The Cook Islands are renowned for their beautiful cultured black pearls.  One of the businesses, McLeod Pearls of Manihiki, will be attending the Pacific Trade Invest NZ, Path to Market Auckland 2019 programme and one-day showcase at The Cloud on Saturday, April 6.

McLeod Pearls’ work platform in Manihiki in the Cook Islands.

McLeod Pearls of Manihiki is family owned and operated. It has been producing Cook Islands Cultured Black Pearls since 1989 when Dad George McLeod asked two of his children if they wanted to be pearl farmers.  He had taken the family to New Zealand for education but took them back to Manihiki to start pearl farming.

Today, it is currently co-owned and managed by brother John and sister Apii since George’s passing in 2007.

John manages and works the pearl farm located on Manihiki, while Apii manages the pearl shop & marketing side on the main Island of Rarotonga.

Manihiki is the heart of the cultured pearl industry in the Cook Islands.  Located in the remote islands over a thousand kilometres north of the main island of Rarotonga.

The family own a retail outlet  in Rarotonga, McLeod Pearls and rent the Pearl Hut at the Punanga Nui Markets.

“Our pearls are of excellent colour and lustre, a precious gift for that special someone that will last a time time,” Ms McLeod says.

Typical of many island businesses, Ms McLeod wears many hats.

She is one of the Cook Islands ‘pearl technicians’ and was also once a pearl diver. As a pearl technician she implants the tissue into the pearl to create a cultured pearl. She is also a jeweller, mounting the pearls into the jewellery settings that could be gold or silver depending on the pearl. But the prices for silver jewellery are more affordable for locals and tourists she said in an online interview for Moment in Time, earlier in January.

Through the PTI NZ they hope to generate more interest in their beautiful pearl jewellery and generate export orders.

Cook Islands pearls are cultured to develop to sizes between 9 and 14 millimetres.  The point of origin and proof of authenticity for exported pearls is guaranteed and certified by the Cook Islands Pearl Authority (CIPA).

For more information please contact Ian Furlong, Trade Development Manager on

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