Anthem: Te Atua Mou E
God is Truth
and largest city
|Ethnic groups |
|Tou Travel Ariki|
|Associated state of New Zealand|
|4 August 1965|
• UN recognition of independence in foreign relations
|236.7 km2 (91.4 sq mi) (unranked)|
• 2016 estimate
• 2016 census
|42/km2 (108.8/sq mi) (124th)|
|GDP (PPP)||2014 estimate|
|$311 million (not ranked)|
• Per capita
|$15,002.5 (not ranked)|
|Currency||New Zealand dollar |
Cook Islands dollar
|Time zone||UTC-10 (CKT)|
|ISO 3166 code||CK|
The Cook Islands (Cook Islands Māori: Kūki 'Āirani) is a self-governing island country in the South Pacific Ocean in free association with New Zealand. It comprises 15 islands whose total land area is 240 square kilometres (92.7 sq mi). The Cook Islands' Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) covers 1,800,000 square kilometres (690,000 sq mi) of ocean.
New Zealand is responsible for the Cook Islands' defence and foreign affairs, but they are exercised in consultation with the Cook Islands. In recent times, the Cook Islands have adopted an increasingly independent foreign policy. Although Cook Islanders are citizens of New Zealand, they have the status of Cook Islands nationals, which is not given to other New Zealand citizens. The Cook Islands has been an active member of the Pacific Community since 1980.
The Cook Islands' main population centres are on the island of Rarotonga (10,572 in 2011), where there is an international airport. There is a larger population of Cook Islanders in New Zealand itself; in the 2013 census, 61,839 people said they were Cook Islanders, or of Cook Islands descent.
With about 100,000 visitors travelling to the islands in the 2010–11 financial year, tourism is the country's main industry, and the leading element of the economy, ahead of offshore banking, pearls, and marine and fruit exports.
Spanish ships visited the islands in the 16th century. The first written record came in 1595 when the island of Pukapuka was sighted by Spanish sailor Álvaro de Mendaña de Neira, who gave it the name San Bernardo (Saint Bernard). Pedro Fernandes de Queirós, a Portuguese captain working for the Spanish crown, made the first recorded European landing in the islands when he set foot on Rakahanga in 1606, calling the island Gente Hermosa (Beautiful People).
British navigator Captain James Cook arrived in 1773 and again in 1777 giving the island of Manuae the name Hervey Island. The Hervey Islands later came to be applied to the entire southern group. The name "Cook Islands", in honour of Cook, first appeared on a Russian naval chart published in the 1820s.
In 1813 John Williams, a missionary on the Endeavour (not the same ship as Cook's) made the first recorded sighting of Rarotonga. The first recorded landing on Rarotonga by Europeans was in 1814 by the Cumberland; trouble broke out between the sailors and the Islanders and many were killed on both sides. The islands saw no more Europeans until English missionaries arrived in 1821. Christianity quickly took hold in the culture and many islanders are Christians today.
The islands were a popular stop in the 19th century for whaling ships from the United States, Britain and Australia. They visited, from at least 1826, to obtain water, food and firewood. Their favourite islands were Rarotonga, Aitutaki, Mangaia and Penrhyn.
The Cook Islands became a British protectorate in 1888, largely because of community fears that France might occupy the islands as it already had Tahiti. On 6 September 1900, the islanders's leaders presented a petition asking that the islands (including Niue "if possible") be annexed as British territory. On 8 and 9 October 1900, seven instruments of cession of Rarotonga and other islands were signed by their chiefs and people. A British Proclamation was issued, stating that the cessions were accepted and the islands declared parts of Her Britannic Majesty's dominions. However, it did not include Aitutaki. Even though the inhabitants regarded themselves as British subjects, the Crown's title was unclear until and the island was formally annexed by a Proclamation dated 9 October 1900. In 1901 the islands were included within the boundaries of the Colony of New Zealand by Order in Council under the Colonial Boundaries Act, 1895 of the United Kingdom. The boundary change became effective on 11 June 1901, and the Cook Islands have had a formal relationship with New Zealand since that time.
