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CIP move good for Mauke, says new-elected MP Matapo

Friday 26 August 2022 | Written by Caleb Fotheringham | Published in National, Politics

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CIP move good  for Mauke, says new-elected MP Matapo
Independent MP for Mauke Stephen Matapo (left) says discussions had begun regarding a potential ministerial position. 22082507

The incoming coalition government’s newest member Stephen Matapo says teaming up with the Cook Islands Party was the right move for Mauke, adding discussions had begun regarding a potential ministerial position.

The Cook Islands Party now has a 15 seat to nine advantage in Parliament, pending the electoral petitions, followingthe Independent MP’s announcement on Wednesday to join the party.

In an interview with Cook Islands News yesterday, Matapo said: “For me to come and be part of the CIP as a member of Government was the right way forward in terms for Mauke.”

He said it was the right way forward given the CIP led government’s commitment to put projects in motion for his island.  

“I can see that with CIP back in government there is a strong probability that these projects should be completed.

“In Mauke we are supporting the Government and the projects that are currently being undertaken and the projects that are in the pipeline.”

Matapo said joining the Government was “a sign of showing support” to the projects.

“We are in full support of what the government has planned for Mauke and I think it would be good to be part of it.”

Matapo has traditionally been a staunch CIP supporter. His grandfather and father were both MPs for CIP.

He said “circumstances” prior to the August 1 general election meant he ran as an Independent candidate instead of for CIP.

Matapo said discussions had begun regarding a potential ministerial position.

“We just have to wait to see when the petitions are over to see if we (CIP coalition) are part of the team for government and then we will go from there.”

Matapo said he could not comment on what potential Cabinet role he could get at present.

Matapo secured 92 votes to claim the seat, beating Cook Islands Party’s Eileen Story (62) and Cook Islands United Party’s Lotiola Mateariki (11). The Mauke seat was previously held by CIP’s Tai Tura, who is now the Speaker of the House.

He thanked his family for their support and praised God.

“To all my supporters that have supported me with their prayers and I just want to say thank you very much.

“Also, to the Prime Minister, congratulations on the election and coming back into government again. It’s humbling for me to be part of the government for the next four years and I look forward to serving Mauke because Mauke deserves it.”

In a statement released Wednesday night from the Office of the Prime Minister, PM Mark Brown said: “We welcome Stephen to our team and we know that he will add value with his business background and more recently his desire to do more for the Pa Enua Islands.”

Matapo has a background working for the Cook Islands Police and for customs. He currently co-owns a business with his wife called Tina & Co which hires party goods. They also own the 24-hour shop in Aitutaki.

Meanwhile, the five electoral petitions, including two against the Atiu MPs and two against Cook Islands Party MPs in Mitiaro and Titikaveka, and one application for a recount, will be back in the High Court today. The matters will be presided by Chief Justice Sir Hugh Williams via Zoom.