Flamboyant Moss history

Saturday May 25, 2019 Written by Published in Culture

With the recent collapse of large branches of the iconic 127 year old flamboyant tree at the Avarua roundabout, National Archives has kindly provided early photographs of the tree.


It is understood that the plant was brought to the Cook Islands by the first British resident Frederick Joseph Moss.

Moss was born at Longwood, St Helena probably in 1827 or 1828. He arrived in New Zealand with his wife Emily and their three children on November 12, 1859. He was elected to the House of Representatives in February 1878 representing Parnell.

In 1886 he toured several Pacific islands.

In 1889, after the Cook Islands had become a British protectorate, it was agreed that the New Zealand government, which was to meet the costs of administration, could nominate the British resident to head the government – Moss was appointed in 1890.

Moss believed that the demoralisation of the indigenous people in the Pacific islands was largely caused by the failure of Europeans to treat islanders as equals. He therefore established island governments and a federal council, and tried to involve Cook Islanders in both policy making and administration.

He was recalled to New Zealand in 1898.

When the Cook Islands were annexed to New Zealand in 1901, he condemned the move, partly because his progressive views on colonial administration led him to favour self-government for island peoples.

He passed away in Auckland on July 8, 1904. For nearly 40 years Moss had been a prominent voice in New Zealand politics and he had played a key role in developing New Zealand’s perceptions of, and policies toward, the Pacific islands.

These biography excerpts are taken from Moss, Frederick Joseph, written by Barrie MacDonald, first published in the dictionary of New Zealand Biography in 1993.

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