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New clerk pledges to learn and serve

Wednesday 27 March 2024 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Culture, Local, National


New clerk pledges to learn and serve
Dr Tuaine Unuia began his role as the O-Tari-Kura o te Are Ariki (Clerk of the House of Ariki) at the Are Ariki earlier this week. MELINA ETCHES/24032612

Dr Tuaine Unuia has hit the ground running in his new role as the O-Tari-Kura o te Are Ariki (Clerk of the House of Ariki) earlier this week, welcomed by members of Te Are Ariki.

A professional dentist by trade for 34 years, Dr Unuia is also a talented composer, singer and musician.

In 2019 he was bestowed the respected traditional title of Anautoa Rangatira - the spokesperson for Makea Karika George Ariki, and is well versed in the protocol of cultural marae and customary functions.

“I have a deep passion for our culture, our language, our customary protocol… this role will enable me to learn more about the structure and process involved in te Are Ariki,” said Dr Unuia.

Dr Unuia is the son of Tou “Man” Unuia and Kiki Unuia from the island of Atiu. Both his parents reside in Rarotonga.

At the age of 12, his father introduced him to the protocol of marae at the investiture of Upokoina Mataio Kea as Atiu’s Parua Ariki.

Dr Unuia is grateful his father has taught him all about his family lineage and connection to Atiu, about their family marae and cultural practices many years ago before moving to Atiu to become the island’s dentist, reigniting his passion for his culture.

“I also began researching things about the culture and the heritage of Atiu before I moved there,” he said. “That sort of drove me to want to learn more and to do more research about our island and its stories, hence why I was able to compose songs…”

Dr Unuia is prepared to learn as much as he can in his O-Tari-Kura role.

He says there is a lot of administrative work to do as well as the finance side of things, “being the cleaner and taking care of whatever else arises”.

“I’m grateful to Tupuna Rakanui (former clerk) for his assistance, the Public Service Commission office and Tauranga Vanaga for their help,” he said.

Tou Travel Ariki, Kaumaiti Nui o te Are Ariki (President of the House of Ariki), expressed his confidence in Dr Unuia: “He is passionate and has good knowledge of our culture and traditions and that he is also a speaker from the Nga Pu Toru islands.”

“I’m happy because he has a richness of our culture – i ta tatou peu Māori, akonoanga Māori.”

Tou Travel Arik also commended Rakanui, the former O-Tari-Kura, for his decade of service and effort in doing what he could with what they had.

He said a position in Te Are Ariki is not a regular job and sometimes it can become 24/7 when people choose to visit anytime or anywhere to discuss things and issues.

He acknowledged that a position within Te Are Ariki transcends a typical job description, saying it can become 24/7 when people choose to visit anytime or anywhere to discuss things and issues.

Tou Travel Ariki has been a member of Are Ariki for nearly 40 years, since he was 23-years-old, one of the youngest members at that time alongside the late Ada Rongomatane Ariki.