It’s located in the heart of Arorangi and proud café owners Ngametua and Sharmaine Puleosi are excited at being able to bring tasty coffee and delicious cabinet food to Rarotonga. They also sell a range of popular label clothing – of which more will come later.
A change in lifestyle prompted Ngametua to return home to Rarotonga with his family after 39 years away. Now their boutique café is expected to help them make Rarotonga their permanent home.
To escape the long working hours, the motorway madness and the fast paced life of the city, the couple decided to leave Australia early this year with their children and grandchildren and relocate to “paradise”.
“Our two children and three grandchildren moved over at the beginning of the year, and we came not long after in May, once we sold our house,” Sharmaine said.
The couple had been selling labelled clothing at the Punanga Nui Market - something they also used to do in Australia.
“Since we opened the café, we won’t be selling at the markets anymore but we will be selling the clothes from here (the café) instead,” Sharmaine said.
Ngametua says they worked for a solid four months setting up their new business.
“It used to be an old bottle store, but it was vacant for about a year and a half, so we turned it into a café.”
Sharmaine’s passion to please the locals with her great coffee has already made the café popular.
“Our aim is to make really good coffee and food,” she said.
“I just want to make people happy, so I don’t want anything slacking off here. I am pretty tough in that domain.”
Ariki Culture Café officially opened on Saturday last week, and there has already been positive response from the community.
“The young people go a bit crazy when they come in. They can’t believe what we have got,” she said referring to the branded clothing they sell.
Customers will find labels including Adidas, Nike, HBA, NBA and other urban clothing.
The range of clothing also includes sportswear, streetwear and cooperate dress skirts for women.
“We realised that people from teenagers through to those about 30 years were sort of missing out on Rarotonga. If we can bring clothes over here, people can stay on the island rather than having to go overseas to shop,” Sharmaine said.
Ariki Culture Café are eco-friendly and use local products wherever they can.
Coming up with the name, “Ariki Culture Café”, was a joint family effort.
Ngametua, who is half-Niuean, has “Puleosi” as his surname. It means “chief” in Niuean.
“We wanted to translate it to the Cook Islands language, so that’s how we got Ariki,” they said.
For Ngametua, returning home to Rarotonga is a decision he doesn’t regret.
“Being a Cook Islander and coming back to the island after living in Australia for so long is very different.
“The pace is a lot slower here and I love the lifestyle.
“I feel proud to be back in the Cook Islands, doing my part. There are a lot of people here living on a low wage, so we want to sell very affordable produce,” he said.
Sharmaine said they didn’t move to Rarotonga to get rich.
“Money isn’t everything; we came here for the lifestyle.”
The Ariki Culture Café opens seven days a week from 7am-4pm, and is located opposite Crown Beach Resort in Arorangi.