When the British Nationality and New Zealand Citizenship Act 1948 came into effect on 1 January 1949, Cook Islanders who were British subjects automatically gained New Zealand citizenship. The islands remained a New Zealand dependent territory until the New Zealand Government decided to grant them self-governing status. Albert Henry of the Cook Islands Party was elected as the first Premier. Henry led the nation until 1978, when he was accused of vote-rigging and resigned. He was succeeded by Tom Davis of the Democratic Party.
The Cook Islands are in the South Pacific Ocean, northeast of New Zealand, between French Polynesia and American Samoa. There are 15 major islands spread over 2,200,000 km2 (849,425 sq mi) of ocean, divided into two distinct groups: the Southern Cook Islands and the Northern Cook Islands of coral atolls.
The islands were formed by volcanic activity; the northern group is older and consists of six atolls, which are sunken volcanoes topped by coral growth. The climate is moderate to tropical. The Cook Islands consist of 15 islands and two reefs.
|Group||Island||Area km²||Population (2016)||Density (2016)|
|Northern||Tema Reef (submerged)||0||0||-|
|Southern||Winslow Reef (submerged)||0||0||-|
The table is ordered from north to south. Population figures from the 2016 census.
The Cook Islands is a representative democracy with a parliamentary system in an associated state relationship with New Zealand. Executive power is exercised by the government, with the Chief Minister as head of government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the Parliament of the Cook Islands. There is a pluriform multi-party system. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature. The head of state is the Queen of New Zealand, who is represented in the Cook Islands by the Queen's Representative.
The islands are self-governing in "free association" with New Zealand. New Zealand retains primary responsibility for external affairs, with consultation with the Cook Islands government. Cook Islands nationals are citizens of New Zealand and can receive New Zealand government services, but the reverse is not true; New Zealand citizens are not Cook Islands nationals. Despite this, as of 2014, the Cook Islands had diplomatic relations in its own name with 43 other countries. The Cook Islands is not a United Nations member state, but, along with Niue, has had their "full treaty-making capacity" recognised by United Nations Secretariat, and is a full member of the WHO and UNESCO UN specialised agencies, is an associate member of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) and a Member of the Assembly of States of the International Criminal Court.
On 11 June 1980, the United States signed a treaty with the Cook Islands specifying the maritime border between the Cook Islands and American Samoa and also relinquishing any American claims to Penrhyn, Pukapuka, Manihiki, and Rakahanga. In 1990 the Cook Islands and France signed a treaty that delimited the boundary between the Cook Islands and French Polynesia. In late August 2012, United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited the islands.
There are island councils on all of the inhabited outer islands (Outer Islands Local Government Act 1987 with amendments up to 2004, and Palmerston Island Local Government Act 1993) except Nassau, which is governed by Pukapuka (Suwarrow, with only one caretaker living on the island, also governed by Pukapuka, is not counted with the inhabited islands in this context). Each council is headed by a mayor.
|Aitutaki (including uninhabited Manuae)|
|Atiu (including uninhabited Takutea)|
|Pukapuka (including Nassau and Suwarrow)|
|Te-Au-O-Tonga||(equivalent to Avarua, the capital of the Cook Islands)|
|Takitumu||Matavera, Ngatangiia, Takitumu|
On the lowest level, there are village committees. Nassau, which is governed by Pukapuka, has an island committee (Nassau Island Committee), which advises the Pukapuka Island Council on matters concerning its own island.
|Population pyramid 2011|
Births and deaths 
|Year||Population||Live births||Deaths||Natural increase||Crude birth rate||Crude death rate||Rate of natural increase||TFR|
The economy is strongly affected by geography. It is isolated from foreign markets, and has some inadequate infrastructure; it lacks major natural resources, has limited manufacturing and suffers moderately from natural disasters. Tourism provides the economic base that makes up approximately 67.5% of GDP. Additionally, the economy is supported by foreign aid, largely from New Zealand. China has also contributed foreign aid, which has resulted in, among other projects, the Police Headquarters building. The Cook Islands is expanding its agriculture, mining and fishing sectors, with varying success.
