Atiu

Atiu is an island in Southern Cook Islands. It is the third largest, third most populous, and third most visited island in the Cook Island group. It is 27km2 and has a rapidly decreasing population of 480 (2009), of which most are children and elderly.

. . . Atiu . . .

By planeAir Rarotonga daily flights to Rarotonga except Sundays, and weekly flights (Wednesday) to Aitutaki. Officially there is a baggage limit of 16kg per passenger but it is not handled very strictly for tourists.

  • By foot you’ll see the most, but you need time.
  • By mountainbike ($10/day) Tel.33271
  • By Motorbike ($20-25/day), at the “Super Brown” store.

When Ngakaara’s power had waned Ngamaru Povaru was the more dominant of the three kings of Atiu. He was a pacifist and ruled with a kind hand and the people called his rule Te Au Maru. One of the first tasks he did was to build a wall around his part of the settlement. At the northern end of the wall he had three monuments built, each capped in a different fashion. These three monuments were to represent the three kings – Ngamaru, Rongomatane and Parua. Beside his house he built a small marae at which he and his nine mataiapos conducted meetings. He did several things that earned the gratefulness of his people. He purchased a piece of land in Tahiti on which the Atiuans could settle. He bought a ship – called Ngamaru – to take copra to Tahiti. He spent much time in Rarotonga, finally marrying Makea Ariki of Rarotonga. He had built for the Queen a two storied house which stands to this day. Because of the so many good deeds he had done, he was given the name of Ngamaru Rongo Tini(Ngamaru of many fames)

It is estimated that during the early part of the 14th century the first settlers arrived in Atiu. This was a group led by Mariri. He landed with his canoe of people at a place named Ava Tapu and settled near the beach at a place now known as O’Rongo. Because they were grateful for the safety of arrival here they built a Marae to the god Rongo – hence the name. They lived here for some time before they moved inland and built another settlement inland also named O’Rongo thus presenting some confusion so that now the two maraes are distinguished by the application of O’Rongo- i – Tai and O’Rongo – i – Uta. O’Rongo – i – Uta is worth seeing but it is a long way from the beach and is not always cleaned.

Before 1974 ships arriving in Atiu would unload and load at one or another of the numerous landings in Atiu depending on the state of the tide and the wind. In 1974 the big event took place of the New Zealand army building the wharf. It has enabled ships to unload and load except in very, very severe weather conditions. This wharf is also a boon to fishermen as they can launch their boats and canoes from here. This wharf is also a boon for the swimmers where they are reasonably safe. They dive off the walls and even shelter behind the inside of the wall with big waves breaking over the wall.

When Captain Cook arrived in Atiu in 1777, O’Rongo was still in use for it was here that the men were entertained by the Atiuans. Cook’s men wrote about the eight to ten double canoes they saw there under the trees. Cook’s two ships – The Resolution and The Discoverer – arrived in Atiu at the end of March. The purpose of the visit was to obtain food for the animals on board – cows and sheep. The sailors were reluctant to go ashore as they were not sure how they would be received. It was not till the Atiuans approached and boarded the ship that communications were made. They had a Tahitian on board whose language was very much like the Cook Islands language so there was little barrier to communications. Finally Captain Cook sent two of his officers ashore. They were taken to O’Rongo and entertained then fed and sent back to the ship with the left over food. No satisfactory food for the animals was obtained here so Cook went to Takutea and obtained food from there. Because of the Atiuan’s pleas they were given a dog – not a sheep nor a cow which they feared.

During the early days of Christianity when lime was plentiful, four of our kings were buried in tombs. There is no sign to say which king is buried here. The tomb was surrounded by a low fence of slabs of coral from the beach. However, when the kings were entombed, the place became sacred and no one was allowed to enter the fenced area. Trees and bushes were not to be disturbed. Two of the kings were entombed in Mapumai, one in Areora and one in Tengatangi.

. . . Atiu . . .

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. . . Atiu . . .

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