The wondrous Cook Islands in the South Pacific were briefly taken over by the cast and crew of BBC AMERICA’s supernatural thriller Tatau. In the eight-part series we meet two British backpackers who arrive to the island paradise, where weird things happen.
The first episode kicks off this coming Saturday, April 18 at 10/9c.
Let’s get to know the Cook Islands a little bit better:
1. British Ties
The islands are named after British explorer Captain James Cook, who landed in 1773.
2. Well-Kept Secret
Sure, the secret may be out now that the islands are home to a TV show, but for the most part, it’s a great escape. The 15 islands that make up Cook Islands are “scattered like petals” halfway between New Zealand and Hawaii with the local greeting: “Welcome to the secret of the Pacific.”
3. Te Vara Nui Village
After a couple of days of alone time, you may want to get out and socialize with locals and other travelers. The Te Vara Nui Village, located on the island of Rarotonga, is a getaway from your getaway. The village offers overnight lodging, tours that speed you up on the history of the islands with highlights like ancestral fishing and legends, and nighttime shows like the “Dances with Legends.”
4. Ura Pa’u
The Cook islanders use traditional song and dance to tell stories. Each island has its own take on dance, tweaking it with their unique additions. One of the most popular is the drum dance called Ura Pa’u as seen in the above video. The group dances can be seen performed at the island hotels and annual events like the week-long festival Te Maeva Nui, which celebrates the islands gaining independence.
The islands are topped up with talented crafters who specialize in weaving, carving, and jewelry making. The islanders are especially proud of their intricate quilting, which is called tivaevae. The quilts are typically given as gifts or used as burial covers, but are rarely seen being sold. The quilt can be made by one woman, or a group, and it’d be very special to stumble upon a tivaevae being created.
It wouldn’t be much of an island paradise if there weren’t welcoming lagoons to step into; they’re pretty much hard to miss in the Cook Islands. If you’re looking to indulge in your very own lagoon, you can motorboat over to Tapuaetai, also known as One Foot Island, found in Aitutaki’s never-ending lagoon. The island is home to a small post office … and now you.
Stunning beachs and magical waters definitely get you in the mood. It’s hard not to feel romantical in the South Pacific, but there are over 20,000 islands to choose from. CNN included the Cook Islands on their 2015 list of 12 Most Romantic Isles in the South Pacific, coming in at number two. The list compared Cook Islands’ Rarotonga to Bora Bora, “but without the crowds and high prices.”
The Brits love the word “legend,” like when paying a compliment to a mate: “You know Gaz? He is legend.” But the Cook Islands actually have legends and gods they recognize and pay tribute to on a daily basis. The myths and stories may vary, but ultimately they tell of creation and the gods who once ruled. One of the more prominent gods of the Cook Islands is Tangaroa, the God of the sea and fertility. It’s common to find carvings of Tangaroa throughout the islands, as seen above. The myths are carried on through storytelling and in the form of dance, and are even seen on coins and bills like the illustraton of Ina and the Shark appearing on the three-dollar bill.
9. Indigenous Ink
The English word “tattoo” is believed to have come from the Tahitian word “tatau,” which gives us a whole new insight into the TV show. The traditional tattooing was banned on the islands soon after Captain Cook’s arrival, but it made its return in the 1980s. The art of tatau relies on Samoan tool techniques, which is illustrated in the above video. The tatau art has a distinct patterned look, which you can check out at the Polynesian Tattoos Cook Island Facebook page.
10. Good Spirits
— Cook Islands (@CookIslands) April 13, 2015
The people of Cook Islands were so welcoming of the TV show Tatau that they re-tweeted some island fun. We love the love they’re sending out. Right back at ya, Cook Islands!
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