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Cook Islands Speaker enthralls crowd of IWD event

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Speaker of Cook Islands Parliament Hon. Niki Rattle captivates the USP Plus audience with her humorous yet poignant stories.

Speaker of the Cook Islands Parliament, Honourable Niki Rattle, enthralled a large audience as guest speaker to mark International Women’s Day at an event organised by The University of the South Pacific (USP) Cook Islands Campus initiative known as USP PLUS on 8 March 2017.

Several Cook Islands women’s organisations joined USP PLUS to celebrate the occasion at the Cook Islands campus.

According to Campus Director Rod Dixon, USP PLUS is a project initiated by local USP Adjunct Professor John Hay to engage with mature members of the community through the sharing of life stories.

“We have been video recording these talks for local TV and for possible inclusion in the Pacific Knowledges Hub. The initial project has been amended to include younger members of families learning from their elder’s life stories,” he noted.

Niki Rattle’s story was that of a life spent turning negatives into positives during her remarkable life as a nurse in remote islands, in America, in rural and metropolitan New Zealand, as Secretary General of the Red Cross, as chair of the International Conference of the Red Cross, and latterly as Speaker of the Cook Islands Parliament.  Her talk included impromptu contributions from family members including drumming, song and chants.

At the end of the evening, the Clerk of Parliament, Mr John Tangi, paid an impromptu tribute to Hon. Rattle for her modesty and humanitarian approach as Speaker in The Parliament of the Cook Islands.

He announced that Hon. Rattle had been selected from all Parliamentary Speakers in the Pacific, including the Australian and New Zealand Parliaments, to give a special address to, and chair a global parliamentary meeting to be held in April in Washington, DC.

Hon. Rattle has also been selected by all parliaments in the British Commonwealth to a position on the Executive Committee of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.

In her closing remarks, Ms Jaewynn McKay commented that Niki was an excellent speaker to mark International Women’s Day, taking the audience on an amazing journey from humble beginnings on the remote island of Manihiki to the “big lights” of Kinleith, Whakatane and beyond.

“What Niki described would make a terrific movie script, with all the elements - love, romance, duty, service, fire at sea, cyclone and other more personal tragedies, travel, love lost and found,” she remarked.

Hon. Niki Rattle’s talk was the second of a series of monthly talks organised by Professor John Hay for USP PLUS that will run throughout 2017.

The first speaker of the year was Emeritus Professor Jon Jonassen of Puaikiran of Rarotonga. The next meeting of USP PLUS will be held on 5 April at the USP Campus in Takamoa.

This news item was published on 17 Mar 2017 11:32:08 am. For more information or any High-Res Images, please contact us on email

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