Sporting icon Kanny will be greatly missed
13 March, 2019, 4:30 pm
The Cook Islands sporting fraternity has lost one of the most beloved and respected personalities.
Mata “Kanny” Vaile, 65, passed away on February 28 and was laid to rest on Rarotonga last week.
The former national bowler was born on June 8, 1953 to Henry and Upokomaki Nicholas.
She was the youngest of seven siblings who included Pipaka, Alan, Kopu (deceased), Metua (deceased), Albert Kaitara, Terepuapii (deceased).
Kanny married Chris Earle Vaile of Auckland and had four children – Teokotai (deceased), George, Samuel and Maine.
She had eight grandchildren (Isabel, Vivian, Lahveen, Sacha, Hayley, Tayla, Cayden and Tamuera) and five great grandchildren (Maiyah, Kelly, Henry, Kailani, and Rylly).
Kanny’s ancestral lineage has direct links to tribal chiefs of the Cook Islands (Ngati Makea), Tahiti (descendant of Princess Tehameamea Pomare), and New Zealand (Tainui).
She was a super talented sportsperson. Her sporting prowess was not limited to that of lawn bowls – the sport she is nationally renowned for – but extended to sports such as tennis, darts, golf, pool, roller-skating, and patapata!
Kanny’s bowling career spanned across 30 years during which she secured many national titles and had a huge amount of success internationally.
She attended six Commonwealth Games – Canada, Kuala Lumpur, Manchester, Melbourne (missed out on the quarter finals for the pairs on count back), India (Flagbearer) and Glasgow, Scotland.
Kanny won the silver medal in the pairs event at the 1991 South Pacific Games in Papua New Guinea and bronze medals at the 1999 Asia Pacific Championships in Kuala Lumpur and in the singles and pairs at the 2001 Asia Pacific Championship in Australia.
In 2007, she managed bronze medal at the Asia Pacific Championships in Christchurch and two gold medals at the South Pacific Games in Samoa, where she was also a flagbearer.
In the 2009 Pacific Mini Games held on Rarotonga, Kanny won gold medals in the pairs and fours. That year she won the Sportswoman of the Year at the Cook Islands National Sports Awards.
Her last podium finish was at the 2015 Tiger Bowls in Hong Kong where she won the bronze medal.
She is also the former president of the Rarotonga Bowling Club and the Parekura Women’s Bowling Club.
Kanny managed the Triads Fuel Station in Avarua and was an archivist at the National Archives. She also managed the Tutakimoa Service Station.
Kanny touched the lives of many, was the life of the party, had a social network that spanned the globe and her travels saw her explore countries in four continents.
An incredibly talented, generous and selfless legend who will be missed dearly.