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Cook Islands Travel Guide

Children on Mitiaro
Children on Mitiaro Island

The People of Mitiaro

Before the arrival of Europeans, the people occupied the center of the island near their gardens. Today they all live in one long village on the west coast. The village is neat and clean, with white sandy roads between the Norfolk pines and houses.

Four different sections of the village maintain the names of the four original villages, and each has a garden area inland bearing the same name. Because the makatea cannot support crops, it's used for keeping pigs or growing coconuts. There are no mynah birds on Mitiaro, so you'll see abundant Pacific pigeons (rupe), warblers, and reef herons.

The fine outrigger canoes of Mitiaro are made of hollowed-out puka logs, held together with coconut-husk rope. These are used for longline tuna and paara fishing outside the reef. Even from shore you'll see lots of fish on the reef at Mitiaro.

From July to December flying fish swarm off Mitiaro for three days during the first quarter of the moon each month and local fishermen in outriggers scoop them up using handnets, returning to shore to unload again and again until every freezer on the island is full.

Tradition dictates that it's not allowed to use outboard motors in this fishery or for the anglers to sell their catch, but neither rule is followed these days.

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