Discoverers of the Cook Islands and the Names They Gave
17. Collective Names
17. Collective Names
The only islands with a collective name in pre-historic times were the three windward islands of the Cooks: Atiu, Mauke, and Mitiaro, which were known as Nga-Putoru (1), a name still used today. A literal translation is: The Three Masters. Mr Vaine Rere, MLA, stated that the name refers to the three Ariki, and consequently the three tribes on each of the three islands.
With the coming of the Papaa the islands were put together into two distinct groups: the Lower or Southern Group, and the Northern Group. This rather natural division is still in use today. The names commonly used are: Northern Cooks, or in Maori: Te Pa Enua Tokerau, and the Southern Cooks, or the Lower Group, in Maori: Te Pa Enua I Raro Nei.
During the missionary period the Southern Group was said to comprise seven islands: Rarotonga, Aitutaki, Mangaia, Atiu, Mauke, Mitiaro and Manuae (2). Lamont added: Palmerston, Takutea and Suwarrow (3). Sometimes Palmerston was included in the Northern Group (4). At present Palmerston is part of the Lower Group; politically it is part of the Rarotonga constituency of Te Au-o-Tonga. Suwarrow is included in the Northern Group (5).
In the missionary literature the Southern Group is called the Hervey Islands (6), the name that Captain Cook gave to the first discovered atoll in this part of the Ocean, and now known as Manuae. This name was already used in Ellis' Polynesian Researches, of which the second edition was published in 1831 (7). It was still used when the islands became a British Protectorate in 1888 (8).
The name of Captain Cook was attached to the Southern Group by the Russian hydrographer and cartographer, Admiral John von Krusenstern, in his “Atlas de 1'Océan Pacifique”, published at St. Petersburg between 1824–1835. He called them Cook Islands (13). Variation were: Cook's Islands (14), Cook Group (15), and Cook's Group (16). This name was still used for the Southern Cooks only in 1901, when the New Zealand Parliament passed “the Cook and other Islands Government Act” (17).
In the 1829–1848 correspondence and documents of the “Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith” concerning the erection of Apostolic Vicariates in the Pacific the Southern Cooks are referred to as the Archipelago Of Mangeea, or Mangea, that is Mangaia (18). The use of this name is probably based on French Atlasses of the beginning of the 19th century. At that time Rarotonga was still unknown, and Mangaia the largest of the islands discovered by Cook in this part of the Pacific.
In the sub-title of his “Gems from Coral Islands”, William Gill refers to the Southern Group as the Rarotonga Group (19), naming them by the name of the largest island, and seat of the mission headquarters.
The first collective name of the Northern Group is found in the above mentioned documents of the “Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith” — the Department for the Missions of the Roman Curia of the Catholic Church. These islands are referred to as the Archipelago Of Roggewein (20). This is without doubt based on French Atlasses (21).page 56
Roggewein is the French rendition of the name of the Dutch Pacific Explorer, Jacob Roggeveen, who discovered and named Easter Island (Paas Eiland in Dutch) on April 5, 1722 (22). On his voyage to the west he discovered the northern Tuamotu Islands, sighted Borabora and Maupiti, and finally came upon some islands, now assumed to be Samoa (23). The only explanation for giving Roggeveen's name to the Northern Cooks seems to be that the French cartographers identified the last mentioned islands discovered by him with some of the Northern Atolls.
In the 2nd half of the 19th century the Northern Group was called: the Penrhyn Islands (24), as Penrhyn was the most frequently visited island by whalers and traders in those days.
After the establishment of the R.C. Mission in the Cook Islands (1894), it was called the “Pro-Vicariate of the Cook and Manihiki Islands (25). The name Manihiki Islands was also used on the map added to the book of Seddon's Visit to the Cook Islands (26). Another reference to these islands is The Manihiki's (27).page 57
When Rome made the R.C. Mission of the Cook Islands independent of the Vicariate of Tahiti, it erected the “Apostolic Prefecture of the Cook and Manihiki Islands” on Nov. 27, 1922 (28). This was changed into the “Apostolic Prefecture of the Cook Islands” On Aug. 11, 1926 (29). The name of Rarotonga was — rather unfortunately — applied to both groups, when Rome erected the “Diocese of Rarotonga” in 1966.
Mr Stewart Kingan supplied the following information: An English Atlas, published in 1914, applied the term Manihiki Islands to the Northern Cooks, the Tokelau Islands, Caroline, Vostock and Flint Islands. The term Manihiki Islands is still used by the International Amateur Radio Union, which list the Northern Group as one country, called the Manihiki Islands, and the Southern Group as another country, called the Cook Islands.
On the National Geographic Society's maps of the Pacific (30) the Northern Cooks, with the exception of Nassau and Suwarrow, and the Tokelau Islands are said to be administered by New Zealand and claimed by the United States. Edwin Bryan in his “American Polynesia” included Nassau, Pukapuka, Manihiki, Rakahanga, Penrhyn, Suwarrow and Palmerston (31). This claim of the United States dates from the middle of the 19th century. In 1839 Captain M. Baker of a U.S. whaler discovered by accident phosphate-guano on the island named after him, when burying a member of his crew. This discovery led to the formation of the American Guano Company in New York. On Aug. 18, 1858 the U.S. Congress passed the American Guano Act, claiming 48 islands (15 of which are still unknown) in the Central Pacific Basin, north and south of the equator, including the Northern Cooks (32). Nineteen of these islands were leased by the British Government under Occupation Licences for guano extraction and as coconut plantations; among them Nassau and Suwarrow (33).
In 1926 all but five of these islands were considered to be British possessions. They were under the jurisdiction of the High Commissioner for the Western Pacific, with the exception of the Tokelau, Northern Cooks and Nauru (34).
The question of sovereignty rose again after the first trans-Pacific flight by Kingsford-Smith from San Francisco to Sydney by way of Honolulu, Kauai, Suva, and Brisbane in 1928. A new claim was made by the secretary to President Roosevelt in March 1938 (35).
In 1965 the U.S. Government re-affirmed its claim, indicating by name: Pukapuka, Manihiki, Rakahanga, and Tongareva. The State Department, however, added with reference to the Northern Cooks that: “The reference in the Department of State's Geographic Bulletin to the claim of the United States is a routine, administrative act derived from the historical position of the United States in this regard, and is not intended to imply that the United States is actively pursuing or supporting the claim.” (36).
66:296 note 2
188:24, 31, 32, 34
188:24, 30, 32, 33, 34
188:32 note 2
Torea Katorika 1914, no.1, p.3
186:186; Torea Katorika 1923, no. 113, p. 868
63:86 note 9
a. Drum (pa'u). A trunck of tamanu, tou, kuru, puka, or utu was hollowed out from both ends, leaving a wooden partition in the lower half. It was covered with shark-skin and beaten with the bare hands. The exterior was decorated by carving and painting.
b-c-d. Slit-gongs are beaten with a stick (d). Through a slit in a trimmed flat upper surface the interior was hollowed out. In former days the exterior was carved and painted.
The Rarotongan term is pate. c. is typical of Mangaia, and called: ka'ara. This drawing represents the Rarotongan style. d. is termed tokere in Aitutaki.