TAMARIKI KUKI AIRANI
Pacific Islands tamariki / tamaiti are our precious measina, these Kuki Airani children in both Aitutaki and Rarotonga captured our hearts growing up island style ...
Peep our gallery of these kids enjoying their natural environments - from the azure blue lagoon of Aitutaki to the taro patches of Rarotonga.
"I finish school, feed my pigs and goat and then go swimming in the sea" says Tunui Maao of his daily life in Aitutaki.
A reminder to us to appreciate and preserve our Pasifika ways of life and protect the Moana and these environments for new generations to keep enjoying!
These local children from Aitutaki joined us on the Air Rarotonga vaka cruise with host (and a few of the kids Dad) Arerau (Ali) Maao.
First stop was Tapuaetai aka One Foot Island in the middle of Aitutaki's pristine lagoon.
Not a bad spot to explore when you need a break from swimming.
Who needs a swimming pool when you've got the best lagoon in the world at your doorstep?
Ali told us many children in the islands don't grow up learning to swim properly but recently Kieran & Leslie Chan were up in Aitutaki with Romani Katoa and the Cook Islands Aquatic Federations 'Swimming in Schools and Outer Island Reach programme'
He told us since the children went through the swimming program, they're confident swimmers in the lagoon now.
The Chan and Sherwin children load up on their Mum/Aunty's pick up truck after school.
They head out to the taro patches on the back roads in Avatiu to pick poepoe which is commonly used in traditional dance costume making.
On the last Friday of every month, most of the schools in Rarotonga (including high schools) celebrate 'Kia Orana Day'.
For Kia Orana Day both students and teachers wear mufti but not just any mufti wear - island patterned print material outfits and the teachers also wear ei katu, providing an explosion of colour throughout the schools.
Ezekiel Tuatea Tatuava-Enjoy demonstrates making a Pare Ukarau.
The young Cook Islander is in Year 9 at Tereora Colelge and is passionate about his Cook Islands culture.
He recently won the Cook Islands Maori speech competition and recently broke tradition on the island of Atiu when he did the 'Iri iri' at the investiture of Ngamaru Tupuna Ariki for Ngāti Akatauira-o-Iti-ki-Tonga of Atiu
Usually the marae is reserved for adults only.
* Investiture photos courtesy of Maria Tuoro
Cook Islands/Tahitian/Tongan Model & jewellery maker Poevai Garnier is joined by young Leilani Sherwin on an impromptu shoot near Takuvaine Valley.
From Muri beach in Ngatangi'ia to the back roads of Avatiu, these children in Rarotonga are blessed with a lagoon for their playground and the natural beauty of their surrounds whether they're chilling with their fam or walking home from school.
These young vaka paddlers are currently training to compete at the NZ sprint champs in January 2022.
The dedicated teenagers who range in age from 13 - 17yrs old have been training since March this year under Romani Katoa - 3 times a week of paddling and 2 times a week of swimming with Kieran Chan.
Many of them play another sport like basketball so they're kept busy 6 days a week with Sunday to relax.
With Romani currently waiting in NZ for the borders to re-open, champion paddler Andre Tutaka George has been training them.
The group is made up of two boys and one girls team and beyond the NZ sprint champs in Jan, they'll be looking at long distance races in NZ, Tahiti and Hawaii next year.