"I really love Mauke because it's quiet, very peaceful and the lifestyle  is laid back and slow.  There are no flashing lights and fancy tall buildings.  It's all natural and everything is basically there.   All a person needs...is to know how to live off the land and sea and all that it provides."

These are the words of Marcel Teraimana Tua who's lived most of his life in Mauke, where many of his family still live.   At the time he sent me these photos, he was  studying in New Zealand and aiming to use his studies to help his fellow islanders.  All of the pictures on this page are his and I'm grateful for his permission to share them with you.   Not only are they superb photographs, they also capture the beauty and essense of the Cook Islands people - something I fell in love with on my first visit to the islands.  

Enjoying life on Mauke
The people of Mauke celebrate the joy of living, as Marcel explains about the picture on the left:

"Occassions such as this are always fun...mamas singing and entertaining guests, with long tables of food prepared for people to eat.   The mamas beating the drum and strumming on the guitar with their head eis (leis)... it was just all beautiful, the smiling faces and swaying hips...all just wonderful to be a part of"
Religion is important to Maukeans
Religion is very important to Cook Islanders and in Mauke, the majority of people are Roman Catholics.  "Pure" means to pray or prayer.   Pictured right are dancers from Kimiangatau village performing during the centenary celebrations of the Catholic religion on Mauke
Kimiangatau village dancers
Marcel says: "Going to church was always good for us, our elders would say, and I must agree.  It has helped me spiritually gain confidence in what I can achieve for myself, and to cope with the modern world at large"

Above (left to right): Plantations provide food for island familes,  Some of Marcel's colourful cousins,
Fishing in the harbour - part of Maukean lifestyle
St. Mary's School celebrations 1
Children enjoying the celebrations
Centenary celebrations of St. Mary's School, Tamariki
The teachers are nuns from the order of Our Lady of Nazareth  which was founded in Fiji

MEET MARCEL'S FAMILY...well, some of them anyway
Children playing
Digging up sweet potatos
Coconut husking
Marcel's  little cousin swimming with friends at Mauke harbour.  Jumping from the concrete wall into the water is a popular pastime for children.
One of Marcel's bigger cousins husking coconuts.  Islanders make coconut cream to mix with their food
Marcel says: "The airport is a place to see new people and greet friends, family and tourists.  It's also a place where you see lots of eis -  head eis and neck eis.  The fragrance of the flowers and plants of the island just put you into a dreamy trance.  It's all so awesome.   Leaving Mauke was always hard for me but I  keep in mind that I will always be back."

Eis or leis are made from the maire plant.   Marcel's Aunty holds a bunch of stems.  They're exported to Hawaii  providing useful income

Marcel's aunty digging kumara (sweet potato) to cook and eat at home.   Planting and fishing are part of a typical Maukean lifestyle, and are all about providing food for the family.
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St.Mary's school, Tamariki, Mauke
Mauke airport