John Williams was an evangelical Christian determined to spread the gospel throughout the Pacific. To this end, he constructed a ship at Rarotonga in 1827 with a ‘mechanical ingenuity’ that gave him legendary status in Britain and beyond. But who really built the ‘Messenger of Peace’?
Marjorie and Ron Crocombe lived up to exacting standards in their personal and professional lives and their combined efforts impacted and inspired uncountable others. We were privileged to know them, writes former USP director Rod Dixon.
Traditionally, Cook Islanders observed Matariki as the commencement of the annual calendar, a calendar that reflected cycles of life in the agricultural economy of the south and the fishing economy of the north.
With very few resources and little official encouragement, the Cook Islands first local doctors tackled epidemics and eliminated diseases, laying the foundations for the modern Cook Islands medical service.
An exhibition in Venice exploring the sculptural beauty of command clubs from Oceania, including the Cook Islands, has inspired a Rarotongan experiment to discover how ancient weapons obtain their beautifully finished surfaces.
Several houses and schools in Rarotonga share a link with Scott Base in Antarctica and Auckland International Airport in Mangere, having been designed by the same man, architect Frank Ponder. Gradually disappearing, Ponder’s Rarotonga buildings retain important heritage value.
Taking cargo over the reef in the outer islands involved extraordinary seamanship. Boats and canoes crossed the edge of the reef on the crest of a chosen wave. But when the sea was rolling from the wrong direction, a crossing could be fraught with danger. By Rod Dixon on Mangaia.
With the recent passing of Prince Philip, we wondered what official gifts had been presented to Queen Elizabeth II, her consort, and other royals during their Cook Islands visits. This is what we found. By Jean Tekura Mason and Rod Dixon.
In 1945 the ariki of Mangaia offered New Zealand land for an airstrip. In the same year, the ending of the Second World war released thousands of ex-pilots and surplus aircraft to service remote air-routes around the world. While other countries took advantage, another 30 years would pass before commercial aircraft landed on Mangaia. By Rod Dixon
Almost 30 years ago, a Mangaian vaka set sail for Rarotonga with no electronic or navigational aids, no captain and no escort vessel. The vaka was ‘missing’ for two days and a night and mounting concerns for the crew’s safety sparked an air and sea search. Here the vaka’s navigator, the late Ma’ara Peraua, and crew member Maire Kareroa record their memories of the voyage, while extracts from Rod Dixon’s 1992 diary describe reactions on the ground in Mangaia.
Cook Islands men returning from overseas have been a source of fashion innovation for almost 200 years. Long before Bluff white boots and gangster wear, Rarotongan sailors helped revolutionise the formless, shapeless world of missionary clothing.
New Zealand Maori plans to resettle Rarotonga. As a land-war brewed in the Waikato in 1863, a New Zealand ngāti, befriended by Kainuku ariki, looked to Rarotonga as a possible site for refugee resettlement.