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Cook Islands

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Cook Islands


Art of Tivaevae: Traditional Cook Islands Quilting,The by Lynnsay Rongokea. Published by the University of Hawai'i Press. ISBN 0824825020. Recommended retail price $29.95.

The art of tivaevae making is unique to the Cook Islands. Since quilt-making was introduced by Christian missionaries more than a century ago, the women of these South Pacific islands have embraced it enthusiastically and with extraordinary skill, so that is has become a valued and integral part of local life and culture.

The Art of Tivaevae tells the stories behind these stunningly beautiful quilts. Twenty-three women, each represented by a black-and=white portrait, talk about their work - the ideas behind the designs, the cutting and sewing techniques, how they acquired and pass on their skills, and the future of tivaevae.

Fort-five tivaevae are shown in full and in close detail in photographs that highlight the striking originality of design and color combinations, and the intricate stitching. This beautiful book provides a memorable record of a unique art and a talented group of women.

Lynnsay Rongokea, a New Zealand-born Cook Islander, is of Ngati Maoate and Ngati Te Akareva descent. She is known in the Pacific region for her work with Pacific arts and music festivals, and as a human rights educator. She was the Cook Islands "Woman of the Year" in 2000 in the category of International Affairs. Lynnsay lives on Rarotonga.

John Daley has been a professional photographer for the past 37 years. Based in Auckland, he specializes in photographing people for advertising and corporate design clients, and his work has also illustrated numerous books. Hard cover, 132 pages. Published in 2001.


Atiu: An Island Community by Ngatupuna Kautai and others. Recommended retail price $15.

In this fascinating book, the people of Atiu have recorded the richness of their traditions, history and culture, which for centuries was handed down by word of mouth. This book chronicles a proud Polynesian people's narrative of themselves and affords the outsider invaluable insights into Cook Islands culture, not only as it was but also as it is today.

The broad span of life is traversed from such mundane matters as clothing to the deeply mystical chants, karakia, that foretell the future. The past feats of a people who conquered and governed far beyond their own shores; and the present-day rituals of the illicit "tumu nu" or bush beer gangs. Ancient traditions still maintained, little changed, include the hair-cutting ceremony, the complex system of rights to the use of water, the sea-faring lore of the fishermen, and the art of knowing the day and hour when the flying fish return in their thousands each year to spawn. Penetrating insight into the life of this religious people is provided by the examination of their past and present beliefs and practices, and in the description of the way they face death. The people of Atiu here reveal an inside view of the life of one of the Pacific's most vigorous island communities. Soft cover, 207 pp. Recommended retail price $15, our price $14.


Cook Islands Cook Book by Taiora Matenga-Smith. Published by the Institute of Pacific Studies. ISBN 9820200245. Recommended retail price $10.

In this fascinating insight into the most delicious and nutritious of what the Cook Islands has to offer, Taiora Matenga-Smith reveals the secrets of Cook Islands culinary art. Soft cover, 97 pages. Published in 1998.


Cook Islands Custom by William Wyatt Gill. Recommended retail price $6.

The text was written by William Wyatt Gill, who spent most of his adult life in the Cook Islands, and contained in a publication on “The South Pacific and New Guinea: past and present”, published by the New South Wales Commissioners for the World’s Columbian Exposition, 1893. This part is reproduced by the Institute of Pacific Studies of the University of the South Pacific, as part of a project on cultural affairs in the Cook Islands being undertaken at the request of and in association with the Cook Island Ministry of Education. The illustrations are from Gill’s books, Jottings from the Pacific and Life in the Southern Isles. Soft cover, 28 pages.

Cook Islands Handbook, Mad Mike's by Mike Hollywood. ISBN 0595294006. Published by iUniverse. Recommended retail price $15.95.

Travel to the far corners of paradise. To the islands of beautiful beaches and the friendliest peole in the world. The Cook Islands offer the visitor a glimpse of South Pacific life that has changed little in the past century. The author survived a hurricane to enlighten the reader to the special places that are Rarotonga & The Cook Islands. This guidebook is written in a relaxed style, full of helpful information, presented with a touch of humor and the author's personal opinions. You will enjoy the lighter side of this well researched guidebook as you discover the natural beauty of these islands. Soft cover, 162 pages. Published in 2003.


Cook Islands Legends retold by Jon Jonassen. Recommended retail price $6.

Myths, stories and legends which once guided the lives of young Cook Islanders reveal a panorama of history, place names and genealogical identity. The mystique of the tales fascinated many young people who gathered around their elders to hear them illuminate the past. The ten legends in this small book are just a few of a countless number of stories from the Cook Islands. Many of them have yet to be recorded.

The story of Ati and the people from the underworld lingers on amongst Cook Islanders, in a song which was put to music after the arrival of Christianity. The sweetness of the mysterious love story of Ati is matched by the evil of Katikatia, the old woman who ate children and whose cave is still remembered. This fascinating collection also contains stories of great strength, mammoth size, battles and voyages, trade, settlement, true love and the origin of a Polynesian tree – the wild hibiscus. Soft cover, 44 pages.


