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Arts and Crafts of the Cook Islands


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My first experience of the Cook Islands was as relieving medical officer in Rarotonga for six months in 1910. In 1926, I revisited Rarotonga under the auspices of the Board of Maori Ethnological Research to make a field study on material culture on the island of Aitutaki, the results of which were published by the Board (70).1 In 1929, I made a year's survey of the group for Bernice P. Bishop Museum. All the volcanic islands were visited as well as the northern atolls of Manihiki, Rakahanga, and Tongareva (Penrhyn). Monographs on the ethnology of the northern atolls (74, 75) and a study on the social organization of Mangaia (76) were published by Bishop Museum. Physical measurements made in 1926 and 1929 were worked up by Dr. H. L. Shapiro, in a monograph published by Bishop Museum (58a).

My field work was augmented by a careful study of Cook Islands artifacts in the British Museum, in various museums in England and Europe, and in private collections, during a visit to Europe in 1933. Similar studies were made in American museums particularly the Peabody Museums at Salem and Cambridge, Massachusetts. For assistance in making these Museum studies, I am indebted to the National Research Council for a grant-in-aid.

The large number of photographs taken by me and by Kenneth P. Emory and Margaret Titcomb, members of the Bishop Museum staff, have been assembled at Bishop Museum into a photograph catalog of Polynesian artifacts. This photograph catalog has been constantly enlarged through correspondence with various museums that possess old material from Polynesia. The catalog has been invaluable in the identification of obscure artifacts from the south Pacific area, and it has made possible the illustrating of this work with rare and unique artifacts from the Cook Islands. I have attempted to follow the method used in the natural sciences, that of describing type specimens in detail and recording their location and collection numbers in order that students may refer directly to such specimens if they so desire.

For assistance in the field, I am indebted to the inhabitants of the individual islands of the Cook group and to Judge Hugh Ayson, Resident Commissioner of the Cook Islands, and members of his staff, particularly Stephen Savage whose manuscript copy of a dictionary of the Cook Islands language has been page 4
Figure 1.—Maps of the Cook Islands: a, locality map of Cook Islands; b, Rarotonga: c, Atiu: d, Aitutaki: e, Mangaia: f, Mauke.

Figure 1.—Maps of the Cook Islands: a, locality map of Cook Islands; b, Rarotonga: c, Atiu: d, Aitutaki: e, Mangaia: f, Mauke.

page 5 of great value. For friendly cooperation in the study of artifacts I am indebted particularly to Captain Joyce and the ethnological staff at the British Museum, to Captain A. W. F. Fuller whose extensive private collection was made available for study, to W. O. Oldman for access to his unique private collection, to H. G. Beasley, owner of the Cranmore Museum in Kent, and to the directors of museums in Europe, Canada, the United States, and New Zealand.


The Cook Islands include a number of widely scattered islands of volcanic or coral formation which have been grouped together for administrative purposes. They are referred to as the Northern and the Lower Cook Groups. The Northern Cook Group, consisting of a chain of scattered atolls lying from 300 to 740 miles north of Rarotonga, comprise Penrhyn (Tongareva), Raka-hanga, Manihiki, Palmerston, Suwarrow (Suvarov), Nasau, and Pukapuka. The Lower Cook Group, with which this work deals, consists of Rarotonga, Mangaia, Mauke, Mitiaro, Atiu, Takutea, Manuae, and Aitutaki. This group lies between the latitudes 18° and 22° S. and longitudes 157° and 160° W. (fig. 1, a).

The areas of the respective islands in the Lower Group and their native population by the 1926 census are as follows:

Island Area in Acres Native Population
Rarotonga 16,500 3,936
Mangaia 17,500 1,249
Mauke 4,600 511
Mitiaro 4,000 238
Atiu 6,950 933
Aitutaki 3,900 1,431

Takutea, is a small, uninhabited island, about 16 miles from Atiu. The Atiuans visit it from time, to time to collect coconuts and the red tail feathers of the tropic bird (Phaethon rubricauda) which nests on the island.

Manuae is an atoll about midway between Atiu and Aitutaki. It consists of two islets, Manuae and Te Au-o-tu, with one encircling reef enclosing a good lagoon. At the time of European discovery, it was inhabited; but after closer European contact, the atoll was deserted. The present inhabitants are a few laborers recruited from the other islands by the firm to which the atoll was leased for growing coconuts.

