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.
Commercial shore-based whaling began on Rarotonga in 1865 with the help of Rarotongan whaler Jimmy Pi’i and members of a Ngāpuhi family from New Zealand. With whale numbers already in decline, it soon became clear a commercial industry was not viable. Yet a local taste for whale-meat meant opportunistic whale-hunting continued off Rarotonga and Aitutaki for almost another century.
George Mitchell, born and brought up on Rarotonga, played with the New Zealand Maori team that defeated the touring Kangaroos in 1937 and is credited as the first ‘Polynesian’ to be included in a New Zealand Maori representative squad.
Zane Grey “the father of the American cowboy novel’ was one of the many celebrities who visited Rarotonga on the Union Steamship Company’s trans-Pacific liner service. Others included the English novelist D.H. Lawrence, the composer Percy Grainger, several All Blacks squads, the Australian cricket legend Don Bradman, the actor Peter Lawford, the 1932 New Zealand Olympic Team, and the great New Zealand-born Australian racehorse Phar Lap.
This second of two articles, concludes the story of two courageous brothers from Ruatonga, Tatio and Marama Nicholas, who flew with Bomber Command and the Royal New Zealand Air Force in the Second World War. By Rod Dixon.