At the time, the Sheration site caretaker Rouru Tangatapoto had recently taken the teens under his wing after two of them had arrived from the outer islands, and kindly given them a job and a place to stay.
We caught up with them this week to check-out what they are up to now 15 months on from the article. And the great news is, they are going stronger than ever.
Noah Davey, Ngatupuna Teinakitama, and Leanne Rio still call the “hotel” home and are still an integral part of Tangataptoto’s hard-working “A-team”, a garden maintenance crew regularly seen on roadsides around the island.
The teens say they are a tight-knit family who look out for each other.
“Papa’s a good man, he always feeds us… A very good man”, says Rio.
Mama Tangi Tangatapoto says, “they are my children. I look after them as if they were my own, and they love us.”
She says the teens have been blamed in the past of thefts in the vaka which she says is completely wrong, and she wants to finally put to bed the false accusations.
“These kids are good, they know what to do now and they are working for their own money.”
Right now they are toiling hard on a major project to re-thatch the roof of a resort in Titikaveka. So far the girls have made over 1,000 kikau. Next week the boys will install the roof.
One year on, the Sheraton site is still hanging in limbo from its most recent development rumors. But for now, life goes on as usual at the hotel for a small “family” of young adults giving life their best and watched over by two very caring parents, Tangi and Rouru Tangatapoto.
- Chris Taylor