Letters; Island stood still for our uncle

Tuesday August 13, 2019 Published in Letters to the Editor
Vairuarangi Ariki Teaukura funeral procession is led through Aitutaki. 19080961 Vairuarangi Ariki Teaukura funeral procession is led through Aitutaki. 19080961

Dear editor, kia orana,

My email is in response to the article titled “An island mourns” (August 10). 


My late Uncle Teaukura Teaukura was intimately known by me and others in my family as “Uncle Tipo”. His chiefly title was Vaeruarangi Ariki

My name is Linda Ruamoana and I am a great-grandchild of Tiare Tokai and Tuakana Poaru, my maternal grandmother is Matangaro Ruatapu (nee Tokai) younger sister to Teaukura Tokai who is the father of my recently deceased uncle, Vaeruarangi Ariki Teaukura Teaukura. 

Our family have been raised by Uncle Tipo to know the mana associated with carrying an Ariki title.  It is something we have never taken lightly, we watched our Uncle carry many burdens to honour the legacy of our ui tupuna with this title. 

He created a thriving Aitutaki community here in Porirua. He was serving and leading the way long before his official akamarokura in 2001. 

Our Uncle was criticised and ridiculed in ways we would never wish upon anyone by his own people for some bold perspectives he strongly believed in. 

His intentions were to remind our people that we have an indigenous form of governance, as Maori people we descend from greatness, our ancestors had the intelligence to discover, settle and raise thriving societies so why have we adopted a governance system foreign to who we are as Maori people? 

He was not afraid to question and challenge those in leadership roles and provoke their thinking.

So imagine the mamae felt by his family upon reading this article quoting Uncle George Turia’s eulogy and using his very own words out of context to present our Ariki as lonely and misunderstood? 

As a news provider for our nation, you had an amazing opportunity to really share with our Cook Islands diaspora a real-life celebration of my Uncle. 

You have a strong influence to report stories from a motherland so many of us crave to read about. Please do the right thing and support your writers to always display our people in their best light – no one is going to uplift our own people better than ourselves. 

An entire island stood still, there were comforting words shared, there was a grieving family willing to share our loved one with people we barely know in our most vulnerable time. 

There was so much more you could have reported on, not every person has a send-off like our Uncle did.  Your article presented him as lonely and misunderstood, but his funeral and photo you published did not display this? 

Is it not your job to tell stories as close to the truth as possible?

Meitaki atupaka,
Linda Ruamoana  

Editor’s note: We apologise for misspelling the chiefly title Vaeruarangi Ariki, and we agree we could have provided a fuller and more rounded portrayal of Vaeruarangi Ariki Teaukura Teaukura’s life. We are publishing a fuller report, with more eulogies and context, at www.cookislandsnews.com 

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