Whilst wandering in the Cook Islands – I came across a local paper, advertising that one of the masters of Cook Island drumming (now based in Hawai’i) was going to be giving a lecture. Fortunately I was allowed to sit in on the workshop and got to know some of the attendees. One drummer, Mark was a government worker and he invited me to his local drum and dance group rehearsals.
He was a mine of information about the islands and how things were slowly changing due to the influx of more and more tourists. One such story explained the cultural mindset of his people. When tourism grew the governmental leaders of all the islands came together to discuss the possibilities of supplying Raratonga (the main tourist destination) with food from the outlying islands. Extra supplies were being flown in from New Zealand, Australia and America, which was putting all the prices up for the local people. If they could supply the needs in house, then prices could be kept at a reasonable price for the He joked that you could wake up each day, shoot a hog and just eat one leg and there would still be plenty for everyone. Apparently the islands were blessed with plenty of fruits, fish and wild boar. There was one proviso if this was to work, no island time, supplies had to be provided daily and on time! Well the leaders went back to their people and for a couple of weeks everything seemed to be going fine. However the third week everything slowed down and the fourth week it stopped all together. The leaders were called back for a meeting. When asked what was happening, one leader replied “We have one question – what are we going to do with all this extra money?” It had taken them just 4 weeks to realize that they had enough. They had everything they needed for a good life and didn’t need anything else.