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From the remotest to central: Schools endorse 2023 prefects

Saturday 25 February 2023 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Education, National

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From the remotest to central: Schools endorse 2023 prefects
Apii Rakahanga 2023 prefects Emily Taripo (left) and Mama Tana Papahu celebrate their endorsement. MAGGIE PUREA-TARIPO/23022418

Schools in the Cook Islands celebrated the beginning of the 2023 academic year hosting special induction ceremonies for their respective prefects who were covered with sweet scented flower and maire ei.

Rakahanga, one of the most isolated islands of the Cooks located 42 kilometres south of its sister island Manihiki, can only be reached by sea.

Shaped by a rectangular reef which circles a large shallow lagoon, it has two main islands and seven motu or islets – to the East are Akaro, Te Motu o Umura, Huananui, Motu Mahuta and Motu Okakara. And southwest guarding the widest passage into the lagoon is Te Kainga.

On the island, Apii Rakahanga has a small roll of 15 students led by principal Maggie Purea-Taripo and teacher Mama Ngaoa Manuel.

Apii Rakahanga 2023 prefect and students. Front Left: Emily Taripo, Allan Nipu, Mama Tana Papahu, Middle Left: Rui Taura, TJ Taripo and Ngatupuna Aratangi, Back Left: Nina Nipu. MAGGIE PUREA-TARIPO/23022411
Apii Rakahanga 2023 prefect and students. Front Left: Emily Taripo, Allan Nipu, Mama Tana Papahu, Middle Left: Rui Taura, TJ Taripo and Ngatupuna Aratangi, Back Left: Nina Nipu. MAGGIE PUREA-TARIPO/23022411

The school had a busy start with educational activities for their kids which include learning to tie dye beautiful colourful patterns, marcotting Tiare Maori plants, preparing an umu and being tutored by Teniko Tunupopo in playing traditional drums.

Last week the school hosted an investiture ceremony for their three prefects – Emily Taripo, Mama Tana Papahu and Allan Nipu.

Principal Purea-Taripo started her teaching career nine years ago at Apii Rakahanga. She first attended the school as a mother helper for her daughter which got her thinking about pursuing a career in teaching.

Purea-Taripo chased her dream and enjoys her job on the small island she loves.

Apii Rakahanga 2023 Principal/teacher Maggie Purea-Taripo and teacher Ngaoa Manuel. SUPPLIED/23022410
Apii Rakahanga 2023 Principal/teacher Maggie Purea-Taripo and teacher Ngaoa Manuel. SUPPLIED/23022410

“We are isolated and it can be challenging, but I love it,” says Purea-Taripo.

Apii Rakahanga’s objective this year is to focus on their children’s learning goals.

“Our children love hands on activities, it’s fun and it allows them to experience and grasp these skills and link it to everyday life.

“We want our students to be empowered and to embrace who they are and grow with confidence and be able to achieve their goals in life.”

Apii Niua on the island of Pukapuka is located in the Northern Group of the Cook Islands and boasts a school roll number of 180 students – one of the biggest schools in the Pa Enua.

Principal of Niua, Poti Maeva is pleased with the consistent student numbers enrolling each year.

Maeva and his wife Nane’s youngest daughter Helianna Edelweiss was excited to start school this year for the first time.

Although she was “a bit shy” on her first day, she “came home like a boss,” says her proud mother.

Last Friday, Apii Niua held the blessing of their prefects which was attended by Pukapuka’s Member of Parliament Tingika Elikana and his wife.

Apii Niua in Pukapuka endorsed their prefects last week. RETAI PUIKI/23022416
Apii Niua in Pukapuka endorsed their prefects last week. RETAI PUIKI/23022416

The Apii Niua 2023 prefects are: Head Girl – Viti Piira, Girl prefects: Emma Parkinson, Olawa Puiki, Potea Tinomana, Kino Ruarau, Tungane Rikini, Alice Marurai, Ria Varia, Akatu Tengere and Tuakaouanga Lito. Head Boy – Telea Levi, Boy prefects Capiel Maeva, Conan Rikini, Tuupa Teiho-Tua, Mairiau Neiao, JB Rubena, Manate Ataera, Robati William, Taom Toru and Marcus Parkinson; Student Managers - Library - Jireh Nookura Maeva, Physical Education - Shalom Melota.

