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, Taiwanese, Japanese, and Tagalog.



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.

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.

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.

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.

Sheryl John
Jacqueline Tuara
Vice Secretary

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).

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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.

Tearik Taoiau Rongo
Teariki Taoiau Rongo
Committee Member

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

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

Ake Utanga
Ake Utanga
Committee Member

Expertise includes Cook Islands land tenure and legal issues.



Celine Dyer
Celine Dyer

Master in Strategic Management & Marketing and Bachelor of Commerce (University of Wollongong, Australia)
Expertise includes Climate Change, policy development, and accounts.

Ian Karika
Ian Karika

Expertise includes Cook Islands birds and traditional knowledge of navigation.

Teariki Charles Rongo
Teariki Charles Rongo

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

Pua Hunter

Expertise includes Information Technology and Management.

Sheryl John
Jessica Puiri

B. Commerce Accounting & Management (University of Auckland)

Passionate about the environment and helping her Cook Islands people.

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Ani O'Neill

Artist and Designer

Passionate about Cook Islands culture and supporting indigenous people in looking after their environment and natural resources; keen to help tackle the global plastic pollution problem.

Mitchell Tutangata

Expertise includes Information Technology and Communications.

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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.

Jessica Cramp
Jessica Cramp

Ph.D. Candidate
Expertise includes Marine Science and Fisheries.

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.

Sheryl John
Rima Raea-Araitia

Qualified chef

Expertise includes preparation of local Cook Islands Māori foods.

Sheryl John
Stephenie Jansen

Owner and Skipper of Raro Reef Sub

Interests include environmental conservation and education.

Sheryl John
Teina Mackenzie

Cook Islands Traditional voyager and Contemporary Solution-Maker

Passionate about recommissioning traditional customs and practices for solutions to global problems.  An advocate and teacher of environmental education, national and regional developmental issues and gender equality in maritime. 

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Maria Tuoro

Ta'arua Rangatira (Traditional Leader) and Environmentalist

Passionate about local and traditional knowledge, the welfare of the Cook Islands people, and conserving our environment for our future.

Sheryl John
Utavarau Araitia

Expertise includes Cook Islands Māori culture, especially composing traditional songs, dances and chants.

Sheryl John
Inano Vaiitirau McMurchy

Massage Therapist (Taunga māoro)

Advocate of traditional medicine preservation and conservation, liaising with traditional healers to ensure the practice remains a living entity; environmental sustainability advocate.

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Tuaine Papatua

Passionate about youth development, music, and strengthening our Cook Islands people.

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.

Sheryl John
Miller Rongo

Cook Islands Certified Chef

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

Sheryl John
Nadine Newnham

B.A. Economics (University of Auckland)

Expertise in offshore finance; Takitumu born-and bred, an idea girl and avid reader actively seeking positive role models; passionate about all things Cook Islands including banana poke as well as making a difference; Vaima`anga Homework Hub volunteer.

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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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Daniel Forsyth

Supports local business and agriculture through developing trade with farmers on Rarotonga and the outer islands. Promoting healthy living by supplying nutritious food to locals and visitors. Experience as a chef for 20 years and passionate about healthy food and a healthy lifestyle.

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Maire Forsyth

Passionate about the environment, providing support in the education of our youth through programmes that broaden their horizons, and a proponent of a healthier lifestyle through sports and healthy local food.

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Jacqueline Evans

M.A. Geography (University of Hawai'i)

Environmental and marine science qualifications and background in both the government and NGO sectors; supports Te Reo Māori as a first language for Cook Islanders as part of their broader and deeper understanding of the Cook Islands environment and culture.

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Lori Lowry

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.

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Brendon Nicholas

Fishermen (Dawn Breaker Fishing Charters)
Passionate about sharing the love of fishing and promoting sustainable practices.

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Chantal Napa

Chantal's Concierge 
Passionate about helping people connect with their community and sharing the genuine beauty of the Cook Islands with a global audience through podcasts.

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Justine Flanagan

Passionate about protecting our natural environment and ensuring human development does not compromise ecosystem functions.