Since approximately 1989, the Cook Islands have become a location specialising in so-called asset protection trusts, by which investors shelter assets from the reach of creditors and legal authorities. According to The New York Times, the Cooks have "laws devised to protect foreigners' assets from legal claims in their home countries", which were apparently crafted specifically to thwart the long arm of American justice; creditors must travel to the Cook Islands and argue their cases under Cooks law, often at prohibitive expense. Unlike other foreign jurisdictions such as the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands and Switzerland, the Cooks "generally disregard foreign court orders" and do not require that bank accounts, real estate, or other assets protected from scrutiny (it is illegal to disclose names or any information about Cooks trusts) be physically located within the archipelago. Taxes on trusts and trust employees account for some 8% of the Cook Islands economy, behind tourism but ahead of fishing.
In recent years, the Cook Islands has gained a reputation as a debtor paradise, through the enactment of legislation that permits debtors to shield their property from the claims of creditors.
The languages of the Cook Islands include English, Cook Islands Māori, or "Rarotongan," and Pukapukan. Dialects of Cook Islands Maori include Penrhyn; Rakahanga-Manihiki; the Ngaputoru dialect of Atiu, Mitiaro, and Mauke; the Aitutaki dialect; and the Mangaian dialect. Cook Islands Maori and its dialectic variants are closely related to both Tahitian and to New Zealand Māori. Pukapukan is considered closely related to the Samoan language. English and Cook Islands Māori are official languages of the Cook Islands; per the Te Reo Maori Act. The legal definition of Cook Islands Māori includes Pukapukan.
Music in the Cook Islands is varied, with Christian songs being quite popular, but traditional dancing and songs in Polynesian languages remain popular.
Woodcarving is a common art form in the Cook Islands. The proximity of islands in the southern group helped produce a homogeneous style of carving but that had special developments in each island. Rarotonga is known for its fisherman's gods and staff-gods, Atiu for its wooden seats, Mitiaro, Mauke and Atiu for mace and slab gods and Mangaia for its ceremonial adzes. Most of the original wood carvings were either spirited away by early European collectors or were burned in large numbers by missionaries. Today, carving is no longer the major art form with the same spiritual and cultural emphasis given to it by the Maori in New Zealand. However, there are continual efforts to interest young people in their heritage and some good work is being turned out under the guidance of older carvers. Atiu, in particular, has a strong tradition of crafts both in carving and local fibre arts such as tapa. Mangaia is the source of many fine adzes carved in a distinctive, idiosyncratic style with the so-called double-k design. Mangaia also produces food pounders carved from the heavy calcite found in its extensive limestone caves.
The outer islands produce traditional weaving of mats, basketware and hats. Particularly fine examples of rito hats are worn by women to church. They are made from the uncurled immature fibre of the coconut palm and are of very high quality. The Polynesian equivalent of Panama hats, they are highly valued and are keenly sought by Polynesian visitors from Tahiti. Often, they are decorated with hatbands made of minuscule pupu shells that are painted and stitched on by hand. Although pupu are found on other islands the collection and use of them in decorative work has become a speciality of Mangaia. The weaving of rito is a speciality of the northern islands, Manihiki, Rakahanga and Penrhyn.
A major art form in the Cook Islands is tivaevae. This is, in essence, the art of handmade Island scenery patchwork quilts. Introduced by the wives of missionaries in the 19th century, the craft grew into a communal activity, which is probably one of the main reasons for its popularity.
