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The Material Culture of the Cook Islands (Aitutaki)


page 1

In Aitutaki, there has been much importation of corrugated iron. It was difficult to get a good sample of a native house that was entirely free from this European influence. In many, the roof was entirely of corrugated iron; in some, the roof ridging was of this material; in others, sheets were used against the walls to keep out the draught. Many houses again have walls of white lime whilst others are of sawn timber. The changes are not, in our opinion, an improvement. The true native type of house is better suited to the climate, gives better ventilation and affords less inducement for families to crowd together. For these reasons, they are less likely to spread the germs of introduced tuberculosis.

The name for a house throughout the Lower Cook Group is hare. Compare with Maori, whare. Houses may be distinguished according to use as hare moe, sleeping or dwelling house, and hare umu, house for the earth oven or kitchen. From the roofing material, they are also distinguished as hare nikau, house thatched with cocoanut leaves and hare rau, house thatched with pandanus leaves.