Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

Discoverers of the Cook Islands and the Names They Gave

15. Takutea

page 53

15. Takutea

A black and white sketch of the island Takutea.

An oval sand-cay, surrounded by a living coral reef on the southern part of a shallow “shelf” about 200m deep.

Area: 1.2 km2 Diameter: 1.6 × 1.2 km Maximum altitude: 6m

Position: 19°48′35″S, 158°18′W

Population:0 Takutea to Rarotonga: 218 km, to Atiu: 16 km


The original name of the island was Areuna (1) until it was renamed by Mariri, one of Atiu's ancestors. When Mariri returned for the third time from Avaiki to Atiu together with his wife, he landed on the small islet, which he had seen on his previous visits to Atiu. While fishing, he caught a “white Ku”, that is “Ku tea”, and therefore called the island Taku-Ku-Tea, that is: My White Ku (2), later shortened to Takutea. The “Ku” is a red fish, a variety of squirrel fish (3). The fact that Mariri caught a “white Ku” was reason enough to name the place in memory of this event.

Another name of the island is Enua-Iti, that is: Small Island. It was probably a descriptive term added to the proper name (4).

The fresh water well, called Vaipiro because of its lead colour, was dug by Manatu (5).


Cook reached the island on April 4, 1777, and sent boats ashore to collect food (6). He spelt the name Enua-iti as Wenuaaete (7) or Wenooaete (8). Anderson recorded the name Takutea as Otakoo Tata (9). Commander (Nicolls of H.M.S “Cormorant” declared the island to be under British protection in June 1889 (10).


Takutea was visited by the Atiuans to collect coconuts and seabirds, and they regarded the island as tribal land. However, in 1902 the Land Court awarded Takutea to Ngamaru Rongoiti ariki of Atiu, who in turn handed it over to the Resident Commissioner, Colonel Gudgeon, as a present for His Majesty King Edward. The gift was accepted by King in a letter dated March 3, 1903 and a “vesting order” in favour of His Majesty was issued on Oct. 23, 1913 as from March 31, 1903. On March 15, 1938 the island was declared customary land, as Ngamaru had no right to give the island away. On Febr. 13, 1950 the Land Court appointed three ariki and four mataiapo as trustees for the Native Land Owners: the people of Atiu (11).

The statement that an early Resident Administrator claimed the island on behalf of Queen Victoria in the late 19th century, and that the island was handed over to the chiefs and people of Atiu on 1905 (12) is obviously not correct.

The Cook Islands Administration sent gangs to plant the island under the supervision of Howard Greig in 1906/7 (13).












9b:88; 9c:843–845; 9d:1009: 113:54–56










236:105–106; Records Land Court, Rarotonga