The Cook Islands has produced internationally recognised contemporary artists, especially in the main island of Rarotonga. Artists include painter (and photographer) Mahiriki Tangaroa, sculptors Eruera (Ted) Nia (originally a film maker) and master carver Mike Tavioni, painter (and Polynesian tattoo enthusiast) Upoko'ina Ian George, Aitutakian-born painter Tim Manavaroa Buchanan, Loretta Reynolds, Judith Kunzlé, Joan Rolls Gragg, Kay George (who is also known for her fabric designs), Apii Rongo, Varu Samuel, and multi-media, installation and community-project artist Ani O'Neill, all of whom currently live on the main island of Rarotonga. Atiuan-based Andrea Eimke is an artist who works in the medium of tapa and other textiles, and also co-authored the book 'Tivaivai – The Social Fabric of the Cook Islands' with British academic Susanne Kuechler. Many of these artists have studied at university art schools in New Zealand and continue to enjoy close links with the New Zealand art scene.
On Rarotonga, the main commercial galleries are Beachcomber Contemporary Art (Taputapuatea, Avarua) run by Ben & Trevon Bergman, and The Art Studio Gallery (Arorangi) run by Ian and Kay George. The Cook Islands National Museum also exhibits art.
Akava'ine is a Cook Islands Māori word which has come, since the 2000s, to refer to transgender people of Māori descent from the Cook Islands.
It may be an old custom but has a contemporary identity influenced by other Polynesians, through cross-cultural interaction of Polynesians living in New Zealand, especially the Samoan "Fa'afafine", transgender people who hold a special place in Sāmoan society.Cook Islands Māori
Cook Islands Māori is an Eastern Polynesian language. It is the official language of the Cook Islands and is an indigenous language of the Realm of New Zealand. Cook Islands Māori is closely related to New Zealand Māori but is a distinct language. Cook Islands Māori is simply called Māori when there is no need to disambiguate it from New Zealand Māori, but it is also known as Māori Kūki 'Āirani (or Maori Kuki Airani), or, controversially, Rarotongan. Many Cook Islanders also call it Te reo Ipukarea, literally "the language of the Ancestral Homeland".Cook Islands at the 2000 Summer Olympics
On behalf of the Cook Islands, the Cook Islands Sports and Olympic Association (renamed the Cook Islands Sports and National Olympic Committee in 2002 sent a team that competed at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia.Cook Islands at the 2004 Summer Olympics
The Cook Islands competed at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece, from 13 to 29 August 2004.Cook Islands at the 2012 Summer Olympics
Cook Islands, represented by eight athletes, competed at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London from 27 July to 12 August 2012. This was the nation's seventh appearance at the Olympics.
Cook Islands Sports and National Olympic Committee sent the nation's largest delegation to these Olympic games. A total of 8 athletes, 3 men and 5 women, had competed in 5 different sporting events; half of them had been given Universality places by the International Olympic Committee. For the first time in its history, Cook Islands was represented by more female than male athletes at an Olympic event. Slalom and sprint canoeing was the nation's only sport to debut at these Olympic games. Laser Radial sailor Helema Williams was the nation's flag bearer at the opening ceremony. Cook Islands, however, has yet to win an Olympic medal.Cook Islands at the Olympics
The Cook Islands has competed in eight Summer Olympic Games. It has never competed in the Winter Games. The Cook Islands has yet to win a medal as of 2016.
