This year, Pacific Trade Invest (PTI) New Zealand partnered with the Business Trade & Investment Board (BTIB) from the Cook Islands to deliver an internship programme in New Zealand with the aim of developing a better understanding for the New Zealand market for exports from the Cook Islands.

Mona Taio

BTIB’s Trade Marketing Officer, Mona Taio worked with the PTI NZ team for a period of two weeks, which coincided with PTI’s participation at the New Zealand Spring Gift and Homeware Fair 2017.

The internship programme is focused on understanding the New Zealand market; identifying opportunities for Cook Island products and strengthening the partnership between PTI and BTIB.

Pacific Periscope interviewed Ms Taio who described the internship as “Challenging and eye-opening.”

Her participation at the Spring Homeware and Gift Fair and meetings with New Zealand importers and retailers were key highlights for Ms Taio.

Ms Taio said being at the Gift Fair and site visits to retail shops and importers gave her a better understanding of the New Zealand market, export requirements and product packaging and labelling.

One of the issues back home in the Cook Islands was helping the local ‘Mamas’ to improve the packaging and content labelling on products being sold locally to tourists.

Ms Taio said, some were using word docs to make labels and sellotaping it to the bottles.  She is keen to promote changes after returning home from the internship.  Currently, few resources are allocated for product labelling and packaging.  One of the first steps at home, is certification of products and helping people label their products properly.

It was “eye opening” to see what other countries are producing and how they package product. The market here is quite competitive but she believes they could start raising more awareness of the Cook Islands black pearl industry.

“There are a number of opportunities for our products in the New Zealand market but we have to help build the capability of our businesses for export as many not yet ready for export but I am confident that we will get there,” she said.

“I saw opportunities for the Cook Islands – Kora Pearls who were also new to the trade-only show and were quite happy with the outcome. Kora managed to lock down a few orders and a lot of interested people wanting to know more about Cook Islands pearls.”

During the internship, Ms Taio visited a range of retailers in Auckland from food retailers to Cook Islands fashion store TAV Pacific in Onehunga and the Sei Oriana Gift Store in Mangere.  Ms Taio was very interested in building a relationship with Sei Oriana starting with bilingual books.

“I think working closely with PTI we will be able to achieve some of our goals of export readiness, raising awareness of our products and partnerships with other agencies will be something to look forward to.”

“It was a pleasure to work with Mona and the BTIB team. I would like to thank BTIB for their support and their assistance with Kora Pearls participation in the recent trade show – their products generated a lot of interest,” said PTI Trade Development Manager, Joe Fuavao.

For more information contact Joe Fuavao, PTI NZ Trade Development Manager at

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