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Four recognised in Queen’s Birthday Honours List

Tuesday 7 June 2022 | Written by Supplied | Published in Economy, National

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Four recognised in Queen’s Birthday Honours List
Mitaera Ngatae Teatuakaro Michael Tavioni BEM. Photo: Supplied/22060607

Four distinguished Cook Islanders were named the recipients of the prestigious Queen’s Birthday Honours to mark the Platinum Jubilee.

Prime Minister Mark Brown on Sunday congratulated the Cook Islands recipients of this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours awards.

The 2022 Queen’s Birthday Honours List is comprised of:

  • Mr Tekaotiti Matapo, Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE), for services to the community and public service.
  • Bishop Tutai O Marama Maao-Tino Pere, Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE), for services to the Church and to the community.
  • Mrs Marie Ketia Melvin, British Empire Medal (BEM), for services to the community and to the business sector.
  • Mr Mitaera Ngatae Teatuakaro Michael Tavioni, British Empire Medal (BEM), for services to the arts and to the community.

All four recipients have been formally approved by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and are rightfully honoured for the good works and services they have provided their country and communities, the Prime Minister said in a statement.

“Each of this year’s honourees have devoted most of their lives to serving our nation and their combined contributions to Cook Islands politics, religion, sport, governance, business, art and culture cannot be underestimated,” said Prime Minister Brown.

“I would like to sincerely thank them for their service and congratulate them on this most esteemed recognition of everything they have achieved over the years.”

Tekaotiti Matapo OBE

Matapo – fondly known as ‘Papa Tiki’ – was born in Rarotonga on 16 April 1944. He attended Titikaveka and Avarua Primary Schools and completed his secondary education at Tereora College in 1961.

Shortly after college he joined the Cook Islands Police Service in 1962 and later undertook additional training in New Zealand and Australia, qualifying as a detective. Papa Tiki served as a police officer for almost 30 years, with 10 years in charge of the Criminal Investigation Branch (CIB). He eventually rose to the rank of inspector before embarking on a political career.

Standing successfully in Titikaveka for the Cook Islands Party in 1989, he was elected for two consecutive four-year terms and served as a Cabinet Minister, with his portfolios over this period including (but not limited to) Justice, Youth and Sports, Religious Advisory Council, Affairs of the Aronga Mana, Land Commission, Prison Services, Probation Services and Parliamentary Services.

Tekaotiti Matapo OBE. Photo: Supplied/22060609

Papa Tiki comes from a family of talented sportspeople and was a national representative in athletics at the 1966 South Pacific Games in New Caledonia. He was also a national rugby representative, captaining the 1983 South Pacific Games rugby team in Samoa, and playing in the 1985 Mini South Pacific Games team in Rarotonga. In 1981 he also captained Rarotonga against a touring Italian side coached by French great Pierre Villepreux, defeating them 15-9. Later, Papa Tiki would serve as President of the Cook Islands Sports and National Olympic Committee (CISNOC) for two terms from 1999 to 2005.

In 2011 Papa Tiki was appointed High Commissioner for the Cook Islands to New Zealand, serving a single term which ended in 2015. During this time, he was able to significantly increase the number of new diplomatic ties with other countries and also led a strong programme of engaging with the Cook Islands diaspora. In 2018 he was appointed president of the Cook Islands Party, a role he continues to hold today, while also remaining active in the Church and his community, particularly in his beloved village of Titikaveka. Papa Tiki and his wife Mii Metua have four sons and one daughter, 11 grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren.

Bishop Tutai O Marama Maao-Tino Pere MBE

Bishop Tutai Pere was born on Aitutaki in 1951 and in 1971 married Ana Papauri Te Akaari, with whom he had eight children. Ana died of breast cancer in 1994 and Bishop Pere later married Patricia Ann Ritter in 1995.

After his early education at Araura Primary and Aitutaki High School, Bishop Pere attended Tereora College from 1964 to 1968, before returning to Aitutaki to spend two years planting and fishing with the late Dr Terepai Maoate.

In 1970, Bishop Pere responded to his spiritual calling to attend ministerial training at Takamoa Theological College and was later recommended to attend Knox Theological College, becoming the first Cook Islands student to graduate with a Licentiate Diploma of Theology (LTh) in 1976 and then in 1981 completing his Bachelor of Arts degree at Otago University, majoring in Phenomenology of Religions.

After graduation, Bishop Pere served his first probationary term at the Arutanga Cook Islands Christian Church (CICC) in Aitutaki. In 1981, he was transferred to the Titikaveka CICC with a fulltime ministry until 1988, when he resigned to take up another calling of God.

