Cook Islands Punanga Nui Cultural Market
The Punanga Nui Cultural Market was established in 1995 with the purpose of assisting micro indigenous business enterprises. Since then, the market has expanded and undergone various changes and improvements. The market place has grown in popularity as a community gathering spot and this has resulted in an increased number of temporary vendors as well as a large number of tenants operating from permanent huts.
The Huts and Stalls
Exploring the many huts and stalls on Saturdays is a great way to experience our Cook Islands culture and customs. There is a variety of arts and crafts, local produce or cooked food for sale, hand painted/tie dyed pareus (sarong), tivaivai (embroidered appliqué quilts) bedspread, cushion covers, pillow cases and wall hangings will make a perfect Cook Islands souvenir. Why not get a traditional Polynesian tattoo as a reminder of your holiday? Last but not least, remember to purchase the most romantic souvenir of all, the Cook Islands black pearl.
Arts and Crafts
Some local arts and crafts are very hard to make. Take for example our local ei pupu, which hails from the island of Mangaia and also Rarotonga. The process involves the women spending long hours among rocks, after rain showers, picking the little yellow snail shells. The shells are then cooked, dried, drilled with holes and threaded using a fishing line. The final product is the beautiful white and yellow ei pupu jewellery that is sold at the market.
On Saturdays the Market is filled with the fragrance of fresh tropical tiare (flowers). Tiare for the head and neck eis made with white gardenia, tiare maori (native gardenia) and tipani (frangipani) mixed with the delicious aromas from the food stalls, such as barbequed meat and fish, are an instant attraction! This is the perfect opportunity to hear the chatter and laughter of locals mingling in with visitors to our shores. Everyone enjoys good food and the sounds of Pacific music.
Every Wednesday three individual groups of Vainetini (women) meet at the Market to chat, create their traditional hand sewn tivaivai and to just enjoy each others company. Visitors are most welcome.
The market is still undergoing expansion with more huts being built along the beach side. All of these huts are nearly ready to open with some of them selling cooked food up to 10pm.
Although the Punanga Nui Marketplace is open from Monday to Friday, 8am to 4pm and on Saturday 7am to midday, Saturday is by far the busiest and most popular day to visit.
Come, join us and enjoy our vibrant, colourful Punanga Nui - the place for the people.
(Source Ministry of Agriculture, www.agriculture.gov.ck)