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Manihiki Aerial.jpg
NASA picture of Manihiki.
Location Central-Southern Pacific Ocean
Coordinates 10°24′S 161°00′W / 10.4°S 161°W / -10.4; -161
Archipelago Cook Islands
Total islands 43
Major islands Tauhunu
Area 4 km²
Ethnic groups Nu-matua, Tia-ngaro-tonga

Manihiki is an island in the Cook Islands known as the Island of Pearls. It is a triangular atoll 1160 km north of Rarotonga, and is said to be one of the group’s loveliest islands.



Polynesians are believed to have lived on Manihiki since at least 900 or 1000 AD as Kupe who was the first to have explored Aotea Roa came from Manihiki also known as Whakahotu Nui,or Niiwa Nui, His canoe was named by the ancient name of Tukao Village known as Te Matawhorua,On his returned from Aotea Roa he renamed the Marae in the Village of Tukao (Te Matawhorua)Te Puna Ruki o Toi Tu Rahui Te Rautea as Te Hono O Kupe Ki Aotea, shortened as Te Marae Hono. The population in the island historically depended of coconut existences, that made settlers move between Manihiki and close atoll Rakahanga, by boat.

It is Believed that Pedro Fernandes de Queirós discovered the island in 1606 and called it Gente Hermosa (Beautiful People), altrought on 13 October 1822, when it was sighted by the U.S. ship Good Hope was named Humphrey Island by captain Pratrickson. In 1928 the whale ship Ganges spoted the island and named it Great Ganges Island, as other whale ships named it Liderous, Gland, Sarah Scott and pescado. Despite all this the island conserves its aboriginal name. The name controverse has two major theories, it's believed that the original name of the island was Manuhiki, this was probably inspired by the aboriginal discovers Manu coming from the word Rua Manu (a kind of canoe) and Hiki meanin ashore being the literal translation canoe carried to the ashore. The other version suggests that the original discoverers were from Manihi, an island in Tuamotus, and the name of the island would mean Little Manihi.

In 1889, sectors of the population against missionairs, made an agreement with Frenchs stationed in Tahiti to annex the island, in response a ship was sent but the missioners hoisted the British Flag, causing the return of the ship.

On August 9, 1889 the island was proclaimed British protectorate by Commander A.C. Clarke, captain of the HMS Espiegle. On the request of the Rarotongan Ariki Manihiki was included in New Zealand's boundaries in 1901.

The island had been claimed by the United States in 1822 but it was ceded later in 1980.[1]


Map of Manihiki Atoll

Manihiki sits atop an underwater mountain rising 4000 m above the ocean floor. Its stunning 10 km-wide lagoon is laced with 43 tiny motu (islets), which are strung along the reef. The reef provides excellent swimming and snorkelling, with colourful tropical fish to view.

Diving is a major attraction, and the offshore diving is among the region's best (visitors can freely dive unless scuba diving gears are used; in this case visitors need to obtain a permit from the administration office either from the Island Secretary or Mayor and Dupity Mayor). There is good fishing in the open waters beyond the reef, including catches of Yellow-fin Tuna and Flying fish.

The island is renowned for its black pearls and there are pearl farms dotted around the lagoon. The largest farm maintains some 250,000 oysters for pearl production. Tours can be arranged to the farms to learn about the cultivation process, and to watch the seeding of oyster shells for future pearl harvest.

Tauhunu, on the western coast, is known for its pearl carvers and the Whare Ariki – which was built in the 1980s which still standing after Cyclone Martin, which struck the island in November 1997. Flying time to the island is about four hours, and there is a weekly flight every Thursday from Rarotonga.

People & Culture



Historical populations
Year Pop.  %±
1849 1,200
1906 521 −56.6%
1911 444 −14.8%
1916 493 11.0%
1921 432 −12.4%
1996 662 53.2%
2008 468 −29.3%
Source:"Ethnology of Manihiki and Rakahanga". New Zealand Electronic Text Centre.  


There are two villages. the larger village is Tauhunu which is on the Islet of Tauhunu on the western rim of the atoll. The second village, Tukao and also known in the olden days as Te Matawhorua , is at the northern tip of Ngake or Te Paeroa Islet, which is on the northern tip of the atoll. The island politically controlled by the Island Councils and a Mayor elected every three years by the people


The atoll is populated two Whakaheo tribes, the Matakeinanga and Tukuwhare. Each one has 7 subtribes, divided in 7 groups:

Matakeinanga Tukuwhare
  • Te-pu-tauhunu
  • Purenga
  • Kaupapa
  • Hitiki
  • Popo-iti
  • Nga-hoe-e-wha
  • Whati-kaua
  • Wai-a-Matua
  • Ngaro-Tapaha
  • Nga-whare-ririki
  • Tuteru-matua
  • Tianewa-matua
  • Tihauma
  • Hua-tane

In February 2009, the mayor of Manihiki, Kora Kora, stated that the world economic crisis had driven up the price of essential goods to such an extent that it was provoking significant emigration to New Zealand and Australia. He said that the population of Manihiki at that stage was just 280.[3]

The languages speaken in the island are the Rakahanga-Manihiki and English.

External links


Coordinates: 10°24′S 161°00′W / 10.4°S 161°W / -10.4; -161

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Database error article)

From LoveToKnow 1911

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