Book About Cook Islands Traditional Leaders Explored

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Workshop on how to present cultural history held

By Solomone Rabulu

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, April 19, 2016) – In a bid to boost traditional Cook Islands Maori culture and language, members of the House of Ariki are working together to publish a book highlighting the history of the country’s traditional leaders and looking at how far the country has come.

A three day workshop has been organised at the University of the South Pacific to gather much needed information from invited experts on how to put cultural history and knowledge into written form.

Clerk of the House of Ariki, Tupuna Rakanui said the workshop had been very encouraging with an "overwhelming" amount of information gathered.

"This is the first time we have managed to bring in all these experts who have knowledge in Cook Islands history and the involvement of the traditional leaders, the Ariki, the tribes and the development of the nation in general.

"I know there are lot of people with the passion to put such a work together and that is what we are hoping to achieve. I believe it is time that we collated all this information and documented it to present the local peoples’ point of view."

Rakanui said the workshop would significantly benefit the people of the Cook Islands and more importantly, its future generations.

"We need to focus on the history of our traditional leaders and where they came from. There are lot of stories about the skills of our forefathers in conquering our oceans.

"If you go back to the journeys they have taken from Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, Tahiti, Hawaii, its mind-blowing. There are all kinds of myths and writings on the evolution of these islands which reflect how the journey of our traditional leaders to the present time.

"It’s fascinating and we would love people to read it."

Rakanui says the information they have gathered so far is enough to compile the first of many volumes they plan to put together.

"Today the history is fragmented, it’s all over the place and a lot of those histories cannot be accessed by our people. Most of them don’t even know how to access them.

"Once we put this project together, it should be readily available to members of the community at our schools, libraries or even to people who come to the House of Ariki.

"I am looking forward to this happening."

The publication will be available in the various Cook Islands Maori dialects to encourage younger people to learn about their language and history.

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