It has been almost eight months since the revered leader passed away on September 22, 2017, leaving the tribe to find someone fitting to fill her shoes.
Dame Margaret Karika was regarded a true leader and was a woman who was well respected by the nation as a whole. Her reign as the queen makes her the longest serving Ariki in the Cook Islands.
In an interview with CINews, Ngati Karika tribe chairman and spokesman Alan Nanai, who is the late Dame Margaret Karika’s first grandson, said they had made significant progress in choosing the next leader.
He said a series of meetings had been held to allow the family to have their say on who they preferred to take up the top role.
“We did attract challenges from some family members as everyone was given the chance to do so and this was expected to surface; however strict criteria will eliminate uncalled-for challenges,” Nanai said.
“We also have our own protocol in place on how a new chief is selected and that has been tabled to the family committee and has been relayed to all four tribes of Karika.”
Currently George Taripo, who is Dame Margaret’s son, is fulfilling all duties that she was involved in, including the invitations to attend functions.
Nanai said Taripo was doing well in his caretaking role.
“I know how demanding this role can be as I was close with my grandmother before she passed on. She was always out on so many duties as a paramount chief,” he said.
“His representing us (Ngati Karika) has helped us stay in touch with demand from government, House of Ariki and all other related events that come our way. This role was placed on him by the most high of the ranagtiras, Teariki Rauru (Anautoa Rangatira Tutara), at the time of her death.”
Nanai said they were getting close to finalising Dame Margaret’s replacement, adding it was just the “little things” that needed to be sorted and put right before they made that announcement.
He also said he intends to hold on to the traditional practices and protocols the tribe’s ancestors had implemented.
“I am just as eager to put a closure to this as any of us so we can carry on about our normal family business,” Nanai said.
“I know that all Ngati Karika rangatira are waiting to endorse their new Ariki, as it is their duty and right in accordance to our protocol to do so. I have no doubt that they will welcome their new Ariki with open arms when that time comes.
“One thing I can say is that we will crown our new Ariki this year. It could be a matter of weeks or months when that time comes.”
Meanwhile, Nanai thanked the family for being present at the meetings.
“I know that meetings do take up a lot of our time but judging by the attendance that we have come through, I know that we all want what’s best for us. As we have put God ahead of anything we do, I have no doubt that He will guide us through this time in our quest to find our new leader and Ariki.”