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Honouring her cultural heritage

Saturday 25 May 2024 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Culture, Features, Go Local, National

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Honouring her cultural heritage
Cook Islander Tiana Echegaray, a 2024 Olympic Games boxing representative for Australia. AUSTRALIAN OLYMPIC COMMITTEE/24052467

To honour her cultural heritage, rising elite athlete and Cook Islander Tiana Baker Echegaray has chosen a uniquely designed and Polynesian-inspired logo for her promotional apparel.

The talented boxer is poised to make her mark on the world stage representing Australia in the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris to be held from July 26 to August 11.

Echegaray visited the island of Mauke in December 2023 for the first time where she made a deep meaningful connection to her roots.

“It was a very emotional time for her,” says her mother Tongia Baker-Mato.

The unique logo has captured the attention of both the local community and the global sporting arena.

Baker-Mato, her family, and supporters in Rarotonga have rallied together to support Echegaray’s dream and will be offering a special collection of the uniquely designed t-shirts at the Punanga Nui Market this morning.

Also boosting and promoting Echegaray’s Olympic dream from Rarotonga are her Cook Islands sponsors Sione Vili, owner of Vili’s Burgers, Tuaine “Katu” Teiti, and campaign organisers Joshua Baker and Mata Manu.

It took local artist Teiti nearly three months to complete the one-of-a-kind logo.


Supporters of Cook Islander Tiana Echegaray, a 2024 Olympic Games boxing representative for Australia. From left: Mii Upu, Mata Manu, William Rani, Bernice Manarangi, Mrs Baker and Tongia Baker-Mato. MELINA ETCHES/24052445

Originally, he started with boxing gloves, but Echegaray had other ideas.

“She knew what she wanted – the hand wrap or wrist wrap used by boxers as the logo instead,” said Teiti, who communicated with Echegaray in Australia via Messenger.

His difficulty was creating the Polynesian designs inside the wraps.

“It was frustrating for me and I nearly signed up for a class for the particular part to just finish this design, but it made me get to know my programme more.”

Teiti said he continued playing around with his programme until he woke one morning with a lightbulb moment and everything worked out.

“A lot of work and detail has gone into this design. I’m proud of her journey and wish her all the best for the Olympics,” said Teiti.

Baker-Mato says her daughter is very particular and driven.

“She knows exactly what she wants and how she wants things to be done,” she said.

“I’m so proud of her, she is so mentally focused.”

Baker-Mato said when the logo was completed, she was emotional.

“It was so well done, looking at the image it looked like her ancestors were wrapping around her to give her strength…

“We received comments saying that this particular design is a collector’s item.

“We quickly sold out of her promotion gear in Sydney with orders from around the globe.

“Tiana and I are very grateful to Katu and Vili for their sponsorship and everyone who has supported her journey.”

They will be selling t-shirts for $50 each or muscle singlets for $30 at the Punanga Nui Market this morning at the stage area between 8am and 12pm. Contact 58077 to place your orders.