Makiuti Tongia

Makiuti Tongia (born 1953) is a Cook Islands poet, academic, diplomat, and public servant. He is the first Cook Islander published in the Cook Islands, and considered to be a trail-blazer in Cook Islands literature and a key figure in the creation of a Pacific literary tradition.[1]

Tongia was born in Rarotonga[1] and educated at Tereora College and the University of the South Pacific, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, Pacific History and Creative Writing. He won a Fulbright scholarship and studied at Ohio State University and Western Kentucky University, graduating in 1985 with a Master of Arts in Ethnology and Living Museums.[2]

He served as director of the Cook Islands National Museum, before moving to New Zealand and lecturing in Cook Islands studies at Victoria University of Wellington.[3] After returning to the Cook Islands he served as President of the Cook Islands Democratic Party, and as Secretary of the Ministry of Culture.[4] In 2009, he was appointed High Commissioner to New Zealand.[5] In 2013 he was appointed as a member of the advisory board to the Seabed Minerals Authority.[6]

Tongia began writing poetry at Tereora College, and continued his work at university, where he was published in Unispac.[7] His work was subsequently published in the Mana section of Pacific Islands Monthly,[7] and in the South Pacific Creative Arts Society's journal, Mana. In 1977 he published his first collection of poetry, Korero, the first work published by a Cook Islander in the Cook Islands.[1]


  • Korero (1977) Suva : Mana Publications
  • Purua : a collection of poems (1980) Rarotonga, Purua and Teachers College
  • Learning Rarotonga Maori : how to speak in ordinary situations (1991) Rarotonga, Ministry of Cultural Development
  • Tipani : poems of the Cook Islands (1991) Rarotonga, Ministry of Cultural Development


  1. ^ a b c Powell, Emma (2013). "Stitching to the back-bone: A Cook Islands literary tivaivai" (PDF). University of Auckland. p. 49. Retrieved 5 September 2020.
  2. ^ "People". Pacific Islands Monthly. 56 (9). 1 September 1985. p. 53. Retrieved 5 September 2020 – via National Library of Australia.
  3. ^ Fay Alailima, ed. (1994). New Politics in the South Pacific. Suva: University of the South Pacific. p. 336.
  4. ^ "COOKS GAMES TO CELEBRATE CULTURAL TRADITIONS". Pacific Islands Report. 24 November 2008. Retrieved 5 September 2020.
  5. ^ "Tongia to be new High Commissioner to NZ". Cook Islands Herald. 2 December 2009. Retrieved 5 September 2020.
  6. ^ "Community on seabed board". Cook Islands News. 28 February 2013. Retrieved 5 September 2020.
  7. ^ a b "Mana". Pacific Islands Monthly. 45 (2). 1 February 1974. p. 62. Retrieved 5 September 2020 – via National Library of Australia.

External linksEdit