A group of traditional leaders in the Cook Islands is formulating plans to establish a forum for traditional indigenous leaders across the Pacific.
The clerk of the House of Ariki, Tupuna Rakanui, says the group is linking up with the traditional leaders of French Polynesia and New Zealand and plans to eventually develop ties with Hawaii, Tonga, Fiji and others.
Tupuna Rakanui says it is part of a long term vision to revive the mana or prestige of the region's traditional leaders and have influence in areas like the use of marine resources.
"Our customs and traditions are rapidly disappearing. Mark my words there is value in our customs and in our traditions. You see our culture is being used to promote tourism but how much are our local communities benefiting directly?"
Tupuna Rakanui says the House of Ariki hopes to visit iwi or tribes in New Zealand next year and hopes to have the forum established in the next five years.