Head of Ministry Staff

Current and Former Heads of the Public Service

Anthony Turua

Anthony TuruaAnthony Turua is the new Secretary for the Ministry of Cultural Development and commenced employment on Monday 28 September 2015. As the former Director of Finance at the Ministry of Education and a member of the Ministry’s senior management team since 2002, Mr Turua brings a wealth of experience in public sector financial management.



Gail Townsend

Gail TownsendGail Townsend will commence in her role as the Secretary for Education on Monday 5th October 2015. Ms Townsend has been an Executive Director responsible for Planning and Development at the Ministry of Education and brings over a decade of policy, planning and senior management experience




Ngametua College Pokino

DSCN0085Mr Ngametua College Pokino will commence as the Secretary for the Ministry of Infrastructure in mid-October 2015. Mr Pokino is the Executive Officer for the Mangaia Island Administration and previously worked for the Ministry of Finance and Economic Management, and Bank of the Cook Islands. He brings experience in funds management including banking and finance to his new role.  Mr Mac Mokoroa will remain as the Acting Secretary until Mr Pokino assumes his new post.



Tepaeru Herrmann

Tepaeru HerrmannMs Tepaeru Herrmann will commence as Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Immigration in December 2015. Ms Herrmann is currently the Deputy High Commissioner for the Cook Islands based in Wellington, New Zealand. She brings years of senior diplomatic experience in foreign affairs and a background in business, trade, investment, and finance. 



Tamari’i Tutangata

Tamari'i TutangataTamari’i Tutangata has had a long and distinguished career in the Cook Islands Public Service. At various times he has held the position of Chief of Staff of the Prime Minister’s Office, Secretary of Cultural Development, Secretary of Internal Affairs and Secretary to Cabinet. He has also worked for 16 years in Pacific Islands regional organisations such as SPC and SPREP. Tamari’i is presently the Chief Executive Officer for the Cook Islands Investment Corporation.
Over the years, one of the issues that Tamari’i has faced is the varying levels of capability in the Public Service. Capacity building has been a focus for him, particularly in technical areas where in the past, local expertise was limited. As a Head of Ministry, alongside that has been a focus on helping staff to build confidence in themselves. “Once you do that, they can achieve more than they thought possible”, Tamari’i said.
Tamari’i’s advice to people considering a career in the Public Service is:”grab any opportunity that comes up, with both arms and take it as far as you can”. For himself, Tamari’i still wants to be part of developing the country through his work at CIIC. Taking on the leadership roles that he has had in the Public Service, has been about challenging himself but also about helping to uplift the standards of living in our ‘ipukarea’ for which he feels very deeply.

Position   Ministry/Organisation  Date
Secretary (now titled Chief of Staff)Premier’s Department and Cabinet1979-80
Director/Deputy –Director GeneralSouth Pacific Commission1980-86
SecretaryPrime Minister’s Department1989-92
SecretaryMinistry of Culture1993-96
Director (now Director-General)South Pacific Regional Environmental Programme1997-2002
SecretaryMinistry of Internal Affairs2007-2009
CEOCook Islands Investment Corp.2011-present

Qualifications: Master of Business Administration, University of the South Pacific

John Herrmann
John HJohn Herrmannerrmann trained as a teacher at Wellington Teachers Training College. Following teaching posts in New Zealand, Australia and back in the Cook Islands, John completed a Bachelor of Arts from the University of the South Pacific (USP) graduating in 1980.
In 1982, John was appointed the USP Centre Director for the Cook Islands Campus, where he worked for over 20 years. John received an Australian Government scholarship in 1989 to do a Master of Arts degree in International Relations at the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra. John was offered the position as Secretary of Education from 2006-2009.
John has always been a strong believer in promoting the Cook Is. Maori language and this was a major emphasis for him during his time as Secretary. “Any address that I gave was always in Maori” John said. This surprised people, but John believed that the Ministry of Education needed to be seen to be leading the way in using our language.
John thinks that his experience in teaching in a range of contexts gave him the grounding to take on the leadership roles at USP and in the Public Service. He also believes though that Cook Islanders sometimes need to be encouraged to take on these roles. “To promote confidence in our own people, we need to believe in them” John said.
For those considering a career in the Public Service, John also thinks that you need to be proactive and step forward, particularly if you are a Cook Islander living overseas. This benefits the Government ministries as identifying suitable people for positions, like teachers, is sometimes an issue.