Apii Niua ECE student confidently addresses her class. NARNZ MAEVA/23022417
Apii Niua ECE student confidently addresses her class. NARNZ MAEVA/23022417

Apii Niua teachers for this year are: Karanga Taoroba, Mina Mataio, Nancy Rikini, Terira Taunga, Linda Mataora, Tereni Dariu, Pira Topetai, Wetu William, Pokerea Yeutu, Meri Ati; Teacher Aides: Taute Nimeti, Anna Piira, Tarai Nooroto, Elaine Ravarua, and Volunteers: former principal Eli Elikana and former teacher Metua Elikana.

One of the major concerns for the school is the irregularity of electricity on Pukapuka.

Principal Maeva is looking forward to the arrival of the island’s new power generator to have regular electricity at school to charge the laptops.

In the far south-eastern corner of the Cook Islands lies Mauke, one of the three close islands of Nga-Pu-Toru.

This year Apii Mauke welcomed their new principal Tapita Tereia, who took over from former principal Teata Purea-Ateriano (now retired).

Apii Mauke invited the whole island to attend their prefect induction ceremony this week, and the community did not disappoint turning up dressed in colourful pareu and maire ei for the kids.

The Deputy Mayor of Mauke Papa Lucky Vainetutai, his wife Matanoanoa Vainetutai and Nane Teokotai Vainepoto Papa attended the Apii Mauke prefects investiture. SUPPLIED. 230224
The Deputy Mayor of Mauke Papa Lucky Vainetutai, his wife Matanoanoa Vainetutai and Nane Teokotai Vainepoto Papa attended the Apii Mauke prefects investiture. SUPPLIED. 230224

One of the teachers, Benedicta Matapo said the prefect investiture was a “beautiful occasion” where just about the whole island turned up to support the school.

“We want to encourage our kids to do their best at school, support each other and work hard.”

Apii Mauke 2023 prefects are: Pharissa William, Manuarii Lorna Teatai, Pungaia Makitae, Ngatama Mareta, Maunga Teaka and Inara Williams; teachers are: Tuainekore Akamoeau, Maru Tamaka, Akatu Maria Goretti Tupuna, Dorothy Moetaua, Principal -Maria S T Aiturau Tereia, Benedicta Matapo, Temerio Clementis, Keiti-Anne Tuakana, Vaineturou V Keu.

Apii Nikao is the second largest primary school in Rarotonga (after Apii Avarua) and is located on the north coast to the west of the capital Avarua.

This year the school has a robust roll number of around 350 students.

Yesterday morning the school presented 24 prefects with their badges.

Apii Nikao head girl Hirinaki Tau says she is “privileged and grateful for the opportunity” to help lead the students.

Apii Nikao Head Girl Hirinaki Tau (left) and prefects perform at the school assembly. 23022425
Apii Nikao Head Girl Hirinaki Tau (left) and prefects perform at the school assembly. 23022425

“One of my goals is to create a friendly and safe environment where students can openly talk about a problem, ask for help, express themselves and share their fears,” says Tau.

“I believe that a problem shared is a problem solved. In other words, don’t be scared to ask for help, and together we can achieve many things.”

Tau says she has observed the prefects before her – “I have realised that being the head girl isn’t about being better than anyone else, it’s about taking the lead in helping those in need and having the trust of the school.”

“I’m committed to working together with the students to improve the school further and to create an excellent and harmonious environment in our school.”

Head boy Hosea Lord, who was a bit nervous taking on the role said he was quite surprised to be selected considering he was new to the school last year.

“I’m looking forward to learning more about the school and doing a good job being a leader for the students.”

Principal of Apii Nikao, Michael Mokai said it was great to welcome the new leaders to the school and “we look forward to their journey of leadership for the year”.

This year the two significant events for the school are the culture festival and the 200-year Gospel celebrations.

Apii Nikao 2023 prefects are: Head Girl Hirinaki Tau, Deputy Head Girl Mokoroa Ngaata, Addison Doel, Athlyene Savage, Ava Holten, Coco Nooroa, Joy Marsters, Liahona Taio, Teau Manea Singer, Mareena Tangatakino, Margaret Ioane, Rosa Kureta, Tatrina Tane and Tui Ponia.

Apii Nikao prefect Saungaki Mamia Rasmussen and his proud siblings Travel Ford (left) and sister Kuraiti Rasmussen. 23022422
Apii Nikao prefect Saungaki Mamia Rasmussen and his proud siblings Travel Ford (left) and sister Kuraiti Rasmussen. 23022422

Head Boy Hosea Lord, Deputy Head Boy Joshua Mataio, AJ Teauiti, Dylan Jonassen, Lucky Arere, PJ Matau, Saungaki Mamia Rasmussen, Taianui Williams, Tearii Scheel and Vincent Simpson.