NZ parliament’s Poto Williams: Daughter for the Return Home
Member of Parliament, Poto Williams, is one of those rare individuals that has right of claim to writing parts of history.
When she won last year’s Christchurch East by-election, she became the first Cook Islands woman in history to be elected into New Zealand’s legislative assembly. The honour of the first Cook Islander elected into parliament belongs to Alfred Ngaro who won election in 2011.
But Poto, short for Munokoapoto, also added a second piece of historical first. With her by-election win, she became the first ever Pacific islander to win an electoral seat in the South Island.
This week, Poto Williams will return to the country of her parents and join in the Cook Islands 50th anniversary celebrations as a self-governing Pacific nation in free association with New Zealand.
“The 50th anniversary of cutting loose from New Zealand will see important talks with the Premier of the Cooks, Henry Puna,” Poto Williams said in a press statement issued today.
“A key issue for New Zealand and the Cooks is an amendment to the Social Assistance Portability legislation which would have allowed people to live in New Zealand and collect the pension without having to travel back after the age of 50.”
She added, “Despite representations to the Select Committee, from the Prime Minister of the Cooks and the Premier of Niue, this amendment supported by Labour was not passed.
“I am looking forward to once again returning to the Cooks for such an important celebration of the island’s independence.”
Poto’s family connection is anchored to the northern Cooks, the islands of Manihiki, Rakahanga, Penryhn and Palmerston.
To show that writing on the pages history is a family affair, Poto’s uncle, Tekake William was a pioneer black pearl farmer. While her Cook Island name, Munokoapoto, connects her to an ancestral grandmother, who was one of the many wives of Palmerton Atoll’s famous pioneer, William Marsters.