The Cook Islands, named after Captain Cook who explored them in 1773, is a former British protectorate comprised of 15 volcanic islands and coral atolls. Due to economic reasons, today there are more Cook Islanders living in New Zealand than in the Cook Islands themselves. Languages spoken on the island include a mixture of English, Cook Islands Maori (known as Rarotongan) and Pukapukan, a reflection of the Islands' mixed cultural influences.
Art is an intrinsic part of both traditional and modern culture in the Cook Islands. Traditional art forms of woodcarving, weaving and tivaevae, a form of scenery patchwork quilts, remain popular today. The Cook Islands has also produced a number of internationally renowned contemporary artists, such as painter and photographer Mihiriki Tangaroa, sculptor Eruera Nia and artist Andrea Eimke.
Robert Dean Frisbie, an American who eventually settled in the Pacific, was a celebrated author whose autobiographical travel stories gave insightful and often humorous accounts of life in the Cook Islands. This no doubt encouraged and inspired his daughter, Florence Frisbie, who eventually authored her own autobiographical novel Miss Ulysses of Puka-Puka,detailing life on the atoll and her bond with her father and family.
Sir Tom Davis is one of the Cook Island's most impressive characters; in addition to being a published author, Davis was also Cook Islands' first doctor and briefly served as Prime Minister in the late 70s. His autobiography Island Boy follows his life from his idyllic upbringing on the Islands to his colourful career through medicine, science and politics.His book provides an insightful portrayal of Polynesian culture and practices from the perspective of a local Cook Islander.