Ake Te Ariki (Ake) Lewis received the Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE). 21060912.
Four outstanding Cook Islanders received their medals a year after they were announced in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.
recipients of the 2019 Queen’s Birthday Honours were presented with their
medals on Monday after Covid-19 delayed the initial presentation that was
supposed to be held last year.
2019 Queen’s Birthday Honours medals were also presented to Ake Te Ariki (Ake)
Lewis, who received the Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British
Empire (MBE), Unakea Kauvai (Order of the British Empire) for services to the
community, Vaine Teremoana Upokoina Mingi (British Empire Medal) for services
to the community and Tangaina Patia (British Empire Medal) for services to the
a great honour to receive something like this,” said Ake Te Ariki (Ake) Lewis,
who received her medal from the Queen’s Representative Sir Tom Marsters, in a
special ceremony on Monday.
was born in May 1942 in the village of Matavera.
1959, she began a career in the public service, training as a teacher at the
Teachers Training College and after graduation, she spent time teaching locally
and assisting at a child centre on the island of Niue.
to Rarotonga, later she became involved in women organisations.
her many highlights throughout her career and community projects, her first was
being a founding member of the National Council of Women (NCW) representing
Nikao pre-school in the 1980s and the Cook Islands Non-Government Organisation
to joining these groups she lacked in confidence to speak in public and gives
credit to the NCW and CIANGO mamas Lady Maui Short, Karika Margaret Ariki, Pari
Tamarua, Tinomana Ruta Tuoro Ariki, Kathy Koteka, Tepaeru Kamana, Rangi Turua,
Naomi Iro, Tepaeru Opo, Esther Katu, Tokerau Munro now the current Tinomana
Tokerau Ariki, Tarai Gibbons, Agnes Winchester and Rebecca Akaruru, just to
name a few.
thank those women, I learnt a lot from them, before that I was too shy to speak
in front of people outside of a classroom - they gave me confidence, encouraged
taught us about protocol, how to do things properly, how to dress and behave.
was one of the youngest and the naughtiest, I’d get a growling … Lady Maui
Short was very fussy, when we have a function she makes sure everything is done
properly, it was good to learn these things.”
the 80s and the 90s, the women’s groups were very strong and the wives of the
Orometuas (church minister) were also part of these groups, Lewis said.
was great to be part of it, networking and learning.”
ultimate career highlight she says, was teaching children with disabilities in
1991, Lewis studied for a year in New Zealand on scholarship achieving a
diploma in special needs training for children. “It was a lot of work, I
wouldn’t go through that again,” she said.
2001, Lewis became a founding member of the Cook Islands Disability Council and
Tuki Wright was elected president.
fondly recalls those “special” times. “The children with disabilities taught me
a lot, the children taught me how to really love somebody…
they achieved a little task, you see their big smiles and they are so happy,
and that really makes your day.”
teach children with disabilities, Lewis says, “you need love, patience and to
be a caring person. They are very beautiful children to work for, I was meant
to be there to wake me up.”
also acknowledges her late husband Brian who was always supportive of her work
and community projects. “I would call him whenever we needed help and he would
do it; he was such great support.”