A woman of many talents

Saturday 20 March 2021 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Features, Weekend

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A woman of many talents
Tereapii Enua dances at the Women of the Month for March awards at the Islander Hotel. 21031902.

Meeting British royalty – Prince Edward, Prince Charles and Princess Diana, working as a radio announcer/reporter and acting are a few highlights of Tereapii Enua’s inspiring life.

This week she was bestowed with the prestigious Woman of the Month award for March surrounded by family and friends and former work and dancing colleagues at the Islander Hotel.

Tereapii Enua was born on May 27, 1949 on the island of Mauke to parents Manarii Pierre Tutangata and Vaevae Emily Patetepa (nee Vaatau); her siblings are: John (d), Charlie, Teina, Nga (d), Tamarii, Takau (d,) Rua and Mata.

Her late husband was Ngametua-angai (Nganga) Enua and her children are Narii Varsity Pierre, George Enua and Cherie-Apii Enua. They all live overseas as well as her seven grandchildren.

At the age of 72, she has adjusted well to living alone and enjoying life and happy being on her own.

“I get up and go when I want, sleep and eat when I want and I read a lot,” she laughs.

She has the regular company of her siblings in Matavera, her strong faith in her church and church activities and cultural events to keep occupied.


The “Etu-Rere” women of Rangiatea were out to support Tereapii Enua. 21031908.

Her unwavering belief in her Catholic Faith has comforted her during trying times, “My faith has carried me through my tears, heartache, joy and happiness.”

The ‘Etu-Rere’ (Shining Stars) of Rangiatea – a women’s group of widows who reside in the village, attended the occasion to show their support.

Enua says their group is very special and exclusive - we are all widows who meet up to share, confide, listen to each other stories and to uplift and encourage one another.

“It’s quite shocking at the high number of women in our village who are on their own; this group is good for us and we look forward to when we get together,” she said.

Tereapii attended Ngatangiia Primary School from 1955 to 1958 before moving to Pukapuka in 1959 (lived there with her parents and two younger sisters for a year, her father was principal). From 1962 she attended Tereora College, and from 1987 completed USP courses.

Leaving college, she was first employed as the wages/administration clerk from 1968 – 1970, preparing pay voucher. Her boss was Henry Brown.

“We would drive around the island and deliver the wages; some of the heads of the work gangs were Tepo Vakatini, Kura Strickland and Glassie Strickland.”

Her dream though was to enter the arena of radio broadcasting, “I admired Kopu Brown announcing on radio, I would watch her, watch her style, I wanted to be an announcer just like her.”

In 1970 she applied and was excited to start work in broadcasting – where she was employed for 19 years.


Tereapii Enua, seated, with the hard working “Woman of the Month” executive committee. 21031907.

“I had no formal training, no paperwork, but learnt through observation.”

Temangi Jimmy Moeroa was her manager and she started reading the news on radio. “We would get the newspapers, translate it into Maori and go on air, reading with Tereau Mulholland and Kopu Brown.

“Percy Henderson was the overall head of us; Keu Mitchell and Rouru Aurupa also worked at the station - they were older and related to me and took me under their wing.”

One person she has never forgotten is Stuart Kingan, “he did the technical side of things, he was a walking dictionary, I have never met anyone quite like him.”

Her time at the broadcasting were her most fun working experiences.

“We would do our own recordings and prepare our music; sometimes we would buy our own music to play (our work place couldn’t afford it) and we would carry our own music in our bags so it wouldn’t go missing. Well, if you want to attract your listeners you needed new songs, so we bought our own - you just do it.”

Her most popular radio programme was ‘Riddle Me’ or ‘Te Maru Avatea’ that was on air at 3pm to catch the students after school.

“Adults would also call in with the answers, it was a lot of fun, now people overseas would contact us with their answers.”

Co-hosting the well-liked radio request time ‘Party Time 100m’ was also a lot of fun. “People from the outer islands would call in, we would try to convince them to request for a new song, but no, they wanted the same song…”

Recording local singing artists was another favourite show called ‘Stars of the Week’, and during that time there weren’t many local artists with songs to play on the radio.

“With Tepou Boaza and Emma Daniel we would look for artists and bring them into the studio to record their songs.”

The Tupapa Teenagers made up of Tepoave Araitia, Mamia Tunui (Savage), Raiva, Sirara, Nooroa Terekia were very popular; some of the songs they composed are “Kia Orana kotou Katoa ... Merry Xmas song and Mou Koe iaku, ki to rima…” And the “Summer Love” singers from Penrhyn.

Among the artists were six inmates who formed the group “Tarona Six” and composed popular songs.

“We brought them into the studio once to record but one of them decided to escape … so after that we would go into the prison to record … the other good prison bands were the “Manakonako 5” and a trio - they had talent and loved music.”

The inmates also composed for her - about her constant asking for them to write and sing songs.

Christian songs were played on air and were admired, the most popular song she says was “Na te Atua koe e tiaki…” sung by the Avarua CICC, and others were: ‘You will never grow old’ by Nat King Cole, ‘I love you because’ by Jim Reeves, songs by Pat Boone and Elvis Presley, and “Turama, Turama, Turama te kuki Airani…” by the Mauke dance team.

