Mauke Island, Cook Islands
I was brought up in Mauke by my grandparents. Our life revolved around church and community activities. We were quite poor. My Grandfather always encouraged me to go to school, to put the pearl behind my ear as we say here. At the same time, I had to look for food. Either my grandfather or grandmother or I would go fishing, or tend our animals or looks after the vegetables. That was our eating. I know what’s it’s like to be poor so I listened to what my grandpa said about schooling.
Then I had to go to secondary school, to leave Mauke Island, to leave my grandparents. In Rarotonga, I stayed with my parents It was different there. Not enough time to play. With my parents, education was the most important thing. After school, I went to more classes to typing and short-hand classes at St Josephs.
When I finished Form 6, I got a job working at a junior clerk with the Government. When I left, 12 years later I was a senior clerk. I left my job to go to Mauke to look after my grandparents. With my husband, we started a business there. I was lucky enough to get another government job in Mauke doing the same thing I’d done in Rarotonga. I stayed in Mauke for ten years, In Mauke I was involved in island life, with the church and sports activities. We even visited other Pa Enua as part of our sports activities. Making friends on other Pa Enua and having them visit us, that was one of the highlights of my time on Mauke.
When one of my daughters was ready to go into her final year of high school, we faced a difficult decision about whether or not she should go to Rarotonga to finish high school. My husband wanted to stay in Mauke and he didn’t want her to go to Rarotonga. But I couldn’t forget what my grandparents had done for me when they sent me to Rarotonga, despite the fact that they needed me to help them on the island.
So I resigned from my job and convinced my husband that we should all move to Rarotonga. It was a big move; we had to start all over again. We worried we wouldn’t find work in Rarotonga and not have enough to eat. But again I was lucky, I got a job working with the National Council of Women. I’m now the coordinator for the Commonwealth Local Governance Forum women in local governance project here.
I’ve been lucky in my journey. I wonder where I’ll got to next. Maybe I’ll become Prime Minister or a President of Mauke Council of Women. To do those things, I’ll need money though.