Rarotonga, the seat of Government, is one of the most beautiful islands in the southeastern Pacific. Its rugged volcanic hills are covered with verdure to their summits, except where broken by outcrops of rocks and precipices. The highest peak is 2,300 feet. The island is well watered by numerous streams. The protecting reef of the fringing type which surrounds the island is broken by small passages opposite the mouths of streams. Two larger page 6passages at the settlements of Avarua and Avatiu admit schooners to two small harbors. At Ngatangiia, Muri, Titikaveka, and Arorangi, the reef runs out some distance from the shore to form a lagoon, which is fairly deep in places.

The flora is rich and provides the inhabitants with ample raw material for their houses, canoes, and other necessities.

During the rainy season, from December to January, the humidity is somewhat trying, but the temperature seldom exceeds 92 degrees F. In the cool season, May to September, the day temperature is about 75 degrees and the night temperature is rarely below 60 degrees.

About 20 miles of good road runs around the island near the shore line. Inland of this are the remains of an ancient road, still paved in places, called Te Ara-metua (The-road-of-theancestors) or Te Ara-nui-a-Toi (The-great-road-of-Toi) after Toi, the ancestor who lived many generations ago and who is credited with the construction of the road.

The Government buildings are in Avarua, where there are a well equipped Government hospital and a post office and savings bank. A wireless station is located at Nikau. State schools are established in each of the four principal districts.

Formerly, steamers trading between New Zealand and San Francisco called at Rarotonga every four weeks. Communication between Rarotonga and other islands is by trading schooner, but a cargo steamer from New Zealand used to call at Rarotonga and some of the islands of the Lower Group in certain months to obtain fruit and discharge cargo.

Mangaia, the southernmost island of the group, is 110 miles southeast of Rarotonga. The center of the island is a volcanic flat-topped cone, named Rangimotia, about 554 feet high. From the central cone, ridges and valleys radiate to the flat alluvial lands and to swamps which are bounded by the cliffs of a raised coral reef termed the makatea. According to Marshall (52, p. 20), the makatea is a circular platform of limestone bounded on the inner and outer sides by cliffs, which on the outer side are nearly 70 feet high and on the inner side attain a maximum height of 232 feet. Its width ranges from 900 feet to 2,850 feet. The whole makatea structure is riddled with chasms, and there are numerous caves which once afforded shelter to refugees after battles. On the seaward side of the makatea wall is a terrace slope about 200 yards wide which ends in a low cliff about four to 20 feet high. Beyond this is the reef flat, 80 to 300 yards wide, which terminates in the fringing reef that bounds the island.

The present villages of Ivirua and Tamarua are situated on the makatea. The principal village of Oneroa is on the terrace slope on the coast side of the makatea but one section of the village is on the makatea above. Formerly, all the homes were on the inland side of the makatea near the swamp lands that page 7were cultivated for taro. Steps cut into the face of the inner and outer cliffs formed pathways to the coast.

As the passages through the reef are too small for commercial ships, fairly large outrigger canoes are built to load and unload the trading schooners or fruit steamers that call. The canoes are poled from the shore to the reef and are dragged over the reef edge when a wave of sufficient size helps to float them.

Atiu, 116 miles northeast of Rarotonga, is similar to Mangaia in geological formation, but the makatea is much lower. The five villages are built on the central plateau, which is about 300 feet above sea level. The valleys and swamps provide fertile soil for the cultivation of taro. The streams are small, and there is not enough fall to permit of irrigation patches like those of Rarotonga and Mangaia. However, channels are cut through the swamp and earth is heaped into patches of dry land for the cultivations.

The fringing reef has no openings large enough for the boats that are now used for shipping fruit and landing cargo. The boats are dragged over the reef flat and are held against the outer side of the reef while the packed boxes of fruit are carried over the flat and loaded into the boats. Similarly, the cargo from the ship has to be unloaded at the reef edge and carried to the shore. When the sea is rough at one landing place, loading is carried out on the leeward side of the island, but sometimes the operations have to be abandoned and the fruit cargo is wasted.

