Michelle Tangimama returned to the Cook Islands in 2019 for the first time in 18 years. Reconnecting with her people sparked her heart and made her return home for good one day.
This week Tangimama was admitted to the Cook Islands High Court bar and attorney.
Her law firm, Rasmussen, and Tangimama Lawyers PC’s partner, Wilkie Rasmussen, postponed her admission to Chief Justice Sir Hugh Williams QC through a virtual video conference Thursday.
Tangimama was born on December 11, 1988 in Ivirua, Mangaia.
She attended Ivirua Elementary School and was Dux of the school several times.
At the age of eight, she left Mangaia and the Cook Islands with her parents and family for Melbourne. She studied for a Bachelor of Arts in criminal justice in Melbourne before studying for her LLB in Sydney.
Tangimama studied for her Masters in Law in Commercial and International Regulations. She also studied international law by correspondence with a university in the United States.
She said she was excited and honored to return home and practice as a lawyer. She particularly wishes to continue her work and the work of the recently deceased former Prime Minister Jim Marurai.
“I want to continue his legacy and help the people of Ivirua and Mangaia as a whole. I want to help the Cook Island Maori people who are here. Hopefully my ministry helps people, ”she said.
Tangimama said it was always in her heart to return home.
“I think around August last year when I came back for a vacation in Mangaia for the first time in 18 years, I returned to Melbourne and felt like I really wanted to go back home because of what I actually observed there, “said Tangimama.
“I am very happy to be at home and to share this special moment with my family. Unfortunately, my father is not here, he is still in Australia, but mom and I made the trip here. “
Michelle works for Rasmussen and Tangimama Lawyers PC, a company she founded with lawyer Wilkie Rasmussen.
Rasmussen said this was a plan the two had been working on for the past six months.
“Michelle is one of the first in a very small group of Mangaia women to be admitted to the Cook Islands High Court to practice law and practice. She works in all areas of law. “
Rasmussen and Tangimama Lawyers PC (or RTLawyers PC) is based in Avarua and strives to make law accessible and affordable for Maori Cook Islanders. It is also planned to address conflicts and problems from a Maori perspective in order to navigate through the European-oriented legal system.
Michelle is grateful for her father Tangimama Tangimama and mother Keni Tumutoa along with her family and friends for their support.
She is encouraging more women in the Cook Islands to take up a degree and qualify for the law or any other field in which they wish to practice.