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'Acting for change’

19 July 2022

Rugby Union

Inspiring Cook Islands women to achieve their career goals

Wednesday 20 July 2022 | Written by Matthew Littlewood | Published in Business, National

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Inspiring Cook Islands women to achieve their career goals
Members of the CIPBW: Photo: FACEBOOK

The newly-elected president of the Cook Islands Business and Professional Women (CIBPW) Association hopes to inspire and assist other Cook Islands women in taking risks and achieving their career goals.

Mata Puia said she was honoured to have been elected as the new president, as she had “always been passionate about lifting up women to pursue their career goals”.

“I’ve already got some experience in the CIBPW during the past two years as secretary. That role was quite demanding, especially during Covid-19,” Puia said.

“But we have such a fantastic team that it was really enjoyable.”

Puia worked in the private and government sector in IT for more than 20 years in Australia and New Zealand, before coming to the Cook Islands about three years ago.

From there, she established Raro IT Solutions, which undertook a number of contracts, including that of the Cook Islands News.

“I assessed there were gaps in the IT sphere in the Cook Islands, so it seemed like a logical choice,” Puia said.

“Unfortunately, Covid-19 definitely hit me hard, there were no tourists, and local businesses weren’t making any money, while government was partially shut down.”

The changed Covid situation encouraged her to “pivot” to food and drink, where she established the bubble tea business Boba Inu in Rarotonga in June 2021.

“It was definitely bringing something different to the table. Although our borders were closed, we received a lot of support from locals. One of the first challenges was ensuring we didn’t run out of stock,” Puia said.

“Fortunately, that’s no longer an issue, we’ve now ordered more stock by sea freight, and we have enough cash to get a new ice machine.”

Puia said she would like CIBPW members to become more involved in the decision-making process.

“It’s about giving women the platform from which to achieve their goals and aspirations,” she said.

“Here in the Cook Islands, you can’t be sitting behind a desk all the time, you’ve really got to get out there and meet people in person.

“Women by nature are multi-taskers, so it’s about assisting women in their career paths, especially if they’re looking for something different.”

Puia, who has two sons, aged 22 and 11, wanted to inspire other mothers to establish or grow businesses in the Cook Islands.

“So often, we have to juggle so many roles, from having to hold the fort at home, to looking after people in your business,” she said.

“We can achieve anything if we have the right attitude and support.”

Puia said she was working on several other ventures, including setting up a tiny house business in Muri.

“That’s about encouraging people to live sustainably. It’s still in is early stages,” she said.

On Monday, CIBPW held its AGM, and elected its new executive.

The other elected members were: Vice Presidents: Louisa Castledine and Tessa Vaetoru, Treasurer: Moce Lord, Secretary: Peka Fisher, and executive members: Wendel Karati, Ashley Steele, Danielle Glennie and Melaine Tini. The Immediate Past President: Debbie Futter-Puati.