Te Mata Akamoeau working team. From Left: Jean Nootai - Corporate Services Lead, Niki Rattle - Ombudsman, Elizabeth Nootai - Investigations Lead, Destiny Tara Tolevu - Compliance Lead and Metua Taurarii - Investigations Officer. MELINA ETCHES/23101204
In a significant step towards inclusivity and equal access to justice, the new Te Mata Akamoeau Ombudsman Office opened yesterday, providing a warm and welcoming space for everyone, including people with disabilities, to seek and receive assistance.
Yesterday, invited guests gathered at Te Mata Akamoeau
premises situated on Harley Street in Nikao to witness the special blessing of
their easily accessible home office.
Expressing her delight, Niki Rattle, the Ombudsman,
said she was “absolutely happy” upon discovering their new premises.
Although Rattle appreciated her previous office that
was situated on the second floor of a building in Avarua, she noted the
difficulties people faced in accessing it and expressed gratitude to their
former landlord and her family for their support.
With the move to the new premises, Rattle reassured
that anyone seeking assistance from the Ombudsman’s office would be able to
easily locate and visit them.
“The idea was to move down to the community level
where we can be easily accessible,” Rattle said.
Rattle thanked both her former landlords, Jackie Tuara
and her family, and her new landlords, Kathy and Tony Wearing.
“People with disabilities was a concern to us in
making sure they are accessible to us.”
The special blessing and opening of the new office
coincided with the World Ombudsman Day which had the theme of diversity and
Guests at the event included Tui Dewes, the New
Zealand High Commissioner to the Cook Islands, Tinomana Tokerau Ariki, Makea
Karika George Ariki, Makea Vakatini Phillip Ariki and Parliamentary staff. The
entertainment was provided by Curly Hosking-Taripo and Destiny Tara Tolevu, and
a special wall art gift was presented by the Deputy Speaker of the Parliament,
MP Tingika Elikana, and Tangata Vainerere, Clerk of Parliament.
The Ombudsman’s role involves conducting independent
and impartial investigations, which are initiated upon the receipt of
This approach ensures a fair and unbiased process for
resolving issues and addressing grievances.
One of the primary goals of the Ombudsman is to reach a
fair balance between the public’s expectations of government services and the
government’s responsibility to provide those services.
By doing so, the Ombudsman aims to foster a public
service culture that upholds principles of fairness, dedication, and
The Ombudsman’s office seeks to promote a culture of
openness, fairness and accountability within the public service, fostering
dedication and commitment, guided by appreciation and consideration for the
cultural values of the Cook Islands, in shaping the way government services are
delivered and received.
Human rights and anti-corruption are other areas of
interest for the office.
The Ombudsman explores: fair treatment by government
agencies – investigate the administrative decisions and actions; people with
disabilities are treated fairly – investigate complaints about discrimination
against people with disabilities; fair treatment by police – investigate
complaints about the actions of police; and requests for official information –
review and investigate official information decisions.
The Ombudsman by virtue of the Ombudsman Act 1984 is
an officer of and responsible to Parliament, meaning the Ombudsman reports to
the Speaker of Parliament as the “controller of Parliament”.
Te Mata Akamoeau working team include Niki Rattle –
Ombudsman, Jean Nootai – Corporate Services Lead, Elizabeth Nootai –
Investigations Lead, Metua Taurarii – Investigations Officer and Destiny Tara
Tolevu – Compliance Lead.
If you believe or someone you know has been treated
unfairly (discriminated on the basis of disability) contact their office on
20605, by email at email@example.com, or Facebook, or visit
the office at Harley Street, Nikao. They are also able to come to you, and their
service is completely free, impartial and confidential.