Mauke, 150 miles northeast of Rarotonga, is a smaller edition of Atiu, but the central volcanic area of red soil is much lower. One of the villages is near the shore and the others are inland. The loading and unloading of cargo with whale boats presents difficulties similar to those of Atiu.

Mitiaro, 142 miles northeast of Rarotonga, is low-lying, long, and narrow. At each end are areas of barren rocky land, and in the middle is a small area of good volcanic soil surrounded by swampy land. A fair sized lake and the swamps supply the itiki eel peculiar to Mitiaro. There is one village. Because of Mitiaro's small size, visits from trading schooners are infrequent. The natives, however, pay visits to the nearby islands of Atiu and Mauke in large whaleboats.

Aitutaki, 140 miles north of Rarotonga, is volcanic, but a number of islets scattered around the fringing reef are of atoll formation. The reef is close to the shore on the north and west, but it runs out to five or six miles from the shore on the south and east to enclose a fine lagoon. A ridge of hills on the west rises to a height of 360 feet. On the west, a fine passage through the reef, named Te Rua-i-kakau, admits whale boats to the Government wharf at Arutanga. Aitutaki thus has a commercial advantage over the other islands in the group except Rarotonga. There are seven well-kept villages on the island.

page 8

The People

From the analysis of the physical measurements taken in the Cook Islands, Shapiro (58a, p. 8) thus sums up the people:

The figures speak for themselves and definitely declare the kinship of the Cook Islanders with other Polynesian groups already familiar in the literature. In common with other Polynesians, the Cook Islanders are tall, robust, and well-developed specimens of mankind. In their cranial form they likewise betray their membership in the Polynesian family, having the typical tendency to brachycephaly, the peculiar massiveness of the face, and the characteristic combination of broad bizygomatic diameter with high, narrow foreheads. The nose is large and fleshy and the lips full. In complexion, the Cook Islanders are moderately brown-skinned with straight or wavy hair which, although luxuriant on the head, is only sparsely developed on the face and body. The eyes are full and dark brown and the epicanthus is usually absent.

Interisland differences occur and may be illustrated briefly by the averages of stature and three head measurements of males.

Rarotonga Aitutaki Atiu Mauke Mangaia
Stature (inches) 68.62 67.75 67.25 66.87 66.25
Head length (mm.) 190.2 187.0 190.1 186.4 194.1
Head width (mm.) 158.9 159.4 160.4 160.9 156.5
Cephalic index 83.61 85.04 84.41 86.48 80.63

Shapiro (58a, pp. 34, 35) points out that the Rarotongans and Aitutakians have undergone a more or less complete absorption by the central Polynesian strain and are more closely associated with the Society Islanders than with any other group. Atiuans and Maukeans are dominantly of the central Polynesian strain represented in the Cook Islands by Rarotonga and Aitutaki, but they differ in reduced nose height and width and face height. The Mangaians with longer heads more nearly approach the Maori type and have suffered less from central and western Polynesian influences.

The people were divided into tribes claiming descent from eponymous ancestors. They were ruled by ariki and mataiapo chiefs to whom they paid rent (atinga) with part of the produce of their land holdings. They were warlike and engaged in frequent intertribal wars. Each tribe had its own gods who were worshipped with elaborate ritual on open temples termed marae. In war, they were somewhat cruel. In peace, they are industrious, kindly, and hospitable to the highest degree. They are fond of singing and dancing and the dances are often combined in pageants depicting important events in the traditional history of the islands. The historical pageants were encouraged by the Government, which promoted competitions between the different islands at an annual gathering held in Rarotonga. Photographs of competing groups representing Rarotonga, Aitutaki, Atiu, and Mangaia were taken by Stephen Savage and through his courtesy are reproduced in plates 1 and 2.

