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Apii Rongo

In Memory of Eruera (Ted) Te Whiti Nia

Our founder and friend...

Are Korero
Eruera Nia

26 September 1949 — 9 June 2016

Kōrero O Te `Ōrau is an environmental non-governmental organization (NGO) incorporated in 2017, consisting of Cook Islanders who are passionate about protecting the culture, environment and natural resources of the nation.  Kōrero o te `ōrau in Cook Islands Māori translates to "knowledge of the sky, land, and sea".  Team members hail from diverse backgrounds with expertise ranging from Geography, Marine Biology, Climate Change, Fisheries Management, Policy, Cook Islands Land Tenure, Psychology, Communications, Accounting, Information Technology, and traditional knowledge of Cook Islands culture.  Languages: Cook Islands Māori (various dialects), English, Mandarin, and Taiwanese.


Teina Rongo
Dr Teina Rongo

Ph.D. Marine Biology (Florida Institute of Technology, U.S.A.)

Expertise includes Climate Change, Marine Ecology, ciguatera poisoning, and traditional knowledge.

Sheryl John
Rangi Mitaera-Johnson
Vice Chairperson

New Zealand-certified Chef

Expertise includes preparation of traditional Cook Islands cuisine and food preservation techniques; passionate about utilizing local ingredients and reducing the dependency on imported foods.

Jackalyn Rongo
Jackalyn Rongo

B.A. Marine Science (University of Hawai`i, U.S.A.)

Expertise includes Marine Science, Communications and Management.  Passionate about the environment, languages, and providing support for indigenous people especially through youth education programmes.  One of 200 Leaders selected representing 33 countries in the inaugural Obama Foundation Leaders: Asia Pacific Convening for 2019 - 2020.

Thomas Lowry
Thomas Lowry

B.Mgt Accounting (University of Lethbridge, Canada)

Expertise includes Accounting, Auditing, IFRS & IPSAS accounting standards & Performance Auditing.  Passionate about family and caring for traditional places.

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Toka Toka
Vice Secretary

Passionate about performing arts, traditional costumes, music, culture, and working with youth.

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Michelle Foster
Vice Treasurer

Bachelor of Applied Management in Accounting

(Manukau Institute of Technology, New Zealand)

Passionate about youth support and sports.

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Joshua Jim
Committee Member

Expertise includes traditional knowledge around planting, fishing, tapa making, and hunting; passionate about working with youth.

Mata 'Sunshine' George
Committee Member

Expertise includes traditional knowledge in weaving, fishing, and subsistence living in the Cook Islands.


Sheryl John
Jacqueline Tuara

B.A. Political Studies (Victoria University of Wellington)

Cook Islands dance choreographer and tutor passionate about Cook Islands Culture & Performing Arts and the preservation of our cultural heritage and natural environment. Co-founder and lead tutor of Te Manava Ora o te Ivi Maori (creating learning spaces for children of Cook Islands Maori descent to be immersed in Cook Islands Culture through the medium of Cook Islands Performing Arts).

Ian Karika
Ian Karika

Expertise includes Cook Islands birds and traditional knowledge of navigation; traditional leader in Vaka Te-Au-O-Tonga.

Tearik Taoiau Rongo
Teariki Taoiau Rongo

B.Sc. Geography (University of Otago, New Zealand)

Expertise includes Environmental Impact Assessments and policy development.  Passionate about traditional plants and medicines.

Teariki Charles Rongo
Teariki Charles Rongo

Cook Islands Boatmaster, PADI Divemaster, ISLA Open Water Lifeguard, Red Cross CPR/!st Aid.

Sheryl John
Nana Tokari

Cook Islands Boatmaster, PADI Divemaster, ISLA Open Water Lifeguard, Red Cross CPR/!st Aid.

Expertise in traditional dancing and chants; passionate about photography and videography.

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Roberta Murray

Teacher - Avarua Primary School (Cook Islands)

Experience teaching in New Zealand, including lead teacher on the environment at Oturu Primary (a green gold environmental school); passionate about teaching and learning through environmental interactions for our children to recognize, understand, and learn about the impacts we are having on our Paradise.

Mitchell Tutangata

Expertise includes Information Technology and Communications.

Sheryl John
Miller Rongo

Cook Islands Certified Chef

Passionate about local and traditional food preparation as well as promoting Cook Islands culture.

Sheryl John
Tauraki Raea

Broadcaster at Radio 531pi (Auckland, New Zealand)

Expertise in media and public relations spanning 30 years in the Cook Islands and New Zealand; passionate about Cook Islands Māori language, cultural and environmental issues; conservationist and environmentalist focusing on education awareness in our communities.

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Peggy Turua

Passionate about living sustainably and utilizing the natural resources around us to nurture our families.

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Merian Noovao

Takitumu Primary School (Secretary)

Passionate about our Cook Islands culture, environment, food, sports, traditions and youth.

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Tuaine Papatua

Passionate about working with youth, providing spiritual guidance and tutelage in music.   Open Water SCUBA Diver always keen to help out on Operation Tarmaea. 

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Lori Lowry
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Tiaretaina Lowry-Mailau

Accounts Manager for JTA Group

Studied Secretarial Science in Alberta Canada; passionate for family and Cook Islands culture and music; advanced pianist in the classical and contemporary styles.

Associate of Arts & Sciences - Mathematics (Brigham Young University - Hawaii)
Experienced math tutor; passionate about being apart of the education journey of our youth.

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Catherine Evans

Bachelor of Laws (University of Auckland)

Former Legal Adviser in the New Zealand Government and Cook Islands Government as Deputy Solicitor General; currently in private practice.  Passionate about the well-being of our Ipukarea because "it nurtures us, so we much nurture it back."  Believes that we must put policies in place now for smart management of so-called development.

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Diana Tschan

Student at the University of New England, Australia (B.A. Human Geography)

Passionate about the revival of traditional and cultural Māori knowledge and practices for her children; supporter of sustainable and earth-friendly practices; desires for her family to embrace Te Reo Māori as part of their broader and deeper understanding of being a descendent of the indigenous people of this land.

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Kura Happ

Ariimoana (reef walk tours)
Experienced free diver & Advanced Open Water SCUBA Diver; passionate about the marine environment and educating our people and visitors alike about respecting our resources.

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Rose Winters

SCUBA Instructor

Experienced free diver; passionate about sharing love for the marine environment.

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Siana Whatarau

BSc Marine Biology and Statistics (Victoria University of Wellington)

Environment Officer at the Cook Islands National Environment Service

 Passionate about environmental work and protecting our reefs; avid Open Water SCUBA Diver.

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Selane Tairea

BSc Psychology (Victoria University of Wellington)

Statistics Officer at the Cook Islands National Statistics Office Passionate about giving back to the community and giving Cook Islanders the tools they need to achieve their goals; enjoys volunteer work, learning from others; interested in SCUBA diving; always a student though not in school; key phrase: "If you learn something new everyday, you will never waste a day in your life."

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Inano McMurchy

Passionate about the conservation and preservation of Vairakau Maori with particular emphasis in ensuring that the medicinal plants for the taunga, traditional healers, are maintained and the knowledge passes to our younger generations.

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