Rahui Tautape Samson is passionate about Cook Islands culture and a pillar of the Cook Islands community in Aotearoa. CANDICE LUKE/ 24012370
Multi-talented Cook Islander Tautape Samson wears many hats. Samson is known worldwide as a comedian, a dance tutor, costume designer, and a music artist alongside his siblings in Samson Squad. Candice Luke reports.
Recapping 2023, the south
Auckland local, also known as Papa Spoila, is proud to enter his 21st
year serving Cook Islands culture.
Returning to the islands with
his partner for the holiday season, he reflected on his work over the last
year, and looked forward to tapping into a new path of service this year.
“We spent a week in Aitutaki
enjoying time with friends and family. We got to be part of the koni raoni. And
there was a group from the Tokoroa Cook Islands community that we went around
Samson enjoyed being home in the
heat and taking the time to slow down and un-wind.
The rest was welcome as it has
been a hectic 2023 for the social media star, amassing 401,000 followers on his
Instagram dance platform, Hupahupa with Tautape (HWT). He stays true to the Samson Squad motto:
“Cook Islands to the world”, starting online classes last year.
“I had to get used to teaching
an online audience, not just here but internationally. There are people from
all over the world wanting to learn our Cook Islands culture and dance. But I
really love connecting our people, especially our kids, back to their
“I wanted to give them a feeling
of what the adults go through with Te Maeva Nui.”
An all-rounder in the culture,
Samson is also a skilled costume designer with 20 years of experience in Cook
Islands and Pacific culture. He wanted students to get a taste of what the
adults experience in competitions.
“We had the lights, the stage,
full costumes from top to bottom. It prepared them for what they can expect
when they get older.”
Samson invests his talents and
teachings into young people as “they are the future”.
“They hold a lot of power and
wisdom. Whenever we can teach them our culture it’s a blessing. If you’re given
a talent, don’t hold it. Teach those who are eager to learn.”
He uses comedy to teach te reo
Māori Kūki ‘Airani to Māori raised overseas, through his page Katakata with Me.
“The comedy helps me to connect
to them. I try to keep the language open using Māori and English because people
are still learning.”
When Cook Islanders away from
the ipukarea watch his videos, they see their family in the characters that
Samson portrays, from the gossiping mama to the serious papa.
“I’ve had so many Kūkis,
especially overseas, that are trying to reconnect to their families. It’s been
such a blessing to have a platform where I can make people laugh but at the
same time those who are not connected to the reo can learn a little bit
Papa Spoila has a long list of
goals to achieve this year: “I want to give more time to help our community. I
do my things, Katakata and dancing, but I feel like it’s not enough. There’s
more that I can do.”
He says there are parts of the
Cook Islands community that need more attention for the health and wellbeing of
“A big one for me is mental
health. I want to just try and go out in support of as many people as I can. Do
good deeds, not to please myself, but to do the best that I can for our
Hupahupa with Tautape children’s
dance classes are run without financial support. To help the cause, head to
Samson’s Instagram page to connect: @hupahupawithtautape.