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Trip Planner South Pacific  /  Cook Islands  /  Southern Cook Islands  /  Atiu

Atiu

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Caves · Nightlife
Atiu, also known as Enuamanu, is an island 187 km northeast of Rarotonga, in the Southern Islands group of the Cook Islands Archipelago.GeographyAtiu is a raised volcanic island surrounded by a reef from which rise 6m cliffs of fossilized coral (makatea). The makatea cliff forms a 1mi ring round the island, creating a virtual plateau. Erosion at the innerside of the ring has formed dip of about 30m into fertile land, which gradually rises again to a central 70m flat-topped hill.Administratively, the small uninhabited island of Takutea, now a bird sanctuary, is considered part of Atiu.HistoryAtiuans trace their ancestry from Tangaroa, the principal god of Atiu and universally recognised in Polynesia as tutelary god of the sea. Atiu's area is about half that of Rarotonga. The low swampy land consists of taro plantations, marshes and a lake, Te Roto. This fertile area also grows bananas, citrus fruits, pawpaws, breadfruit and coconuts. The ancient name of the island was Enuamanu, meaning the island of insects and animals, although there is some dispute over whether 'animals' includes 'insects'. The Atiuans understand it as meaning there were no previous inhabitants. The Atiuans call themselves 'worms of Enuamanu' because they were born on Atiu and hope to be buried there. There was once a custom on Atiu similar to that of New Zealand Maori of burying a newborn child's placenta under a newly planted tree. This is the origin of the Atiuan saying: "We come from the land and go back to the land." The Atiuans were a fierce, warrior people and before the arrival of the missionaries busied themselves with making war on their neighbors on Mauke and Mitiaro, slaughtering and eating significant numbers of them.
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