19 Apr 2010

Cook Island maire exports threatened by Hawaii based plantation

5:46 am on 19 April 2010

The Cook Island growers of a vine known as maire or maile, used for garlands in Hawaii, are worried that their earnings could be threatened by a new farm on Hawaii.

The farm will plant its first large-scale maire crop this year.

Maire has always been in high demand in Hawaii, but most of the islands' supply has been imported from the Cook Islands.

The Hawaii-based maire agents for the Cook Islands, Dave and Miriama Thompson, say the new plantation is a concern for Cook Islands maire exporters because it's being subsidised by 2 million US dollars in government grants.

But Dave Thompson says they have an established name recognition for 26 years in Hawaii and are confident they can maintain their fair share of the market.

The president of the Alii Pauahi Hawaiian Civic Club, Kealii Lum, told the Hawaii Business magazine that the Hawaii-grown maire will have more of a cultural significance to the Cook Islands maire.

Tonga has also begun to export maire to Hawaii as well.