Independent Member of Parliament (MP) Te-Hani Brown has ruled out the possibility of taking up a ministerial position as she joins the Cook Islands Party-led coalition government.
Brown retained the Tengatangi-Areora-Ngatiarua seat after winning Monday’s by-election on Atiu. She received 78 votes while Democratic Party candidate Nandi Glassie managed 45. The 23-year-old, who is the youngest ever MP in the country, said a ministerial position was not her major concern.
“Not at the moment, we already have one minister for Atiu (Rose Brown) that’s more than enough plus there are three Atiuan ministers in Cabinet already that includes the honourable ministers Mac Mokoroa and George Angene,” Brown said.
“I still have a lot of learning to do before I can be confident enough to take that (ministerial position) up.”
In lead up to her re-election into Parliament, Brown faced criticism from the opposition Demos, who she represented in Parliament after the win in the 2018 general election.
The Demos were not pleased with her decision to support the government. She resigned and decided to stand as an independent candidate. “The opposition didn’t hand this to me without a fight that’s for sure, but I’m happy they didn’t take it easy on me just because I am young.
I was always positive that whatever the outcome, it was for the best,” Brown said. “I only had Atiu’s best interests at heart.
My supporters were confident, but I don’t like to get too confident and instead told them to stay humble, because I know people jump easily when you tell them what they want to hear.” While disappointed with the preliminary outcome of the by-election, Democratic Party Opposition leader Tina Browne extended a message of “kia toa” (have strength, courage) to Brown. “Naturally we hoped our candidate, experienced politician Nandi Glassie, would return a favourable preliminary result, but that is not the case at this stage. But we’re not going to despair over this, rather gather strength and carry on being a steadfast opposition party,” Browne said.
After the win, Te-Hani Brown said she now looked forward to getting back to doing more work for the people of Enuamanu (Atiu) and especially working alongside the government of the day.
“As for the critics your opinion is much appreciated and it gives me more motivation to continue doing good things for my people,” she added.
Meanwhile Opposition leader Browne said the Democratic Party was still very much the majority party with 11 seats in Parliament.
The Cook Islands Party holds nine, independents – three, and One Cook Islands a single seat. “The strength of the Democratic Party is in no way diminished and our focus still remains to become government.”