Business ventures cursed to fail on Vaimaanga land since 1913

By Eric Parnis RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, Jan. 7, 2012) – A history of a Vaimaanga land plot that some believe is cursed has been added in an online archive, detailing the history of property that has been the site of a shooting in 1911, under dispute for much of the century and now the home of the failed Sheraton hotel project.

Radio station Matariki FM has uploaded the account from the current More Taunga, Amoa Amoa, to the Cook Islands history section on its website, www.matariki.co.ck.

The page examines the curse of 1913 and its renewal in 1990, the land disputes dating back to 1891, the shooting of More Uriatua in 1911, the trial and sentencing of William John Wigmore over More Uriatuas death, and the transfer of ownership to Pa Ariki from 1902.

Matariki FM director William Framhein said the Vaimaanga land history was included with a range of articles detailing Rarotonga’s history, the languages and traditions of Pukapuka, Cook Islands genealogies, Ta-Tatau or heraldic marks at Aitutaki, and a wide selection of topics.

He said he hoped the page would become a record for Cook Islands history and could one day be used to teach Cook Islands history in our schools.

In the article on the curse of Vaimaanga, More Taunga describes the curse placed on the section of land known as Papua 4 or Vaimaanga 4.

More Taunga and his family claim ownership over the section of land and has helped put together his family’s history on the land and the supposed curse on the area through a mixture of written and verbal accounts.

The current land-owner Pa Marie Ariki rejects the idea that any curse is affecting business at the site, saying the failure of hotel plans in recent decades has come down to economics.

In an interview with Cook Islands News on plans to use the site for tourist accommodations, Pa Ariki said she was confident developers would make good on their promise to refurbish the site.

The online article describes how Metua A More, the daughter of shooting victim More Uriatua, carried out an act of sorcery (purepure) by cursing (taumaa) the land in 1913 to make it unprofitable to any business.

The curse itself was simple and direct to the point: no business (kimianga puapinga) activity operated on the land Vaimaanga 4 would succeed unless the land was returned to Ngati More and the rightful owners, any business activity operated on the land Vaimaanga 4 will fail unless the land was returned to Ngati More and the rightful owners, the article reads.

The objective of the curse was not to cause physical harm but to cause financial ruin to any person including body corporate that established and operated any business from the land Vaimaanga 4.

The article goes on to describe how Metua’s grandson More Rua reinforced the curse in 77 years later in 1990.

Rua, dressed in Kakau and Rakei Taunga (high priest traditional dress) and fully adorned in warlike regalia, visited the land on May 25, 1990, to reinforce the curse.

With the bottom of his spear, Rua struck a commemoration rock at the site that marked the commencement of the Sheraton Hotel Project between the Cook Islands and Italian governments, cursing the land again.

The point of impact of the spear was to the left of the plaque which caused the rock to shatter at the point of impact and crack from that point all the way down into the earth, the article reads.

More Taunga today remembers many failures on Vaimaanga 4, those that were told to him by his grandfather Mare and mother Tekura, and those he has witnessed himself.

The article goes on to cite the many failures of business ventures looking to use the site, such as to the eventual failure of William John Wigmore, producers who tried to plant pineapple plantations and then a citrus orchid on the land between the 1950s and 1980s, the failure of the Sheraton Hotel project, two Italian companies contracted for the Sheraton project going broke, the government of the Cook Islands becoming insolvent in 1996, and the many property developers who suffered losses, the last being the Tepaki Group.

The full article plus many more are available to view at the Matariki FM website by visiting www.matarikifm.co.ck and clicking the links.

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