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New chapter unfolds for Bounty Bookshop

Tuesday 16 January 2024 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Business, National


New chapter unfolds for Bounty Bookshop
Rani Ponini, a longtime employee at the Bounty Bookshop is “excited” they have found new premises. MELINA ETCHES/23011512

In the heart of Avarua, the iconic Bounty Bookshop and Pacific Supplies embarks on an exciting new chapter.

For two decades, the establishment filled the Ministry of Finance and Economic Management (MFEM) building with literary bliss. Now, it has embarked on a new chapter, finding a vibrant home on the main strip, right next to Cook Islands Tourism.

Bounty Bookshop and Pacific Supplies, well-known fixtures on Rarotonga, have been selling books, stationery, and packaging for around 50 years.

This significant relocation not only marks a physical change but also symbolises the persistent presence of literature and the dedication of its hard-working staff.

“It’s exciting for us,” says Moana Tauira (nee Chitty), who runs the family business with her sister Dawn Pureau (nee Chitty).

Since Covid, business hasn’t been good.

Tauira said they had been told that when they had to leave the MFEM building, it would be the end, with no place to go and no choice but to close down.

“But you know, have faith and with God by your side … We all said, all our staff said ‘no we are not going to close’ so I started looking for space last year to rent around town,” said Tauira.

She acknowledged the assistance they had received from the Cook Islands Investment Corporation (CIIC) who painted and prepared the building.

“Things started falling into place, we were so excited,” said Tauira.

The staff started moving stock into the new premises in December.

“We have the stationery supplies in the front shop and craft things and the rest will be in here (the old Banana court).

“Many people have popped in to say congratulations.

“We really appreciate the help we have received.”

Pacific Supplies was established by Brian and Nooroa Chitty in Arorangi. They now reside in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Brian Chitty arrived to Rarotonga in the 60s when was in his 20s working as a lecturer at Teachers Training College. He later moved to the Curriculum Department which was based at the Nikao Side School.

Chitty also ran an afterschool Christian group.

The business had humble beginnings, starting from the family sitting room.

He started selling encyclopedias and soon after people asked him to bring in Christian literature.

In earlier years, the Pacific Supplies and Bounty Bookshop were always housed separately. The first Bounty Bookshop shop was located in the old Scott & Watson Gallery (which has been torn down) and was nicknamed the “yellow submarine” because of its narrow shape.

The bookshop then moved into Cooks Corner and the Warehouse was based in Panama.

When the new Bank of the Cook Islands (BCI) building was completed in town, Bounty Bookshop moved into its new mall area and was located downstairs next to ANZ.

The bookshop moved back to Cooks Corner when renovations were being undertaken.

In the late 90s, the Bounty Bookshop and warehouse moved into the Ministry of Finance and Economic Management building, where they have operated ever since.

“When we moved to the MFEM building we merged all the shops together under one roof,” said Tauira.

Pacific Supplies has also taken on the large space inside the old Banana Court next door. Staff are still working through sorting out shelves and supplies.