Cook Islanders suffered severely from introduced diseases after European contact, but now, as the result of adjustment and proper medical care, the death rate has decreased and the population appears to be gradually increasing.

page 9

The Language

The language spoken throughout the Cook Islands is a dialect of the Polynesian language, with a few local differences in the words and names of each island. The alphabet compiled by the missionaries is as follows:

  • vowels: a (ah), e (eh), i (ee), o (awe), u (oo)
  • consonants: k, m, n, ng, p, r, t, v

The interchangeable Polynesian consonants, r and l and w and v, are represented correctly in the Cook Islands dialect by r and v, a usage which extends throughout central Polynesia. The alphabet which has been accepted officially by the Government is defective in that it provides no symbol for the sound of h, which, though not fully sounded, is represented in speech by a catch in the breath. This catch, termed the glottal closure by linguists, should be represented by the hamza or inverted comma placed above its position in the written word. In this work the hamza is used for the glottal closure which represents the h sound in the Cook Islands dialect. As in the other dialects, every consonant is followed by a vowel, hence every word ends in a vowel.

In the Tahitian dialect, the k and ng sounds, which are present in the Cook Islands dialect, were dropped and no provision was made for representing them with a hamza. Early writers who went to the Cook Islands from Tahiti had the bad habit of writing the Tahitian form for Cook Islands words, such as taria for taringa (ears), and thus conveyed incorrect information to readers not acquainted with the two dialects.

Economic Plants

The following plants used for food, in the arts and crafts, and in personal decoration are listed for reference. For some it has not been possible to obtain the botanical name.

Native Name Common name Scientific name
anga paper mulberry Broussonetia papyrifera (once Morus papyrifera)
'ange (Mangaia) ?
aoa banyan Ficus prolixa
'ara pandanus Pandanus tectorius
'au wild hibiscus Hibiscus tiliaceus
aute paper mulberry Broussonetia papyrifera
eki tree fern Cyathea decurrens
i'i (synonym of mape) Chestnut Inocarpus edulis
ka'ika mountain apple Eugenia malaccensis
kaka'o cane Miscanthus japonicus
kaka-vai bush vine Entada phaseoloides
kape giant taro Alocasia macrorrhiza
kaute red hibiscus Hibiscus rosa sinensis
kava kava Piper methysticum
kavapiu (Aitutaki) ?page 10
kiekie climbing screw pine Freycinetia wilderi
ko'e2 bamboo Bambusa vulgaris
kota'a bird's nest fern Asplenium nidus
kumara sweet potato Ipomoea batatas
kuru breadfruit Artocarpus incisa
maire scented fern Polypodium scolopendria
mape (synonym of i'i) chestnut Inocarpus edulis
mata'ora fish poisoning plant Tephrosia purpurea
mati Ficus tinctoria
matie, motie a grass Ischaemum lutescens
matira Canthium barbatum
mauku —— Eragrostis plumosa
meika bnana Musa paradisiaca
miro Thespesia populnea
moa a creeper ?
morirei (Mangaia) ?
na'e horseshoe fern Marattia salicina
niu coconut Cocos nucifera
nono Morinda citrifolia
ngangie Suriana maritima
'oi wild yam Dioscorea bulbifera
oronga Pipturus velutinus (formery Urtica argentia)
papako ?
pia arrowroot Tacca pinnatifida
pirita Dioscorea pentaphylla
ponu ?
poro Solanum nigrum
poro'iti nightshade Solanum uporo
po'utukava Sophora tomentosa
pua Fagraea berteriana
puka Hernandia peltata
puraka atoll taro Cyrtosperma chamissonis
purautea Hibiscus tiliaceus (?)
purumi Sida rhombifolia
renga turmeric Curcuma longa
ta'a gourd Laginaria vulgaris
tamanu island mahogany Calophyllum inophyllum
taro taro Colocasia antiquorum var. esculenta
taru papua Derris elliptica
teve wild arrowroot Amorphophallus campanulatus
ti ti Cordyline terminalis
tiare tahiti gardenia Gardenia taitensis
to sugar cane Saccharum officinarum
toa ironwood Casuarina equisetifolia
tou Cordia subcordata
tuitui candlenut Aleurites moluccana
'uatu plantain Musa fehi
u'i yam Dioscorea alata
'utu Barringtonia butonica
ve'i (Aitutaki) plantain Musa fehi
vi vi apple Spondias dulcis
vi mango (introduced) Mangifera indica
page 11

Native History

The early history of Rarotonga is intimately associated with Tangiia and Karika, ancestors who lived in about the thirteenth century. Karika is held to Have come from Samoa and Tangiia from Tahiti. In spite of conflicting accounts as to the relations between the two leaders, it is certain that Tangiia played the more prominent part in establishing places of religious worship or maraes in various localities and installing priests and mataiapo chiefs whose offices became hereditary. The Makea and Karika ariki titles and the Tinomana offshoot at Arorangi claim descent from Karika, and the Pa ariki title with the supporting Kainuku title is descended from Tangiia. However, traditional history reveals that the island was occupied before the arrival of Tangiia and Karika.