Position   Ministry/Organisation  Date
SecretaryMinistry of Education2006-09

Qualifications: Master of Arts, Australian National University; Bachelor of Arts, University of the South Pacific; Diploma of Teaching, Wellington teachers Training College
Present Position: Retired

Ngatokorua Mataio

NgatokoruaNga Mataio Mataio (Nga) first joined the Ministry of Agriculture as a trainee in the Ministry’s Planning Division in March 1977. After three years, Nga received a scholarship in 1982 to the University of New England in Australia. He studied Agricultural Economics, graduating in mid-1987. Following another three years back in the Ministry of Agriculture, Nga was offered another scholarship in 1990 to return to the same University to do a Master of Economics degree.
Upon his return in mid-1991 until 1999, Nga continued being employed at the Ministry of Agriculture, assuming the roles of Senior Planning Officer and Director of Planning before finishing up as Secretary from 1995 to1999. Nga then worked at the Prime Minister’s Office for two years before taking on the Secretary of Agriculture position again from 2001 until 2009.
Nga was the Secretary during the years of the Economic Restructuring Programme in the mid 1990s and remembers with sadness having to reduce the staff number of the Ministry by 170 people, both on Rarotonga and the outer islands. “This had a huge impact on the social structure of the community, particularly in the Outer Islands,” Nga said. There have also been some highlights such as the citrus seedling distribution programme which helped rehabilitate the citrus industry by focusing on the local market.
Nga thinks that having an open door policy and enjoying helping people at all levels are personal factors that helped him as a leader. “You have to keep in mind all the time the fact that you are working with human beings and not just fellow workers,” Nga said.
Nga draws from his time on the Head of Ministry’s selection panel for some advice to those wanting to take on leadership roles in the Public Service: “While a good education and work experience are necessary to help you work your way up the ladder, honesty and trustworthiness are equally critical.”

Position   Ministry/Organisation  Date
SecretaryMinistry of Agriculture1995-99, 2001-09

Qualifications: Bachelor of Agricultural Economics; Master of Economics; University of New England, Armidale, NSW, Australia
Present Position: General Secretary, Cook Islands Christian Church

Tuingariki Short

TuingarikTuinagariki SHorti Short (Tui), has held many different leadership roles within the Public Service. While he was trained as a teacher, Tui also worked in the Marine, Environmental and Infrastructure sectors. He also served on a wide variety of ad-hoc bodies and agencies from Civil Aviation to Event Organising Committees.
The later was a stint on the organising committee for the Mini South Pacific Games in 1984-85. This was Tui’s greatest challenge as he knew very little about it, but was tasked with getting the infrastructure in place. “We were lucky that we had a great core team because we had to work on a nil budget!” Tui said.
Over his career, Tui had to deal with many issues, but the most memorable was during his time as Secretary of Education. During the mid-1980s, there was pressure from within the South Pacific Forum to develop a Pacific Islands based secondary school curriculum which would link to the University of the South Pacific. Tui felt that the Cook Islands would be better off being aligned to the New Zealand curriculum as that was where most of our people that emigrated ended up working. This lead to the introduction of the Cook Islands School Certificate qualification and eventually, full alignment with the New Zealand Qualifications Authority.
Tui feels that administration can be a gift which gives a person “the ability to see how to structure a programme from beginning to end”. He thinks that this ability is an important part of being a leader in the Public Service.

Position   Ministry/Organisation  Date
SecretaryMinistry of Education1979-91
SecretaryMinistry of Marine Resources1992-94
DirectorEnvironment Service1995-96
SecretaryMinistry of Works, Energy & Physical Planning1996-97

Qualifications: Bachelor of Arts, University of Auckland; Diploma in Teaching, Auckland Teachers Training College