Pooling resources: Mai’i Central

Saturday August 10, 2019 Written by Published in Hot on the Rock
Mai’i restaurant and bar staff with Paavo Mustonen (first left), Oscar Namanu, Mata Cork and Linmar with Tara Kauvai-Mustonen. 19080901 Mai’i restaurant and bar staff with Paavo Mustonen (first left), Oscar Namanu, Mata Cork and Linmar with Tara Kauvai-Mustonen. 19080901

One evening Paavo Mustonen and wife Tara Kauvai-Mustonen sat at home, watching tourists walking, biking or driving to the Muri Night Market to get something to drink or eat, and to enjoy a night out with family.

An idea arose at the back of their minds: “Why not tap into something that will divert them here?”

Not only did they want to attract tourists but they wanted to keep the scenery as environmentally-friendly as possible.

After eight weeks of planning and constructing, their plans for ‘Mai’i Central’ were completed.

Tara kept the surroundings of her family land, where she was raised watching her mum work on her gardens untouched and undamaged as possible.

Paavo, a builder’s son, worked to ensure the building was both cosy and breath-taking.

And so it was.

Just as you drive out of Muri towards Titikaveka, Mai’i Central stands tall behind the stone wall garden, with a frangipani tree that Tara recalls as one of her favourite places as a child.

“We wanted to go rustic, bringing in a country kind of feeling, blending into the environment that surrounds around us.

“The tipani tree, this is where I grew up, so we tried to keep it, and kept the stone wall garden that has been here for many years, mum’s garden, we kept it just to have that rustic look.”

With the surroundings, came the idea of having five slots on the building and the Mustonen’s have given these slots out to young entrepreneurs like Vili’s burger.

The others are a bistro, Rarotongan Rentals and their very own Mai’i Restaurant and Bar, where they have installed Sky TV for sports fans and are building a swimming pool for customers to use.

How did the idea of the building come about? Tara saw a need to encourage young entrepreneurs and tap into what their views were for the tourism industry.

And having travelled around Europe, Paavo realised locals, as well as tourists, needed somewhere to go. “I saw how important it is to create an environment for people to chill and relax after work.”

The couple, who have three young daughters, also have their own construction company – so they built Mai’i on their own terms. They also own Mai’i Villa Apartments.

Tara, who has been singing and playing gigs around hotels, plans to provide some entertainment at their bar in the near future.

They acknowledge God for His courage and blessings saying: “There were a lot of hurdles, speed bumps during the project, without his direction and strength, we wouldn’t be here. We give him the glory; we could not have done it without him.”

Passionate about their own business, the Mustonens are excited to encourage other young entrepreneurs to chase their dreams.

“A lot of people pull each other down but if they want to talk to anyone or want advice, come and see us, we are a young couple, we can tell them the struggles we went through,” Tara says.

“It’s about lifting each other up. I think there is so much to go around. We are not university graduates, we are just people with passion and common sense, we are here.”

Leave a comment