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Cook Islander of the Year gives humble thanks

Saturday 8 January 2022 | Written by CI News Staff | Published in Local, National

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Cook Islander of the Year gives humble thanks
Cook Islands News’ Cook Islander of the Year Tina Iro with her father Charlie Strickland. 22010709

The winner of the inaugural Cook Islands News’ Cook Islander of the Year has been crowned.

Tina Iro accepted the award on Friday, describing the accolade as “emotional, very humbling”.

Iro, a leader of community projects, was among 12 Cook Islanders who accepted the nominations for the award.

Iro led the voting which contributed 40 per cent towards the overall tally.

An independent judging panel of six also gave her their tick of approval based on a criteria set by the newspaper.

“When I first got the phone call about the nomination for Cook Islander of the Year, I accepted only that our Heavenly Father would be glorified,” Iro said on Friday.  

“May He get all the glory for this acknowledgement.”

Iro quoted Matthew 6:3-6 in accepting the award.

“But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret.

“Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

“I also accepted on the condition that I didn’t have to disclose any names or people that we had helped over the years, it is important to me that when we help, it is to be done in private,” she said.

“It’s not about us, it’s about them.”

Her nominator described her as someone who had “selflessly and passionately supported as well as led a number of community projects over the years”.

“2021 has been no different. . . she is founder and co-chair of WWF – Works with Faith.

“Her vision is to meet practical needs of vulnerable and needy in the community and share the goodness of God with her charity work.

“Tina was the team leader for the 2021 Christmas Box project.”

Iro said the greatest joy and satisfaction that she had found in life “is not having things, making money, being popular or having success”.

“What has given me great joy is serving in the community. A life in the service of others is the only life worth living.”

She thanked her husband Kevin for “keeping me grounded and reminding me the purpose of serving”.

“I thank my father Charlie Strickland for being the true example of kindness, he has taught me so much.

“I thank our team. This acknowledgement is for us, so many who have jumped on board, no questions asked to serve in humility for our most vulnerable in our community.

“I thank all who have responded over the years on Rarotonga Community Page to my pleas for help. Donating fridges, beds, kitchenware, building materials, clothing and more.

“No questions asked, you just gave, you are the true champions, I thank everyone for having my back on the voting poll, you guys are too kind.”

Iro also thanked Jesus Christ “for giving me compassion and eyes to see our people who needed help”.

“For those struggling that we have helped so far, the Lord heard your cry.

“I thank the Lord for the work He has done in me and through me. I thank Him for giving me a heart to serve.

“God Bless the Cook Islands. Lord, may your protection, anointing and favour forever reign in our country.”

Cook Islands News publisher John Woods said he was not surprised Iro had been selected as the winner of the award.

“Tina is already renowned as an outstanding Cook Islands woman, known for her gracious manner and her humble disposition as a saintly individual, a dedicated mother and wife, and a godly person of integrity, strong character and Christian belief.

“She is a fabulous role model and example to other women, and one who serves others unselfishly, and with good grace.

“As instigators and promoters of the Cook Islander of the Year award, it is our privilege to be elevating outstanding citizens for recognition and honouring in this way.”

Newspaper editor Rashneel Kumar thanked the judges for their time and dedication in evaluating the nominations.