Where do you hail from in the Cook Islands?
Born and raised in Rarotonga, like most Cook Islanders, hail from various parts of our Ipukarea – namely Takitumu, Takuvaine, Mitiaro, Mangaia, Mauke
Could you share a cherished family tradition or cultural practice from your Cook Islands background that you hold close to your heart?
The O’ora is my favourite cultural practice. This is where newlyweds are draped in Tivaevae, pareu’s, sheets and bedding as gifts. I enjoy watching the mama’s dance during the O’ora, and the anticipation involved with seeing just how much the bride and groom are covered at the end.
Food is often a significant part of any culture. What is your favourite traditional Cook Islands dish?
Ika mata and poke meika.
What is your favourite Cook Islands proverb, quote, verse, song etc?
Kia orana! The joy it brings to hear those two words being said enables an instant connection with that person. As Cook Islanders will know, it’s more than just a greeting – it’s our way of life, and it’s a genuine breath of life to those who speak these words and to the receiver.
What role does the Cook Islands language play in preserving and passing down the cultural knowledge and values of your homeland?
Our Cook Islands language is a large part of our identity; it keeps our ties to our homeland, connects us to our people and above all, offers a sense of belonging.
It’s ura piani time, what do you do when someone asks you to dance?
My body tells me to run for the nearest exit, but the Cook Islands spirit overpowers and says 'taviviki aere, it's rude to decline'. In the end, it is always a good time!