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Land Tenure in the Cook Islands

Arorangi: the tribe that broke away

Arorangi: the tribe that broke away

There is only one ariki title in this district, namely that of Tinomana. While of the same rank as other ariki, the Tinomana title seems never to have achieved the eminence of either Pa or Makea. Tinomana is stated by some authorities to be descended from Tangiia, but from a marriage prior to that with Karika's daughter, and by others to be a direct descendant in the male line from Karika.1 The Tinomanas themselves follow the first alternative, tracing through Motoro, a son of Tangiia, who was not born in Rarotonga, but came to the island as a young man. A close link with the Makeas is, however, postulated by the fact that at least some holders of the Tinomana title were officially elevated to office and also buried in Avarua.2

All sources agree that Rongooe, the progenitor of this line in Arorangi, was banished in the fifteenth century for his despotism, and fled to the western part of the island (which appears to have been considered a haven for refugees) where he later became accepted as ariki. Though the process by which he achieved ascendancy is not known, we do know

1 In view of the intermarriage between the chiefly lines it is quite possible that he was in fact a direct descendant of both founding ancestors. Alternatively, the truth may lie in the explanation of one authority to the effect that Rongooe (the first holder of the Tinomana title to break away) was a son of Makea te Ratu, but that between the time of his conception and his birth his mother lived with the then holder of the Tinomana title. - Te Aia, JPS 2:276.

2 Terei, Tuatua Taito, part 8.

page 27 that by the time of arrival of the first Europeans (and in all probability for many generations before) a contiguous group of nine tapere on the western side of the island were affiliated under the arikiship of the Tinomanas - the descendants of Rongooe. Jointly they constituted the district of Puaikura but as this district is known today as Arorangi, it will be referred to throughout by this latter name.

In 1823 Arorangi had the smallest land area of the three districts, and its population is said to have been reduced from a former higher level, due to a series of defeats in battle after which the survivors had lived for a considerable period in the mountain area to avoid complete extermination.1 These considerations help to explain the relative lack of traditional history of this tribe.

1 They were still living in the mountains when the first missionaries arrived.