Cook Islands Maori Dictionary by Jasper Buse & Raututi Taringa, edited by Bruce Biggs & Rangi Moeka’a. Recommended retail price $37.

A wealth of information about Cook Islands language, culture and society is contained in this dictionary which involved the efforts of many people over 35 years. It is an essential handbook for every Cook Islander and all persons interested in the Cook Islands. Soft cover, 564 pages.

Cook Island Maori Names: Ingoa by Jon Jonassen. Published by the Institute of Pacific Studies. ISBN 9820203341. Recommended retail price $17.95

The cover picture of Olivia and Vira Williams’ wedding day on 14 July 2001 represents one of those rare moments when Cook islands names are changed. The bride, Olivia Moana Jonassen from Rarotonga-Aitutaki, took on the surname of her husband, Teuvira William Uea from Atiu, and the groom’s father also bestowed two new names, Teivaarii Uraatua, on the bride. Soft cover, 159 pages. Published in 2003.


Island Boy: An Autobiography by Thomas R. A. H. Davis, Pa Tuterangi Ariki. Recommended retail price $24.

Tom Davis always had access to all cultures and classes. The first Cook Islander to qualify in New Zealand, he returned as a "Doctor to the Islands" (the title of his first book) in 1945. When he became the first Cook Islander to attend Harvard University, he got there in a typically Tom Davis way - by sailing a small yacht half way round the world. He later served on the Harvard faculty for five years. He also headed medical programmes in Alaska and the Himalayas, wrote two books and eighty scientific papers, qualified as a Space Surgeon and took a leading role in developing the US space programme.

At the request of Cook Islanders he returned in 1971 and became Leader of the Opposition. He survived operations for cancer and became Prime Minister from 1978 to 1987. He was knighted by the Queen in 1980. As Prime Minister in a time of world economic decline he lifted the real per capita income of Cook Islanders more than 10 percent annually throughout his leadership, a remarkable achievement.

This book is about a quite extraordinary life. Read it in wonder. Soft cover, 349 pp.


Legends From the Atolls by Kauraka Kauraka. Recommended retail price $9.

These tales are written in the Manihiki e Maori language in the hope of preserving their original form. The provision of an English translation on each tale would hopefully be of benefit to the English speakers. Most of the tales have not been published previously. There are fourteen stories in this collection. Most of these are popular tales which have been enjoyed by generations of Manihikians. Most of the stories are from Manihiki, with only one from Rakahanga.

These legends often reveal some aspect of Manhiki culture. The reader will discover how fattened, fair, young maidens were displayed naked in the olden days in Manihiki as in the tale of ‘Paraka and the Beautiful Maiden’. It will also be found that the women have dived for clam shells instead of the men. The breaking of a taboo imposed upon the eating of the maratea fish triggered the action for the tale of ‘Tauhunu and Motuhakamaru at war’. Originally published in 1983 and reprinted in 1991. Soft cover, 64 pages.


Mana 2000, Cook Islands Special edited by Jean Tekura and Vaine Rasmussen. Published by the Institute of Pacific Studies. ISBN 03795268. Recommended retail price $18.

This is a special edition of Mana, A South Pacific Journal of Art and Culture, Language and Literature featuring Cook Islands creative writers and artists.

The Cook Islands is a self-governing nation made up of 15 islands spread over 1.8 million square kilometres of ocean. It lies in the South Pacific between Samoa/Tonga to the west and French Polynesia to the east. The people of these islands are primarily Maori Polynesian and its people have close links with Maohi of French Polynesia and, to a lesser extent, New Zealand.

The link with New Zealand is strong for another reason. The Cook Islands was, until self-government in 1965, a colony of New Zealand. Cook Islanders are New Zealand citizens and there are now many more Cook Islanders living in New Zealand than in the Cook Islands. The creativity of the people is founded on a rich tradition of song, dance and chant that has evolved over time and is now also reflected in art and poetry.

This collection features not only Cook Islands' authors but also others who have had a close association with this nation. It is an attempt to capture not just the life-style of Cook Islanders at present but over time and includes works by one author born in Ireland in the nineteenth century who came to the Cook Islands in 1908 and lived here until his death in 1956.

The collection also reflects the experience of Cook Islanders as an emigrant, as well as an indigenous people, and the experience of Cook Islanders who grew up in New Zealand visiting their home for the first time.

For many contributors, this will be the first time works of theirs will be published and this edition is testimony to their creativity. The talents of established and budding artists have been used, together with photographs - old and recent - of the Cook Islands, to illustrate the poems. This collection is a tribute to the creativity of the people of the Cook Islands both past and present. Soft cover, 113 pages. Published in 2000.


Nation and Destination: Creating Cook Islands Identity by Jeffrey Sissons. Recommended retail price $15.

