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Ei tiare maori for the Queen

Tuesday 13 September 2022 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in National


Ei tiare maori for the Queen
The precious photograph of Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace in March 1987, adorned with fresh ei tiare maori from Aitutaki, the Cook Islands presented by Representative Sir Tangaroa Tangaroa and Lady Tangaroa. 22091204

A special image of Queen Elizabeth II photographed at Buckingham Palace adorned with two tiare maori ei all the way from the Cook Islands has surfaced following Her Majesty’s death last week.

The photo from late 1980s is cherished with pride in the living room of the Tangaroa family house in Panama.

It was taken on March 4, 1987 when the late Sir Tangaroa Tangaroa, the first Cook Islander to be appointed the country’s Queen’s Representative, went to Buckingham Palace in London to receive his knighthood. He was the first Cook Islander to have been knighted by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace.

Sir Tangaroa and his wife Matangaro nee Manu were accompanied to London by the then QR official secretary, Tangaroa Vaikai and lady in waiting, Noo Browne.

With the recent passing of Queen Elizabeth II (April 21, 1926 – September 8, 2022), one of Sir Tangaroa’s daughters Mata Pera nee Takiika Tairi contacted Cook Islands News to share her father’s intriguing story of getting the tiare maori to London.

“It was Papa’s idea to take the tiare maori, kia akaei ia te Ariki Vaine i ta tatou akonoanga – to present the Queen with our flowers as is our tradition,” shared Mata.

The tiare maori flowers used to make the ei was specially picked in Aitutaki and sent to Rarotonga.

At the time the late Kopu Brown was in charge of protocol.

“Aunty Kopu was such a professional and knew how to get things done so she made the arrangements to ensure the flowers would reach London,” recalled Mata.

“On the day he was knighted, in the morning my mother and Aunty Noo sewed two long neck ei for Her Majesty. He told us how he knelt on his knees to be knighted by the Queen, an incredible historical moment … then my mother put the ei on Her Majesty.”

Although she never had the privilege to meet the Queen in person, Mata said she will always remember being a student at Avarua Primary School and present at the opening of the Rarotonga International Airport by Her Majesty in 1974.

“All the schools on the island were there, we waved our little flags and we were all so excited to be there to see the Queen.”

Sir Tangaroa has two older children – Mahiriki and Dr Uta Tangaroa. He married Matangaro, who was a widow at the time with seven children. Mata was four years old at the time.

“He brought up all seven of us kids and we moved from Turangi to live in Avatiu, he brought us up, he is our father,” said Mata.

Sir Tangaroa MBE (May 6, 1921 – May 23, 2009) was born as the only child to Akaruke and Puna. He died in New Zealand and received a state funeral on Rarotonga.

In 1958, he was elected to the country’s first Legislative Assembly, and subsequently served as member for Penrhyn in the Parliament of the Cook Islands until 1983.

Later he became a member of the Democratic Party, and he served in Democratic Party Cabinets in the late 1970s.

In 1985, he held the position of Queen’s Representative until 1990, when he was succeeded by Sir Apenera Short.

In 1977, he was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal, and in 1990 he received the New Zealand 1990 Commemoration Medal.

New Zealand-born former Chief Justice of Samoa, Niue, the Cook Islands, Nauru and Tuvalu, the late Sir Gaven John Donne KBE was the country’s first Queen’s Representative from 1982 to 1984.


Tangata Vainerere on 14/09/2022

Nice Beautiful Story. Thank you maata to Mata for sharing. Yes, we have had this same foto on display prominently in the new Parliament Chamber since April 2021. Rest in Peace Queen Elizabeth II and God Save the King Charles III.