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Andy Kirkwood

Passionate about protecting our natural environment and ensuring human development does not compromise ecosystem functions.

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Helene Johnson

Sailor & Crew Member (Marumaru Atua)

Born in Rarotonga in the southern Cook Islands and raised in Manihiki in the north; passionate about Sailing and has represented the Cook Islands at international events since 12 years of age; interested in utilising family land for sustainable crops.

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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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Jay Tapoki

Environment Officer

Passionate about protecting the natural environment of the Cook Islands.

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Nina Neubauer

BSc Anthropology (Oxford Brookes University, UK); MA Anthropology, Development and Social Transformation (University of Sussex, UK)

Passionate about Cook Islands culture and supporting environmental and cultural initiatives of Cook Islanders; expertise includes anthropology and sustainable development.

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Johnny Beasley

Film maker & Waterman

Passionate about documenting and sharing stories from the Cook Islands, especially with a focus on the marine environment; loves sustainable and selective spearfishing, free diving and 'oe vaka paddling.

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Ioana Puna-Turia

Film maker & 'Oe Vaka Paddler

Passionate about our marine environment and protecting the ocean and reef in the Cook Islands; of Aitutakian and Manihikian decent and has represented the Cook Islands in 'oe vaka paddling.

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Lexi Sumaringa Mackenzie-Hoff

Huge supporter for the revival and education of authentic and indigenous knowledge and traditions of the Cook Islands; passionate about teaching and educating our youth the importance of our culture and the environment and how they work together; hoping to bring Cook Islands culture and language to mainstream education and society.

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Elsie Hosking

Currently studying Bachelor of Arts (Double major in Pacific studies and Anthropology)

Specialist in Cook Islands archaeology and Museum Curating; founder of Tua Korero an indigenous Cook Islands storytelling initiative; passionate about Indigenous Knowledge, Decolonisation and revitalising cultural practices and teachings as well as climate change.

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Sergio Lai

Traditional voyager & welder

Passionate about sharing traditional knowledge on wayfinding and canoe making with the next generation.

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Myra Moeka'a-Patai

B.A. Political Science (Victoria University in Wellington); MBA (University of the South Pacific - Cook Islands)

Expertise in management, planning, and organising; passionate about serving the Cook Islands community to improve the well-being of our people and promoting good governance.

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Chiavanni Akavi Poona Le’Mon

Marketing Director (Cook Islands Financial Services Development Authority)

Recently returning Cook Islander (2015); passionate about the sustainability and evolution of our Culture, Language and Traditions.

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Kate McKessar

BA Political Science / Masters in Planning Practice (MPlanPrac) Expertise in NZ Resource Management Act planning and policy; Senior Project Officer at Te Ipukarea Society.

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Tutai Herman

Passionate about youth issues and sports.

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Tiaretaina Lowry-Mailau

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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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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Sakiko Okazaki

B.A. Policy Studies

Engaged in the tourism industry; passionate about learning the Cook Islands culture and proudly promoting to Japanese friends; fluent in Japanese.

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Kiesha Dais

Social worker / Workshop Facilitator / Event Planner

Passionate about supporting young people through life & social issues; loves all things social enterprise, financial literacy and event facilitation & management.

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Rose Winters

SCUBA Instructor

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

Phoebe Happ

KukiTime 4Kidz Founder

Passionate about creating & teaching Cook Islands songs, music & dances that helps educate and inspire children to embrace their language and culture.

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Danilo Reyes

Volunteer Firefighter / Mechanic / SCUBA Diver

Passionate about photography and supporting the Cook Islands community through volunteer work.

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Pouarii Tanner

Master of Cultural and Creative Practice (MCCP)

Passionate about Design Strategy in the areas of Spatial Design, Design Strategy and Film Production.

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Teupoko Ariihee

Sei Photography

Passionate about photography and working with Cook Islands youth (specifically 'at-risk' youth) to help them unlock their potential through their journey in life.

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Konini Rongo

Rongokura Productions

Passionate about storytelling and videography, singing and music as well as working with Cook Islands youth.

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Merian Noovao

Takitumu Primary School (Secretary)

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