Toke­lau man’s royal hon­our

Serv­ing the com­mu­nity

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By JEREMY WILKIN­SON

Can­nons Creek res­i­dent Teaku Pe­taia has been awarded a Queen’s Ser­vice Medal for his com­mit­ment to the Toke­lauan com­mu­nity and church.

Pe­taia is vice-pres­i­dent of the Atafu Com­mu­nity Group, which is based at Matauala Hall in Can­nons Creek. He was pres­i­dent for al­most 20 years.

He looks af­ter Toke­lauans at Pa­cific Is­lands Pres­by­te­rian Church in Can­nons Creek.

‘‘Matauala Hall is a place for the peo­ple to come to­gether. Com­mu­nity is very im­por­tant to us,’’ Pe­taia said.

He said com­mu­nity and the church were defin­ing fea­tures of Toke­lauan cul­ture.

The Atafu Com­mu­nity Group hosts bar­be­cues, wed­dings and birthdays at Matauala Hall as a means of bring­ing to­gether the Toke­lauan com­mu­nity.

The three atolls that form the Toke­lau Is­lands have a com­bined pop­u­la­tion of about 1400 peo­ple and there is a small but close-knit Toke­lauan com­mu­nity in Porirua.

Atafu Com­mu­nity Group helps mi­grants from Toke­lau adapt to life in New Zealand. The help those peo­ple re­ceived de­pended on what they needed most, said Pe­taia.

‘‘ I never dreamed I would re­ceive such an award. I was in tears when I opened the let­ter.’’

Pe­taia mod­estly said he only did his best for his com­mu­nity.

He said he would like to see Toke­lauans con­tinue the hard work they do in Porirua, with one goal be­ing a kinder­garten near the Matauala Hall.

Two other Toke­lauan com­mu­nity mem­bers from Porirua, Sila Taupe and Liua Le­paio, have re­ceived Queen’s Ser­vice Medals pre­vi­ously.

Atafu group pres­i­dent Les Tenise Atoni said Matauala Hall was a legacy of the work that was done by Toke­lauan mi­grants in the 1960s.

‘‘We’re very keen on try­ing to re­con­nect young peo­ple with the lan­guage and the cul­ture,’’ he said.

‘‘There are a num­ber of other el­ders who also put a huge amount of work into this com­mu­nity.’’

Atoni said Teaku was nom­i­nated by the com­mu­nity for the work he did with Atafu group and with the church.

Photo: JEREMY WILKIN­SON

Teaku Pe­taia with a boat carved by Toke­lau com­mu­nity mem­bers due for its maiden voy­age in De­cem­ber.

– Teaku Pe­taia

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