Leadership & Governance

Te Marae Ora is led by an Executive team. There are also specialist health professional and advisory roles to provide clinical advice to the Executive team. The Secretary of Health leads the Executive team and provides clinical and technical advice to the Minister of Health.

Minister of Health

Honourable Minister of Health Vainetutai Rose Toki Brown

Excellent population health and wellbeing is an essential requirement for social and economic development. This however requires everyone to play their part across all sectors of society including our families and communities, Puna, Aronga Mana, religious sector, non-government organisations, private sector, government agencies, the Pa Enua and our international partners. The Cook Islands Government recognises the importance of ensuring quality health services and I am pleased that since I took over the health portfolio two years ago, we have increased Te Marae Ora’s budget in successive years. The introduction of the flying doctors programme to supplement the work of the Nurse Practitioners in the Pa Enua has been a significant step to address clinical gaps in our remote island populations. The establishment of community based health centers on Rarotonga in collaboration with the Puna strengthens plans to prioritise primary care and preventative initiatives. With the support of our government and national, regional and international stakeholders, our health system is evolving to become more agile and responsive to modern health threats. As Minister for Health, I am proud to stand in solidarity with our Te Marae Ora workforce to ensure our people receive the best quality health care and live healthier lives and achieve their aspirations, and that no one gets left behind. Te Atua te Aroa. Kia Orana e Kia Manuia.

Executive team

Secretary of Health

Dr Josephine Aumea Herman - MBBS, DipO&G, MPH, PhD

Dr Herman currently leads Te Marae Ora along with her Executive team, and was appointed to the role in April 2018. She has previously held Executive and senior clinical positions with Te Marae Ora. Dr Herman has over 25 years’ experience in medicine, specialising in public health and primary care. She graduated in medicine from the University of Papua New Guinea in 1992, and went on to complete a Diploma in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Masters in Public Health, and a PhD in Epidemiology from the University of Auckland. Dr Herman is a Fellow of the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners, the New Zealand College of Public Health Medicine and the Australasian Faculty of Public Health Medicine. In her official capacity, Dr Herman’s work focuses on building the health system preparedness capacity and capability, and communities involved in health service delivery.

Dr Tereapii Uka - MBBS

Dr Uka leads the Public Health directorate. Dr Uka was appointed as the Director of Public Health in January 2020. He has over 25 years’ experience in medicine, and worked across hospital and community settings in the Cook Islands. For many years, he owned and operated his own private practice since 1999. Dr Uka graduated in medicine from the University of Papua New Guinea in 1994. Prior to completing his studies in medicine, Dr Uka worked as a laboratory technician at hospitals on Rarotonga and Aitutaki in the Cook Islands. In his official capacity, Dr Uka’s work focuses on building capacities within public health and among communities. He works in harmony with patients and their families, and other health professionals to ensure high standards of care are consistently provided.

Director of Public Health

Director of Oral Health

Dr Danny Areai - BDS, Dip CD, MDS

Dr Areai leads the Oral Health directorate. He was appointed to the role in March 2019. He has previously worked as a Manager and Chief Dental Officer for Te Marae Ora. Dr Areai graduated in dental surgery from the Fiji School of Medicine in 2000 and has over 20 years’ experience in dentistry in New Zealand and the Cook Islands. He completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Community Dentistry and graduated with a Master of Dental Surgery in 2009 from the University of Otago in New Zealand. Dr Areai is an Executive Member of the Oral Health Pacific Alliance Organisation. In his official capacity, Dr Areai and his managers are focused on building capacity within oral health. In November 2019, 11 dental therapists graduated from their training with Dr Areai and team, for redeployment to the Pa Enua to provide basic oral health services.

Dr Te Ariki Faireka - MBBS, Dip Op, MBA

Dr Faireka leads the Primary Care directorate. He was appointed to the role in December 2019. He graduated in medicine from the Fiji School of Medicine in 2005. He has worked as a medical doctor in the Cook Islands for over ten years. In 2010, Dr Faireka completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Ophthalmology from Fiji National University. In 2019, he completed a Master in Business and Administration from the University of the South Pacific. In his official capacity, Dr Faireka is leading primary care services delivery in community settings. This includes the establishment of community clinics around Rarotonga, and overseeing health services provided in hospitals and health centres on the Pa Enua. He also works across hospital health settings to provide eyes, ears, nose and throat (ENT) services.

Director of Primary Care

Director of Hospital Health

Dr Yin Yin May - MBBS, Dip O&G

Dr May leads the Hospital Health directorate, and was appointed to the role in November 2017. She oversees all clinicians in hospital and community settings, as well as clinical support and general support services. Dr May has over 40 years’ experience in medicine and dedicated over 30 years’ of service to the Cook Islands. She graduated in medicine in 1975 from the Institute of Medicine in Myanmar. She has worked for many years in obstetrics and gynaecology, and looked after many women, mothers and babies in the Cook Islands. Dr May completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Obstetrics and Gynaecology from the Fiji School of Medicine in 2006. She is an associate member of the Royal Australasian and New Zealand College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, and a respected colleague in the profession.

Daphne Ringi - BBus, Dip Comm, Dip Int Af, MBA

Daphne was appointed to the role in October 2018. She has over 20 years’ experience working in a range of fields from banking, auditing, and development funding programmes, health and the public sector. Daphne graduated in 1996 with a Bachelor of Business from the Swinburne University of Technology in Australia. She went on to complete a Graduate Diploma in Commerce from University of Auckland, Postgraduate Diploma in International Affairs from the University of the South Pacific (USP) and a Master of Business Administration. In her official capacity, Daphne leads high-level strategic planning, recruitment and retention of a skilled workforce, health financing mechanisms and information systems.

Director of Planning & Funding

Our Partners

Health advisory committees provide advice at the Executive level on health matters. Our advisory committees meet up to four times a year. These committees include:

  • Community Health
  • Traditional Medicine
  • Medical and Dental
  • Nursing
  • Allied Health Professionals

We also have formal arrangements with other partners, recognised through an Arrangement of Cooperation (AOCs), to deliver health services and build health system capability. Some examples of these AOCs include:

  • Ministry of Health NZ
  • Waitemata District Health Board
  • Mt Wellington Integrated Health Care
  • Community Health Clinics on Rarotonga

Our Structure

Te Marae Ora is led by the Secretary of Health who directly advises the Minister of Health. The Secretary of Health also leads the senior Executive team to ensure strategic policy frameworks are developed, oversee the design and delivery of health services and strengthen accountability frameworks.

Health services are provided through five directorates:

  • Public Health
  • Oral Health
  • Primary Care
  • Hospital Health
  • Planning and Funding