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Punanga Nui Cultural Markets

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Background Information

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Background Information - Punanga Nui Cultural Markets.


The Punanga Nui Cultural Market was established in 1995 with the purpose of assisting micro indigenous business enterprises. Since then, the market has expanded and undergone various changes and improvements. The market place has grown in popularity as a community gathering spot and this has resulted in an increased number of temporary vendors as well as a growing list of potential tenants wanting to operate and build a fixed permanent hut.

The Huts and Stalls

Exploring the many huts and stalls on Saturdays is a great way to experience our Cook Islands culture and customs. There is a variety of arts and crafts, local produce or cooked food for sale, hand painted/tie dyed pareus (sarong), tivaivai (embroidered appliqué quilts) bedspread, cushion covers, pillow cases and wall hangings will make a perfect Cook Islands Souvenir. Why not get a traditional Polynesian tattoo as a reminder of your holiday? Last but not least, remember to purchase the most romantic souvenir of all, the Cook Islands Black Pearl.

Arts and Crafts

Some local arts and crafts are very hard to make. Take for example our local ei pupu, which hails from the island of Mangaia and also Rarotonga. The process involves the mamas spending long hours on the beach picking the snail shells. The shells are then cooked, dried, drilled with holes and threaded using a fishing wire. The final product is the beautiful white and yellow ei pupu jewelry that is sold at the market.

Market Activities

On Saturdays the Market is filled with the fragrance of fresh tropical flowers. Tiare for the head and neck eis made with white gardenia, tiare maori and tipani (frangipani) mixed with the delicious aromas from the food stalls such as barbequed meat and fish, are an instant attraction! This is the perfect opportunity to hear the chatter and laughter of locals mingling in with visitors to our shores. Everyone enjoys good food and the sounds of Pacific music.

Every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday three individual groups of mamas (Vainetini) meet at the Market to chat, create their traditional hand sewn tivaivai and to just enjoy each others company. Visitors are most welcome - pick a day and join the mamas!

The market is still undergoing expansion with more huts being built along the beach side. These huts will be ready to open soon with some of them selling cooked food up to 10pm.

The Punanga Nui Marketplace is open from Monday to Friday, 8am to 4pm and on Saturday 7am to midday

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Punanga Nui Market Video

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It is a hard choice whether to list The Farmers Markets known as the Punanga Nui Cultural Markets, as a place of things to do and see , or list it with the ' cheap eats ' section. Whatever way it really is combination of both.

The Farmers Market is buzzing on Saturday mornings. To enjoy the Punanga Nui Markets like a local, drag yourself out of bed early (7-8am). You'll get to see the mountains of local seasonal produce on offer.

The favorites - passion fruit, mangoes, etc sell out quickly. Ask the friendly locals for advice on the ripest fruit and best eating. If you haven't tried "nu" (the juice of a young coconut) you can pick up a drinking coconut for $1 - great for curing queasy stomachs from the night before.

The Truly Cook Islands dish called Ika Mata which is marinated fish in lime and coconut juice is a must. Race down to the Lazy Diner a.k.a. the Red Hut for this treat, freshly made each day.

If you like to cook or prepare your own meals ,or just enjoy a side bowl of fresh fruits whilst you are on vacation then the market is a must-visit on a Saturday.