The earliest settlement of the island is clothed in myth. Tonga'iti and his wife Ari, who were gods or deified ancestors, came from a forgotten land and found the island floating about, hence one of the names applied to it was Nuku-tere (floating-land). Tonga'iti climbed onto it and trod on it to make it firm, and Ari went underneath to fix its foundations. After enclosing the streams, the two separated to explore the land. Meanwhile, another mythical character named Toutika arrived on the scene. He introduced the miro tree, matie grass, three kinds of crabs (koiti, mati-roa, and tupa), and some fish. On. meeting Tonga'iti and Ari, he established, by trickery, a claim to priority of discovery. In a fit of despondency at being tricked, Tonga'iti entered a lizard and Ari entered an octopus. The subsequent movements of Toutika are not recorded. All three appear in the list of Rarotongan gods.

The first man to arrive was Ata-i-te-kura, who came from Iva which is held to be the Marquesas. He settled near Ngatangiia at a place named Orotu. After him came 'Apopo from the Atu-'apai, believed to be the Haapai group of, the Tongan Islands. He settled near Ata on higher ground named 'Are-rangi. Ata, on learning that 'Apopo intended to attack him, sent his two sons to Iva for aid. Ata was killed before aid arrived, but the war party from Iva landed and slew 'Apopo. After the Ivans left, Te Ika-tau-i-rangi arrived and settled at One-marua. There were other minor incursions, details of which have been forgotten. With the coming of Tangiia and Karika, a more detailed period of occupation commenced and former inhabitants merged with the more powerful later immigrants. In addition to Nuku-tere, the island had the classical name of Tumu-te-varovaro. In Tangiia's first attempt to locate the island, he sailed too far to the south, but he picked it up on his way back to the north. From this incident, the island received the later name of Rarotonga (raro, below; tonga, south).

Aitutaki was discovered and settled by Ru'enua who came from 'Avaiki in a vessel named Te Pua-karito. The island was named Utataki-'enua-o-page 12Ru-ki-te-moana from utauta shortened to uta (cargo of people) and taki (to lead), and the meaning in full is "The leading of a cargo of people by Ru over the ocean." It was also named Ararau-'enua-o-Ru-ki-te-moana from Ararau-'enua (to search for land). Later there followed the brothers, Te 'Erui and Matareka, who fought and then fused with the descendants of Ru. Te 'Erui came in a double canoe, of which the main hull was named Te Rangi-pae-uta and the port hull was named Te Rangi-pae-tai. Tradition states Te 'Erui cut the channel named Te Rua-i-kakau through the coral reef with a stone adz named 'Aumapu. A later voyager of note was Ruatapu, who arrived sometime in the thirteenth century on a vessel named Tuehu-moana. The present inhabitants trace their descent from the ancestors mentioned.

Atiu was first settled by Mariri-ariki and his brothers Atiu-mua and Atiu-muri. They were the sons of Tangaroa-pu-metua-kore and they came from 'Avaiki. The original name given to the island was 'Enua-manu which has been erroneously translated as Land-of-birds. The word manu includes insects and reptiles as well as birds. The Atiuans state that the manu referred to in the name were potipoti and rang'ua, both the names of insects. 'Enua-manu is thus more correctly translated as Land-of-insects. The name was probably applied by Mariri to stress the fact that the island was not inhabited by human beings and thus, in the indirect method commonly used by Polynesians, to record that he was the first discoverer. Later, the island was named Atiu after one of Mariri's brothers. A genealogy of the Rongo-ma-tane ariki family gives 48 generations from Mariri to a member of the family living in 1900, but this appears to me to be too long for the settlement period.

