Pamela Maru, Lady Tuaine Marsters, Teuru Passfield, Apa Temata, Teherenui Koteka and Lynnsay Francis, shared their experiences at the BPW International Women’s Day dinner on Monday. 21031104.
International Women’s Day (IWD) began in 1911 and was officially adopted by the United Nations (UN) in 1975. It is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. On Monday the local women groups celebrated the event with presentations from six inspirational members who spoke
on the theme #ChooseToChallenge.
One hundred and twenty women attended the Cook Islands
Business and Professional Women’s Association’s (BPW) International Women’s Day
dinner on Monday evening at the Muri Beach Club Hotel.
On the night six amazing women: Pamela Maru, Lady Tuaine
Marsters, Teuru Passfield, Apa Temata, Teherenui Koteka and Lynnsay Francis
shared their experiences and challenges.
Business and Professional Women’s Association president Eva
Allsworth opened the occasion, paying tribute to the women of the country and
“our sisterhood” worldwide.
“We can and must all choose to challenge and call out gender
bias and inequality. We can and must all choose to seek out and celebrate
women's achievements. We can and must all help create an inclusive world that
women, and men, here and worldwide have so courageously fought to achieve in
big ways and small. From challenge comes change,” said Allsworth
“Much has been achieved over the years however,
unfortunately there is still much to be done. We need to continue to commit to
helping build an inclusive world. A world of gender parity. A world where women
are in all the places where decisions are made. And we, here in our wonderful
little nation that punches above its weight in so many ways, all have a part to
play in achieving that goal.”
The dedicated executive of BPW including vice president Debi
Futter-Puati, secretary Erin Mitchell wore the International Women’s Day
colours of purple representing justice and dignity, green for hope and white
for peace. The other executive members Liana Scott, Anna and Pauline were
BPW president Eva Allsworth, Pa Marie Ariki, BPW vice president Debi Futter-Puati, Apa Temata and BPW secretary Erin Mitchell. 21031102.
Speaking on the night, Futter-Puati said: “We are all
extremely privileged to have such a line-up of extraordinary Cook Islands Vaine
Toa on the night.”
“Each and every woman in this room is a Vaine Toa in her own
right, and each and every one of us contribute in multiple ways to this
community we live in.
“And nobody gets to be an adult without facing challenges.
It comes with this deal we call life.
“I would like you to just take a moment and salute yourself
for coping when times were a struggle. Think of the people that you know you
can go to for support if and when you need it.”
She encouraged women to be challenged.
The price of the meal tickets was reduced due to the kind
sponsorship from the Bank of the Cook Islands (BCI) – “a long-time sponsor in
The Bank encourages women in the workforce and this is evidently
demonstrated – the organisation has a female chairperson, 67 per cent female
board members, and a female chief executive officer Vaine Nooana-Arioka.
“We are tremendously fortunate to be an impactful
organisation, and to support BPW in their series of events this year is a great
honour,” Nooana-Arioka said.
“We congratulate Eva Allsworth and the entire executive of
BPW for organising this event and thank the phenomenal women who spoke on the
night. All inspirational, all humble, all with still so much more to give and
for us to learn from.
“It is essential to celebrate individuals and uplift others
constantly. International Women’s Day
gives us the opportunity to focus that recognition on Women specifically and
remind us of all that women have achieved, as well as motivate and inspire us
for all that we are yet to achieve together.”
Te Tiare Association dance troupe performed on the night. 21031107.
Local LGBTI group, Te Tiare Association’s dance group of
courageous trans-women performed vibrantly at the event as did inspiring young
performance poet Teherenui Koteka who, the patron of BPW Helen Henry noted, “is
one of the young generations of torch bearers bravely and unapologetically
taking the challenge-to-choose into the future”.
Apa Temata has a passion for indigenous health,
LGQTBI/Pasefika Rainbow group, social justice, equity and equality, advocacy
and activism that spans over 30 years.
Temata is a survivor of family violence.
“However traumatic my past has been, it has also shaped me
in so many ways I cannot fathom.
“I am honoured to have shared my journey with so many other
inspiring vaine toa who have supported, empowered and enabled me to be who I am
now… especially my mother.”
Temata is the current charge nurse for Te Marae Ora Ministry
of Health Outpatients Emergency Department in Rarotonga and oversees the
emergency, trauma services including our emergency response and preparedness to
Covid-19 in the Cook Islands.
Her experience also branches out to different sectors of
health care, leadership, governance and community particularly in Pacific/Maori
and indigenous health.
Temata’s skills and experience extends to emergency and
trauma services, sexual health - HIV, sexual assault and family violence
Women at the BPW International Women’s Day dinner on Monday held at the Muri Beach Club Hotel. 21031106.
“I am passionate about health in all its different areas,
with a keen interest in public health and policy, politics, particularly the
socio-political influences on health and the impact of globalisation to our
whenua (land), our moana (sea/ocean) and iti tangata (people).”
Temata has worn “different hats” in the roles of clinical
expertise that include: current president for Cook Islands Nurses Association
Aotearoa in NZ/Australia, advisory member for Cook Islands Health network –
established by the late Dr Joe Williams, former chair for NZ Nurses
Organisation (NZNO) for two years, Auckland and Waitemata DHB Pacific senior
clinical nurse advisor.