The Cook Islands is the only one of the associated territories of New Zealand to compete at the Olympic Games, Niue and Tokelau having not yet done so as of 2016.Cook Islands national football team
The Cook Islands national football team is governed by the Cook Islands Football Association. With a population of around 18,000 people it remains one of the smallest FIFA teams.Cook Islands national rugby league team
The Cook Islands national rugby league team has been participating in international rugby league football competition since 1986. The team is controlled by the governing body for rugby league in Cook Islands, Cook Islands Rugby League Association (CIRLA), which is currently a member of the Asia-Pacific Rugby League Confederation (APRLC). They are currently ranked 43 in the RLIF World Rankings.Cook Islands national rugby sevens team
The Cook Islands national rugby sevens team is a minor national sevens side. They qualified for the 2014 Hong Kong Sevens tournament and played in the World Series Qualifiers.Cook Islands national rugby union team
The Cook Islands is a third tier rugby union playing nation. They began playing international rugby in the early 1971. Thus far, the Cook Islands have not made an appearance at any of the World Cups.Kingdom of Rarotonga
The Kingdom of Rarotonga, (Cook Islands Māori: Mātāmuatanga Rarotonga) named after the island of Rarotonga, was an independent kingdom established in the present-day Cook Islands in 1858. In 1888 it became a protectorate of the United Kingdom by its own request. In 1893 the name was changed to the Cook Islands Federation.List of Cook Islands records in athletics
The following are the national records in athletics in the Cook Islands maintained by the Cook Island's national athletics federation: Athletics Cook Islands (ACI).List of airlines of the Cook Islands
This is a list of airlines currently operating in Cook Islands.Miss Cook Islands
The Miss Cook Islands is the national beauty pageant in the Cook Islands in under Miss Cook Islands Association (MCIA). The current reigning titleholder is Reihana Koteka-Wiki (born May 10, 1992).Parliament of the Cook Islands
The Parliament of the Cook Islands is the legislature of the Cook Islands. Originally established under New Zealand’s United Nations mandate it became the national legislature on independence in 1965.
The Parliament consists of 24 members directly elected by universal suffrage from single-seat constituencies. Members are elected for a limited term, and hold office until Parliament is dissolved (a maximum of four years). It meets in the capital of Rarotonga.
The Cook Islands follows the Westminster system of government, and is governed by a cabinet and Prime Minister commanding a majority in Parliament.
The Speaker of the House is currently Niki Rattle. The Deputy Speaker is Rose Toki-Brown.Prime Minister of the Cook Islands
The Prime Minister of the Cook Islands is the head of government of the Cook Islands, a self-governing territory in free association with New Zealand. The office was established in 1965, when self-government was first granted to the islands. Originally, the title "Premier" was used, but this was replaced by the title of "Prime Minister" in 1981.Rarotonga
Rarotonga is the most populous island of the Cook Islands, with a population of 10,572 (census 2011), out of the country's total resident population of 14,974. Captain John Dibbs, master of the colonial brig Endeavour, is credited as the European discoverer on 25 July 1823, while transporting the missionary Rev. John Williams.
The Cook Islands' Parliament buildings and international airport are on Rarotonga. Rarotonga is a very popular tourist destination with many resorts, hotels and motels. The chief town, Avarua, on the north coast, is the capital of the Cook Islands.Realm of New Zealand
The Realm of New Zealand is the entire area (or realm) in which the Queen of New Zealand is head of state. The Realm of New Zealand is not a federation; it is a collection of states and territories united under its monarch. New Zealand is an independent and sovereign state. It has one Antarctic territorial claim, the Ross Dependency; one dependent territory, Tokelau; and two associated states, the Cook Islands and Niue.The Ross Dependency has no permanent inhabitants, while Tokelau, the Cook Islands and Niue have native populations. Tokelau is formally classified as a non-self-governing territory; the Cook Islands and Niue are internally self-governing, with New Zealand retaining responsibility for defence and most foreign affairs. The Governor-General of New Zealand represents the Queen throughout the Realm of New Zealand, though the Cook Islands have an additional Queen's Representative.Time in New Zealand
Time in New Zealand, by law, is divided into two standard time zones. The main islands use New Zealand Standard Time (NZST), 12 hours in advance of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) / military M (Mike), while the outlying Chatham Islands use Chatham Standard Time (CHAST), 12 hours 45 minutes in advance of UTC / military M^ (Mike-Three).During summer months—from the last Sunday in September until the first Sunday in April—daylight saving time is observed and clocks are advanced one hour. New Zealand Daylight Time (NZDT) is 13 hours ahead of UTC, and Chatham Daylight Time (CHADT) 13 hours 45 minutes ahead.New Zealand dependencies, the Cook Islands, Niue and Tokelau, use several different times zones at their own discretion.
Cook Islands articles
List of resources about traditional arts and culture of Oceania