Temata’s family tells of sense of morality, human justice and dogged determination

Tuesday 10 December 2019 | Written by Jonathan Milne | Published in Local


Temata’s family tells of sense of morality, human justice and dogged determination
New Zealand's High Commissioner to the Cook Islands Tessa Temata (left) earlier this year in Rarotonga. 19100720

Funeral for New Zealand High Commissioner this week, followed by a final memorial service in Cook Islands.

The family of Tessa Auriette Temata, who died in office this week, have remembered her with a powerful tribute.

Temata was New Zealand’s first High Commissioner of Cook Islands descent to serve in the Cook Islands, and also the first female New Zealand High Commissioner of Pacific ancestry to be posted to the Pacific.

Her father Tiatoa Anapou Temata was from Mauke; her mother Jane Crichton Temata was from Samoa.

The 52-year-old diplomat died early on Sunday morning, Cook Islands time, after a brief battle with cancer.

Last night her sisters Marisa, Allayna and their whanau told of the Tessa they knew.

“Growing up as one of nine children in a small rural town, in Bell Block Taranaki, Tessa from a young age argued politics with her father, which is where her sense of morality, human justice, commitment to people’s welfare, and dogged determination, began,” they said.

“Like our father, Tessa has never shied away from hard work and this in turn has enabled her to travel the world.

She was remembered by brothers and sisters Farrell, Karl, Susan, Vaughn, Allaynna, Marise and Willard.

“Tessa has always been an avid reader with a passion for knowledge” the family said.

“She read through the entire children’s section of the New Plymouth Public Library, then declared to her mother that she was ready to move onto the adult section ... and has been there ever since.”

The whanau announced Temata’s funeral arrangement yesterday. As she wished, her service will be held at the Church of Christ in central Wellington, on Friday, NZ time (Thursday CI time).

“This will be our opportunity to come together to celebrate Tessa’s full and rich life.”

They said a final memorial service would be held in Rarotonga, at a later date which is yet to be confirmed.