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RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (The Cook Islands Herald, July 7) – On the 27 July, there will be a special celebration marking the 40th anniversary of the formation of the Are Ariki, or the English rendition, the House of Ariki, whose titles are legally recognized and enshrined in the Cook Islands Constitution 1965, the supreme law in the land.

The Ui Ariki are the paramount chiefs of their respective Vaka or districts and in recent years have called upon the various Kopu Ariki where a chiefly title is vacant to choose a successor from their clans as soon as practicable. The members of the House of Ariki were concerned that having a void in their numbers were causing needless friction in the community from all the rivalry amongst contenders for the various taoanga.

In Rarotonga, two such chiefly titles are the Makea Nui, which sadly is not yet settled, while the other is the Kainuku title, which has been successfully resolved.

In light of some confusion in the wider community, it is timely to publish a brief summary of just who is the legally recognized Kainuku Ariki.

There seems to be some confusion as to who won the right to hold the traditional paramount chiefly title of Kainuku Ariki of Takitumu. The answer is that the new Kainuku is Mrs Kapiriterangi Tere who was invested with the taoanga on Saturday 13 May 2006.

The ceremony began with the gathering at Avananui with her Ui Rangatira before proceeding to Orotuma, the traditional marae for investing the Kainuku. After the investiture ceremony, Kainuku and her Ui Rangatira marched down to the seaside koutu called Vaerota where incantations to solemnize the elevation of the new chief were chanted by two taunga.

The new chief then led her people back to Ngatangiia CICC church for a formal Christian blessing after which a huge umukai feast was held in the church grounds.

As required under the Cook Islands Act 1915, the new chies has successfully applied to the High Court to akamana her taoangahere and Kapiriterangi is now formally recognized as the new Kainuku.

At the court hearing, there was strong opposition from Maru Ben who objected to her application claiming that his line ought to hold the taoanga but his objection failed. The court ruled that Ben’s line has never held the title in the recorded history of the title since the advent of Christianity to the Cook Islands.

Missionaries insist on Kainuku Tamoko choosing only one wife

The new chief follows an unbroken line of succession from the advent of the Gospel to Rarotonga in 1823, when Kainuku Tamoko was the reigning chief who had many common law wives.

However, after his conversion to Christianity, the missionaries insisted that Kainuku choose only one wife in order to demonstrate his true acceptance of the Lord. When the chief was unable to choose, the missionaries arranged for a ceremony where the chief was to choose only one wife.

The missionaries wrote the names of the various wives on paper and placed them under separate glasses of water on the table. The idea was for the chief to pick up one of the glasses of water and drink from it. The lady whose name was under the glass would become his lawful wedded wife to the exclusion of all the other women who were sent home to their original place of birth.

Tamoko drew the name of Tangia from Ngati Manavaroa and it is the chief’s children born of this legal union who have held the taoanga after the old chief passed away. Ben is from one of the wives whose unions were dissolved by the missionaries in the 1800s.

The new Kainuku and her retinue of Rangatira are preparing to take part in the 40th Anniversary of the House of Ariki to be held on 27 July, 2007.

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