A century of hard work, family and ‘home brew’

Monday September 14, 2020 Written by Published in Weekend
Mama Mare Paruru celebrated her 100th birthday on Sunday. 20090905/06 Mama Mare Paruru celebrated her 100th birthday on Sunday. 20090905/06

Mama Mare Paruru turned 100 last week and Melina Etches sat down with her and one of her daughters to find out some of the secrets of a life well lived.

In the early 70s, Mama Mare Paruru who turned the grand old age of 100 last week used to make home brew to earn a living to help feed her family.

One of her daughters, 60-year-old Mii Patia fondly remembers the days when her mother took part in the forbidden activity of making and selling home brew to put food on the table.

When Patia was about 12 years old, “my mother started her own business ma’ani (making) home brew,” she laughed.

Back then men were usually known to mix and sell brewed beer and took up the risky trade, not women.

“One of her uncles felt for her and all of us kids and so taught her how to make it, says Patia.

The police would visit homes usually on a Friday night to check if anyone was making home brew.

“But we knew a good man who would warn us when the police were coming - on those nights we would sit around quietly,” Patia says.

“As soon as the police would leave my mum would start cooking the home brew using packets of hops, cooking the mix, adding water, marota (malt), sugar and stirring and pouring into tins…”

Then the home brew would be ready during the week, Patia is unsure but believes at the time each bottle would sell for 20 cents.

Mama Paruru was born in 1920 to parents Tamarua Tinirau and her mother Vaine Nganu.

Raised in Parekura, Takuvaine she was brought up by Aitu Mama Mambo, because her mother had passed away at the age of 45.

She married her husband Tekoronga Manuaanga Paruru who was from Tupapa Maraerenga, on May 6, 1942.

All of her 14 children were born on Rarotonga.

Mama Paruru would visit the vainetini (women) of Tupapa to sew tivaevae.

Every weekend the family would stay up in the hills in Tupapa to plant. Her husband grew vegetables like cabbages, tomatoes and spinach to eat and if there was more at harvest time, it would be shared out to other families.

“But when it was the taro, my father would sell it,” says Patia.

“And when the Moana Roa ship would arrive he would work on the boat to unload cargo.

From these wages he would buy sugar, flour etc.”

Patia attended Avarua School, her and her siblings would pick oranges and guavas for lunch when they were in season.

“Sometimes if we got home very late and it was nearly dark, my mother would be standing by the door with a stick,” she recalls.

“If we swam after school and didn’t get home until very late, ooh we would miss out on tea and go to bed kare e kai tea (no dinner). But we still kept doing it… it was too much fun.”

Raking the rubbish or leaves in the yard in the morning every day before school was a normal chore.

“If someone didn’t help, well no breakfast, you go to school hungry,” Patia says.

“Kareka rae te moa e rere ake, kua akaaraara ia matou kia tu ki runaga paraku tita, kare i kite iana te tita no te poiri - sometimes the roosters haven’t awakened yet, we were woken up to rake the rubbish, sometimes it was dark and you couldn’t see the leaves!”

Patia lives with her mother in Ngatangiia to take care of her.

She encourages her mother to walk slowly around in the house every day to use her muscles and to keep her moving, saying “she looks very light, but she is heavy.”

“Mum is good at eating and sits at the table, her eyes are good but her hearing not so much.”

Three siblings live in Cook Islands, Tutu Rairoa a sister in Tupapa and the youngest Twin Samuela resides in Aitutaki; four siblings live in New Zealand, seven have passed away.

Her children visit their mother regularly.

Mama Paruru has one brother, 20 half siblings, 14 children (two died in infancy), 46 grandchildren, 120 great grandchildren and 41 great-great grandchildren.

The secret to Mama Paruru’s longevity, her daughter says is a life of hard work.

“She never liked going out much, she stayed home most of the time looking after us kids,” says her daughter.

“After everything she has done for us I feel it is my duty to make sure she is well-looked after.”


  • Comment Link Puna Rakanui Thursday, 24 September 2020 06:53 posted by Puna Rakanui

    Na te Atua I oronga mai! Kia akameitaki ia te Mana Katoatoa noou e Mama. Kua kitea e koe te uri anga o te pakari. Kare atu e akameitaki anga maata atu ei akakite atea ua I ta te Atua takinga meitaki ia koe.

    Bless you!!!

  • Comment Link Ta Banks ( Tangiia ) Sunday, 20 September 2020 08:18 posted by Ta Banks ( Tangiia )

    Kia orana kite orana, very very amazing story of mama Mare, i remember in my younger days as teen age in the 60s i use to go aroun her and buy her homebrew few drink then go to maruaiai...god bless you mama Mare you are amazing lady

  • Comment Link Carrol Hewett Wednesday, 16 September 2020 18:23 posted by Carrol Hewett

    Happy birthday aunty Mare, God bless you continuously

  • Comment Link Mata Rakanui Wednesday, 16 September 2020 08:58 posted by Mata Rakanui

    Thank you for sharing the precious life this mama battled..long but treasured memories. May our Almighty touches her and bless her abundantly.
    Yes i agree mama played her part tirelessly now time to give her rest and pamper her , i know what it like cause i was with my 81yr old mother till the last breath
    Beautiful story,God bless
    Mata Rakanui

  • Comment Link This is my sister, always in my prayers, thank you for sharing her story and life, amazing lady Wednesday, 16 September 2020 04:42 posted by This is my sister, always in my prayers, thank you for sharing her story and life, amazing lady


  • Comment Link Jacquie Munro Tuesday, 15 September 2020 06:50 posted by Jacquie Munro

  • Comment Link Thank you for sharing Mums Birthday  tano rai taau she is a hard working woman Aroa ia atu God Bless lol Monday, 14 September 2020 22:01 posted by Thank you for sharing Mums Birthday tano rai taau she is a hard working woman Aroa ia atu God Bless lol


  • Comment Link Faith-Amore Paruru Monday, 14 September 2020 14:49 posted by Faith-Amore Paruru

    Kia ora nan xx I met you twice I am Paruru Paruru your grandson (butch's) youngest daughter.

  • Comment Link Tania Tangimetua Monday, 14 September 2020 14:35 posted by Tania Tangimetua

    Thank you for sharing your story about your mum/nan. I do believe hardwork keeps us stronger and healthy. But as we get older we need to take things slowly but still keep ourselves active at all times. Love your story. Happy belated 100th birthday mama. Love you and Jesus Jesus blessings.

  • Comment Link Teress Mariri Monday, 14 September 2020 11:01 posted by Teress Mariri

    This is my nan, your amazing ❤❤

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