchestrated mass treatments, and managed to create a model that was later replicated in other Pacific countries and adopted by the World Health Organisation.
The auditorium broke into applause for an ”audacious pioneer“ in the field of Cook Islands medicine. Dr Williams also spoke of Sir Terepai’s advocacy in spearheading the formation of the Cook Islands Prostate Foundation.
Dr Maoate’s son, also Dr Maoate – Dr Teariki ‘Kiki’ Maoate – was last to speak.
”I don’t know how you guys put up with him. I don’t know how my mother put up with him,“ he joked, noting that his mother’s patience was a lesson for all her children in dealing with their own spouses.
He explained the Cowan and Maoate genealogies, and talked of the good old days growing up with his father in Aitutaki. He called yesterday an occasion devoid of excessive sorrow, as it was ultimately just a celebration of life.
Mourners gathered in the national auditorium yesterday to pay their respects to the late Sir Terepai Maoate.
Sir Terepai Maoate’s family including his wife Lady Maoate follow his casket toward the national auditorium for his state funeral yesterday.
Family and friends of the late Sir Terepai Maoate follow his casket carried by local police officers into the national auditorium for the state funeral.
Mourners gathered in the national auditorium to pay their respects to the late Sir Terepai Maoate.
The family of the late Sir Terepai Maoate seated at the head of the auditorium for yesterday’s state funeral.