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Land Tenure in the Cook Islands


page 31

The system of social organization which developed over the centuries on Rarotonga was based on a pattern that was brought from Eastern Polynesia but was modified in the course of time in response to local environmental and demographic circumstances.1 The following description summarizes the elements of the social system as it was at the time of first European contact, but does not attempt to trace the process by which the system evolved from its Tahitian prototype.2

1 A schematic representation of certain elements of the indigenous social structure is given in the diagram on page 32.

2 While current archaeological and ethnohistorical research such as that of Green and Oliver and others is throwing more light on the form of this prototype, its exact nature is still being studied.