E Kete: Baskets from the Cook Islands

Auckland War Memorial Museum

In celebration of Cook Islands language week 2016, we installed three kete or baskets from the southern Cook Islands in our Te Kākano display case. Piri Marearai selected the works and wrote both the English and Cook Islands labels.

The people of Mangaia from the southern Cook Islands call these baskets kete tataī ta‘i (single-handle baskets) or kete tataī rua (two-handle baskets).
This kete tataī ta‘i is made from pandanus, dye and cotton thread.
E kapiki ana te iti tangata Mangaia i teia tu kete e ko te kete tataī ta‘i. Te vai ra te kete tataī rua.
Kete tataī ta‘i are used to carry lightweight objects like combs, necklaces, and one or two fruits. Kete tataī rua can carry heavier objects.
E taangaanga iāna teia kete no te apai i te au apinga mamangika mei te peru, te ei e te vai atura.
The brown fibre on the two kete tataī ta‘i is from a special variety of pandanus called ‘ara amoa (Pandanus whitmeeanus), which is said to come from Sāmoa. It becomes a dark brown colour when dried. The lighter coloured raū ‘ara (Pandanus spurius) is used for the kete tataī rua. The red coloured overlay is fibre from pūraka or swamp taro plant (Cyrtosperma merkusii).
Ko te akamanea muramura i runga i teia kete e pakiri moko puraka teia tei ta kara ia ki te muramura. Ko te akamanea karaea to‘u e ‘ara amoa teia.
The diamond motifs on the three baskets are commonly used by Cook Islands women. They are symbolic of the importance of looking after one’s own family with the sharp edges representing tools/weapons and the square motifs representing ownership.
Ko te akairo ta tatau taimana e taangaanga putuputu iana teia e te vaine tini ei akairo no ta ratou akaperepere i to ratou kopu tangata. E akairo teia no ta ratou au apinga angaanga e te au apinga paruru i to ratou kopu tangata. Ko te ta tatau pi‘api‘a e ‘akairo no te aūa ei koropini i te kopu tangata.
This kete tataī rua is made from pandanus, red dye and swamp taro plant fibre.
Credits: Story

Marearai, Piri. E Kete: Baskets from the Cook Islands. Auckland War Memorial Museum - Tāmaki Paenga Hira. First published: 28 July 2016. Updated: 1 September 2016.

Credits: All media
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