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Te Tiare Association elects new president

Friday 6 October 2023 | Written by CI News Staff | Published in Local, National


Te Tiare Association elects new president
The newly elected Te Tiare Association president Tatryanna Utanga pictured in 2022. PHOTO: AL WILLIAMS/22033001

Tatryanna Utanga was elected the new president of Te Tiare Association at the association’s annual general meeting late last month.

The other members of the new executive committee include vice president: Clee Marsters, secretary: Mannie Aperau, assistant secretary: Talia Believe Ljapold, treasurer: Tea Peua, assistant treasurer: Tia Mahealani, national cultural and well-being officers: Tairiia’au Van Dongen and Apa Temata and international cultural and well-being officers: Josh Baker and Janette Oliver. The executive committee will serve from 2023-2025.

The non-voting committee members include outgoing president and chief advisor Valery Wichman, diversity officer: Minnie Camaira, PRIDE president de-facto Karla Eggelton and patroness Lady Tuaine Marsters.

In a statement, Te Tiare Association said Utanga is passionate about the organisation’s mission to promote and protect the rights of the LGBTQ+ community in the Cook Islands.

Utanga said her top priorities as president will be to continue to grow the organisation in the spirit of family, community, and culture; and to promote a safer and more inclusive environment for LGBTQ+ people in the Cook Islands.

She also commended the outgoing president, Valery Wichman, and the former executive for their hard work and dedication.

“Under Ms. Wichman’s leadership, Te Tiare Association has made significant progress in advancing the rights of the LGBTQ+ community in the Cook Islands. I am grateful for her service and for the foundation that she has laid for me to build on,” Utanga said.

She also made special mention of the recent legislative changes to empower the Cook Islands LGBTQ+ community.

“This is a historic achievement for our people. It is a testament to the hard work and dedication of LGBTQ+ advocates in the Cook Islands, and it is a sign of progress towards a more accepting and equitable society,” Utanga said.

She is also grateful for the ongoing support that Te Tiare Association receives from the community.

“We are fortunate to have the support of so many people who believe in our mission, however, there is still more work to be done to promote a safer and more inclusive environment for LGBTQ+ people in the Cook Islands,” Utanga said.

Outgoing president and now chief advisor, Wichman said it has been an incredible seven-year journey as president and 14 years serving on Te Tiare executive.

“I am humbled by the privilege to have served the Association. When I embarked on this journey as president (by default) seven years ago, I never could have imagined the profound impact it would have on my life. Te Tiare is not just an organisation; it is a family, a community, a force for change. And it is because of all of you that we have achieved so much together,” Wichman said.

“During my tenure as President, we have witnessed remarkable growth and progress. Together, we have shattered barriers and worked tirelessly to promote diversity, inclusion, and equality.

“We have seen our organisation expand its reach, influence, and ability to make a difference in the lives of countless individuals. It has been an honour to be part of this transformative journey. Especially with the passing of the Crimes Bill in April 2023 which was a culmination of 14 years of advocacy and hard work by all.”