19th February, 2013
The country’s newest member of parliament was sworn in by ceremony yesterday afternoon.
Tetangi Matapo, the Democratic Party member for Tamarua, gave her maiden speech to a packed House and public gallery.
“This is a very honourable position bestowed upon me, and I thank the Lord for that.”
She also thanked the Cook Islands people, in particular those from Mangaia, for supporting her campaign.
Matapo, 47, said her constituents had given her a warning: “When you’re in parliament, don’t speak flowery words.”
So she came prepared with some of her fellow islanders’ grievances.
“These are the cries of my people – when you turn the tap on, all you get is dirty water. When you drive down the road there are so many potholes it’s like you’re doing the drum dance. When you go down to the taro patches, you get lost on the way.”
The new MP said she would do the best she could for Cook Islanders and was grateful to be another female influence in the House.
“The choice of me as a woman adds to the new path of this country’s politics.”
Speaker Nikki Rattle also commented on this.
“This is a milestone for women in the Cook Islands, it is always a challenge to keep [women] here.”
Rattle was happy to note Matapo bought a good mind and spirit to the House.
“It will soon be damaged,” interjected Teenui-Mapumai MP Norman George.
The Tamarua by-election was called after former CIP member Pukeiti Pukeiti passed away in October. Matapo beat CIP Party candidate Tokorua Pareina by just two votes.
There were only 56 voters registered for the Tamarua by-election.