COOK ISLANDS CULTURE
Views key elements of Cook Islands culture from within: as it is, as it was and as it may become, includes language, religion, rites of passage, oral tradition, dance, song, chant, drama, carving, painting, weaving, and tattoos. Many new aspects of Cook Islands are revealed such as elements of the changing political culture, the impact of corporate culture, the cultural impact of inter-cultural marriage, the pattern of violence in the culture, the new wave of over 300 voluntary organizations which supplement the services formerly supplied by families, clans and tribes, and then also by government and commerce. "Highly recommended". Institute of Pacific Studies, Rarotonga, 2003. First edition; 370 pages, index; black and white photos; pictorial cardcover; mint condition (brand new, just released). ISBN 982 02 0348 1 Published February 2003
Culture has many faces. People are most aware of the creative arts - dance, song, chant, drama, carving, painting, weaving, tattoo, oral tradition and written literature. It is also about sports and games, as well as other forms of expression such as the symbols of national identity.
Other more basic and equally imported aspects of culture are also touched on, including language, religion, rights of passage, personality and culture, and the cultural context of food.
Many new aspects of Cook Islands culture are revealed, such as elements of the changing political culture, the growing impact of corporate culture, the cultural impact of extensive inter-cultural marriage, the place and patterns of crime and violence in the culture, the new wave of over three hundred voluntary organizations which supplement the services formerly supplied by families, clans and tribes, and then for the past 100 years and more by government, churches or commerce.
As well as case studies of culture on particular islands, the book also looks to the evolution of Cook Island culture in the wider world, as most Cook Islanders (85 per cent live in Australia, New Zealand, U.S.A. and elsewhere. The book ends by the chapter by the authors jointly on possible, probable and plausible futures for the rich and vibrant culture of the Cook Islands.
This book does not describe "the" Cook Islands culture or "true" Cook Islands culture, for neither ever existed. In every country, culture differs in the details of its practice for every individual. It is dynamic and subject to constant individual and community interpretation and reinterpretation. What distinguishes one culture from another is not only the unique ways of doing things, but also the core values. These are illustrated in how we allocate our time to various activities, and the emphasis we give to accumulation of things and money as compared to their distribution. Thus culture is visible in the complex patterns of priority we give to relationships but blood, marriage or affiliation, as against relations by contract, law or choice, and a range of other contrasting emphasis that we find between cultures despite differences between individuals.
Nor does the book cover every aspect and perspective, for culture permeates all of life. Its variations are endless.
However, the book does present insider perspectives of many aspects of this vibrant, living culture, written by those deeply involved in what they write about. Hopefully, this will be one of many publications, by many authors, on the rich and stimulating culture of the Cook Islands as it evolves its unique forms and values.
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