Photographer's Note

The written history of the Cooks began with the sighting of Pukapuka by the Spaniard Alvaro de Mendaña in 1595 followed by a landing on Rakahanga in 1606 by another Spanish explorer, Pedro Quiros. The British arrived off Pukapuka in 1764 and named it Danger Island because they could not land.
Between 1773 and 1779 Captain James Cook sighted and landed on many of the southern group but never came within eyeshot of Rarotonga. The infamous Captain William Bligh of the Bounty landed on Aitutaki in 1789 – he is credited with importing paw paw trees to the Cooks – and in April of that year the mutineers of the Bounty appeared off Rarotonga but, contrary to popular belief, probably did not land. Cook named the islands the Hervey Islands. In fact, he gave this name to the first island he discovered – Manuae. The name "Cook Islands" was given to the group by the Russians in honor of the great English navigator when it appeared for the first time on a Russian naval chart in the early 1800s.
The first official European sighting of Rarotonga was from the Endeavour in September/October 1813. The first known landing was by the crew of the Cumberland in 1814.
There was none on Rarotonga.
Instead, trouble broke out between the sailors and the islanders and many were killed on both sides.
The bluestockings and Rechabites were next to arrive the missionaries.
John Williams of the London Missionary Society landed on Aitutaki in 1821. Williams used Tahitian converts to carry his message to the Cook Islanders and they took to this task with great enthusiasm and were extremely successful. Williams was later killed and eaten on Erromango in the New Hebrides, now known as Vanuatu, but by then his work had been followed up and the gospels were well and truly embedded in the people's psyche.
The missionaries were responsible for the discontinuation of cannibalism. They also tried hard to fence their island converts off from the influences of European and American ships' crews and introduced schools and written language so their charges could read the scriptures. However, they also supported rigid police supervision over the people's morals and activities considered by them to be dubious.
The early missionaries estimated the population of Rarotonga at between 6000 to 7000. The impact of contact with the wider world was devastating. Western diseases spread like bushfires through the islanders and their numbers reduced dramatically during the mid-19th century to probably fewer than 2000. Since then periodic additions of people from outer islands have built Rarotonga's population back to about 10,000. In 1923 the population was reported by Stewart's Handbook of the Pacific Islands to have been '3287 natives and half-castes living as natives, and 200 whites and half-castes living as whites.'

The rest of the History

*Scanned image*

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Additional Photos by Paolo Motta (Paolo) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3739 W: 144 N: 8840] (41258)
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