Rakahanga Island, Cook Islands
My name is Wainika Taana. I am known by most of my friends as ‘Wai’. I come from a family of ten children and I’m the fifth eldest. I was born on a cargo vessel called the Manuvai, so I was born offshore.
During my childhood, my dad died and my mum was in Rarotonga with the rest of the family. All except me as I was living with my uncle on Manihiki: our homeland. I went to Ruamanu Primary School. It was our station school. I think I am full of love and I’m happy when I am working close to my friends and peers.
Staying with my uncle was a hard time in my life. The love between me and my uncle was not like the relationship I had had with my dad. My uncle didn’t love me. This was what caused him to be unsupportive on the financial side for my education.
There was no support for my education until I was picked as the only one in my class to do Year 13-15 by correspondence. My interest in education was very strong at that time. I imagined my future was flashing before me, telling me what I would be in the future.
At the age of 16 years old, I joined some friend working as labourers in the commercial pearl farm industry. The main focus of my work was to earn income to assist with my education and other needs.
When I was 20 years old, I crossed to Rakahanga: Manihiki’s sister island. I went to visit my family there on my dad’s side. There I met my partner Tokamokoha Tupou. We made our home there. We have three girls: Kau, Reison and Mahina.
My involvement in church activities is very strong and I believe that is the foundation of my life. I am also interested in sports which is one of my hobbies. I am proud to have represented Rakahanga in an all Inter-Island sports competition.
With my low wages, I decided to join the Rakahanga Women’s Council. I became the vice-secretary in 2010. I believe that this is another way to help my family as I sit together with the old ladies and learn how to weave. The mama’s crafting earns good money.
Participating in this conference and other workshops has encouraged me to be confident and to be a strong future leader for my island, Rakahanga.