Getting a taste of Cook Islands’ newest family-friendly nightlife

Thursday November 14, 2019 Written by Published in Local
Bruce Smith serving customers at the Sweet AZ stall. 19110811 Bruce Smith serving customers at the Sweet AZ stall. 19110811


First Muri, then Tupapa, now Punanga Nui. The global popularity of night markets is catching on here. The newest night market is on in town tonight.



Entranced and bemused, sweet-toothed children admire the enticing wares at the Sweet AZ stall. Rocky Road, Snickers, Tropical …

Bruce Smith, already a veteran of the Tupapa night market on Fridays, is now selling his sweet treats at the new Punanga Nui night market on Thursdays. The range of pie names confuses the spellbound kids, and they ask Smith to repeat the flavours.

Smith’s Sweet AZ menu continues: luscious lemon tarts, custard squares, chocolate mud cake, rainbow cupcakes and an English classic better identified with northern winters than southern summers, the warm sticky date pudding with butterscotch sauce and ice cream.

The Punanga Nui night market provides a wonderful choice of dinner and dessert options, and should leave no one ever wondering what to have for dinner on a Thursday night. It’s scheduled to avoid clashing with the Muri and Tupapa markets.

Since its opening in October, Punanga Nui night market has brought together a number of tourists, visitors, foreign workers and locals to share in mouth-watering dishes.

A Cook Islands Visitor Survey previously found that 84 per cent of tourists visited a local market and 69 per cent attended island night and feast events – so there’s a big opening for night markets.

Tourists were split on how good their food and drink experience was – some said it was the best thing about Cook Islands, some said it was the worst – so that’s been an incentive to improve the food offering in recent years.

On Thursday nights, Cook Islands mamas happily cook and prepare favourite local dishes such as ika mata, taro, rukau, curries and barbecue food.

Cousins Taa and Maya Pera were among those selling food at the night market.   Until last Thursday the cousins were unaware of the night market. Now they’re in business there.

They find the creativity and idea behind the night market to be good for their business. The pair were selling teriyaki chicken at their stall.

Apart from food, Raukura Ellison of Beauty Products has been promoting her beauty products.

Ellison says last week was her fourth Thursday at the market and business has picked up and it does get busy.

The school teacher, with her sister Rochelle Ellison Lupena, create their own natural skincare products such as coconut and mango body butter and other eco-friendly products, that they sell at the night market.


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