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!
Former Cook Islands and NZ
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.
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.
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