Gateway to the lagoon
Aitutaki History and some local flavour.
The Cook Islands History
An islands group of the southern Pacific Ocean southeast of Samoa. Probably first inhabited by Polynesians more than 1,500 years ago, the Cook islands were sighted by Capt. James Cook in 1773. They are now self-governing under the sovereignty of New Zealand.
In 1773, Captain James Cook sighted Manuae atoll which he named Hervey Island. On a later voyage he discovered Palmerston, Takutea, Mangaia, and Atiu.
Captain James Cook.
The Cook Islands are made up of 15 distinct islands, a Northern group and a Southern Group. Rarotonga is the capital of the Cook islands. The islands of the Cook group have a total land area of about 92 sq. miles, scattered over a vast 2 million square kilometer area of South Pacific Ocean.
A former British protectorate, the Cook Islands became a self-governing state in free association with New Zealand on August 4, 1965. This day is now celebrated as Constitution Day.
Population: 18,000 (2004) - Source: United Nations. More than twice as many native Cook Islanders live in New Zealand than live in the islands themselves. As New Zealand citizens, they are free to live in both Australia and New Zealand.
Rarotonga is the international entry point for the Cook Islands. From Rarotonga international airport Cook Islands carrier Air Rarotonga flies to most of the other islands in the group.
There are no snakes and no poisonous insects or animals on the Cook Islands.
Cook islands newspapers. The Cook Islands Herald online edition.
Cook islands news online. Cook Islands news online
THE NATION of the Cook Islands top of page
The Cook Islands are comprised of 15 islands spread over 850,000 square miles (2.2 million square kilometers) of ocean smack in the middle of the South Pacific between Tonga to the west and the Society Islands to the east.
The Cook Islands consists of two main groups, one in the north and one in the south. The southern group is nine "high" islands mainly of volcanic origin although some are virtually atolls. The majority of the Cook Islands population lives in the southern group. The northern group comprises six true atolls.
Aitutaki and the Cook Islands
Islands group (pop., 2005 est.: 13,900), southern Pacific Ocean. Located roughly 2,000 mi (3,000 km) northeast of New Zealand, the 15 islands, scattered from north to south over some 900 mi (1,450 km) of ocean, are divided into a southern group of nine islands, including Rarotonga (the seat of government), and a northern group of six. All in the northern group are true atolls; most in the southern group have volcanic interiors. They were probably settled by Polynesians from Tonga and Samoa; there is evidence of a highly organized society c. AD 1100. Capt. James Cook explored many of them during the 1770s. Established as a British protectorate in 1888, they were annexed by New Zealand in 1901. Self-government in free association with New Zealand was achieved in 1965. Aitutaki is considered the vacation island of the Cook Islands.
Aitutaki, facts top of page
An Aitutaki Cook Island vacation is the stuff of which dreams are made. This magnificent and remote island has a triangular-shaped 'almost'-atoll rising up 4000 meters from the floor of the Pacific Ocean. It consists of three volcanic and 12 coral islets (motus).
Aitutaki was probably first settled around 900 AD and one of its great legendary Polynesian Outrigger canoe discoverers was Ru who named it Utataki Enua O Ru Ki Te Moana. Roughly translated, this means The Leading of a Cargo of People by Ru Over the Ocean. It can be inferred that Aitutaki was, therefore, the ultimate destination of one of the great Polynesian ocean voyages.
The first recorded discovery by Europeans was Captain Bligh on the "Bounty". He arrived on April 11 1789 and shortly afterwards the famous mutiny occurred. Bligh returned later on July 25 1792. He is credited with introducing the paw paw fruit to Aitutaki Island and this is now an important export product from the Cook Islands.
The first missionary to the Cook Islands, John Williams, landed on Aitutaki before any of the other Cook Islands and there is a large, airy coral block church in Arutanga, the main township, which bears testament to his success in converting the people to Christianity.
Life on Aitutaki moves at a wonderfully relaxed tempo which is why it is such a popular destination for visitors who fly in from Rarotonga for day trips as well as extended stays. Akaiami The Aitutaki lagoon can be approached in leisurely fashion in traditional outrigger canoes for quiet paddling just off the beach or in more sophisticated launches favored by foreign anglers who know its reputation for saltwater fly fishing for the fighting bonefish.
The motus which are mainly at the outer perimeter of the lagoon are wonderful landing places for the day cruises available for visitors. The favorite islets are Akaiami and One Foot Island.
Useful Information for Visitors to the Cook islands and Aitutaki.
Public Holidays top of page
The Cook Islands have 11 public holidays. On these days, bus service is either irregular or non existent. The Cook Islands shops are closed. Some little shops are open either in the morning and evening. Many restaurants are closed. If you are holidaying during this time then please make sure you stock up and you arrange transport to cover you over the holidays.
Aitutaki holidays are as follows:
New Years Day - 1 Jan
Day after New Years - 2 Jan
ANZAC Day - 25 Apr
Queen's Birthday - 4 Jun
Rarotonga Gospel Day - 25 Jul
Constitution Day - 4 Aug
CI Gospel Day - 26 Oct
Christmas Day - 25 Dec
Boxing Day - 26 Dec
Being stuck without food and transport on any of these days can ruin your holidays. Please note that Sundays are similar to public holidays.
Respect of Traditions
The Cook Islands is a religious nation. One of the reasons why the country is safe is because most people go to church or believe in God. Part of this is that the people are very modest people. We do not appreciate nudity of any form. If you are sunbathing please do not sunbathe naked, keep your togs or bikinis on. Also, when driving around in town, or walking through the town shops please do not walk around in bikinis. And please do not wear shorts or a singlet if you attend a church service.
Many Cook Islands visitors over the years have been very generous people. They have gone back to their countries and in their little communities bought supplies for the schools and the hospital. Your generosity is very much appreciated. Thank you.
Cook Islands Foods to try
You should try our 'ika mata' - marinated raw fish in coconut cream and lemon juice. Trust me, the lemon juice cooks the fish so it's not as raw as its name suggests. It's really nice.
Other food you should try is 'poke' - banana or pawpaw pudding. This is basically banana or pawpaw mixed with arrowroot/cassava flour and served with coconut cream. It's rich but its an experience.
Try our root crops, or our staples - taro, arrowroot, kumara. A lot of visitors don't like taro, they say it tastes like soap, but we locals like it. Maybe the trick is that you don't eat it by itself, you cut a bit off and eat it with raw fish. Most visitors prefer kumara, the sweet potato, we have this in many different colours - purple, white, orange, yellow, but they are still the same thing.
Coconut juice - we call it 'nu'. It's a very pleasant drink so try it at least once. You can get them at the market for about $4. The locals think $4 is expensive but that's the price you pay if you don't want to get your own off the tree.
Mayonnaise - It's a dressing in your part of the world, but we have a potato salad that is called that. The potato salad is mixed with beetroot, chow chow and a home made egg mayonnaise. Locals love it.
Mitiore - This is grated coconut marinated in the juice of small white crabs with sprinklings of spring onion and sea urchins.
Seafood - If you do visit Aitutaki and the outer Islands there is a lot of different kind of seafood you can try like 'remu' - sea grapes, and all kinds of sea urchins, crabs etc. Do not eat sea urchins straight out of the sea as you may be unfamiliar with what is edible.
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