About The Cook Islands

Lying 20 degrees south of the equator, the Cook Group consists of 15 islands scattered over an area of 850 000 square miles of ocean. The Cook Islands became a self governing nation in 1965. Today the Islands have close association with New Zealand and recognize Queen Elizabeth II as Head of State.

Guiding is found on most of the islands. It is usually involved with or attached to the Cook Islands Christian Church or Roman Catholic Church. School or church buildings are often used for camping.

Rarotonga is the largest island in the Cook Group, and Avarua, its main town, is the center of administration. Nearly all the population on Rarotonga is concentrated in coastal areas along the approximately 32 kilometre road which circles the island. An older inner road dates back about a thousand years with ancient coral blocks as its foundations.

The land rises steeply inland with orange and vegetable gardens replacing the taro and coconut of the coast. The coral reef off-shore provides sheltered bays and lagoons, but limits suitable places for anchorage of ships.

The outer islands vary from small low lying coral atolls supporting little else than fishing and coconut groves to more productive islands with large pineapple farms such as Mangaia and Atiu, to Aitutaki which had the first air link with the rest of the Pacific.

The Cook Islanders are well known for their traditional singing and dancing and each island is proud of its special dances and dancing teams.

In the past Guiding has been closely linked with New Zealand, and regular visits have been made to New Zealand by Guiders for training. While the largest number of units are found on Rarotonga, air services and more regular contact has helped Guiding in the other southern Islands.

The information above is from a booklet called 'Guide to Pacific Guiding', published by The Girl Guides Association New Zealand (Inc.), 1981, with sponsorship provided by Air New Zealand. This booklet is no longer in print and, to the best of my knowledge, no longer available.

For up-to-date information on Guiding in The Cook Islands, please refer to the latest version of the WAGGGS publication, 'Trefoil Around the World' which includes information about all WAGGGS member countries. Alternatively, there is some information available on the WAGGGS web site http://www.wagggsworld.org.

Libraries, travel agencies, and embassies are also good places to try for information if you plan far enough ahead. If you have no luck finding a Cook Island embassy, try the New Zealand one; it is possible that New Zealand represents them in many countries and may be able to help.

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This page last updated July 16th, 1999