A variety of colourful pareu (sarong) can be found throughout stores, alongside mini-markets, as well as the main Punanga Nui Market on Rarotonga. The are many useful pareu ties to change your casual sarong wear to an outfit for a special occasion. Several local women craft their own artistic pareu creations, many also practice the craft of hand-stitched Tivaevae quilts.
Christian missionaries introduced fabric quilt-making more than one hundred years ago. Tivaevae are deeply treasured hand-stitched heirlooms which portray the artistic talent of our Cook Island women. Hand-stitched Tivaevae, many of which represent the local colourful flowers, can be found on display in galleries and shops and also at the Punanga Nui Market as not many of them are available for sale.
The Cook Islands is blessed with many fragrant and exotic flowers, and these are used daily for personal adornment and to grace homes and buildings. Upon arrival visitors are customarily adorned with a flower neck garland or 'ei kaki' in Cook Islands Maori. Blooms of virtually every shape and colour are also used to create flower head crowns or 'ei katu', which many local women wear on special occasions. The 'Tiare Maori' flower, which is the national flower of the Cook Islands, is widely used in making both creations.