Cook Islands

Auntie organises the family...

When Councillor Tangi Utikere came along to support the Cook Island community, he didn't know that coordinator No'orangi Puleosi had a few tasks for him - 'volunteering' to grate coconut, and serve the cooked dishes - in the same way that she'd enrolled assistance from her husband, nieces and friends. It was a family affair from the moment of arrival.

After being welcomed with a fresh flower - to put behind the right ear if available, the left if married - and then a traditional opening prayer, 'volunteers' were a large part of the afternoon's entertainment, as audience members were encouraged to try grating fresh coconut and swing their hips in the dance. 

Drinking coconut milk and eating fresh coconut with mango or banana was just the beginning of a range of tasty dishes ably prepared by No'orangi and Kimi Antonia. The main dish was taro leaves cooked with corned beef and coconut cream, Rukau. As it took an hour and a half to cook, after the preparation, the 'cooked' Rukau was fetched from behind the scenes to taste. 

As with all the communities who have demonstrated their speical dishes over the last six weeks, the pots were cleaned out and many visitors came back for 'seconds.  No crumbs remained. 

Councillor Utikere summed up the final afternoon's celebration in this exhibition in his remarks during the afternoon when he said it had been an enthralling time "in the kitchens" at Te Manawa and Palmerston North was pleased to have hosted it. 

The audience received flowers as they arrived - to put behind their ears, right if available, left if married!


They first served fresh coconut milk then the grated coconut


Councillor Tangi Utikere supporting his Cook Island community and serving out food, and showing us how to grate coconut. 

Many volunteers tried coconut grating


The two main dishes served were Rukau (like a lasagne of taro leaves with onion, corned beef, coconut cream) and Taki'i  (taro leaves iwth coconut cream and pawpaw)



Saturday 5 May

2.00pm – 3.30pm Reo metua – Cook Islands traditional hymn – David Puleosi.

Introduction – Noorangi Puleosi.

Pare ei workshop – Tere Hancock.

Cooking demonstration - Rukau and Takii – Kimi Antonia.

Swing high & low – Noorangi Puleosi.

Kaparima & tamure – Tungane Elupi.

It’s Kai time. A tasting of the delicious food!

Closing – David Puleosi.

No'orangi Puleosi, Cook Island coordinator and friend starting their kitchen set up.

Cook Islands Display

At: Te Manawa Gallery, 326 Main Street, Palmerston North

Exhibition coordinator: Christine Coles - Email: