My mother Tashi Tutai: ‘E vaine aruaru’

Thursday 7 May 2020 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Weekend


My mother Tashi Tutai: ‘E vaine aruaru’
Tashi with husband Ziona Tutai, their five children and her father. 20050621

Rima Browne tells how her mother Tashi Tutai shared different traits with each of her five ‘children of God’.

Mum is very much a family person and has instilled in us the great values and importance of being a family unit.

We always eat together and everyone has their spot at the table, if you dare sit in a seat that isn’t yours, be prepared for World War 3.


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Every Sunday morning we drive to Aunty Liz and Aunty Poko in Arorangi to buy the yummiest donuts.

On the way home we pull into Papa’s house, and like clockwork he’s sitting at his door waiting with his plate to come out and grab two donuts for himself.

We wave goodbye knowing that we’ll see him later for lunch - this is a family tradition my mum has made (even though dad does all the cooking) and has kept going for as long as I can remember.

If you asked any of us kids what mum dislikes the most, without hesitation we’d all say, “a dirty house”. She does not like mess.

Sundays are for family time and Saturdays are for cleaning the house, much to dads delight.

You know those people who say “excuse the mess” when you go over to their homes? My mum’s that person, except the house is spotless and she’s referring to the dishes we left on the bench to air-dry, eye roll emoji, I know.

I’ve always thought of my mum as a hardworking mean machine – e vaine aruaru.

She’s tried her hand at numerous business ventures, not afraid to give things a go and see where her ideas may lead.

Mum has sold accessories at the Punanga Nui market, dabbled in food catering, and had tailoring business for a bit.

These days you’ll most likely find mum managing two separate businesses from her computer at home.

I’d call her self-employed, but when teachers ask my brothers what mum does, they say, “nothing, she just stays home all day.”

Our mother is kind, caring, a clean freak, hardworking, ambitious and very driven.

Some of these qualities you’ll likely see shine through each of her five ‘children of God’ (which is what she calls us when we stress her out).

In Stan you’ll see my mum’s “drive”, for school that is. As for chores he’s nowhere to be found!

Temaru inherited her cleanliness and most definitely her stubbornness, but he is the hardest-working of us.

All my mums sass went to Ethan, and Teurukura is what I imagine my mum was as a child, taringaturi and a katukanga.

Me? I aspire to be at least half the person my mum is one day.

So I guess I get my ambition from her.

Individually we’re our own person. Together we’re the best of mum.