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Four-way battle for Penrhyn seat

Saturday 24 February 2024 | Written by Losirene Lacanivalu | Published in National, Politics


Four-way battle for Penrhyn seat

Four candidates, including the wife of the former MP and deputy prime minister, will contest the 2024 Penrhyn by-election to be held next month.

With a population of around 200 people, around 111 eligible voters will cast their vote on March 12 at the Penrhyn by-election.

The seat became vacant after former deputy prime minister Robert Tapaitau was convicted by Chief Justice Patrick Keane for three charges of using a document to obtain pecuniary advantage and a charge of conspiracy to defraud. Tapaitau won the Penrhyn seat under the Cook Islands Party (CIP) banner in the 2022 general election.

Former Deputy Prime Minister Robert Tapaitau with his wife Sarakura Tapaitau who will stand as an independent candidate for the Penrhyn By-election. MFAI / 24022324

Tapaitau’s wife, Sarakura Tapaitau, is one of the four candidates contesting for the seat alongside Vaine Wichman, Meremere Arake Tonitara, and Tangata (Tata) Andrew Vaeau.

Vaine Iriano Wichman, the Cook Islands Party candidate for the Penrhyn (Tongareva) by-election, with school children in Omoka in 2022. SUPPLIED/24021830

Sarakura Tapaitau and Vaeau will be contesting as independents, while Wichman is contesting under the CIP banner and Tonitara for the Democratic Party.

Chief electoral officer Taggy Tangimetua said the election will be held at the Omoka Admin Building and Tetautua Admin Building from 9am to 6pm.

Tangimetua said a provision has been made to allow for voting in advance at the Office of the Chief Electoral (Statistics Office MFEM, Avarua, Rarotonga) every working day, from Tuesday, February 27, 9am to 1pm, until the day before the election.

The issuing of postal votes will also start for eligible electors currently outside of the Cook Islands who have notified the chief electoral officer of their postal addresses.

Tangimetua added that the electoral officials’ names and positions will be announced once their availability is confirmed.