My Cook Islands – Art

10 Apr

Art is booming in the Cook Islands.  Many overseas visitors are certainly partly responsible for this success, but there are other reasons why our different art forms are thriving. Apart from showing Cook Islands culture to tourists, the purpose of the arts is to get more out of life, to make it more interesting. The arts entertain, decorate, explore and reveal, make us think, and our lives would be a dreary routine without them.

Mahiriki Tangaroa - An Atua Watches Over

All over the world, art has flourished most in cultures that enjoyed prosperity: Egypt, China, Greece, Roman Empire, during the Renaissance, etc. In the Pacific, the art of different cultures have developed highest in communities that were socially well organised and without threat from neighbours. The special status of the Ta’unga, a priest or artist in ancient Polynesia, also indicates that artists worked under a certain protection and were often exempt from other work in the community.

Mahiriki Tangaroa - In the Isles of Eden

Over the last 10 years, the local visual arts were fertilised by several artists with art education returning from New Zealand and Australia. Together with dynamic new galleries on Rarotonga, they developed their ideas and created a vigorous art scene, encouraging several young artists to take up art as a career.

Kay George - Shades of the Pacific

Although many elements of the contemporary art works are based on traditional images and symbols, painting in the Cook Islands is a young art form, which has emerged recently. Even so, Cook Islands painting is already gaining respect and attention overseas.

Photo Credit -

J Kunzie - Moana: Action Song

However it is the local patronage and support that has allowed it to gather momentum in the first place. Without the interest of the public, the backing and substantial encouragement of local art lovers and members of the business community, few artists would have had the opportunity and courage to continue with the development of their work.

Glenn Miller (Hori) - Unknown name

Information extracted from


2 Responses to “My Cook Islands – Art”

  1. Ian Furber April 27, 2011 at 1:09 am #

    this post has some beautiful works of art. the blend between tribal/indigenous art is remarkable. the possibilities that modern technologies, such as acrylic paint, open up a world of possibility that extends the boundaries of the imagination.

  2. Lance Knight September 7, 2012 at 3:56 pm #

    Hey Cilla, I am also a late comer to tertiary education, I am born of a Cook Island mother and Tahitian father but born in New Zealand. I am currently doing 3rd year visual art as part of an education degree and have just begun to explore my connections to The Cook Islands and specifcally Aitutaki. I love the paintings here and agree with Ian that endless possibilities and creations abound not just with paint but in all mediums of the arts in the Cook Islands and indeed Polynesia.

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