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Following in the footsteps of her grandmother

Saturday 26 March 2022 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Features, Weekend

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Following in the footsteps of her grandmother
Mauke’s Eileen Story has launched her campaign to stand as a candidate in the upcoming general elections. SUPPLIED/22032108

Following in the footsteps of her paternal grandmother, Eileen Story has launched her political career and will stand in the 2022 general elections as a candidate on the island of Mauke.

Eileen’s paternal grandmother, the late Mama Marguerite Story (nee Henry) was the first Member of Parliament for Te Au O Tonga and the first female Speaker of the Cook Islands Parliament and of the Commonwealth Parliament. Marguerite was also the sister of Papa Albert Henry, the Cook Islands first premier/prime minister.

Having lived on Mauke since 2018, Eileen is thrilled to step into the political arena and is also proud of her Maori heritage.

“E tamaine, e metua vaine, e tangata akono i te au mapu e te aronga pakari, akono i te ao rangi e te maroiroi i te akameitaki’anga atu i te turanga o Mauke.

“Kua papu iaku e ka rauka iaku i te tauturu i toku iti tangata me oronga’ia mai te tika’anga. Ko te tumu teia e tu nei au ei mema no Mauke ki roto i te iki’anga ma’ata 2022. Kua papa au no te tu e te tavini uatu rai i toku iti tangata. Manga-iti ua taku ka rauka i te rave i teia ati’anga, inara me riro mai au ei Mema Paramani noou e Mauke, ka angaanga taokotai au kia kotou e toku iti tangata i te tavini’anga e te akatupu uatu rai i te pu’apinga no tatou katoatoa.”

“As a daughter, a mum, and as someone that cares for young and old, our environment and our ability to build our economy in Mauke, I know I can help if given the opportunity. This is why I’m running in the 2022 elections, and standing for the people of Mauke, I’m ready to step up and continue to serve my people, knowing that there is only so much I can do as an individual, but as your MP for Mauke, and together – I can continue to serve and achieve so much more for us all.”

At the launch of Eileen Story’s political campaign on Mauke. SUPPLIED/22032115

Her campaign launch last week was an open invitation to everyone on the island.

“We had a great response from the people of Mauke, knowing that during election time, there is often a tension on the island as people support one candidate or the other,” she said.

“The party you support is not important to me, what is important, is that the iti tangata of Mauke can come together as one, under one roof to share their views on what matters to them and what positive changes we can make on our island home.”

Forty-year-old Eileen is a mother to two and was raised in Rangiura, Nikao.

She attended Avatea Primary School and Tereora College, then moved straight into the workforce.

She has ancestral ties to Mauke through both her parents and is proud to say she is “Mauke tumu”.

Her mother Tuakana Tuakanangaro, fondly known as ‘Aunty Kana’ was raised on Mauke and is from the Akarare and Vaeruarangi families.

Richard Story, her father was born and raised in Nikao. Richard’s dad was Papa Fred Story a self-taught engineer, and his mother Marguerite’s parents were Papa Geoffrey Henry and Metua Kamire from Aitutaki. Papa Geoffrey Henry’s mum was Minora Strickland from Mauke.

As the second child of five siblings, Eileen says she had the best memories of growing up in Nikao.

“Exploring the taro plantations as well as hiking up to the old reservoir/dump where we used to slide down the steep hill and pick tamareni and pistaita when these fruits were in season.”

In her 20s, like so many young Cook Islanders, she moved to Auckland for six months before moving to Sydney where she spent 10 years.

Raising her children in Sydney, she would speak in Maori to teach them their language, but knew it wasn’t enough. So she packed up their things and returned home. “I knew it was important that they know their language and their culture.”

Although she grew up in Rarotonga, Eileen says she had always felt a deep connection to Mauke.

Leaving the hustle and bustle of Sydney in 2018, she moved to a new life in Akatokamanava (Mauke), “knowing that this would be the place where my heart rested for me and my family”.

Settling in Mauke, she set about renovating her home, “a build done with love, and much patience”.

“When there is no timber on the island you have to wait till the next boat arrives or borrow timber to get the job done, and plumbing or electrical issues (these workers are limited) have to be dealt with a great deal of patience…”

Eileen noted two key points to getting things done on the island – “the need for innovation and working together with the little that we have”.
As a candidate for the upcoming elections, her goal is to help build up the standard of living of the Mauke people.

“Like building a home we know it is a work done with love, care and much patience; to work with whatever you have and with those willing to build with you.”

Eileen is currently undertaking a degree in social work with a minor in management and public administration.

She says she cares little for which political party people on the island support, and if someone is struggling, she would be keen to work together with those concerned to see what can be done to improve the situation.

Eileen is also passionate about organising jobs for the youth, help the elderly with home repairs and ensure the farmers have the tools they need to plant, grow and sell their crops.

Her main message at her launch campaign was “that it didn’t matter who you supported, let’s come together and discuss issues that the elected MP needs to address … Elections should be exciting, not stressful.”
The general election is scheduled to take place later in the year. Government is yet to set an election date.