Cook Islands artists to share knowledge and skills with Aotearoa

Six artists from the Cook Islands specialising in heritage art forms will visit Aotearoa next week as part of an annual cultural exchange programme with the Pacific Islands, set up by Creative New Zealand.

This year's visit also coincides with the 50th year anniversary celebrations of self-governance for the Cook Islands.

Wellington and Auckland are the two main cities that will host the visitors and will support pacific arts, as well as celebrate the close ties between the people of the Cook Islands and Aotearoa.

During 8-14 September the artists will share their skills and knowledge in a free public programme of workshops, demonstrations and talks hosted at Te Papa, Auckland War Memorial Museum and Fresh Gallery Ōtara. They will also take a tour of Te Papa and meet with local Māori and Pacific artists, including Toi Māori Aotearoa staff and board members, to exchange cultural knowledge and artistic practice.

Arts Council Pacific representative and Cook Islands cultural adviser for this year’s project, Caren Rangi says, "The timing of the exchange is especially fitting, as this year marks the 50th anniversary of self-government by the Cook Islands in free association with New Zealand. I am very excited to see our ta’unga (experts) come to share their unique artistic talents with the wider New Zealand community.”

Below are the names of each artist:

• Tua Pittman (Rarotonga) – master vaka navigator

• Mark Short (Rarotonga, Mauke, Manihiki) – Taunga (master) of Cook Islands drums

• Tetini Pekepo (Rarotonga, Mangaia) – master tattooist, Tatau Kuki Airani (Cook Islands tattoo)

• Tungane Broadbent (Rarotonga, Mangaia) – master tīvaevae artist (artistic quilting)

• Minar Henderson (Rarotonga, Aitutaki) – Rakei Kuki Airani (Cook Islands costume design) and choreography

• Jemima Peau (Omoka Penrhyn) – senior weaver, Raranga Rito (Rito weaving)

The exchange is funded by Creative New Zealand's cultural exchange programme. Previous arts and cultural exchanges include Niue in 2014, Tonga in 2013 and Samoa in 2012.