The Cook Islands Christian Churches will get together on Gospel Day to compete with one another in highly spirited but friendly spectacles.
In preparation for Gospel Day, a great deal of effort is being spent on making costumes and props, constructing sets, and writing scripts.
All of the CICC churches have been making these last minute preparations to put on the winning show with island dress-ups, elaborate dramas, singing and dancing.
But behind the fanfare is an important message and a significant history worth remembering and commemorating.
Every year, the nation commemorates the arrival of Christianity to the Cook Islands with the annual Nuku day programme. London born clergyman, Reverend John Williams, was responsible for bringing Christianity to the Islands.
He volunteered for service with the London Missionary Society in 1816 when he was just 20 years old.
Rarotonga was revealed to John Williams while spreading the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the Society Islands in Tahiti.
He was urged to come to Rarotonga and sail the seas with Papehia in search of Rarotonga, but found Aitutaki and landed there on October 26 in the year 1821. According to another LMS missionary, Bernard Thorogood in his 1960 book “Not Quite Paradise”, Island chiefs came across in canoes “clad chiefly in tattoo marks and waving their spears”.
Before the arrival of Christianity in Aitutaki, there was a big tribal battle on the island known as the battle of Vaovaoka.
It was during this battle that Tepaki was wounded by a spear embedded in his body.
When John William and Papehia arrived to spread the Christian message, they were also able to remove the splint from inside Tepaki’s body.
Tepaki was saved from gangrene and survived, and was one of the first people who accepted Christianity to the island.
From Aitutaki, the Gospel spread to the Nga-Pu-Toru islands (Atiu, Mauke, Mitiaro) before finally finding the island of Rarotonga.
Before coming to Rarotonga there lived a man from the Takitumu district “Tika- ki - te - ope” in the village of Matavera.
People thought he had lost his mind and spoke nonsense when he made predictions in accordance to the many dreams and visions he had. The people thought his predictions to be irrational and totally impossible.
His most vivid vision was of the white tropic bird, Rakoa, which would fly out of the darkness to feed on the Ngatae flower.
In his dreams the ocean is turbulent, the earth is shaking, the Ngatae are blooming and young Rakoa birds are emerging from darkness into a brilliant light.
Tika-ki-te-ope interpreted this vision to mean that there would come a time when the Rakoa would come out and feed on the Ngatae blossoms.
During this time an all-powerful God would arrive– a God so powerful that the ocean would be turbulent, the earth would quake and the mountains shudder. The arrival of this new God would bring the Cook Islands people out of the “darkness” they had been living in for so long and into the light.
He told everyone in Takitumu – from Rangiatea (Matavera), to Ngati-Tangiia in the east (Ngatangiia) and Teimorimotia in the south (Titikaveka) about the prophecy, but no one believed him. But his prophecy finally came true on October 26, 1821, when Christianity arrived in Aitutaki bringing with it the Gospel and the belief in a new and more powerful God.
Generations to follow were taught to live by the laws of the Bible.
And the words of the Gospel became like the sweet nectar of the Ngatae flower – sweet and fulfilling nourishment to the souls of our people