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‘Giving is not a burden to us … it comes naturally’

Monday 15 February 2021 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Local, National


‘Giving is not a burden to us … it comes naturally’
The Matavera CICC vainetini with one of the deacons of the church, Member of the Parliament Vaitoti Tupa. 21021208.

The vainetini executives will congregate and display a tivaivai exhibition in September in lead up to the ceremonies to celebrate the 200 years of the arrival of Christianity here.

Mii Pukeiti is a “diakono vaine” – deacon’s wife of the Matavera Cook Islands Christian Church (CICC).

She loves being involved in the church and is fond of the Ekalesia of Matavera.

Her husband Anau Pukeiti is a deacon, and for a deacon there are responsibilities.

Their home is surrounded with an abundance of fruit trees, and they grow crops, and farm pigs and goats.

“We love what we do, we just love doing it. The more we do it, the more blessings we have,” says Mii.

“Giving is not a burden to us, giving is something that comes naturally … the more you give, the more you are blessed.

“We will give regardless, it’s not a burden at all.”

Giving she says, teaches her valuable life lessons.

“My husband says, the more he gives the more he is blessed by the Lord. We love doing things for the church and for people. It is a responsibility and it’s a joy to do these things.”

The Matavera CICC are the hosts of the year’s Vainetini events for Rarotonga.

As secretary of the CICC Vainetini, Mii was handed the responsibility to address over 300 women at the opening of the Church’s Women’s Fellowship service on Tuesday – the first gathering for 2021.

Although Pukeiti has many years of experience in church proceedings, she felt anxious – this was first time she would address a large audience for such a prestigious occasion.

She delivered her opening turou (welcome) to the vainetini (women) in her Mangaian dialect and managed to get through the formalities.

“It was nerve wrecking for me, I can do it in our usual church services, but on Tuesday it was a whole different level.”

The catering of food for the visiting women was shared out to the three tapere (districts) of Matavera: Titama catered for Titikaveka and Arorangi, Rotopu looked after Ngatangiia and the invited guests, and Vaenga took care of Avarua and Nikao.

Tables laden with food were neatly arranged at the Sunday school hall for the women to enjoy.

With their five children, Mii and Anau Pukeiti family moved to live in Matavera 13 years ago when they built their home. Prior to that, they had lived in Titikaveka.

Mii says the Matavera Ekalesia is very strong in keeping to their traditional ways of doing things for the vainetini.

“Matavera still does the first pure Metua vaine on the first Sunday of the month and the vainetini come to church all dressed in white.”

The vainetini met again yesterday for a church service and a patu tuatua – like a question and answer session. They also visit elderly and unwell people in the village and sometimes collect and deliver food parcels each month.

Anau graduated as a deacon in 2016, when Mii also became known as a diakono vaine .

Only a deacon’s wife takes care of the kapu oroa and decorates on top of the altar, “the old ways are still upheld and respected.”

Taking care of the church, cleaning and decorating is a rotated roster.

“Women in the village always help out and Mama Orometua Pai Naomi Rouru is always there anytime,” says Mii.

At present Mii is the only diakono vaine for Rotopu, sadly two have passed away and two have retired.

The district of Titama does not have a diakono vaine , but the tapere of Vaenga/Pouara has four – Tauepa Tutakiao-Tupa, Matangaro Mokoroa, Lizzie Obeda and Mariana Mataio.

Mii was born on Mangaia, one of 12 siblings. She moved to live on Rarotonga 28 years ago where she met her husband.

Her sisters teased her, “you go to Raro and meet and marry another Mangaian,” she tells, laughing.

“I  met the right person and he’s a good provider.”

The couple now have five grandchildren and a feeding child from Aitutaki and another from Mauke.

“Thanks to Mariana and Tauepa for all their help and leading me in the directions.”

In September all the vainetini executives will congregate and display a tivaivai exhibition before the 200 years of the arrival of Christianity ceremonies and church assembly events on Aitutaki.