She was speechless to see all her kids together.
“I thank the Lord for everything he has done and for finally bringing all my 10 children together for the very first time.”
Born on February 6 1929 to Tahito and Tinirau Tamarua, she attended Arorangi Primary School from grades 1 to 8. In 1943, her final year at school, she was awarded the Sir Maui Pomare medal (the top student award). The following year she started her career as a student teacher.
She married Temata Andrew on February 14 1951, and they went on to have 10 children: Andrew, Diena, Nooroa, Tinirau, Elizabeth, Miriama, Melanie, Tahiti, William and John.
Juggling her career and the responsibility of raising children, taking care of her family and dealing with illness, increased her life struggles.
Going through this difficult period of her life, she took an early retirement from teaching.
“Our children had an education, found jobs, got married and moved overseas to continue their own lives and have children of their own,” she says.
Music was one of her passions, she taught Sunday School choir and dreamed of playing the piano, but didn’t have the opportunity to learn how.
However, she is blessed that many of her children and grandchildren are playing instruments from the simple ukulele, piano, drums, trumpet, and guitar.
From a young age, Mama Tapu faithfully continued as a member of the CICC Ekalesia. 1991 was a turning point in their lives.
“We were in our orange plot when a friend of Temata’s, Joseph Manuel stopped by for a visit; he talked about salvation and finding God,” she says.
On a Sunday afternoon the newly established Apostolic Church would air on local TV and share the word of God; Temata would watch this programme, he was interested and wanted to know more about what these young people were talking about, she says.
Mama Tapu encouraged her husband to call his cousin, the late Aneru Tautu Snr a member of the church.
“That same week we were both baptised by immersion in Jesus name by our first pastor, Elder Teokotai Joseph.
“This enlightening and significant moment changed everything, for us.
“Our old life was behind us and now our new life had just begun, I thank God for my beginning, it has shaped my life and created opportunities to grow.
“Our faith in God grew from strength to strength and soon we were committed members to this Apostolic church and I praise God for that.
“The change was not easy, but it was necessary,” she says.
Life was no longer a tough uphill climb, but now a gradual and steady phase.
“Getting older can take its toll physically, but we found our strength and joy in the church with God’s people.”
In 2004 Temata was affected by a stroke, and in 2006 he lost his battle to illness, aged 79.
“Today I have reached the age of 90, I’m blessed to have reached this huge milestone in my life, I thank and glorify God almighty for he it is that has kept me through all life’s challenges.”