1. History, Geography & Economy
2. Visitor Essentials
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legends involve elements of cannibalism and spirit worshipping. Only the mild tales
are included below.
Tangiia and Karika
Once there were 2 warriors, Tangiia from Tahiti and Karika from Samoa who were at
sea in search of the island which we now know as Rarotonga. In the past, Rarotonga
was also known as Tumu-Te-Varovaro and before that Nukutere (these names have stories that
go with it, but i will explain another time). Anyway, they saw each other
approaching on the horizon, and Tangiia told the men on his canoe to go below deck.
I was told that Tangiia had about 200 people on his canoe. So as they drew closer to
each other, Karika noticed that there was only women on Tangiia's canoe. When they
discovered that each was in search of the same island, they engaged in what we call
'putoto' which is sort of like tug-o-war, but instead of pulling a rope, they pushed each
others canoes. As you would expect Karika was winning. Tangiia waited until Karika's
men had used up a lot of their strength, then he called his men to get up and paddle and
so they did. And as I was told they almost pushed Karika back to Samoa. In
resignation, Karika gave Tangiia the directions as to how to get to Rarotonga. So
off Tangiia went in search of Rarotonga. They further the went the more Tangiia
noticed that it was getting much cooler, so he dipped his hand in the sea and it was cold
indeed, much colder than he expected where Rarotonga would be, so he knew he had been
duped, they had gone too far south. That is where the name Rarotonga (which means
down south) came from. So he quickly ordered his crew to turn around and they went
north again only to come across Karika again and in view of Rarotonga. So they
engaged in another pushing war and after several days, neither winning, they decided to
split Rarotonga in half. So they decided that Tangiia would get the half which had
Takitumu (includes the villages, Titikaveka, Ngatangiia and Matavera) and Karika would get
Te-Au-O-Tonga which is on the town side of Rarotonga. I am unsure as to who was to
get the other big village, Arorangi. But note that Rarotonga was already inhabited
when these two arrived. But I was told that Tangiia and Karika were welcomed by the
native Rarotongan's and even married chiefs daughters.
Taakura was an extremely beautiful red-haired maiden that lived on the island of
Rarotonga. She was so much in love with her young warrior boyfriend. But one day, she
discovered that he was having an affair. Devastated she vowed to destroy her boyfriend and
every other Rarotongan man. So she committed suicide and at night her spirit would sit on
a rock by the side of the road, combing her long red hair, she used her hypnotic beauty to
lure her boyfriend off the edge of a bridge. Taakura's spirit still roams Rarotonga and
continues to lure men to plunge to their deaths. Don't worry, the last case i heard off
was back in the early 1980's, when a man drove his vehicle off the side of a bridge, he
didn't die, but claimed it was Taakura.
continued to haunt people into the 1980's"
Ina and the Shark
Do you know why sharks have a dent on top of their head. Well, long time ago
there was a beautiful maiden called Ina who asked a shark to take her to another island to
see her boyfriend. Anyway, during the journey she was hungry and decided to open one of
the coconuts she had brought along. But she didn't have anything to open it with. Then she
suddenly got an idea. She got one of the coconuts and cracked it open on the sharks head.
The shark then shook her off his back and ate her. Anyway, thats how sharks got a dent on
The Octopus and the Rat
Another similar story is about the octopus getting ink in his head. This is how
it was explained to me. There was a rat on a canoe that was being hurled around in a
storm. Eventually, the canoe started to break up. Afraid and shivering, the rat looked
around for something to which he could cling too. Then he noticed an octopus swimming
nearby and called over to it. He asked it to take him to land and that he would pay him
generously. The octopus being ignorant positioned himself and allowed the rat to climb on
top of his head, then carefully made his way towards land. Once they were near the beach,
the rat jumped off and quickly ran onto dry land. The octopus then called out to him
"where is the payment you promised me". Then the rat turned around and said,
"Feel the top of your head". Anyway, enough of the gross tales. But that is why
the octopus has that black ink in his head and thats why octopus's hate rats.
According to legends, Raemaru was the tallest mountain on Rarotonga. Raemaru is on the
west side of Rarotonga in the village of Puaikura or now known as Arorangi. Raemaru, means
in the shade of the sun. The fame of this mountain reached as far as Aitutaki
island. Aitutaki was completely flat then and so they sent some warriors to steal the
mountain. Hence, in the night, these Aitutakian warriors cut the mountain top off and took
it back to Aitutaki. So now Raemaru has a flat top which has been that way long before
white man ever set foot on Rarotonga and Aitutaki has a small mountain.
of Raemaru is unbelievable and yet there are elements of truth in it"
Ati and the people from the
Ati was a humble planter who lived in the village which is now Arorangi, a long
time ago. One day when he went to his plantation, he discovered some of his crops were
missing. He paid his neighbours a visit and demanded that they own up to this offence, he
even accused and threatened his neighbours loose animals. But nobody would come forward.
So determined to get justice, he figured that the thief was bound to return. So he hid in
the bushes nearby and waited for the thief to come back again. He did this nite after
nite, but the thief did not return. Then one night, the moon was full, Ati was almost
about to dose off convinced that his threats to the other villagers had definitely scared
off the thief, when there was this funny sound like rippling water. He glanced over at the
pool near his plantation and it was glowing. Then suddenly, human figures started to
emerge from the pool. They were almost like him except that they were white-skinned. He
watched more in amazement than fury as they uprooted and helped themselves to the fruits
of his labour. When they had gathered enough, they climbed back into the pool and
disappeared into its depths. Curious, Ati followed them into the pool, but no matter how
hard he tried he could not hold his breath long enough. Not that he knew how deep he had
to go either. Eventually, he gave up. He then planned how he would capture these
white-skins (momoke) the next time.
of Ati and his momoke still live on Rarotonga"
On the nite of the next full moon, Ati
again lay in the bushes, but this time nearer the pool and watched the momoke raid his
plantation. While they were busy, he threw a net that he had woven especially for this
purpose over the pool and then rounded up the momoke. They rushed back to the pool, but
the weight snapped some of the twine and all except one was able to escape. Ati, ecstatic,
gathered up his captive and took it home. When morning came he took a good look at his
captive and realised it was a woman. He decided to make her his wife. She was very unhappy
initially. In addition, she couldn't go outside during the day because it hurt her eyes.
However, time went by and she became accustomed to living in Ati's world, eventually
bearing him a son. They were very happy together. However, one day when Ati came home, he
found her crying. She asked him if they could go and visit her parents as she wanted to
show them their child. So that nite they prepared and went to the pool. Ati held the
child. They took deep breaths and attempted to dive. Ati could not hold on and had to come
up again for more air. He tried again and again, unsuccessfully. His wife had not emerged
again to assist him. Eventually, he gave up, and sat by the pool with their son, mourning,
knowing she was never to return to the surface again. He named his son Ati've (which means
seperation) and sealed off the pool. Anyway, I am telling you this story, cos while you
are in Rarotonga and if you come across some extremely fair Rarotongan's (no, not the
Caucasians living there or the Cook Islanders who have Caucasian ancestors), then you will
know they are descendants of Ati've. Momoke is the Rarotongan word for albino. No matter
how much these people try, they don't tan. Anyway, the pool is still there too, but you
have to ask the old folk in Arorangi where it is.