Dame Margaret passed away on September 22, 2017. She was 98.
The headstone unveiling ceremony was attended by the Queen’s Representative Tom Marsters and his wife Tuaine.
House of Ariki president Tou Travel Ariki along with other traditional leaders as well as Speaker of Parliament Nikki Rattle, government ministers Vaine Mac Mokoroa and George Maggie and parliamentary Opposition leader Terepai Maoate were some of the notable guests at the unveiling ceremony.
Marsters and Tou Travel Ariki paid tribute to the much-loved and respected Dame Margaret who was regarded a national icon.
Born Pauline Margaret Rakera Taripo in 1919, the traditional leader was bestowed the title of Dame in the 2012 Queen’s New Year Honours.
She was made a Dame Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE), the second-highest rank in the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.
It was her second Queen’s honour – in 1993, she was made a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the New Year honours list.
Dame Margaret was the second eldest of 13 children born to the late George Karika Ariki and Ngapoko Vakapora-Wilson.
She attended Avarua Primary School and St Joseph School before working as a sales assistant with the Cook Islands Trading Company and in a Takuvaine farmer’s store.
On the death of her elder sister in 1928, she became an aide to her grandmother, Karika Takau Ariki.
It was during this period, until the death of her grandmother in 1942, that her ariki duties were fostered. Her father held the Makea Karika Ariki title from 1942 to 1949, and at 29, Dame Margaret succeeded her father to the title on May 14, 1949.
She was appointed to the Rarotonga Island Council the same year and served until self-government in 1965. In 1942, she married her late husband Ernest Teiho Taripo, who was from the Tinomana Ariki family and held the tribal title of Teariki Tapurangi Rangatira.
Dame Margaret, who was accorded a state funeral, is survived by her five children – Pauline, Tauira (Vira), George, Tiberio (Rio) and Annie, and many grandchildren as well as great, and great-great, grandchildren.