Preserving History and Culture in Cook Islands

About a month ago the Cook Islands News ran an article about how Te Fuinga o Niva Manihiki on Rarotonga launched their “na mea o te fare” history and cultural event by observing “tanu purapura” – a planting ceremony – at the Constitution Park.

The project was initiated by Pastor Ngarima George and Daniel Apii with families of the Manihiki community and committee members also joining in to support of the occasion.

The event was conducted officially to start off a set of quarterly events that will continue throughout the year.

George said, “The purpose is to celebrate the restoration and preservation of our island … to share and document our genealogy, history, language, dancing, singing, cooking, planting, cooking, fishing, medicine – culture – na mea o te fare.”

“Many of our forefathers have gone and took their knowledge with them. So while some of us Pa Metua are still alive, we want to do something that will be documented and distributed to the schools in Manihiki.”

Three young coconuts were planted to signify the first quarter of the year, accompanied by new storyboards to mark important events of Manihiki and Rakahanga.


map from

The ‘tanu purapura’ for ‘Te Huru-Avatea’ was carried out by the families of Tamata Manuela, Tuteru Hagai and the Manihiki and Rakahanga Community; the plaque was unveiled by the Australian High Commissioner Dr. Christopher Watkins and acting New Zealand High Commissioner Helena Cook.

‘Te Papa i Hamore’ planting ceremony was done by Faimau George Robati, Pastor Teina Tuarau, Pastor Ben Tuakana, Pastor Ioane Ruarepo, Reverend Peri Daniel and Reverend Takaikura Marsters’ families. Pastor Tuakana revealed the plaque.

‘Te Kainga’ was planted by family representatives from Dr Pupuke Robati and Temu Hagai; the sign board was unveiled by the Rakahanga community.

The celebrations also commemorated 171 years of the return of the “Tumotu’ – the crossing between Rakahanga and Manihiki – to Rakahanga on March 27, 1850.

Guests enjoyed tasty Manihiki dishes, including faraoa karo, uveke, faraoa pitete and pana uto. “We also ask that if anyone who knows anything of the history of Manihiki to please come and see us,” George said.

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