Rarotonga Cook Islands

(How They Came To Be and How I Got There.)

The Cook Islands lay 2,796 miles due south of Hawaii. The 15 islands that make up the Cooks have a land mass of 149 square miles, but span 1,137,162 square miles of the Pacific. Rarotonga, the capital is said to have been inhabited in 1200 A.D. by "two great warriors, Karika from Samoa and Tanguiia from Tahiti," though some believe it was reached as early as 800 A.D.

Legend has it that 700 Maori people set sail in their seafaring canoes from Rarotonga in 1329 A.D. They embarked on a journey that took them 1,860 nautical miles west to discover and settle a land they called Aotearoa. In 1642 that land was renamed New Zealand by the Dutch navigator Able Tasman.

In the spring of 1992, I received a call from Merrie Carol Grain, then Director of the Consortium of Pacific Arts and Culture to inform me that her board members had instructed her to call and apologize to me as there would not be a South Pacific contingent at Open Dialogue V in Los Angeles in June. Open Dialogue is the bienniel conference of The Association of American Cultures (TAAC), of which I was the Chairman. Merrie Carol told me that they needed to preserve their resources as the 6th Festival of Pacific Arts, "Maire Nui" would be held in Rarotonga in October. She told me that the Pacific Arts Festival is held every four years and that 7000 people from 27 Pacific nations would be in attendance. I thanked her for the call and insisted that she let me know if there was any way that I might attend the otherwise exclusive event.

A few weeks later she called with the invitation and what ensued was beyond anything that I could have ever imagined. The event was more than I could have ever hoped for. Every manner of cultural manifestation by and for the people that Buckminster Fuller called the "Island Dwellers," those people that he perceived to be the inhabitors of the earth. Fuller believed that "the atoll incubated original human life" (see Critical Path, Kiyoshi Kuromiya, Adjuvant; R. Buckminster Fuller; St . Martin's Press, 1981).