The Cook Islands
The Cook Islands are administered in association with New Zealand, so no-one is sure if this is an official country or not. The 15 islands would maintain that they are self-governing. The people have Cook Island nationality, as well as being citizens of New Zealand. There are a lot of Kiwis here, both running businesses and on holiday. That means plenty of flat vowels and friendly, but we're not going to stand any nonsense or emotional twaddle conversation.
History of the Cook Islands
The Cook Islands were settled by Polynesian peoples in about 10000 AD, migrating in waves from what is now French Polynesia. The islands were visited by Captain James Cook, in the 1770s, but were named the Hervey Islands, after Augustus Hervey, third Earl of Bristol. In the 1820s, Russian Admiral, Adam Johann von Krusenstern, referred to the southern islands as the "Cook Islands"on his maps after their British 'discoverer'.
The islands were decaled a British protectorate in 1888, but later annexed by New Zealand (against the wishes of the local chiefs. At that point the entire territory became known as the Cook islands. (the southern group islands are still referred to as the Hervey Islands.)
Facts and Factoids
- The capital of the Cook islands is Avarua, on Rarotonga, 13,000 of the 17000 Cook Islanders live on this island.
- Cook Island peoples - more than twice the number of the residents of the Cook Islands have left to live in New Zealand
- Cookies aren't just biscuits - it's a name given to the people of these islands
- The people of The Cook Islands style themselves 'the great entertainers of the Pacific, the best dancers and drummers in Polynesia'.
- Cook Island law says that buildings may not be taller than coconut trees
- The main source of income is tourism
- You can't buy land here - property is handed down through the generations
What to see in the Cook Islands?
Cook Islands websites say that visitors refer to the islands as Paradise on Earth. They're certainly gorgeous - the perfect coral islands of your imagination. Aitutaki, in particular, is stunning, with its idyllic lagoon. Read about my visits:
Leaving the Cook Islands
Flying on, to French Polynesia, is as laid back as everything else in the Pacific. From Aitutaki, returning to Rarotonga, I'm early for check in, so I hang around, thinking that at least I'll get a good seat. Mais non. It's free seating. So, some lunch, I've got well over two hours. I wander across the road to a café on the beach. All departure lounges should be like this.
There are no safety announcements. We have to wait for the stewardess to finish the chapter in the novel she is reading, before we get any drinks. I'm going on to Papeete, French Polynesia.