Cook Islands Heroes: Michael Metuakore

Kia orana everyone! Kuki Airani Language Week is coming August 1st and I’ve got a new book to help celebrate the week. It’s a collection of achievers who have Cook Islands ancestry – from legends, through history and into the present.

The aim of this book is to inspire Kuki Airani young people and anyone else who loves reading stories of people who overcame great challenges to achieve their goals in life.

The book will be launched at Tupu Youth Library on August 4th. In the lead up I’m going to post  short summaries of some of the people featured in the book to give you a sense of what it’s about.

Today’s Cook Islands Hero is Michael Metuakore.

Michael (Mangaia, Rarotonga, Palmerston, Penrhyn) knows why dance is an important part of Cook Islands culture – he loves to dance too. He’s a backup dancer for one of the most popular entertainers in the world – Jennifer Lopez. That’s Michael bottom right of the photo:

Michael grew up in Tokoroa and like lots of his friends, he played rugby and rugby league. But dancing was always his first love. He would travel to Auckland to audition for dance groups, then race home to be on time for his job working in a bakery. “It was hard going but if you want it bad, you’ll work hard to achieve it,” he says.

In 2012, Parris Goebel asked him to dance for the Royal Family. That’s when Michael’s life changed in ways he could never imagine. He won a gold medal at the World Hip Hop Championships and got to perform in the dance film, Born to Dance. But none of that compares to what he does now … dancing with JLo at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas. Michael had to beat 700 dancers to win that job!  Michael’s philosophy is simple: “If you want it, you have to make it work,” he says. “No excuses.”

Read more about Michael’s story in Cook Islands Heroes, available now!

3 Responses

  1. Tere Ford
    | Reply

    Kia Orana Reading Warrior
    Could you please send us the details of the lauch for this as i would love to come and celebrate on behalf of our boy Te Puia (Michael).
    I am keen to bring a load of our family up to the lauch as we know that reading is paramount to our childrens education.
    Te Puia has made us all proud and we would be honoured to attend on his behalf.
    Thank you.

    • Reading Warrior
      | Reply

      Kia orana Tere
      Thank you so much for making contact. I can only imagine how proud you must be of Te Puia. What an amazing and inspiring achievement he has accomplished. The book launch will be on Friday 4th August at 6pm. Venue: Tupu Youth Library, Dawson Road, Otara. It would be awesome and a real honour to us if you could come on Te Puia’s behalf and to represent your whanau. Could you please let Richie Misilei know how many might come. Richie is the manager of Tupu Library and is organising the launch. It would be helpful for him to know the numbers expected if you can. Richie’s email address is You could also call him at Tupu Library 09 2742356
      Thanks again Tere. Kia manuia!

      • Tere Ford
        | Reply

        What a wonderful opportunity for us to celebrate as a family. Thank you for the details. I will go and visit his Dad and gather all his Mama and Papa for this wonderful event and will be in touch with Richard.

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