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An Aitutakian’s guide for returning family

Monday 18 December 2023 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Features, Go Local, National, Travel, Weekend

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An Aitutakian’s guide for returning family
Linda Ruamoana of Aitutaki has posted a list of ‘My Top 10 travelling tips to Aitutaki that no one asked for’ online, which has been well received. SUPPLIED/23121501

Aitutaki local Linda Ruamoana shares 10 tips for returning Cook Islanders/Aitutakian families visiting the island, urging them to be mindful of the island’s limited resources and customs.

Ruamoana posted a list of “My Top 10 travelling tips to Aitutaki that no one asked for” online; aiming to kindly remind returning Cook Islanders/Aitutakian families visiting the island what to expect, “so that we can all have a good time, have enough bread to eat and water to share when the island literally doubles in population”.

Her post was well received by locals and Cook Islanders living overseas and it has been shared over 100 times.

In 2019, Ruamoana moved to Aitutaki from Aotearoa New Zealand with her husband Rua Ruamoana to raise their four children and to take care of her parents.

“The simple island living exceeds all the luxuries of the fast-paced world in Aotearoa. We made the best decision moving here,” she said.

Here’s Ruamoana’s “Top 10 travelling tips to Aitutaki that no one asked for”.

10. Don’t bring your flash expensive heavy cotton or denim clothes – in our climate these are too hot to wear, only the Vaipae girls can handle wearing jeans to the clubs.

9. Bring repellent and sunblock. I know, you’ve lived here before and you don’t get bitten, but you will. And wear sunblock, you have come from polluted countries that block the sun light so yes, the sun here is stronger and closer to you and you will get burnt.

8. Most bar bread (varaoa pa) is available from Sunday to Friday, and sliced Rirei’s bread from Monday to Saturday. Get up early, I mean 6am early, to get your bread. Neibaa bread on Sunday mornings sells out quick. Just buy enough for your home, some of us sleep in, please think of us.

7. Bring with you an insulated reusable drink bottle so you always have cold water at hand because you’ll get thirsty, go shop, see the price of our water and have a heart attack. If in Raro, go to Te Ipukarea Society office (in Taputapuatea, Tupapa) and buy their cool reusable bottles then you’ll have something useful and memorable to take back with you.

6. If your family here on the island share their things with you to borrow, please treasure them with all your heart – that bike, wheelbarrow or grasscutter they gave you to use was bought by someone who more than likely earns $10 an hour.

5. Yes, we all know each other on the island but no, that doesn’t mean we can get you a free trip on the cruise or a free island night or free rental vehicles. Come willing to spend your money, it is the best way to support our local businesses and families. Treat yourself to a few nights in our resorts or accommodation units if you can. There are not many tourists who travel this time of year and you might get a deal, and you may as well stay in some of the Pacific’s most highly ranked places while you are here.

4. Hang out with our children and mapu (youth), on the sports fields, at the beach, or at the village halls. Play games with them, sing with them, teach them dances and they’ll teach you TikTok’s. The best way to experience this island is through the eyes of our children … don’t be a creep, and if they’re being disrespectful, set them straight.

3. Help our elders. So many of our pa metua live here on their own so their homes easily become over cluttered and their grounds over grown. Make connections with our Mama’s and Papa’s and build up a safe relationship with them where they feel willing to accept your offer to help them tidy up. Do so in a respectful way where they don’t feel like they have to repay you, because chances are they can’t.

2. Don’t go in the shops and complain out loud about the prices of our goodies, just say it in your head. Our businesses are not high rollers like the Coles and Countdown’s of the world. They are owned by ordinary people who work super hard to import goods for our enjoyment. We also don’t have fast food chains ... so lower your waiting time expectations when you order food.

And drum roll please for number one.

1. Aitutaki has a water issue. Keep your showers short and sweet. Don’t leave taps running when brushing your teeth. When you shower, rinse your whole body under water, turn off tap, lather up with soap then turn the water back on and wash off. Thanks to Atira who taught our household this last tip to help us preserve our water.

“To our families coming home, have an enjoyable trip, it is always nice for us to drive past new faces. Meitaka Atupaka,” Ruamoana said.