Overcoming Pandemic with New Book in Cook Islands

There was an interesting article in the Cook Islands News and written by Katrina Tanirau that I would like to share. It was about how a local storyteller put energy into a new book to overcome isolation during the pandemic. 

Being away from his grandchildren when the borders closed earlier this year, Tuhe Piho decided to redirect his energy and put his stories to print. His first book, ‘Magical Cook Islands Sunrise,’ written in both Cook Islands Maori and English was the result. 

People of the Pacific are renowned for their magical storytelling abilities, a tradition that has been passed down through many generations.

Tuhe Piho is no exception. A beacon of hope and happiness, he has wowed people from around the world with his amazing tales while out in Ava’avaroa Passage swimming with turtles alongside his daughter, well-known photographer Charlotte.

Born on the island of Rakahanga, at the age of five, his father took him and his brother to Dunedin, New Zealand. “We would have been the first Cook Islanders to settle in Dunedin,” he said. “I am grateful to have been educated at Kings High School and then to have gone on to complete a degree at Otago University.”

After completing training at Dunedin Teachers’ College, Piho worked as a secondary school teacher for 30 years. He soon learned that he had a gift when it came to storytelling and loved incorporating storytelling into his teaching lessons.

With this home island paradise beckoning, Piho returned to Rarotonga in 2008, initially balancing teaching, running a stall at the Punanga Nui Market and supporting his daughter Charlotte’s Wellbeing Retreats. “I enjoyed continuing to share stories of our island, and it was heart-warming observing the energy and understanding it gave to others,” he said.

With the closing of the borders this year, Piho decided to redirect some of his time and energy to put his stories to print. “Being distanced from my grandchildren I wanted to be able to share stories with them from afar,” he said. 

His first book. ‘Magical Cook Islands Sunrise’, illustrated by Gonzalo Aldana, Piho said will make “you and your grandchild very happy.” Piho said at the end of the day, we are all children, so this book caters for all ages.

Visitors to Rarotonga, often complain about the noisy roosters, but finding out what it means when you don’t hear them will change this, he said. Through the book, he wants to help people see the positive in not only roosters, but all things. “Learning how nature feeds our souls with spectacular sunrises, will give more purpose to children when experiencing a sunrise. The book reminds us to always be grateful for nature and most importantly people that care for us.”

Most importantly Piho wrote ‘Magical Cook Islands Sunrise’ for his two-year-old grandson Carter who is based in New Zealand. “I wanted him to be able to experience a bit of the magic the Cook Islands offers. While also teaching him the importance of being grateful,” he said. “The book has also been written in Cook Island Maori, so that my New Zealand born grandchildren can learn how to speak their grandfather’s and our ancestors’ native tongue.”

The book can be ordered online at charlottepiho.com.

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