New Multi-Purpose Museum Opens In Muri, Cook Islands

Te Ara to serve as tourist attraction, business incubator, conference center

By Richard Moore 

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, Feb. 1, 2017) – A tourist attraction has opened at Muri, and it’s the first of its kind in the Pacific Islands.

Even with the last touches being applied, Te Ara Museum is an eyecatcher –a huge building that’s painted white with massive, colourful frangipanis covering its outer walls.

Te Ara Museum is the brainchild of partners Stan Wolfgramm and Julie Smith and they are excited about their vision becoming a reality.

Within its walls the museum features the story of the Cook Islands from pre-colonial times through to the present day and then on to the future.

It’s modern, industrial and promises to wow tourists when the display area fully opens next week. Up and running now are a shop that only stocks items made locally from Rarotongan ingredients and a café that sells food and drinks made from local produce. If that isn’t enough, the centre is also a business incubator that will help drive economic development for Pasifika. A conference room is on the second storey of the building.

“It’s about capacity building Pasifika, - that is giving people skills for economic development, business development, using culture as a driver of economic development and Pasifika as a driver for economic development,” Wolfgramm says.

He and Smith say they have worked in that sector for 30 years.

“So this initiative came out of looking at the region and at the issues in the region around trade deficits.

“We’ve seen there is something missing on the island and that is the historical story from vaka migration to the modern day.

 “Te Ara Museum offers that and is an attraction that will bring buyers in, the tourists in.

“There’s nothing on the island like this. It tells the story of the Cook Islands. The final piece at the end is that the future lies in the people, the ocean and the land.

“People come out and then they want to buy a piece of it. And we have that available for them.

“We have these products. All from local businesses with locally made products. That’s what we support and that’s what we promote.”

Wolfgramm says: “This is an asset important to this country. We’ve sat with Tourism and had meetings. They think it will be an amazing asset and they say there’s nothing like it in the region.

“We think it is going to bring value and our target audience is the tourist.”

Smith adds: “We are offering something that hasn’t been here.

“We think it is different. We didn’t want to make another hamburger bar. We are about local product and produce. We are reaching past retailers into the community.”

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