Cook Islands Kora Pearls big hit at Gift Fair

Nancy and Kora of Kora Pearls came to Auckland’s Gift and Homeware Fair not really knowing what to expect.

Nancy and Kora at the Kora Pearls booth at the Gift Show in Auckland. They were part of four companies that PTI NZ helped participate in the show.

The couple were invited to participate along with three other companies at the Pacific Trade Invest New Zealand’s exhibition stands at the Auckland Gift and Homeware Fair from 27-29 August.

The companies included Essence of Fiji, Natural Fiji and The Summit Vanuatu.

Kora Pearls were the jewel in the crown at the PTI NZ exhibition.  In between two skincare companies, they stood out being the only company offering cultured black pearls from the Cook Islands in the Hall.

Pacific Periscope enquired on Day One what outcomes they wanted to achieve from attending the Gift Fair.  Nancy Kora replied they hoped they would make 2-3 good sales and hopefully secure some good leads.

But by Day Three, it was obvious by their big smiles that Kora and Nancy had achieved their goal – and more.  Not only had they made sales, they secured some good contacts and potential ongoing leads.

“We really didn’t know what to expect,” Mrs Kora said.  The couple are regulars at Auckland’s Pasifika Festival where they sell lesser grade pearls in bulk.  However, Mrs Kora said for the Gift Fair they went more upmarket hoping for orders and that people would be interested in what they had.

Some of the Kora Pearls range at the show.

They are surprised by the response. Although they expected to sell more loose pearls to jewellers and crafts people, their biggest interest came for the jewellery pieces and from shops selling to cruise ship travellers instead. The pendants and sets were the most popular. Buyers were attracted to the colour and lustre of the pearls and Nancy’s beautiful designs and settings.

They were also surprised at how much people were interested in the story of the pearls — where the pearls came from in the small island of Manihiki and how they were made.  They were also able to promote their own story.

“My husband and I started from the bottom so we could explain about the pearl farming as well.  How we produce our own pearls and then on to the retail side of it,” Mrs Kora said.

Mr Kora said people were fascinated to learn it takes 18 months for an oyster to produce a pearl. But most importantly, they also wanted to know the pearls were authentic.

Mr and Mrs Kora said they began working as pearl divers 25 years ago. It was hard work. For Manihiki-born Mr Kora it was a familiar life. But Wellington-born Nancy who had never lived in Manihiki, adjusted so well to the island that she never wanted to leave Manihiki Mr Kora laughed.

The couple decided to move to Rarotonga six years ago for their children’s schooling. They thought they would give a go to selling black pearls at the local market in Rarotonga, starting with a tent and a table. They made $300 in their first week and $500 in the second. That was it. They knew they could make a living. They then moved to a small shop in Titikaveka and then a retail store on the Main Road in Avarua in Rarotonga. Nancy is the creative jewellery designer and Kora focuses on the operational side of the business. They plan to follow up on the leads made through the Gift Fair and hope to build ongoing relationships with the buyers.

For more information please contact Joe Fuavao, PTI Trade Development Manager on joe.f@pacifictradeinvest.co.nz

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