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Passionate for environment

Saturday 18 June 2011 | Published in Regional


Jacqui Evans, Te Ipukarea Society programme coordinator, remembers Te Tikas passion for the environment:

Te Tika Mataiapo was a superb leader and ambassador for the environment. She had strength, perseverance, courage, an intricate understanding of customary practice, gentle communication skills and an unfailing, rare ability to never criticise but to provide positive reinforcement. She also had a deep passion and appreciation for nature. With these leadership qualities she worked tirelessly for the environment. Most outstandingly, she led the re-establishment of marine raui by the Koutu Nui after the regular practice of raui had been abandoned in Rarotonga for over 40 years.

At a meeting in 1997 she said: If we are talking about establishing marine raui, then leave it to us because raui can only be declared by us.

With that, the Koutu Nui took the reins from government agencies that were considering the introduction of marine protected areas but were stuck in bureaucracy and legislation.

Her leadership put the Cook Islands on the global map in the marine conservation field.

An eloquent, passionate and powerful speaker Te Tika was invited to give keynote addresses by conferences worldwide eager to learn how the marine raui were established and why traditional knowledge and practice is so important.

Te Tika understood natures important place in our physical, cultural and spiritual realms. She highlighted the importance of holding on to our spirituality when she said in an interview: .our ancestors had this enormous respect for the environment. For instance, in the olden days, our ancestors would never cut a tree down to make a canoe without praying, without their karakia, praying for authority to take the life of that tree. Today, we just blatantly go and cut a tree down, and we dont think about the fact that it has a life.

This is a fundamental lesson that we can learn from Te Tika to respect nature. Protect Mother Nature and she will provide for you. Farewell Te Tika. You will be sincerely missed.