Temata worked and volunteered in the Rainbow LGQTBI space
for most of her life as an out and proud Aka Tane/Vaine –
And has led the coordination for Oceania Pride Aotearoa and
Pasefika Pride 2014 – 2021, to advocate and push for awareness and support for
equal rights i.e. decriminalisation of the existing homosexuality bill in the
Cook Islands and across the Pacific.
Temata has spoken against stigma, discrimination and institutional
racism that exists across the many sectors.
She has also received the following awards: Ministry of
Health NZ Volunteer Award 2018, Kiwi Bank New Zealander of the Year Local Hero
Award 2019 recipient and the prestigious NZNO National Services Award for
Nursing and Midwifery 2016.
Here’s the profiles of other speakers:
Lady Tuaine Marsters is a Director at Ora-Partners Trust Company, a Director on the Cook Islands Pharmaceutical Board, Officer of Public Notary, the Patroness for Girl Guides and Te Tiare the LGBTQI organisation (Rainbow Community) and for the Miss Cook Islands Pageant.
Tuaine holds an LLB from the University of Wollongong,
Commercial Credentials from Massey University and Post Graduate Diploma in
International Affairs from the University of the South Pacific (USP).
Besides all of these responsibilities Lady Marsters is also
the wife of Queen’s Representative Sir Tom Marsters for 46 years; she is a
mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother.
She is a gold medallist golfer, and in 1973 as a member of
the Cook Islands National Arts Theatre she attended the opening of the Sydney
Teuru Passfield was born in Rarotonga, and is proud to have attended Takitumu Primary School, Titikaveka College, Tereora College as well as schools in Samoa and Thailand.
After Tereora, Teuru worked three jobs with the goal to save
enough to travel – during which time she had hoped to figure out what to do
with her life.
Instead, she spent the next two years spending, borrowing,
and paying back money, before finally realising she just needed to get started.
Being surrounded by the ocean, and loving oe vaka, she
decided a Bachelor of Science in Marine and Coastal Ecology would be a good
Since then, with the unwavering support of her family, Teuru
has worked in a number of roles across government and civil society; brought a
wonderful little girl into the world; represented the Cook Islands in paddling;
and completed a Masters in Conservation Leadership from the University of
Pamela Maru is the Secretary for the Ministry of Marine Resources (MMR), since 2019.
Her key goal is to broaden the horizon of other Cook
Islanders in the fisheries world, ensuring that opportunities that were
provided to her are also made available to others.
With a background in marine science, Pam started her career
in 2001 with MMR working in environmental monitoring and coastal fisheries
management before deciding to work in the offshore fisheries sector on
fisheries science and research.
From 2009 she was the vice-chair of the Scientific Committee
for the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission.
In 2012, Pam was appointed as a Fisheries Management Adviser
at the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) in the Solomon Islands. Her
role included the provision of technical and policy advice for tuna fisheries
management and compliance to Pacific Island countries at the national,
sub-regional and regional levels.
Pam is a passionate advocate for the rights of coastal
states and small island developing states, and is proud to be working in an
area that provides real benefits led by Pacific islanders, for Pacific
Lynnsay Rongokea is a human rights and political activist and land advocate.
In 1991 she was a founding member of Punanga Tauturu Inc to
provide support to women and children survivors of violence.
She was a co-founder of the Group for Political Change and
has served on multiple committees such as the Cook Islands Tourist Board, the
Cook Islands Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and
UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, and as the chair of the Social Impact
At the regional level she has worked as the community
development advisor and chief trainer for the Pacific Human Rights Resource
team and was the Pacific representative on the Asia Pacific Women Law and
Development (APWLD) Violence Against Women Task Force.
Rongokea has coordinated and facilitated the annual regional
consultations with the UN on Violence against Women and the on Indigenous
Peoples Rights, Migrant Workers and Modern Day Slavery.
Her work and commitment to women’s human rights and access
to justice has been recognised nationally and regionally.
In 2008 to mark the 60th anniversary of the adoption of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, she was one of four Pacific people to be
honoured with the Pacific Human Rights Award, received in special recognition
for her long-standing support for the rights of women.
In 2000, Lynnsay received the CIBPW award in the category of
Woman in International Affairs. In 2004 she won the prestigious New Zealand
Montana Book Awards for her book
Her book, Tivaevae: Portraits of Cook Islands Quilting, was
shortlisted for the New Zealand Watties Book of the Year.
In 2019 she was a recipient of the Vaine Rangatira Inaugural
Awards – Te Maeva Nui NZ - International Affairs and in 2020 Woman of the Month
Rongokea, a single mother raised five high achieving
daughters and is now a nurturing grandmother and great-grandmother.
Teherenui Koteka was born on Rarotonga and is a graduate of Te Herenga Waka Victoria University of Wellington’s Theatre, Film, and Media Studies programmes.
She chooses to challenge through her art. Her piece Toku
Ivi, Toku Kiko, Toku Toto premiered at the New Zealand Festival of Solo
Through this work, Teherenui brings to the forefront the
under-represented voice of young Pasifika women. She weaves the traditions of
her ancestors with the experiences of modern Pasifika youth to create work that
encourages her people to engage in conversation surrounding sex-negative
culture and pushing people to challenge the status-quo.