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Jack’s paradise in the Cook Islands

Wednesday 8 June 2022 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Local, National


Jack’s paradise in the Cook Islands
Rosa Tauia, the late Jack Cooper’s longtime partner and companion and pall bearers arrive at the Raina burial grounds in Titikaveka. Photo: Melina Etches/22060705

Family and friends have gathered together to say their final farewells to the late Jack Cooper at the Raina family burial grounds in Titikaveka.

Cooper, who had made Rarotonga his home for 40 years since first arriving to the island in 1983 at the age of 37, was buried on Tuesday.

He loved the people, the culture, and the way of life.

The high profile Trader Jacks bar and restaurant at Avarua Harbour was his pride and joy - an extension of himself, his passion for hospitality, great company and living life large.

His eulogy was delivered by Jack’s nephew Simon Curran, who said “Jack was many things to many people.”

Curren noted some of the special people in Jack’s life - his daughters Melanie and Vanessa, Rosa for her years of love and devotion and care, Chris Douglas for 35 plus years of business partnership, Ronnie and Vanji, his carers, and Tony Manarangi for looking after his affairs.

Pall bearers Richard, Ken Buchanan, Jack Cooper’s daughters Vanessa and Melanie. Photo: Melina Etches/22060725

“The Cooks was his paradise, this was his home, he made his closest friends in Rarotonga, he met his life partner in Rosa, got to work with his daughter Melanie, wrote a book with his daughter Vanessa and found his third daughter.

“He was rough, gruff and loud, but a teddy bear inside, for those he was the loudest and rudest to, were the ones he cared most about, an extraordinary, unique man,” said Curren.

His burial service was conducted by Bishop Paul Donoghue who shared his lessons learned and experiences with Cooper whom he had served on the Liquor Licensing board.

“He (Jack) was very professional, things came up that he was disappointed with, people were lowering standards, and he was disappointed for the work that had been done to improve things,” said Bishop Donoghue.

“He wanted the best for the Cook Islands, that the country prosper and that too came through to me loud and clear in the meetings we had.”

Bishop Paul Donoghue and Myra Tatakura. Photo: Melina Etches/22060726

Bishop Donoghue expressed that a leader emphasises encountering people, dialoging with them, “meaning that we have many differences in our background, in our life and if we can encounter each other that we will be able to live harmoniously together, no matter what our political beliefs, no matter what our religious beliefs no matter what job we do”.

And he valued Cooper in being a person who was prepared to encounter anyone and that “he was able to encounter them respectfully, that he reached out to them and certainly wished them well, and that was my own personal encounter with Jack”.

Cooper held the importance of hospitality and the importance of friendship, said Bishop Donoghue.

“Today, because of globalization, friendship is not as it was before, it is often short, like in employment we are constantly changing,” he added.

“We certainly in this life treasure all our friends, we try to keep them for as long as we can and then we will certainly be able to live peacefully together… like Jack.”

  • Jack’s story will feature in the Saturday edition of Cook Islands News this week