Language, culture and careers: Clark

Monday May 06, 2019 Written by Published in Local
Helen Clark’s ‘Women in Politics’ presentation hosted by the Cook Islands National Council of Women at Tamarind House on April this year. Helen Clark’s ‘Women in Politics’ presentation hosted by the Cook Islands National Council of Women at Tamarind House on April this year.

Helen Clark’s ‘Women in Politics’ presentation hosted by the Cook Islands National Council of Women at Tamarind House on April 27 drew a large number of women keen to listen to her views. The audience was then invited to pose questions to Clark regarding issues of concern to them. Below is a second excerpt from the Q&A session that took place. The first excerpt was published in Saturday’s edition.


Q: This an acknowledgement for your statement about how important our language and culture is, yes this is very important.

It is pleasing to see us women here, we need to nurture our own grandchildren, you are right, we are trying very hard to revive our language; so mothers and grandmothers, you have heard what Helen has said, how important our language and culture is.

If you have no language, you’re in the sea, you have no place to hold onto. Thank you Helen for noting this as a priority, that’s my passion – language and culture.

HC: In NZ, surveys have shown that people with Pacific parents born in NZ the language retention rate for the Cook Islands and Niue is down to about 11 to 12 per cent. The language is going to need to survive there as well.

There are early childhood centres (in NZ) which converse in the local language, but we need more of it. And it’s important that the language survives here, and as I say, survives in each of its dialect forms, around all the island groups that make up the Cook Islands.

Q: It’s an honour to be here with you. While studying in Auckland I voted for you. You were always that pinnacle person for Cook Islanders like myself.

You have always been for us young women to this day, encouraging, to push ourselves ahead.

A family member is the longest serving women MP for 22 years until the recent election.

You can only imagine for how many terms we had to cater and how much work was involved to ensure that the women of today, especially in the Cook Islands, were represented.

We should be proud because you are right, at 25 per cent of representation of women in Parliament it’s because of our close relationship to New Zealand, the support that we have been given from NZ and especially that we are NZ citizens; and with that I hope our current government does not push to become independent.

 I’m proud of what you have accomplished and I just wanted to thank you.

Q:  My daughter is your number 1 fan, recently she mentioned that she messages you through social media.

Towards the end of your documentary you talked about how you are very active using social media.

Can you confirm my daughter has messaged you for advice and that you have responded? We would like to know just how accessible you are on social media to women in general who want to consult and get advice from you.

HC: Your daughter is correct. I do all my social media myself and I do get a lot of messages from young women who want to know how they could have a career like mine, how to get to the UN, what should they study etcetera. I always reply to those queries. I do receive silly messages at times; well, you just get rid of them.

You can tell the authentic messages from the women who are writing in saying ‘here’s my situation, here’s what I’m doing, what would you recommend?’ So I always take a few minutes to respond.

People often ask ‘what should I study?’ I say, what you shouldn’t study is what your family tell you to, to help you get a job, because it’s not going to motivate you.

Study things that really interest you, that you’re passionate about, if you’re passionate about things it will always open doors to something else, because if you think you’ve got to study accountancy because there’s always work, well you might be very unhappy accountant; when you could have been a creative artist.

So follow your passion is one of the pieces of advice I’ll always give.

Social media makes it possible for me now to keep a global platform.

I do have big followings, I Twitter, I use it quite a lot, not as much as Donald Trump - and my tweets are better. I’m on Facebook, Snapchat - that how you attract the under 18s. I use Instagram and LinkedIn, it helps you keep in touch with people.

Leave a comment