Friends and family of the late Makea Nui Teremoana Ariki and supporters of the Cook Islands Library and Museum Society met at Taputapuatea on Wednesday 25th March 2015 to launch the memoirs of the late, beloved Ariki of Te-au-o-Tonga. The memoirs of Makea Nui Teremoana Ariki CBE known as Mami Makea to her friends and family, were written by Eva Saar, a German friend of the family who passed away a couple of years ago. The book was published by Paula Lineen, the eldest daughter of Makea Nui Teremoana Ariki and will be sold at the Cook Islands Library & Museum.
Makea Nui Teremoana Ariki, one of two children of Makea Tinirau, was born in 1906 and died in 1994. As she tells in her memoirs, she never expected that she would one day hold the title of Makea Nui Ariki, but succeeded her sister Takau, who died from a sudden illness, in September 1947. Teremoana, who had been living in Aitutaki at the time with her doctor husband, Tau Cowan, was flown back to Rarotonga from the US military base in Aitutaki, in an American warplane. The book launch began with a prayer by an old friend of Mami Makea, Dan Kamana of Tupapa. A number of people recalled their memories of Mami Makea, a woman who was well-loved and still missed by many. The recollections of many brought a tear to the eyes of some of those present.
Paula Lineen spoke with pride of her mother’s achievements and her many contributions to numerous charities, as well as her faith and dedication to certain causes throughout her life. She spoke of the difficulties of getting the book to print and the 20 years that it took. Speaking on behalf of the CI Library and Museum Society, MC Moana Moeka’a, said it was appropriate that the event took place at the library and museum as the land the building stands on was donated by the late Makea Nui Teremoana Ariki in memory of her father, the late Makea Tinirau, in the early 1960s.
In 1964, for the first time in the Cook Islands, a dedicated building for a public library and museum became available, Moeka’a said.
It had been partly funded by the colonial administration and by friends and supporters of the Society and opened by Makea Nui Teremoana Ariki late that year. The Cook Islands Library & Museum Society Inc has continued to serve the community for over 50 years. Moeka’a said any book launch in the Cook Islands was a special thing as there had been very little publishing by Cook Islanders of books about themselves, their history and their culture.
A number of the late Makea Nui Teremoana Ariki’s friends also spoke. Tekeu Framhein (Apai Mataiapo), who was one of Makea Nui Teremoana’s mataiapo, and who also grew up in her village, spoke of his long friendship with her, the strong but fair leadership style she had maintained and the “chaos” within her tribe since her death. President of the Koutu Nui and friend, Maria Henderson spoke of her first encounter with Makea Teremoana who referred to her as “E Taiti e” (a term of endearment which her own father, Makea Nui Tinirau Ariki, used to call Teremoana). Henderson described the book as akin to listening to Mami Makea herself talking to you, as the book’s editor had kept the words exactly as Mami Makea would have spoken them.
Friends Ligi Pitt and Debbie Tamaiva also spoke with loving recollection of their friendship with Teremoana. The younger daughter of Makea Nui Teremoana, Meremaraea MacQuarie, also spoke lovingly of her mother and thanked her sister, Paula, for striving to get the book published.