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Proud Cook Islander’s passion to serve

Proud Cook Islander’s passion to serve

  • 15 Feb 2019
  • |
  • Cook Islands
Pacific Netball Challenge Inc board members and committee L R Lola Tupou Cathy Southern Tina Sofele and Vaine Areora.

A love for her culture, church and sport has been the driving force behind Vaine Arai Areora’s desire to serve her community for many decades in Aotearoa. 

It is the many hours of energy and passion poured into Church and sporting activities which earned her a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the New Year’s Honors’ list, for services to the Cook Islands community and sport. 

The Rarotongan-born Vaine is one of 12 children. 

Her father is a Tahitian from Mahina known as Matua; and her mother Abera Sadaraka Arai has many links to the Cook Islands.  

“It is fascinating for us today to know about our parents and their genealogies, which tell us where we come from and who we are, and for us to be proud who we really are,” Vaine says. 

Vaine was adopted out to her mum’s sister Tuangaru and her partner Ben Revatai, as they had no children. 

In 1949, Vaine moved to New Zealand with her adopted parents, and attended Beresford Street School and Seddon Memorial Technical College. 

Her parents were elders in Newton’s Pacific Islanders Congregational Church  (PICC) , which Vaine says provided a foundation for everything she did growing up, including sport, youth club, culture groups and becoming church elders.   

The proud Cook Islander first became involved with volunteer work for the Cook Islands community in Auckland during the 1950s. 

Vaine assisted the Cook Island Sports Association from the 1950s; and in the 1960s she served on the Executive Committee of the PICC Netball Club and the Cook Islands Sports Club. 

The following decade, she coached and played for Manukau Netball Club, when Vaine and her late husband Takau Areora - also a great leader who held various roles in the Cook Islands sporting community - organised a rugby and netball tour to Rarotonga in 1974. 

During the 1980s until 2015, Vaine was heavily involved in Mangere Otahuhu Netball Centre, holding various roles including Treasurer, Vice President and President. 
She was Secretary of the Auckland Cook Islands Sports Association from 1970 until 2017 when she took over as President. 
Vaine has been President of Pacific Challenge Netball since 2006, having previously been Treasurer in the 1990s. 
From 2003 to 2010, she was Secretary of Takitimu Cultural and Arts Society; and she is still involved with Mangere Cook Island Elder Day Care and is Heritage Culture Assistant Leader for Art and Crafts with the Cook Island Development Agency New Zealand (CIDANZ) - Cook Islands  Taokotaianga Vainetini Corrective New Zealand. 
In 2015, Vaine was part of the committee which organised the 50th Year Cook Island Celebration Dinner to acknowledge Cook Islands development in Aotearoa. 
While being recognised for her service to the community in the New Year’s Honours has been a humbling experience, Vaine says there is still plenty of work to be done. 
“I enjoy the work I do which is driven by my passion to help our people.”