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Passing of New Zealand High Commissioner to the Cook Islands

Media Release from Te Kauono Tutara e te Mana Tiaki - Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Immigration

Sunday 8 December 2019

Commissioner to the Cook Islands, Tessa Temata’s passing in Palmerston North over the weekend is being mourned by family, friends, and colleagues in the Cook Islands and in Cook Islands communities in New Zealand.

Speaking on behalf of the Cook Islands Government and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration this afternoon, Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration the Hon Henry Puna paid tribute to Tessa’s various contributions to the Cook Islands and New Zealand relationship and the peoples of both nations.

“On behalf of Government, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration (MFAI) and our people, we extend our deepest heartfelt sympathy to Tessa’s family, friends, and colleagues,” Prime Minister Puna said. “It was with pride, given her Cook Islands Maori heritage, we embraced Tessa as New Zealand’s High Commissioner to New Zealand at the beginning of this year as the first woman of Pacific heritage to head a New Zealand diplomatic post in the Pacific. The scope and depth of our collaboration since her appointment speaks to her extensive foreign service capabilities in trade, development, and legal matters and the heart and people-centric approach that has been a hallmark of her engagements with the Cook Islands throughout the 20 years of her service in the Pacific region.”

Tessa will be missed by family, friends and colleagues alike in the Cook Islands and across the Pacific. A number of current and former MFAI staff including current Secretary Tepaeru Herrmann have worked with Tessa over many years and will remember her as a champion of promoting and protecting the interests of New Zealand and appreciative of New Zealand’s place as part of the Pacific family.

“It was our privilege to have Tessa for this brief period of time as New Zealand’s High Commissioner to the Cook Islands. She was engaged across the full spectrum of Cook Islands Society and had an innate appreciation, as all Pacific Islanders do, the importance of people, and core Pacific Islands values shared across Te Moana Nui a Kiva including the importance of family, community, humility and inter-generational sacrifice. We will miss her and our thoughts and prayers of comfort remain with Tessa’s family, the staff of the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and particularly the staff of the New Zealand High Commission in Rarotonga and her closest friends during this time.”

E moe e teia tavini meitaki – kua rave ana ma te tiratiratu. Mathew 25:21


1:Tessa on first arrival to take up the High Commissioner role at Cook Islands Government VIP lounge, Rarotonga airport in February. Left-Right: Sam Beckett, former NZ Deputy High Commissioner to the Cook Islands; Marise Temata; Nane Matapo; Tessa; Catharine Simkin, NZHC Administration Manager; Papa Temata and Niki Rattle, Speaker of Cook Islands Parliament

2: with Prime Minister Puna following the presentation of her letter of introduction in March this year.

2: Tessa with former New Zealand High Commission to the Cook Islands Deputy High Commissioner Sam Beckett at Rarotonga ANZAC ceremony April 2019 Photo credit: NZHC; and

3: Tessa seated with Te Kaumaiti Nui Tou Ariki and members of the House of Ariki in April this year. Photo credit: NZHC

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