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Cook Islands history gifted to upcoming generations

Saturday 6 April 2024 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Art, Features

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Cook Islands  history gifted  to upcoming generations
Author and historian Howard Henry has gifted his 16 publications about Cook Islands history to the Tauranga Vananga Te Papa 'Akamou Korero - Cultural Heritage. He is pictured with Justina Nicholas |-Director, and Odile Urirau - Chief Librarian both from Tauranga Vananga, and St Joseph’s Primary School students. MELINA ETCHES/24032871

Author and historian Howard Henry has gifted his monumental effort of 16 publications of Cook Islands history to the Tauranga Vananga Ministry of Culture Development Library for generations to peruse over and enjoy.

Tauranga Vananga celebrated and acknowledged his donation of books during a special book presentation held a week ago, attended by curious students from St Joseph’s Primary School and Apii Avarua.

“It has been challenging and exciting,” said Henry. “And exciting and interesting in many ways because it is a history of real people who did real things, who lived in real time.”

He said the difference with the people who lived in history as opposed to people living today was that during those periods of history, life was very difficult for people.

“No electricity, no running water, not enough food – people really struggled but they kept battling on and they survived…”

Henry said that going through some historical stories in some parts of the Cook Islands, some of those stories really make you wonder “about how could they do it, how did it happen, but they succeeded.”

“And some of the stories make you laugh … and there’s other stories that just about make you cry when you read about the hardships that many people faced but that’s all a part of our history, all part of our heritage.”

Henry published his first book in 2000 when he was living in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Returning to Rarotonga, Henry continued to research, write and publish his books on Cook Islands history and is now onto book number 17.

He said being able to put together these various books on all different parts of Cook Islands history in recent years has been a challenge that has been well worth doing.

Henry encouraged the students present to embrace the Library and Museum and to visit these storehouses of knowledge to learn as much as they can.

“Don’t be afraid of the library or the museum, there’s a lot of knowledge in these places. And if you want to understand knowledge and learn these things no one is going to put it in your head,” he said.

“You have got to seek and find it, and learn it yourself.”

Apii Avarua Year 8 students Emma-Joy Motu, Jayden Angene and Ngavai Mataio expressed their excitement and interest in the book event.

Motu said: “I was amazed that all these books were written by one person, and I’m learning about our own history too so it’s exciting.”

Mataio said listening to Henry share his stories about his writing and his research was “really interesting.”

Angene said “I’m amazed that he has written 16 books about our history, it’s interesting and I feel proud about that.”

Henry’s books are available at the Tauranga Vananga Library for people to have a look through. His books can also be purchased from the Bounty Bookshop in downtown Avarua (next door to Cook Islands Tourism).