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Saturday 3 December 2022 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Culture, Local, National


Renowned Tumu Korero passes away
Chairman of Te Kōpapa Reo Māori, Taunga, Tumu Korero and orator of Cook Islands language and culture, Taraeka George Paniani (Papa Gee). 22120107

Taunga, Tumu Korero, orator of Cook Islands language and culture, Taraeka George Paniani fondly known as “Captain Gee” on Radio Cook Islands, passed away on Thursday, December 1 at Rarotonga hospital.

He was aged 65.

Paniani was the chairman of Te Kōpapa Reo Māori Committee (Cook Islands Language Commission) from 2016 to 2022.

He was the longest serving executive board member with the Cook Islands Sports and National Olympic Committee (CISNOC) for some 30 plus years and had served as its vice president. He was the board member of the Oceania Regional Anti-Doping agency, and the president of the Cook Islands Bowls for some years.

From 1974, Paniani was the assistant research officer at the Premier’s Office, from 1978 to 2003 he worked at the National Archives and underwent professional training. From 1984-1996 and 2001-2013 he was the Cook Islands National Archivist and from 1981-1986, Paniani was part of the Pacific Regional Branch of International Council Archives. From 1993 – 2010 he was a member of the Maori Language Committee and served as the chief executive officer at the Deputy Prime Minister’s Office from 1996-1999. From 2012-2013, Paniani was a member of Te Kōpapa Reo Māori.

Paniani’s family service will be held tomorrow at 6pm at the Tauranga Vananga Dome. His burial will take place on Monday, December 5 starting with mass at the St Joseph’s Catholic Cathedral in the morning.

He is survived by wife Rourutara Dorothy Paniani, his siblings, children and families.


Cameron Scott on 03/12/2022

So sorry to hear this. George was a cultural treasure, in my opinion. He will be sadly missed.