Niki Rattle appointed Cook Islands Speaker of Parliament

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23 May 2012

Cook Islands Red Cross Society Secretary General Niki Rattle has been appointed the next Speaker of Parliament. Prime Minister Henry Puna announced the appointment yesterday, saying Rattle’s outstanding contributions to Cook Islands society made her the right choice for the job.

“Indeed I have no doubt that Niki Rattle will bring strong qualities to the work of parliament in the years ahead,” Puna said in a release. Under Rattle’s leadership, the Red Cross’s presence in the Cook Islands has grown over the last 20 years from a single-person organisation with a budget of just a few thousand dollars to one that handles projects worth hundreds of thousands of dollars and immeasurable social benefit to the country.

Puna said the organisation is now one of the leading non-government organisations in the Cook Islands.  Its international reach was made clear during a global meeting in November last year when Rattle acted as the chairwoman of the 31st International Conference of the Red Cross in Geneva.“I was privileged to have been invited by the Swiss government to witness this historic occasion as I watched Niki accept her election with dignity and proceeded to discharge her responsibilities with confidence and Cook Islands flair,” Puna said.  The prime minister also said Rattle’s appointment was appropriate recognition of the strong role that women play in our community.

Mrs Rattle’s confirmation as the next Speaker of Parliament will be the first order of business at the next sitting of Parliament.  She will fill the role left vacant by Sir Geoffrey Henry, who held the speaker’s position from February 2011 until his death earlier this month.  Rattle yesterday said she was honoured to accept the nomination for Speaker of the Parliament and would work now through training to prepare her for when parliament next sits, in the first half of June.  Rattle is the third woman to perform as speaker after Mama Marguerite Story and former Matavera MP Cassey Eggelton. Story held the position for 15 years from 1964 to 1979 and Eggelton occasionally took the seat during her time as deputy speaker in the last term of government.

– Eric Parnis, Cook Islands News

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