HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 608: 21 March 2012

Woman of the month
In the muggy heat of the day, tourist and vendors haggle and explain the intricate weaving of the rito hats and pandanus fans on sale at the recent Trade day markets of the Te Maeva Nui celebrations. In the three tent long Penrhyn island stall, Materau Tepou Ford patiently explains to me how she and her friends and family will dive for the small shells that make the strands of se’i dangling from the roof of the tent. Born to the parents of Peter Rasmussen and Katalina Tai, Materau was the fourth child of seven and attended Omoka, Penrhyn primary school until form one where she was relocated to Rarotonga to continue her secondary schooling with Tereora College from the mid 60’s to the early 70’s and still to this day remembers attending Tereora College and feeling home sick being so far away from her island home, Penrhyn.
Once Materau had completed her schooling she then travelled to New Zealand for a period of time before returning to Rarotonga where she worked for a brief spell as a cashier and then took the lengthy trip to the most northerly laying atoll of the Cook Islands, Penrhyn, finally returning home to pursue and continue on her life and extensive work with women. In 1991 and under the direction of Internal Affairs Materau Ford travelled to Fiji for nine months studying at SPC for community Education where she received the award for Leadership, and once more in 2007 for seven months where yet again she was presented with the Leadership award. Materau’s work now sees her dealing with Gender Youth and Sport for the Penrhyn Islands Administration.
Our Woman of the month, Materau Tepou Ford is married to Mayor of Penrhyn Tini Ford and together they have nurtured 10 children into the world, seven of which are their biological and three that are their feeding children. Being raised with a religious upbringing throughout the Cook Islands Christian Church Materau is a pious and devout member of a number of organizations throughout her community. As a member of the Tongareva CICC Materau holds the position of Secretary for the Ekalesia Vainetini, she also conducts the teachings of Sunday School as one of the teachers and is on the committee for the church youth group and Women’s Fellowship.
The display of neatly stacked rito hats and fine woven pandanus shell and wood fans are demonstration of Materau’s love and appreciation of the arts and crafts of the Cook Islands and explains that fishing with her husband and pearl diving are her favorite past times. The resourcefulness of living is evidently exhibited in and throughout her crafts, “we grew up with arts and crafts, the women on the island were weaving and just followed what they were doing at the time, later on it became an income for us,” and wishes to continue the art of waeving and craftwork from rito and pandanus to preserve the skills of the elders.
For Materau her family reigns as most important in her life, “I can live without my job, but I cannot live without my family,” she shares and gives praise to God for his guidance, mercy and strength that has helped throughout the course of her life. Materau Tepou Ford would like to give thanks  and appreciation to her family and those who nominated her for the title of our woman of the month.

-Maria Tanner

Herald Issue 608 21 March
- Terms of one China Policy document should be reviewed
- Pacific Media Assistance Scheme Seeks Innovation
- Successful NZ visit by PM
- Rerekura Teaurere New Climate Change Coordinator
- News Briefs

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