History

Legend tells that Rarotonga was discovered by Io Tangaroa who arrived about 1400 years ago from Nuku Hiva in the Marquesas (French Polynesia). In the early 13th century two great warrior chiefs, Tangi’ia from Tahiti and Karika from Samoa, arrived in vaka (ocean-going canoes) to conquer the island and rule Rarotonga as joint kings. The land was divided among six tribes, each headed by an ariki. The first recorded European visitor was Philip Goodenough, captain of the Cumberland, who came in 1814 and spent three months looking for sandalwood. In 1823 missionaries John Williams and Papeiha set out to convert the Rarotongans, and in little more than a year Christianity had taken a firm hold.