Angeline Mitchell began her journey with the Girl Guides Association Cook Islands when she was six- years-old, joining up as a Brownie.
Seventeen years old, she is now a Ranger and still loves being part of the organisation.
“We learn many practical things, and it’s about helping each other and improving our social skills,” she says.
“It can also help young girls build up their confidence.”
Along with many of the members, she attended its 91-year celebration hosted by the Titikaveka Girl Guides company led by Pani and Apii Ben.
Tepaeru Kokaua Hagai, captain of the Nikao company, has been involved for more than 30 years. “We are about the development of the girls. Girl Guides teaches life and developmental skills, handy tips for within the household, cooking, and encouraging the girls to look themselves and contribute to the community.”
She admits, presently with a roll of about 20 girls, it is harder these days to keep them interested and committed. There are many sports activities going on and school studies.
Ngara Katuke, National President of Girl Guides Association Cook Islands, also began her induction into the group as a Brownie.
Being part of the Brownies was so much fun, she says, and mentions Haumata Manavaroa, her first leader, followed by Ngapoko Paiti nee Dean as her Guides teacher, who taught great values.
“Going to camp, being with the girls, preparing and cooking our own umu food from scratch – from picking the fruit, weaving, husking and grating coconuts, peeling taro and maniota, was enjoyable.
“It’s good to learn how to prepare and make use of our traditional natural foods like uto, kuru, rukau. Back then we would cook just one big pot of food, that we all shared. We had plenty to eat, we never complained; eat or starve.
“Learning to sew and embroider was also a bonus, sewing on buttons, hemming etc.”
In those days there were no mattresses, they slept on mats on the floor, no one whinged, this was their camping life, she adds.
She recalls the leadership of Pani Ben, Naomi Iro and the late Mary Paitai: “learning from them was a fantastic opportunity.”
“Keeping the girls engaged, singing, making the activities fun, in the years I grew up.”
Katuke had her first experience on the council when she was 16. “I was then, the assistant secretary for the late Vereara Maeva-Taripo.
“I had no idea at that time, I tagged along and learnt hands on. Minutes were hand-written then, and meetings were held at the late Makea Karika Ariki’s.”
It all began at the Takamoa Grounds with the London Missionary Society orometua and their wives, on October 26th 1928. It is celebrated on the 15th of the month, as the original date is observed as Gospel Day.
At the time of registration of the first companies, the Cook Islands Girl Guides Association was formed and registered as a Province with the New Zealand Girl Guides Association, until early 1980 when it became known as a Branch Association of New Zealand.
In 1992, the Association became an associate member of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girls Scouts, with the help of executive members from New Zealand and Australia and with the influence of the Asia Pacific Region Committee.
Since 2014, they have had to comply with the world organisation’s requirements, keeping records, and programmes.
Many great women have been an active in the group for many years. Especially the Aronga Mana - Karika Ariki, Makea Ariki, Pa Ariki and Tinomana Ariki, who were strong leaders, also the late Margaret Story, late Dame Margaret Karika, late Maui Short, late Tinomana Ruta Ariki, late Noo Sword-Brown, late Rongomatane Ariki, says Katuke.
Ngara Katuke also acknowledges elderly leaders whom are still involved, like Naomi Iro in Titiikaveka, Tinomana Tokerau Ariki in Arorangi, Nga Mokoroa in Atiu, Josephine Lockington in Aitutaki, and Tereapii Teao in Mauke.
Guiding offers another arena for girls to learn to become good leaders, mothers and role models.
Many young women whom have travelled overseas to represent our small paradise overseas at world and regional conferences, she says.
“We believe in our Guide Promise, Law and Motto, and value the girls, young women and leaders – without them, we would not be here.”
· The executive of the National Council are President Ngara Katuke, secretary Tatari Mitchell, commissioner Tutai Mauke, treasurer Mii Maui, programme coordinator Haumata Hosking.
· Sections and Branches are Pepe Auro (Golden Butterfly), Brownie Pack, Guide Company, Ranger Unit, Young leaders, Guiders, Committee and the National Executive.