Visitors Guide Q


As with other countries the Cook Islands is strict on importation of fruits and vegetables. Throw them in the bin provided in the arrival area of the airport.

Queen Elizabeth

While the Union Jack is still part of the Cook Islands flag, the Queen of England has little to do with the running of the country but she, and the Royal Family, are held in high regard and with affection. There is still a public holiday for the Queen’s Birthday, and her head still graces the Cook Island coins. Interestingly the ‘tail’ of the local $1 coin has a fertility symbol, which somehow sums up how the Cook Islanders have come to balance sensual Polynesian culture with the religious heritage handed down from British missionaries.

The Queen’s visit to Rarotonga was in 1974 where, among other duties and cups of tea, she bestowed a knighthood on the first Prime Minister, Albert Henry. In 1978 Henry was thrown out of office and stripped of his knighthood for electoral fraud. If you go to the graveyard of the Cook Islands Christian Church you’ll spot his grave – it’s the one with a bust. The grave has his name and a photo of Henry and his wife. At the foot of the grave is a marble cross, which is inscribed “Sir Albert Henry”. Did proud relatives place this there later? Another legacy that may be attributed to the Queen is the number of dogs that appear to have a degree of corgi in their gene pool.


Pedro Fernández de Quirós was one of the first Europeans to visit the Cook Islands (1606). He set of from Peru with three small ships with a mission to discover gold and spread the word of Christianity, in that order. His voyage was pretty much doomewd from the start. He enforced daily prayers and forbade gambling and swearing, which was not the most popular move for a crew of swarthy red-blooded Peruvian sailors. He wrote that the Cook Islanders were “the most beautiful white and elegant people that were met during the voyage – especially the women, who, if properly dressed, would have advantages over Spanish women.” I can imagine him averting his eyes. Eventually the expedition made its way to Vanuatu where Quirós had a run-in with the locals and, after 54 days, some doses of malaria and food poisoning the crew decided they’d had enough. Just after midnight on June 21st, they checked to see if Quirós was asleep and cast silently off the island of Santo. Quirós didn’t argue the case against leaving too strongly and they all returned to Peru.

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