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    & Carving

2. Souvenirs

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There are many reasons why people collect or, buy things when on a trip.  Some buy them as a reminder or, proof that they have visited a country, others discover something that would be practical or, decorative in their home setting or, for their personal use.  Whatever your reasons you are bound to find something in local shops or, at the market which would serve that purpose.  I must admit that the Cook Islands doesn't have the breadth of souvenirs and works of art that places like Tahiti and Hawaii have.  But its a small place and we aren't into mass production. 

As expected there are number of t-shirt and island shirt vendors such as Joyce Peyroux, CITC Mainstore, T-Shirt Factory and Tuki's Pareu. These places also make tye-dye and screen printed pareu's (sarongs or wraparounds).  Tye-dye pareu's are the perfect compliment to your swimsuit or, can be worn casually by both men and women. The screen printed pareu's are more dressy although I only know two Cook Islands ladies who wear these to work.  Cook Islands women normally use the pareu material (flowery and leafy patterns) to make dresses and shirts.  There are various ways of tying these so that you can turn them into pants or, dresses.  A book on pareu tying is available in some shops, so look out for it.  T-shirts cost up to NZ$20 (US$10) depending on size. Pareu's cost between NZ$12-20 (US$6-10) depending on type.

The designer names in islandwear for the Cook Islands is Tav's and Gina's. You will find their outfits in various tye-dyed and screen printed materials at CITC Mainstore or, at their respective shops.  If you plan to indulge, expect to spend up to NZ$300 (US$150).   

Other types of souvenirs are made from wood, shells, rito (young coconut shoots), rauara (pandanus) and tapa (wild hibiscus bark). You will find many souvenirs or, accessories at the Island Craft and the Beachcomber.

Tapa clothing was common in ancient times but is lost to Rarotonga.  Atiu is the only island that currently produces things from tapa.  A project on Atiu involves women making decorative flowers out of tapa.  These are really beautiful, lightweight and small - ideal for taking home with you, if you like that sort of thing. 

The Tokerau Collection
Unique black lipped mother of pearl (pinctada margaritifera) carvings on whole shells or pendants by designer/carver Tokerau Jim.  Pendants cost NZ$35 (US$17.50), while shells cost anywhere up to NZ$500 (US$250). Find Tokerau and wife Niki at the Saturday Morning Market.

Rito (pronounced ree-toe) is the young shoot of the coconut tree and is used by Cook Islands women to make intricately woven hats, fans and purses. Rito products are handwoven from the islands of Manihiki and Penryhn.  These are available from craft and pearl shops in Rarotonga for about NZ$80 (US$40).

The 'pate' (pronounced par-tay) is a Cook Islands musical instrument carved from wood.  The pate is used in Cook Islands drum dances.  It is beaten in a similar way to drums and vary in size, although you can buy miniature versions.

Black Pearls
Black pearls are cultured on the islands of Manihiki and Penryhn, and then sold on Rarotonga.  You can buy loose pearls, otherwise you can choose from the diverse range of pendants, rings and earrings. Loose pearls are available for NZ$80 (US$40) with better quality pearls and pre-set pearls ranging between NZ$300-16,000 (US$150-8,000).  

Tivaevae (pronounced tee-vie-vie) are the local bedspreads mainly featuring brightly coloured flowery patterns.  Local women reserve these for special occassions, that is weddings, funerals etc.  You may find these at the market, in local craft and pearl shops.  They cost about NZ$300 (US$150).  If you want something more portable, their are also cushion covers which feature tivaevae design.   Making tivaevae is backaching work and takes a long time to produce.   Sometimes the mama's at the market bring their tivaevae to work on while they sit at their fruit and vegetable stalls. 

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