Fiction Map of the World- Cook Islands

by Travelbag on 09 April 2015, 17:04PM

The Cook Islands are scattered over a vast expanse of open ocean, approximately the size of western Europe, so they make an ideal destination for anybody who has dreams of living like a castaway for a while. If you have ever fostered wistful daydreams about jetting off, and touching down on a remote tropical island, completely removed from the hustle and bustle of society, this is the place for you.  

There are a total of fifteen Cook Islands to choose from, but the most popular has always been the beautiful Raratonga. It is the biggest of the islands, and contains the most diverse range of landscapes – everything from mountains to jungle, beaches, lagoons, and crashing waterfalls. You will find a thousand years of Polynesian culture here, nestled comfortably beside modern bars, restaurants, nightclubs, and other facilities.

Essential Holiday Reading

Over the centuries, a succession of European writers have travelled to the Cook Islands, returning with tales of lascivious natives, jungle savages, and savage seas. Whilst we have a much more accurate and well-rounded view on this part of the world nowadays, that curious blend of danger and exoticism is still something that drives people to visit places like Tahiti and Bora Bora. You might know author Herman Melville for his classic work Moby Dick, but did you know he also wrote several books whilst in the South Pacific. The fabulous Omoo was penned shortly after Melville finished a stint in a Polynesian prison, for mutiny. It tells the tale of a South sea whaling ship, and its trials and struggles.  

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Notable Cook Islands Books

The American writer, and co-author of classic novel Mutiny on the Bounty, James Norman Hall arrived on Tahiti, married a Tahitian local, and spent the rest of his life on this beautiful Cook Island. In fact, he was buried on Tahiti, right next to his home. His final work, The Forgotten One, is a poignant collection of short stories, chronicling the lives of six Americans and Europeans that Hall knew personally, and that had all immigrated to the island. The titular tale is a moving account of one man, who fled to Tahiti in a bid to come to terms with his own sexuality. The collection is an unusual one, but provides a wonderful insight into what it must be like to start a new life halfway across the world.      

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Notable Cook Islands Authors

It is rather difficult to locate literature written by true Cook Islands natives, because the area relied almost exclusively on oral traditions until the late sixties. Nevertheless, there are a handful of famous South Pacific writers, and one of these is Albert Wendt. The renowned epic, Leaves of the Banyan Tree, is his most well-known offering, and tells the vast and winding tale of three generations of one South Pacific family. It begins with young Tauilopepe, who brings shame to his family after being expelled from school. He then sets his heart on making the clan the most dominant force in the area, but learns how to do this through a combination of aggression, physical force, and intimidation. It is not long before Pepe has his own son, who starts to strive to be anything but like his father.

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Notable Cook Islands Films

If you are planning a trip to the South Pacific, pick up a couple of these great movies to get a preview of the island landscapes. For all of those immediately thinking about South Pacific, it was unfortunately shot in Hawaii, and not anywhere near the Cook Islands. The 2009 film Couples Retreat, starring Vince Vaughn, was filmed at the St. Regis Resort on Bora Bora, and tells the tale of four couples and an involuntary foray into couples based therapy. Whilst the humour might be a little crude for some, the camera loves Bora Bora. The blockbuster survival film Castaway was filmed on nearby Fiji. Plus, the 1936 classic Mutiny on the Bounty was shot in the South Pacific too.        

Essential Holiday Listening

The music of the Cook Islands is vibrant and diverse, with Christian music being extremely popular here. As such, genres like imene tuki are prevalent; this style of music involves unaccompanied vocal sounds, characterised by uniquely Polynesian drop in pitch at the end of the phrases, as well as staccato rhythmic outbursts of nonsensical syllables (tuki). In addition, the harmonies and tune patterns of much of the music in Polynesia is actually western in style, and can be dated back to the influence of European missionaries. The rutu pa’a style of drumming is equally popular, and if you are lucky, you will come across some of this exciting and frenetic music during your stay on the Islands.

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Notable Cook Islands Musicians

Unfortunately, very little is known about individual stand-out musicians from the Cook Islands, but there are plenty of talented examples in neighbouring Tahiti. For instance, the Belgian singer and songwriter Jacques Brel retried in the Marquesas at the end of a long and successful career. He eventually died of lung cancer, but he was greatly loved by the community, and his music lives on. The classic Ne Me Quitte Pas has been covered by everybody from Nina Simone to Barbara Streisand, Celine Dion, and Cyndi Lauper. The renowned Hawaiian artist Bobby Holcomb became famous for his Polynesian songs, which combined reggae beats with traditional rhythms – his most popular song was called Orio, and was written in 1985. 

Click here to read more about the Cook Islands.

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