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Authenticity of culture promoted in tourism industry questioned

Monday 5 December 2022 | Written by Losirene Lacanivalu | Published in Culture, National

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Authenticity of culture promoted in tourism industry questioned
Businesswoman and cultural expert Jackie Tuara. 22113008

Businesswoman and cultural expert Jackie Tuara questioned the authenticity of the Cook Islands culture being promoted in the tourism industry.

Speaking at the Cook Islands National Feminist Forum held at The Edgewater Resort and Spa last week, Tuara said most cultural performances were not showcasing the true Cook Islands culture.

She questioned if showcasing Cook Islands culture to visitors was only for financial gain.

“Think about the island night shows, what you love about it, think about the dancers, costumes. For me since the borders opened, one thing that stood out is that I see these island night markets and I think is that Cook Islands culture,” said Tuara.

Giving an example, she said fire dancing was not part of Cook Islands culture, “it’s Samoan”.

“Children should be taught and told when they are being taught something that is not Cook Islands culture."

Tuara said there was nothing wrong with teaching and promoting another culture but people must be told where these cultural practices come from.

“Are we becoming a Pacific culture? I think its brilliant our children are learning … but children should be taught where that art is from if it’s not Cook Islands.”

She said one’s cultural identity is important and links people to families and ancestors.

Ministry of Cultural Development’s Ngatuaine Maui, who participated at the event, pointed out with local dance teams, females were using too much make up including eyelashes, dark lipsticks and foundations.

Maui said performing art groups needed to see if they were going too far with development, if it was the Cook Islands way and if they needed to put a brake on it.

Tuara said if one was teaching Cook Islands culture then they must teach performers that beauty comes from within.