Customs and Traditions

Posted on 01/11/2021


The Cook Islands is one of the few untouched places left on Earth. The Cook Islands are refreshingly devoid of towering mega-resorts and fast-food chains like you can find elsewhere in the pacific – the rule of thumb on our islands is that no building can be taller than the palm trees.

Many different layers make up the beauty of Cook Island Culture; this includes expression through art and performance, fashion and cultural wear, religion, language, nature, cuisine, history and storytelling, flowers and flora and fishing and agriculture.

An important part of our culture is attending the Cook Islands Christian Church services to experience traditional hymns and harmonies; these are dotted around the island and occur each Sunday, the locals offer a warm welcome to visitors. Traditional Rito hats are often worn to church and are made from the stem of a young coconut frond, and this is then boiled and dyed then hand woven into these stunning creations.

Cultural wear and local fashion are other forms of expression that are commonly portrayed to reflect our culture through traditional patterns, prints and colours. Cook Islanders are known for their hand-painted and silk-screened dress fabrics. Please take some time on your next visit to check out some of our popular local designers such as TAV Pacific, Heihere Designs, Tauariki wear and Inagaro design.

How to make a Cook Island Ei  
Flowers, used in various ways, have always been precious to the Cook Islands’ culture. They are worn behind the ear, in the hair, as a flower crown (Ei Katu) and are also used in traditional medicines. In the Cook Island the Ei (flower garland) is worn on many occasions, including when welcoming guests, birthday celebrations, graduations, and formal events. Ei are symbol of friendship, love and respect. Receiving your handmade Ei will no doubt be a memorable highlight when you arrive at Rarotonga International Airport. Cook Islands’ artist Ani O’Neil shares a few tips in making these gifts of welcome, known in the Cook Islands as ‘Ei.
Video on how to make a Cook Islands Ei