History Of The Cook Islands

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The Cook Island is a name given to 15 different tiny islands in the South Pacific Ocean where most people refer to as the Jewels of the Pacific. These 15 islands are; Rarotonga, the capital island where the international airport is, Mangaia, Atiu, Aitutaki, Mauke, Takutea, Mitiaro, Manuae, Suwarrow, Palmerston, Nassau, Manihiki, Pukapuka, Penrhyn and Rakahanga. Before their discovery, these islands were a group of islands, but today, they stand as individual islands. Funny enough, there are no written records about the Cook Islands, who the early settlers were, the migration history or the occupation of these settlers. What we find is history beginning late in the 16th century with the arrival of the Europeans, when Spanish ships visited the area.

Early History

The Cook Islands were named after James Cook after he visited the islands back in 1773 and 1777. In 1888, the islands became a British protectorate before they were annexed as the British territory in 1900 and by 1901; they were all included in the Colony of New Zealand boundaries.

Although there is no written records of the early settlers as mentioned before, it is believed that the Polynesian people from Tahiti were the first to arrive there in 600AD. The islands of Polynesia were overpopulated at the time and this is what triggered the massive migration. The Ara metua and the road in Toi are the major evidence of these migrations which went on until 800 AD.

After the arrival of Captain James cook and the Russians in the early 18th century, the bluestockings and the Rechabites were next in line to arrive. These were the missionaries. John Williams from the London Missionary Society arrived in Aitutaki in 1821 as he used the converts in Tahiti to take his message to the Cook Islands. The converts together with John delivered their message with great enthusiasm and passion and this was the main reason to his success. John Williams was later killed and eaten in the New Hebrides, currently known as Vanuatu, although by then his work had borne fruits and the gospel was already embedded in the society. After this, the missionaries worked hard to bring an end to cannibalism in the Cook Islands and they succeeded.

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Late History

In 1843, the French army took over Tahiti and the Society Islands, which lead to the British fearing for a French attack and even requested for protection. The threat continued to persist up to 1865 that Governor Grey of New Zealand submitted a call for protection. In the 1870s, the Cooks thrives in peace, harmony and prosperity under the leadership of Queen Makea and later Queen Victoria in the 1880s before the Islands were later annexed by New Zealand on October 7 1900.

“The Cook Islands were named after James Cook after he visited the islands back in 1773 and 1777”

In contrast to the takeovers in the past, today, the Cook Islands enjoy a democratic government, universal suffrage and they even have a couple of privately-owned newspapers. The islands are governed by a Parliament that consists of 24 elected representatives. The head of state in the Cook islands is Queen Elizabeth II who is the Queen of New Zealand.

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