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Land Tenure in the Cook Islands


page vi


Should any of my friends care to read this study, they would probably consider that this fact or that idea originated from them, and in all probability it did, for I have drawn on the knowledge and views of others to such an extent that it is not possible to acknowledge or identify the specific contribution of each of them.

The need for a study of land tenure in the Cook Islands was first suggested to me by Mr J.B. Wright, then Secretary of the Department of Island Territories (now High Commissioner for New Zealand in Western Samoa), and through the good offices of Professor J.W. Davidson of this University, facilities were provided to permit the research to be undertaken. It has been my good fortune to have had the project supervised by Mr H.E. Maude who has freely given of his wealth of experience in practical dealings with land tenure problems in the Pacific, as well as of his vast knowledge of the ethnohistory of the region. In addition to most helpful suggestions as to the carrying out of the project, Mr R.P. Gilson has made available all his historical material on the area, including comprehensive notes extracted from British Colonial Office and Foreign Office files as well as London Missionary Society records relating to the Cook Islands.

Field work was made possible by a generous grant from the Australian National University and by facilities made available in the field by the Department of Island Territories and the Cook Islands Administration. To Mr J.M. McEwen, page vii Secretary of Island Territories, and to Mr Geoffrey Nevill (then Resident Commissioner of the Cook Islands) I am indebted for complete access to official records, and for encouragement and interest in the project. To Judge H.J. Morgan, Chief Judge of the Land Court, and to Mr L.H. Trenn, Registrar, I am deeply conscious of a debt of gratitude for advice and information, comments and criticisms and for the personal inconvenience to which they have put themselves to be of assistance; the more so because I fear that the evidence here presented at times suggests defects in the institution they so ably represent, though in no way reflects on the integrity of the men concerned, or denies either their tremendous knowledge of land administration in the Cook Islands or the competence with which they have executed their functions. The Secretary to the Government, Mr L.K. Pitt, the Chief Surveyor Mr A.A. Bailey, the Director of Agriculture, Mr M.B. Baker and his assistants, Mr W.R. Hosking, Mr A. Hornsby and Mr Raui Pokoati, all gave generously of their time and their knowledge.

To Pa Terito Ariki of Takitumu, and to Kainuku Ariki, Mr and Mrs C.T. Cowan (Tau Puru Ariki and Vaikai Mataiapo), Mr G. Crummer (Tangiiau Mataiapo), and Mrs Clara Gladney (Maoate Mataiapo), I am deeply obliged for the invitation to carry out field studies in the progressive tapere of Turangi ma Nga Mataiapo on Rarotonga. Not without reason, the Maori people are cautious of investigations into questions of land tenure, and the generosity of these chiefs and their people in giving a considerable amount of time as well as a wealth of information will never be forgotten.

Rongomatane Tetupu Ariki of Atiu, the Ui Mataiapo, Ui Rangatira, the people of Tengatangi village and of Atiu as a whole, will always be affectionately remembered by my wife and I for their hospitality and kindness, and for their page viii constant efforts to be of assistance in the researches carried out on their island. Mr Ian Robertson, Resident Agent, gave generously of his time and records; Teariki Maka Kea M.L.A. devoted the whole of his time to assisting the research; and Vaine Rere M.L.A., Tangatapoto, and Matakeu willingly gave of their store of historical lore.

Of the many others in the Cook Islands whose assistance is acknowledged, mention must be made of Mr Ned Marsters of Palmerston Island; and Dr John A. Numa, Mr Teariki Tuavera and Tamaiva Iro Rangatira, all of Rarotonga. Mr A.O. Dare, who assumed the post of Resident Commissioner since my departure, kindly supplied data on the recent experiment with the Mauke fern lands.

Dr A.P. Vayda of Columbia University, Dr Donald S. Marshall of the Peabody Museum, Dr Neil Gunson of the University of Queensland, and Dr Norma McArthur of the Demography Department of this university have obliged with information and suggestions.

In addition to the continuous guidance of Mr Maude and Professor Davidson the following persons read drafts and gave of their specialized knowledge on specific aspects of the work. Mr H.W. Sheffler of the Anthropology Department of the University of Chicago commented on chapters 2 to 6 and 12, Professor G. Sawer of the Law Department of this University read chapters 10, 12 and 15, Dr E.K. Fisk of the Economics Department assisted with chapters 13 to 15. Dr Emily Sadka of the Pacific History Department gave invaluable advice and assistance with the final revision of the whole work. While absolving them from any responsibility for the material here presented, I am nevertheless extremely grateful for their views, suggestions and criticisms.

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The format, typography and preparation of duplimats has been handled by Mrs Aino Guenot with her customary precision and care and the maps were drawn in their final form by Messrs H. Gunther and J. Heyward. In addition to checking, correcting and suggesting improvements, a constant and stimulating encouragement has been provided at all times by my wife.