Nationalists everywhere call for the sacrifice of hearts, minds and bodies to apparently greater cause than the well-being of individuals and their local communities. What makes the Cook Islands so fascinating is the unusually close relationship between nationalists and the tourist industry. In this engaging work, Jeffrey Sissons draws on interviews with many prominent Cook Islanders and written records to describe the creation of a succession of different Cook Islands identities over the past thirty years. Workers in a young, progressive nation have, more recently, come to see themselves as hosts in a global, postmodern destination. Sissons argues that the concept of the Cook Islands nation as a 'cultural' community is a relatively recent one, associated with tourism, therefore, the link between culture and nationhood in the Cook Islands or elsewhere is not natural. Soft cover, 139 pp.


Rarotonga & the Cook Islands by Nancy Keller and Tony Wheeler. Recommended retail price $14.95.

Strange title this one; shouldn’t it be Rarotonga and the rest of the Cook Islands? But I mustn’t quibble. The junior co-author of this book is Tony Wheeler … the man who founded Lonely Planet Books. For many people Rarotonga is the Cook Islands. Although I have spent nearly two months on Raro as it is affectionately known I’ve never been lucky enough to visit the other islands. This guide makes me want to. As with all the Lonely Planet Guides it is packed with useful up-to-date information. Soft cover, 193 pages.


Reforming the Political System of the Cook Islands: Preparing for the Challenges of the 21st Century by Iaveta Short, Ron Crocombe & John Herrmann. Recommended retail price $22.

In 1998 the Cook Islands Government decided to review the whole political system. The proposal was supported unanimously by the Parliament. The review was timely, as the system had been established 33 years earlier, in 1965, when the situation in the Cook Islands, and its relations with the Pacific and the world, was very different. Also, the government has set up a program of economic reform in the late 1990’s, and felt it appropriate to re-examine the political system also.

This is the report of the Commission which carried out the work. It provides information on the evolution of the political process in one of the world’s smallest nations, highlights the problems that have arisen, and makes recommendations to ameliorate the problems and better prepare the Cook Islands for the 21st century. Soft cover, 114 pages.


Songs and Songwriters of the Cook Islands: E Au Imene Tamataora by John J. Herrmann. Published by the Institute of Pacific Studies. ISBN 9820201810. Recommended retail price $10.

Few places in the world have produced as many songs or composers as the Cook Islands. With a total national population of only 17,000, spread over 15 islands (an average of not much more than 1000 people per island) there are many composers on each island.

This collection contains a selection of 42 songs, 6 by each of 7 composers. An introductory chapter explains the place of song in Cook Islands culture and the things Cook Islanders sing about. Following each song is a description of how it came to be written and what it describes or elicits.

This unique book gives penetrating insights into Cook Islands culture. Soft cover, 55 pages. Published in 1987.


Tales Of Manihiki collected by K. Kauraka. Published by the Institute of Pacific Studies. IPS118. Recommended retail price $9.

This collection of stories is recorded in the vernacular of Manihiki Island. An English version of each story has been provided. In the discussion that follows, the author has tried to categorize the stories and analyze some of their features.

The Northern Group in the Cook Islands consists of a number of widely scattered atolls which included Manihiki and its sister island, Rakahanga, thirty kilometres to the north. Originally the people lived on one atoll for a year and then migrated to the other for a year. This annual migration ceased in 1852 when the missionaries persuaded the people to divide and settle permanently on each atoll. According to tradition their ancestor, Hiku, came from Rarotonga.

The narrators of the ten stories collected, who were originally from Manihiki, were living in Rarotonga where the recording took place from 1975 to 1977. They spoke in the Manihiki dialect of the Cook Island Maori language. Soft cover, 60 pages. Published in 1982, reprinted 1991.

( 55k)

They Came For Sandalwood by Marjorie Crocombe. Published by the Institute of Pacific Studies. ISBN 9820202582. Recommended retail price $6.

Stories of Traders and their effects on Rarotonga. Superbly written it reads more like a novel than the non-fiction work it actually is. I couldn't put it down. Originally published in 1964, this has been reprinted in 1975, 1978, 1981, 1992 and 1993. Soft cover, 52 pages.


Wild Life Among the Pacific Islanders by E.H. Lamont. Recommended retail price $13, our price $12.

A fascinating account of the first foreigner ever to live on Tongareva (or Penrhyn Island). Enmeshed in tribal wars, struggling to understand - and survive - in a culture that was radically different from his own, this classic record gives insights into both the people of Tongareva and their foreign 'guest', as well as into culture contact 'in the raw'.

Originally published by Hurst and Blackett Publishers of London in 1867, it was compiled from rough notes of a journal written during the author's wanderings in the Islands of the South Pacific. Highly recommended. Soft cover, 359 pp.

Click here for engraving from Wild Life among the Pacific Islanders by E.H. Lamont (34.94K)

Click on links below for these books.

2003 Cook Islands Phone Book

Korero by Makiuti Tongia

Romancing the Islands by Kim Gravelle.

South Pacific Islands by Joan Beard

Tahiti Handbook: Including Easter Island and the Cooks by David Stanley

Taku Akatauira/My Dawning Star by Kauraka Kauraka

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Last modified on Thursday, July 10, 2003