Bishop Tutai O Marama Maao-Tino Pere MBE. Photo: SBMA/22060611

Bishop Pere then established the first Apostolic Church of the Cook Islands in 1988, receiving his Ministerial Credential of Appointment as a fulltime pastor of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World (PAW) in 1989. He was then elevated to District Elder over the Cook Islands in 1990 and later Suffragan Bishop in 1995. Then in 2009 he was ordained as Diocesan Bishop of the 43rd Episcopal District of PAW over the whole of the South Pacific Region.

Alongside his life’s work as a pastor, Bishop Pere has also served the Cook Islands government through various board and committee roles, including as a member of the Budget Committee, National Sustainable Human Resources Committee, Seabed Manganese Nodule Mining and Exploration Committee, Ministry of Justice Parole Board, Public Service Commission Vocational Select Committee and Liquor Licensing Authority Board.

He has also served as chair of the National Police Advisory Council and is currently chair of the Seabed Mining Advisory Committee, as well as serving on Select Committee Panels for the Ministry of Corrective Services.

Marie Ketia Melvin BEM

Marie Melvin was born in 1942 on Palmerston. She attended Avarua Side School until the age of 12 but was not allowed to attend Tereora College so instead joined the family business with her parents at Island Craft.

Her father taught her to take pictures with a box camera and she became the official photographer for the Police and Health Department at a very young age, going on to photograph police crime scenes, shipwrecks, sporting events and the Queen’s visit. Many historical photos from the 1950s onwards are attributed to her.

At 15, Marie travelled to New Zealand to work as a photographer for various studios and eventually the Nelson Evening Mail. She also worked picking tobacco, which is how she met future husband Donald Melvin, and they later returned home to work at Island Craft in the early 1960s. Marie continues to work part-time in the business with her son, who runs the company with his wife and children.

Over the years Marie and her late husband expanded the Island Craft business from a small shop to three stores and a factory that produces and sells authentic arts and crafts. Together they contacted numerous museums around the world to get pictures and records of lost local artefacts and other art held in foreign ownership, which they would go on to reproduce at Island Craft. Their dedication to this task greatly advanced the redevelopment of local indigenous art in the Cook Islands.

Marie Ketia Melvin BEM. Photo: Supplied/22060610

Marie was the first Cook Islands woman to chair the Tourism Committee before it became the entity it is today. She also chaired the Chamber of Commerce in the early 1980s, helping organise the annual floats and beautification of the town area, and it was because of the pioneering efforts of people like Marie that the tourism industry started to flourish.

In 1994 she was chosen as the Honorary French Consul, serving six years. She organised numerous events to bring our two countries together and hosted the French Ambassador. Her proudest achievement during this period was securing funding from the French government for the Cook Islands’ first mammogram machine.

Mitaera Ngatae Teatuakaro Michael Tavioni BEM

Born on Rarotonga in 1947, Mike Tavioni is renowned across the Pacific as a Cook Islands cultural icon, master carver and artist. He is also a painter, sculptor, printer, designer, traditional vaka maker, poet, writer, teacher, and storyteller, as well as an exponent and practitioner of many other cultural and artistic endeavours.

Mike was educated at Tereora College and after receiving a government scholarship he finished his schooling at Northland College in New Zealand before returning home to work in the Ministry of Agriculture. In 1966 he completed a diploma in horticulture at Massey University and then dedicated himself to government work in agriculture until 1975, when he decided to follow his real passion and became a fulltime artist.

Throughout this period his flair for artistic expression using the mediums of paint, fabric textiles and carving flourished and he started to make a name for himself as an artist and designer. In 1985 Mike married his wife Awhitia and they have one daughter, Tatiana.

In 1996, Mike oversaw the development of the Punanga Nui Market, penning a case study which was turned into a proposal that received funding from New Zealand for construction and materials. To this day the market is a mainstay in the community and a must-do for tourist visitors to Rarotonga.

In 2015, Mike began the construction of his own “poor man’s gallery”, a passion project he had dreamt of since his early days as a struggling artist in the 1970s. In 2016 he was commissioned, alongside NZ-based artist Michel Tuffery, to create a carved wooden gateway for the RSA memorial cemetery to commemorate the centenary of Cook Islands participation in the First World War.

In 2019, Mike graduated from the Auckland University of Technology with a Master of Fine Arts. He is currently tutoring students from the Cook Islands Tertiary Institute in traditional vaka making and is also writing and editing several new books.

Now 75, Mike runs Gallery Tavioni and Vananga with Awhitia, who is also a master carver. Together they continue to carve, teach, and encourage the preservation of traditional Cook Islands art, culture, language, and life skills.