Penrhyn Rakahunga Manihiki Pukapuka Nassau Suwarrow Palmerston Aitutaki Manuae Takutea Mitiaro Rarotonga Atiu Mauke Mangaia
According to legend – Mauke was originally named Akatokamanava – ‘the place where my heart rested’ – by the Chief Uke after a long voyage from Avaiki. It’s a fittingly romantic name for the beautiful Cook Island. He also gave his beautiful daughter to Chief Atiu-Mua whose descendants populated both Mauke and Atiu.

It was they who renamed the island Mauke – meaning land of Uke. Of the current three main ariki or chiefs, Samuela, Tararo and Teau Ariki, only Samuela and Teau ariki are direct descendants of Uke. Regardless, there is no doubt that the natural beauty of this island also extends to its people who are recognised as being some of the most handsome in the Cook Islands – especially the women.

If you would like to learn more about Mauke, please visit for additional information about the Island and it's people.
Stay with us on 
Live island style amongst the community in a self-catering cottage surrounded by beautiful flowers and views.
Play with us on 
Play with us
Caving, fishing, trekking, swimming in freshwater underground pools and little golden beaches are just some of the things to do on Mauke.
History of Mauke

Before the arrival of the Europeans, the Atiuans waged invasions on a regular basis – for those prized women and food. Then the infamous John Williams and his entourage of missionaries landed in 1823. And the British flag was hoisted in 1888, then annexed to New Zealand in 1901 at which time the population, which hasn’t altered much, was recorded as 370.

At 18km wide, Mauke is half as big as Rarotonga – but this is where any similarity ends. With its central volcanic plateau climbing to a height of 30m, the fossilised coral reef of makatea forms a surround with a very short lagoon. The white crested waves crash onto the reef to form a spectacular vision and backdrop.

Spectacular Caves

It is the caves that create the mystery of this spectacular island. The Motuenga, which is said to have a hundred separate underground chambers leading to the sea, is but one of the multitudes dotted all over with deep freshwater pools filled with cool crystal waters.

Lying above is the brilliant verdant and fertile land which earns Mauke its name as “the garden island”. Filled with fragrant wildflowers and magnificent hardwood trees this is where the maire bush grows wild – a source of a thriving export industry to Hawaii with the leaves being used for the garlands used for chiefly occasions.

Largest Banyan Tree in the World

Picking a path along the unsealed crushed coral roads on the way to Motuenga such richness is also reflected in the surprise encounter of the largest banyan tree in the world – over an acre in size. Either side are huge barringtonia and ironwood trees scattering their needles to form a soft springy carpet and endless exotic plants that leave the impression of a natural hothouse.

And like Aitutaki, there are no dogs. Wild pigs however – prolific. And the ubiquitous wild roosters who seem to have lost their timer in other islands, like Rarotonga, are perfectly well behaved and crow as they should, at dawn.

Miracle Oil and Medicines

Peace reigns supreme on this tiny island and as you cycle lazily round the coral roads curving gently through coconut palms and hardwood trees; every so often you will find a small sandy beaches bordered by coral rocks. And in amongst the emerald vegetation the “noni” tree or Indian Mulberry, grows wild.

Touted as the cure-all elixir for every ailment known to man, it is an ancient island herbal medicine, which – be warned – requires strength of will to swallow. But the benefits are worth it they say. The Maukeans obviously are well versed in folk medicine as its miracle oil or akari pi, coconut oil mixed with the pi herb, is also recognised for its healing properties and as massage oil.

Villages of Mauke

Low lying white coral walls front the houses of the villages, the first of which is Kimiangatau where sits the small hospital and the original house of Julian Dashwood (a.k.a Rakau) the English writer who recorded many a book on island life while working in MangaiaManihiki and eventually Mauke.

Other villages include Ngatiarua and Areora/Makatea. Oiretumu lies between them housing yet another famous piece of architecture – the Ziona Church – or as the locals call it, the Divided Church.

Ziona Church

Built in 1882, it was once described by New Zealand artist Samuel Palmer as one of the 12 most fascinating churches in the world. An example of early Western architecture mixed with Pacific influences along with a lot of Maukean ingenuity, this is only part of its appeal.

As history relates, two builders living in Areora had very different visions of what they wanted to construct. Village support was split, so a compromise was reached where each of the builders created their own dream; with two entrances built and designated sides for each of the two village groups.

It did unite the village however, and allow creativity to reign. Hand-carved trellises are superb examples of early craftsmanship with magnificently bright, clear colours used to provide an extraordinarily breathtaking effect of an earthbound rainbow.

In the late 1990s some ill-advised reverend decided to paint it in the traditional shades of white and blue. Fortunately this piece of misguided artistry was recognised by the community and the restoration of the rainbow inside Ziona Church was completed in 2008.

Historical Significance

All that island folklore could leave you wondering whether there is more to tell – there is. Mauke has an impressive history, with at least 11 sites termed marae.

Not the marae as used by the New Zealand Maori. But ceremonial edifices similar to those found in other parts of Eastern Polynesia which contain prepared structures with paving, stone walls or platforms and a “tapu” or sacred surround. Associated with the Mauke ancestors they are however unlike the same large stone structures found elsewhere in the Southern Cook Islands and in Tahiti. They are unique and a reflection of this truly one of a kind Pacific isle.
Cook Islands
 Recenter   ZOOM TO: Country Region Suburb Street
© ReserveGroup 2023 Click and drag map to navigate
Sub Activity Type
Our Culture Our People Our History Important Stuff
email this pageprint this pageadd to favouritessite maplegal information website owner log-in | business owner log-in
an évoSuite website designed by RéserveGroup®
» Change Language
» Home
» Australia
» New Zealand
» Canada
» Spain
» UK
» France
» Italy
» Germany
» Nordic
» Switzerland
» Austria
» Luxemburg
» Belgium
» Netherlands
 Discover Us
» Our Islands
» Our Culture
» Our People
» Our History
» Important Stuff
» Flight Information
 Stay With Us
» Stay with Us
» Hotels & Resorts
» Self Catering
» Holiday Homes
» Guest Houses, Bed & Breakfast
» Backpackers, Budget & Hostels
 Play With Us
» Play with Us
» Dining & Entertainment
» Discovering Our Culture
» Explore by Land
» Explore by Sea
» Shop till you drop
» Getting Around
 Plan With Us
» Plan with Us
» Ultimate Weddings
» Honeymoon Central
» Rediscover Romance
» Families & Friends
» Off the Beaten Track
» Multimedia Overview
» Send an ePostcard!
» Desktop Wallpapers
» Online Books
» Your Holiday Photos
» Video Gallery
» Image Galleries
 Our News & Events
» Our News & Events
» Events Calendar
» Latest News
 Share With Us
» Share With Us
» E-News Signup
» Privacy Policy
 Contact Us
» Contact Us
» Hidden Menu
View our Image Gallery View our Video Gallery Send your e-Postcard Share your Experience e-news sign up View our Online Books! View our Online Books! e-news sign up e-news sign up Your Holiday Photos