Tessa Temata

New Zealand High Commissioner to the Cook Islands

Tessa Temata


Tessa Temata’s twenty five year career with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has spanned a range of areas including Pacific development and strategy, international trade law, security and multilateralism in the United Nations.  

Prior to her appointment as High Commissioner, Tessa was concurrently New Zealand’s Chief Negotiator for the PACER Plus trade and development agreement and a unit Manager in the Pacific Regional Division, based in Wellington.   

Tessa previously served as Deputy High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea and has also had assignments at New Zealand’s missions in the Cook Islands, Indonesia, Kiribati and Niue.  From 2010 to 2012, Tessa was the Country Director for HOPEworldwidePNG, a NGO dedicated to delivering clinical and community based health care and projects in the education and agricultural sectors.  In 2012, she was the founding Chief Executive of the Esselars security company.  

Tessa is a graduate of Victoria University of Wellington having completed a Bachelor of Law and a Bachelor of Arts in history and international politics. 

Tessa was raised in Taranaki, Aotearoa/New Zealand.  Her father Tia Toa’s family is from Mauke and traces its heritage back to Uke Ariki through Uke’s eldest daughter. Tessa’s mother, Jane Crichton is from Togafuafua in Samoa.

New Zealand’s Foreign Minister announced Tessa’s appointment as High Commissioner to the Cook Islands in September 2018.  Tessa arrived in country on 26 February 2019.