History

‘Land of Birds’ or ‘Land of Insects’ is the translation of ‘Atiu’s traditional name ‘Enua Manu. Along with its neighbours Ma’uke and Mitiaro, ‘Atiu makes up the Nga Pu Toru (Three Roots). In the recent pre-European times, ‘Atiuan ariki overlorded smaller Ma’uke and Mitiaro. ‘Atiuan warriors also made incursions on Rarotonga and Aitutaki, but without success. James Cook was the first European to land on ‘Atiu on 3 April 1777. Reverend John Williams landed on 19 July 1823. Rongomatane, the leading ‘Atiuan chief, was converted to Christianity after Williams’ missionaries boldly ate sugarcane from Rongomatane’s sacred grove – he subsequently ordered all the idols on the island to be burnt. The arrival of missionaries Williams and Tahitian Papeiha is celebrated on Gospel Day (19 July).