Commenting on the proposal to develop a site on Avana Point, which has drawn opposition from a large-cross section of Rarotonga residents, Nicholas says the Marae Vaerota is a shared cultural heritage, not just between the tribes, but for all of the Cook Islands, Polynesia and the world.
“Although it has a ‘bloody’ history, where human sacrifices were made, we respect that as part of our cultural history, and will protect it from being relegated into the fore shadow of any form of construction.
“Marae Vaerota has (always) enjoyed the feel of the first rays of each sunrise and moonrise. It watched over our ancestral voyaging canoes, ‘Te Kiritianga Maro Tai’ enter and exit Te Ava Rau/ Te Ava Tapu.
“It is cultural protocol that upon entering the harbour that a prayer is made, and the same when one is exiting the harbour. Marae Vaerota is a composite of a number of marae within the immediate area which interconnect to form a fortification – Te Punanga for our tribes.”
Nicholas says any construction, big or small, will degrade the panoramic vista from the Marae, it will alter the overall landscape of the area, and in his view,Development idea deemed ‘abhorrent’ desecrate the intrinsic mana of Marae Vaerota.
“Preservation of our cultural heritage is a duty, because it is one of the most important foundations, anchor between us as people, to our land, our Moana, and the essence of our being.
“I am extremely disappointed with the author of the Environmental Impact Assess,emt Report for this proposal, as it marginalises the status of the area as ‘of minor cultural, and environmental significance’. “This area is tapu.
Nichols says opposition to the development should be a clear appeal to all landowners to set aside reserve areas around marae, burial sites, and areas of significance.
“Keep the areas in collective ownership, so that they will be protected, and remain treasures for the tribes, and the country.”