All the announcers had to learn different skills to be part of the team, “we had to be multi tasked.”

Daniel Webb, Jackie Tuaputa, Temangi, Opura Ru, Louise and Hugh Graham, and Hugh Henry for Sports were some of the broadcasters, the Minister at the time was Tupui Henry.

“We had such great times and moving into what became CIBNC. From records to reels, to cassettes, we had to operate while we were on air until technicians came along, they would work with us from another room - we had a glass window in between.”

Tereapii’s most memorable interview was with the late Papa Tepuretu Araitia about how the cenotaph was built and the history of ANZAC Day. “I didn’t know much about it before I spoke with him, it was very moving.”

In May 1983, she and journalist Florence Syme (Buchanan) travelled to Aitutaki with the official delegation for Prince Edwards’ visit.

“He was a quiet, nice person. We were not supposed to attend the functions that we couldn’t report on, but we both went along it was fine…”

In September 1989 she travelled with the government delegation to Sydney for the official Te Kukupa handover to the Cook Islands - an eye opener for her in the overseas diplomatic environment.

Growing up she loved playing netball and tennis representing Matavera and Ngatangiia.

In 1965 the first women’s rugby tournament on the island was held – the Constitution Celebrations Cup.

“We (girls in Matavera) had never played rugby ever, it was new for us but we joined in anyway.

“Our coach was Maru Taramai and the men in the village who were more excited than we were, and were very supportive - they wanted us to win, and we trained at Norrie park.”

There were many sisters in the team: Rau and Tungane Tamarua, Tarani Pirangi, Ina and Take Simiona, the Puangi sisters, Tai and Kimi Atera, Teina and Tereapii Pierre.

The final game between Matavera and Arorangi was played at the Tupapa field.

“Tungane was our prop and no one could bring her down, I was the half back; the Arorangi girls were bigger, we were smaller but faster.

“It was packed, Matavera came to watch us, Papa’s commer truck was full, everyone squeezed in.

“Thinking back to that day, the men were running down the field following us screaming and calling out what to do and when to pass the ball… and we won, gosh the men were cheering - it was like they won. Such a good memory and we had no shoes, we played bare feet.”


Tereapii Enua, middle, with her sister Teina Etches and brother Tamarii Pierre. 21031906.

Tereapii also had a stint at acting, in the movie the Other Side of Paradise and The Eye of the Storm. She discovered acting in a movie wasn’t so difficult because of her cultural stage and radio experiences.

She recalled auditioning with her sister Teina, “the producers didn’t know we were actually real life sisters and they cast us in the movie as sisters…”

 “Acting in the movie, we were treated like queens, I’ve never been pampered like that in my life, my hair was done, cup of teas… everything was really amazing we had a wonderful time.”

For the Eye of the Storm, she went to New Zealand to complete filming with Maria Pera and Natiti Pereiti and says, “we were treated so well, it was a good experience.”

She and her husband Nga were one of the founding members of the well-known local Te Ivi Maori cultural dance team that was initiated by Ngarima George when the Cook Islands National Arts Theatre (CINAT) folded.

Travelling with Te Ivi Maori took her all over the world, a very special moment was meeting Prince Charles and Princess Diana. “We were told not to touch them, but no, we went up to them, we put eis on them and kissed them, what a moment.”

Other cultural highlights for her was coordinating the Nukutere college culture team (joined for the first time) for the Colleges Dance Competition with Tepoave Araitia when they created the fantastic “Katikatia” pe’e (chant) - Nukutere won the event that year.

She was a member of the Matavera Youth, “we practiced at William Cowan’s place, and I was taught the ‘ute’ by Papa Ngapoko Kiritakau and Mama Noo Elia ‘kare e tuki i roto i te ute’”.

The Rangiatea Mapu dance group joined the Constitution celebrations for the first time, the team began through the Matavera CICC with Papa Turara and Mama Tamara Pekepo, Iotia Atera; she joined the organisers and asked Tepoave Araitia to assist them - the legend of “Taakura” was the focus of the items.

She is also a member of the Vaka Takitumu dance team and was the co-director of Performing Arts for the Pacific Arts Festival the country hosted in 1992.

Tereapii was the Mayor of Takitumu from 2002 - 2005, and acting Mayor in 1999.

They had a very small budget to work with  and she is “thankful and appreciative to Siona Paku who was my clerk at the time and very helpful.”

She also worked at the Agriculture department for seven years.

And later at the Punanga Tauturu Inc - a women’s counselling centre, that opened her eyes to the brutal world that some women live in at the mercy of their husbands or partners.

“I didn’t really understand it (violence against women) that it was happening here… the women are so brave to come out and share their stories because sometimes they can’t talk to their friends or family, because they are embarrassed.

“I really felt for the women I spoke with; their stories are heart wrenching… we do the best we can to help them.”

Tereapii also prepares Maori medicine for her family and makes  a special coconut oil “Mainu” with added herbs and loves gardening.

“My faith has given me strength and is comforting, and today is about me - taking care of myself.”