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Small shop with some big ideas

Monday June 12, 2017 Written by Published in Local
Eitiare Watson (left) and Mary Kairua (right) at Kairua’s new shop, the Matchbox, in Nikao 17060124 Eitiare Watson (left) and Mary Kairua (right) at Kairua’s new shop, the Matchbox, in Nikao 17060124

A Nikao resident has made turning the big “five-oh” an enjoyable event, giving herself a very different gift in the form of her own standalone shop.


Mary Kairua, who runs a daycare centre on the back road in Nikao opened, “Matchbox” two weeks ago. And she has clearly found her passion in life, because she says she loves everything about it.

“I had been thinking about starting up my own little shop for a while, and then one day I was just looking at all the wasted space I had in the backyard and thought ‘why not?’

“So a few of the boys built this for me (gesturing to the small shed), I painted it and ‘voila’,” Kairua said.

She originally struggled to come up with a suitable name for her new venture. However, one night she said she woke up at 2am and the idea had come to her: “Matchbox”.

“It really is like a little/big matchbox,” she said, laughing.

The vibrantly decorated shed, though small, displays a multitude of products, in a range of sizes and colours.

Kairua prides herself on making sure each product is handmade and no two items are exactly the same.

The Nikao resident is also looking at creating baskets, laptop cases and bags that have elements of both Cook Islands and European culture – a concept Kairua says is not often found on Rarotonga.

“Everything here (at the Matchbox) is a little different and that’s how I like it.”

Selling sheets and covers for different bed sizes, pillow cases, bags made out of recycled jeans, home décor items, kikau brooms and other objects made from coconut trees, Matchbox has a large variety of items that Kairua believes will catch the eye of tourists and locals alike.

She’s doing it all with the after-school help of 10-year-old Apii Nikao student, Eitiare Watson and says she has already had many people stop by. And in the future, she’s looking forward to seeing many more people looking through her distinctively styled shop.

Matchbox is located in Nikao, on the first road after the Cook Islands Christian Church building.

“You can’t miss it, it’s on your right hand side, it looks like a small orange shed, or a gigantic orange matchbox,” Kairua said, with a big smile spread across her face.

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