Ngaa Kitai Taria from the Aitutaki Punarei Culture Centre was kind enough to play host during our stay. Aitutaki born and bred, and dedicating his life to preserving the tradition heritage of the Cook Islands, here's what he says about island life...

Tell us about yourself and what it was like growing up on the islands?
My name is Ngaa kitai Taria, I grew up with my grand mama & papa. I have fruitful memories growing up on the island of Aitutaki, lives of the land every day, listening to my grand parent story of their life and ensuring me that life is not perfect and if your hands are dirty from sun rise to sunset you will survive. during my growing up days it was challenging no material thing like I have today, but those experience that I had was memorable, I will never forget because those are the best days of my life.

How is the culture of Aitutaki different to Rarotonga?
Firstly the language are not same as our dialect, also legends and traditional culture materials.

What do you love about the island?
Small peaceful and the closeness of the families which look after each other everyday. It’s a place where you can find peace in your self and clear understanding. Nature has so much extreme energy to share with humanity.

Favorite thing to when you're not showing visitors around the island?

We have the best lagoon in the Cook Islands. I love fishing with my traditional spear standing quietly on the reef with water just above your ankle waiting patiently for the milky water to clear… then spear my fish, man what feeling when you catch one! Not forgetting my culture event is my passion.

Three must do activities?
1. Take an interactive Culture Tour. Visitors can do traditional things like weaving, play sports, and eat from earth oven.
2. Water activities
3. Visitors must enjoy a Cultural Island night, but please make sure it the real deal. You must find the real traditional show

Tell us a little about the local cuisine and customs...
We love our papaw and breadfruit salad and umu food (Earth oven food) spinach (rukau)

Where should we stay?
Lots of motels and resorts to choose from but, if you have family or a larger group, find a house! It’s way cheaper, $400 to $500 a week

Best local place to eat?
Tupuna cafe, Koru cafe

Aside from the basics (passport, swimwear), what three items must we bring for our visit?

sun block, camera and insect repellent!

How can we support the locals uphold tradition and take care of the islands?
Buy only local products and be honest with communication about the environment of the Island. Example - if there is not enough trees, visitors can educate locals to keep the place real and a friendly environment

How do we say thank you in Rarotongan?
Meitaki Maata (Aitutaki) - Meitaki Atupaka

Thanks to Cook Islands Tourism and the Aitutaki Lagoon Resort, we're giving you the chance to win a trip for you and a friend to Aitutaki! Enter here.