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LETTER TO EDITOR: Remembering the late Police chief

Tuesday 8 November 2022 | Written by Supplied | Published in Letters to the Editor, Opinion


LETTER TO EDITOR: Remembering the late Police chief

Dear Editor, Please allow me to write a few words about this great Cook Islander. Tangata Nekeare made history together with Fred Goodwin (now Sir Fred Goodwin) when they were the first police cadets appointed by the Cook Islands Police.

This was about the mid-1950s. Ta, as we fondly called Tangata, grew into the Police service being naturally smart, intelligent, shrewd and cunning. He was a good detective. Ta was not physically huge or tall, but he was well built,

fearless and not to be messed with. He maintained the highest code of ethics and integrity. He did not hesitate to dismiss dishonest policemen. 

When Tangata attended the Police College in Trentham, he graduated as one of the top students. He never drank alcohol but on two occasions that I recall, at a social evening function, he challenged us then young cops to drink a bottle of whisky. He drank more than us, we were plastered and there he was laughing

at us, that tough grit willpower kept him sober! Ta succeeded Jack Best and Bill Prentice, the last two NZ police secondments.

I was in the Cook Islands Police from 1965 to 1967. I started off as a cadet and ended up with the commissioned rank of Sub Inspector. At the end of 1967, I approached Mr. Nekeare to discuss my future. I advised him that I did not

find any challenges or good prospects for my future in the C.I. Police and I wanted to go to NZ to join the NZ Police. Without hesitation, he gave me his blessing and gave me good solid CVs which assisted me greatly. 

That was the easy part. Little did I know that at that time, Pacific Islanders were not admitted into the NZ Police. New Zealand Maoris were admitted not too long before that. My application created a stir at the Police HQ in Wellington. The fact that we Cook Islanders are NZ citizens and my education credentials helped. I got in! The first Pacifica to be admitted into the NZ Police (Ref. “The History of the N.Z. Police” Volume 5, pages 223 and 244).

Tangata Nekeare, my role model mentor and hero helped me get there. A few months later, to finish how it all happened before I got into the NZ Police, I was assisted to get a seat on an Airforce Hercules aircraft, by my Nukuroa uncle Papa Raui Pokoati, MP. The seat was reserved for sick patients, lucky no one got sick. I am forever beholden to my mentor Ta and my Papa Raui Pokoati.

I was driving a Police patrol car in Auckland City on that fateful evening in 1972 when Comms asked me to change to channel 2 for a private message. I was then given the bad news of Ta’s passing. I was shocked and devastated. So

young, and with children! We used to write to each other, mail was slow with only sea transport. I rate Tangata Nekeare amongst the top six public servants that this country has produced in the last 100 years. The rest are, not in any order, Taira Rere (education), Dr Joseph Williams (medical), Kuki Sadaraka (academic), Bill Hosking Senior (agriculture) and Marjorie Crocombe (academic). 

On behalf of my family and all the former police officers who served under Police Chief Tangata Nekeare, I wish to extend to Ta’s widow Mama Tu, all the children, inlaws, mokopunas and inas our shared sadness, gloom and sorrow for one of the unforgettable events of our lives … I still remember the laughter, the sound of his voice and the jokes! We shall remember you bro for all eternity!   


Norman George

Former Cook Islands and NZ Police Officer

Airline connectivity

The PM previously said the Pacific Northwest (which includes Vancouver, Seattle and Portland) was a solid market for the Cook Islands (Sustainability versus economic recovery: It’s a balancing act, Cook Islands News Saturday, November 5). Qantas flying Seattle to Sydney once a week with a stop in Rarotonga would open both Australia and North America to the Cook Islands (of course, they would have to figure out how to manage the crew). Qantas currently does not serve Seattle and they are OneWorld partners with Alaska Airlines, whose home is Seattle. Seattle is the largest metro area on the West Coast and Alaska Airlines connects all the important towns and cities in the Pacific Northwest, including Alaska, as well as California and beyond. Currently the only flight from Seattle to the Southern Hemisphere is to Tahiti twice a week. Seattle is a market in need of service connecting it Down Under.

Pre-pandemic I would visit the Cooks three times a year from Seattle during the academic holidays. By this time I would have already purchased tickets for visits in March and June. It’s not even an option for me now and I am looking elsewhere. Without the direct flight from LA it is simply too difficult and too expensive to get there. Flying through Auckland breaks the budget as it more than triples the cost and doubles the travel time. Flying through Tahiti doubles the cost and requires a three night layover in Tahiti, which again impacts the budget and time I can spend in the Cooks, due to the poor timing of the Seattle-Papeete flight with the Papeete-Rarotonga flight.

Alternatively, perhaps Air NZ could have a once a week service linking Seattle direct to Rarotonga and continuing on to Auckland. Will likely never happen, especially as Star Alliance airlines are weak in Seattle, but it is probably only a matter of time before Qantas moves into the vacuum, now that Alaska Airlines is part of OneWorld.

Kia manuia e ka kite (e inangaro au).

Patrick Chapman