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Papa Mike carving a Rock with an angle grinder

Gallery Tavioni & Vananga is a center for creativity in the Cook Islands.

It is our goal to ensure that future generations are able to have access to the precious knowledge, techniques, values and lived experience of our two master carvers and the founders of this space - Mike and Awhitia Tavioni.

Sharing our history, stories and the wisdom of the ancestors through

wood and stone carving, motifs and patterns, literature,
reo (language), block
printing, korero (discussion) and more.

We strive to keep these traditional life skills alive for the next generations so 
that they are not lost but passed on
 from Master to apprentice - 
for the benefit of all. 

Ensuring our culture stays strong, vibrant and alive.

Kia ora uatu rai te peu tupuna.
May the culture of the ancestors continue to live.


Connecting generations to our cultural heritage with authenticity, humility and respect.


To preserve, practice and protect the traditional life skills and indigenous knowledge of our ancestors by creating opportunities for learning
and sharing with a new generation
of practitioners and future knowledge holders.


Akaperepere i to’ou kapua’anaga


We honour, respect and value the wisdom and lived experiences of our parents, grandparents and our ancestors. They are the knowledge holders and teachers to help us pass on and share what it is that makes us resilient and unique.

ia teia ra


Every day is an opportunity to engage a new generation of learners. We flow and develop aligned to the changing needs of our community but we always remain anchored to our mission.

Ma te tamou i te
kauinga no apopo


When we share we do so with mana so that we empower a new generation of practitioners, teachers and knowledge holders who are inspired to carry on teaching a new generation, so that the culture continues to live.

Mini Vaka CITTI August 2021.jpg


We are stewards of techniques and methods, teachers of traditions and
values, gatherers of community.
We treasure and respect the wisdom of our elders.


Our motivation is to learn from Papa Mike and Mama Awhitia, and to continue the cycle of passing on knowledge and skills to a new generation.


How do we achieve this?

We achieve this by following  and learning from Papa Mike and Mama Awhitia and by observing their love and dedication for sharing our culture.

Since early 2023, Papa Mike has had 5 apprentices at the vananga working with him and helping him and Mama Awhitia. They have become skilled carvers and recently, some of them are leading the learning programs and
cultural exchange sessions we arrange.

This is the goal.

To have new teachers ready to carry on the legacy that has been started, just like our tupuna (ancestors) have done, so we continue.

Mike and Awhitia Tavioni

Mitaera Ngatae Teatuakaro Michael (Mike) Tavioni is a Cook Islands cultural icon and founder of Gallery Tavioni and Vananga. His artistic career spans over fifty years with a repertoire which includes tattooist, poet, writer, orator, composer and painter. He is renowned across the Pacific for being a traditional master carver of stone, shell and wood and builder of ocean-going outrigger canoe or vaka. 

Awhitia Tavioni is Mikes wife and a renowned master carver in her own right. Awhitia’s talent was nurtured and grown through Mike's guidance and encouragement.


Awhitia and Mike’s door has always been open. Before the gallery and workshop existed, visitors would come to their home to learn from them. The development of the gallery and vananga grew slowly over time and is simply an extension of their love for their culture and their people.

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