Mauke was settled by Uke who came from 'Avaiki in a voyaging canoe named Apaipai-moana. He sailed in through a channel in the reef named Arapaea. He built an assembly house named Utaki, a dwelling house named Kapitirangi-o-Tangaroa, and a marae named Rangi-manuka. His daughter, Tara-matie-toro, married Tura, a grandson of Atiu-mua of Atiu. The genealogies from Uke to the year 1900 average about 24 generations which would place the settlement of Mauke in about the thirteenth century. As Uke's daughter married the grandson of Atiu, the settlement of Atiu could have been very little earlier than that of Mauke. Hence the long Atiu genealogy of 48 generations is discredited for chronological purposes. Two classical names for Mauke are 'Akatoka-manava and Te Rae-o-te-pa'u.

Mitiaro was probably discovered in about the same period as Atiu and Mauke, but I have no details except that one of the original settlers was Kutikuti-rau-matangi and a noted ancestress was Te Rongo-te-maeva. I was in Mitiaro such a short time that I did not collect any of the local genealogies.

Mangaia is unique for the Cook Islands in that the first settlers did not come by voyaging canoe from 'Avaiki on the surface of the ocean, but instead of the orthodox form of transport, the island itself was brought up to the page 13surface from the underworld of 'Avaiki with the first settlers upon it. The first settlers were Rangi, Te 'Akatauira, and Mokoiro, sons of the god Rongo. From them descended the ancient Ngariki tribe. Later the Ngati-tane people, followers of the god Tane, came from Tahiti and later still, the Tonga'iti people came from the west perhaps from Tonga. There were also incursions from Rarotonga, and it is probable that the first settlers, notwithstanding their mythical origin, also came from Rarotonga. The various groups, in spite of intermarriages, retained their individuality as distinct tribes with their own tribal gods, and wars between them for the supremacy (mangaia) over the island were frequent. The genealogies of the Ngativara tribe descended from the high priest Papaaunuku who accompanied the first settlers, only number 17 generations to 1900 A.D., a period of settlement that is too short for acceptance. The classical name of the island is A'ua'u (Levelled-off) and Mangaia was applied to it later.

Modern History

The first island in the Lower Group to be discovered by the later wave of European voyagers was the small atoll of Manuae. It was found by Captain James Cook on September 23, 1773 during his second voyage to the Pacific, and he saw no people or signs of habitation. He named the island Herveys Island after the Honorable Captain Hervey, R.N., one of the Lords of the Admiralty and afterwards Earl of Bristol. On Cook's third voyage, he passed to the windward side of Herveys Island on April 6, 1777. Six or seven double canoes, each containing three to six men, paddled out to his ship. The people were similar to those of Atiu but darker and untattooed. They wore loin coverings (maro) of matting and pearl-shell breast ornaments, and Cook noted a red feather headdress in one of the canoes. No landing was made. E. L. Gruning, who shared the lease of the island in later years, collected a well made Tridacna-shell adz, which, with the matting garment recorded by Cook, illustrates features of atoll culture.

Just previous to his second visit to Manuae, Cook discovered Mangaia on March 9, 1777, and Atiu was discovered two days later. At Mangaia, he stood off the reef and observed armed people collected on the shore. A small canoe, manned by a native named Mourua and a companion, paddled out to the ship. No landing was made, owing to the rough surf on the reef, but Cook made some excellent observations about the people from the little he saw. Mourua, with a gift knife stuck through a slit in an ear was drawn by the artist Webber, who accompanied the voyage. Native traditions record the visit of Cook, named Tute by the Mangaians, and Mourua's visit to the ship. Cook recorded the name of the island as Mangya or Mangeea.

At Atiu, the ship's boats landed at what is now termed Cooks Cove, but Cook himself did not go ashore. Valuable observations on the natives were page 14made by Robert Anderson, one of the officers, whose account was fully quoted by Cook. The name of the island as spelt by Cook was Wateeoo which, except for the initial w, is a phonetic rendering of Atiu.

On April 4, 1777 a landing was made on the small island of Takutea to obtain green fodder for the cattle carried aboard the ship. Cook found that green pandanus leaves chopped up made good fodder. The name of the island, as learned from the Atiuans, was given as Otakootaia which, with the elimination of the particle O denoting place, is a fair attempt at Takūtea. The alternative name of Wenooa-ette is an attempt at 'Enua-iti (Small-land) which was probably a descriptive term added to the proper name.

Aitutaki was discovered by Captain Bligh on April 11, 1789, a short time before the mutiny broke out on the Bounty. He visited it again on his second voyage in 1792, and useful information regarding the people is recorded by Ida Lee (46) from the logs of Captain Bligh and Lieutenant Portlock. The London Missionary Society established a mission station on the island in 1821, and a visit by the missionary John Williams in 1823 led to the subsequent discoveries of Mauke, Mitiaro, and Rarotonga.

Mauke and Mitiaro were visited by John Williams in 1823 as a result of a visit to Atiu, where the high chief Rongo-ma-tane became converted to Christianity. Rongo-ma-tane guided and accompanied John Williams first to Mitiaro and then to Mauke in order that he might personally convince the people of the advantages of Christianity. His task was aided by the fact that the two islands were subject to Atiu.

Rarotonga, the most important island in the group, was the last to be officially discovered. A native tradition states that the first vessel seen off the island had a number of young plants on deck, and this information has led to the supposition that the vessel was the Bounty laden with breadfruit plants. Another story relates to the visit of a ship under command of a person termed Kurupae (Goodenough) who took part in a local war and used firearms with disastrous effect. Goodenough led such a life of debauchery that the people rose against him, and he was forced to flee. He kidnapped some women, among them Tapairu, a cousin of the ariki Makea. These people he subsequently abandoned at Aitutaki. Goodenough never reported his discovery of Rarotonga, probably because he did not want his conduct on that island to be uncovered. The truth of the kidnapping story is borne out by the fact the Rarotongans on Aitutaki introduced to John Williams in 1823 included Tapairu. John Williams determined to find Rarotonga to establish a mission and to return the Rarotongans to their home. He spent six to eight days searching but failed to find the island, so he steered for Mangaia where his first attempt to establish a mission failed. He then sailed to Atiu where he met with a favorable reception from Rongo-ma-tane, who guided him to Mitiaro page 15and Mauke. On returning to Atiu, Rongo-ma-tane told Williams that Rarotonga was only a day and a night's sail from Atiu. From the starting place at Cooks Landing (Orovaru), Rongo-ma-tane pointed out the direction which Williams found from the compass bearing was southwest by west. Williams encountered several days of contrary winds and was about to give up the search when the rising sun dispelled the mists and revealed the mountains of Rarotonga rising out of the sea straight ahead. The Tahitian lookout at the masthead shouted, "Teie, teie, taua fenua, nei" (Here, here, is that land). The ariki chief, Makea, came on board and was delighted to see his cousin Tapairu. The Rarotongans brought back numbered four women and two men. Papeiha, the Tahitian pastor who was left in Rarotonga to establish the mission was supported by the returned Rarotongans, who had accepted Christianity on Aitutaki.

The Lower Group was first known as the Hervey Islands, after the first island discovered by Cook. The name was subsequently changed officially to the Cook Islands, but the obsolete name of Hervey Islands is still retained in various ethnographic museums. The London Missionary Society, with headquarters in the Society Islands, had great influence in the group, and a code of missionary laws was drawn up and enforced in each island by the establishment of native judges and police. In 1888, at the request of the natives, the group was proclaimed a British Protectorate and a British Agent, nominated and paid by the New Zealand Government, was appointed as the British representative. A Constitution Act for the group was passed in 1891 and provision for the local government of each island was made under this statute. The islands were formally annexed to the British Empire in 1900 and became part of the Dominion of New Zealand. A Resident Commissioner, located at Rarotonga, is appointed by the New Zealand Government to administer the affairs of the Northern and Lower Groups.

1 Numbers in parentheses refer to Literature Cited, p. 527.

2 A dialectical form of the name kohe for a native bamboo and for flutes made from it occurs throughout Polynesia. Plant specimens in the Bishop Museum herbarium from the Marquesas (kohe mao'i; native kohe), Austral Islands ('ohe), Rapa (ko'e), and Samoa ('ofe) have been identified as Schizostachyum glaucifolium. The specimen of ko'e collected by Wilder in Rarotonga has been identified as the common bamboo, Bambusa vulgaris.