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Part 3








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Cook Islands


The Cook Islands is a self-governing parliamentary democracy in the South Pacific Ocean in free association with New Zealand.

The Cook Islands were first settled in the 6th century AD by Polynesian people who migrated from nearby Tahiti, to the southeast.

The Spanish sailor lvaro de Mendaa de Neira visited Pukapuka in 1595 and called it San Bernardo (Saint Bernard). The Portuguese-Spaniard Pedro Fernndez de Quirs, made the first recorded European landing on the islands when he set foot on Rakahanga in 1606, calling it Gente Hermosa (Beautiful People)

The British navigator Captain James Cook arrived in 1773 and 1777 and named the islands the Hervey Islands. The name Cook Islands, in honour of Cook, appeared on a Russian naval chart published in the 1820s. The Cook Islands became a British protectorate in 1888, In 1901, the New Zealand Government decided to annex the country despite opposition from the country's traditional chiefs. When the British Nationality and New Zealand Citizenship Act 1948 came into effect on 1 January 1949, Cook Islanders who were British subjects gained New Zealand citizenship. The country remained a New Zealand protectorate until 1965, when the New Zealand Government decided to offer self-governing status to its colony. Today the Cook Islands are essentially independent, self-governed in free association with New Zealand.


The achievement of the Cook Islands was adopted on 4 August 1978 together with the flag. It is:


Arms: Azure, a ring of fifteen five-pointed stars Argent.

Crest: A chieftainsheaddress of red feathers proper.

Supporters: A spear and a processional cross in saltire and a Pacific Sharpchin flying fish (Fodiatus rostatus- Exocoetid) on the dexter and a sea swallow (Gygis alba - Sternid) on the sinister.

Compartment: Two palm leaves and a pearl proper

Motto: COOK ISLANDS on a ribbon Or.


The fifteen stars symbolize the fifteen islands: Aitutaki, Atiu, Mangaia, Manihiki, Mauke, Mitiaro, Nassau, Palmerston Atoll (Avarua), Panrhyn (Tongareva), Pukapuka, Rakahanga, Rarotonga, Suwarrow and the Hervey Islands (Manu and Te Au O Tu)


See illustration in the head of this essay.


Sleeve patch




New Zealand Arms for Niue on a $ 25 coin, 1994.

The fern-leaves pointing upwards



Though self-governing, Niue is in free association with New Zealand, and lacks full sovereignty. All Niueans are New Zealand citizens and Queen Elizabeth II is Niue's head of state in her capacity as Queen of New Zealand.

Around 1700 the concept and practice of kingship appear to have been introduced through contact with Samoa or Tonga. From then a succession of patu-iki (kings) ruled the island, the first of whom was Puni-mata. Tui-toga, who reigned from 1875 to 1887, was the first Christian king. In 1887, King Fata-a-iki, who reigned from 1887 to 1896, offered to cede sovereignty to the British Empire, fearing the consequences of annexation by a less benevolent colonial power. The offer was not accepted until 1900.

Niue was a British protectorate for a time, but the UK's direct involvement ended in 1901 when New Zealand annexed the island. Self-government was granted by the New Zealand parliament with the 1974 constitution, following a referendum in Niue in 1974 whereby Niueans were given three options: independence, self-government or continuation as a New Zealand territory. The majority selected self-government and Niue's written constitution was promulgated as supreme law.


The seal of Niue shows the achievement of New Zealand and the legend PUBLIC SEAL OF NIUE / NIUE


King Fata-a-iki (1887-96) in full dress with a katoua in his hand.


Around his waist a belt of kauri-shells. A katoua was a weapon from Niue from about 90 - 180 cm long and 15 cm wide


From: Journal of Polynesian Society. Volume 11 1902 , No. 4: Niue Island and its people, by S. Percy Smith, p 195-218



Niue Police cap badge and sleeve patch






Commodore John Byron discovered Atafu on 24 June 1765 and named it "Duke of York's Island". Parties onshore reported that there were no signs of current or previous inhabitants

In 1877 the islands were included under the protection of the United Kingdom by an Order in Council which claimed jurisdiction over all unclaimed Pacific Islands. Commander C. F. Oldham on HMS Egeria landed at each of the three atolls in June 1889 and officially raised the Union Flag, declaring the group a British protectorate. In 1920, Tokelauans became recognised as British subjects.

The British government annexed Tokelau to the colony of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands and transferred Tokelau to New Zealand administration in 1926, abolishing the islands' chiefdoms. By the Tokelau Act of 1948, sovereignty over Tokelau was transferred to New Zealand. Defence is also the responsibility of New Zealand. When the British Nationality and New Zealand Citizenship Act 1948 came into effect on 1 January 1949, Tokelauans who were British subjects gained New Zealand citizenship - a status which they still hold today


Tokelau Flag and National Symbol



Tokelaus Flag depicts a Tokelauan canoe sailing towards the manu (Southern Cross).  The canoe symbolises Tokelaus journey towards finding the best governance structure for its people; the Southern Cross symbolises a navigational aid for the journey.  The Southern Cross has helped Tokelauan fishermen navigate the waters around Tokelau for centuries while they have fished to sustain families and villages with its riches. 

The white stars of the Southern Cross are a symbol of Christianity, an important part of everyday life in Tokelau.  White also signifies the cooperation and unity among the atolls of Tokelau and a shared aspiration to secure a better life for Tokelauans.  Yellow signifies a happy, peaceful community.  Blue signifies the ocean on which Tokelauans depend for their livelihood and is also the colour of the sky which holds the stars that direct Tokelaus people.

In 2007 a competition was held to design a new flag and the final version, approved by Tokelaus General Fono in February 2009, is based on the winning design.  As is customary for official flags of the Commonwealth, the flag was granted by Royal Warrant of Her Majesty the Queen in August 2009. 

The official blazon of the flag is:

Azure a Tokelau Canoe Or in the hoist a constellation of the Southern Cross composed of four Mullets Argent.

In lay terms the description is:

On a blue flag a stylised Tokelauan canoe (in full sail) in yellow and in the hoist (position nearest the pole) four white Mullets (heraldic stars).

Tokelau received its first official flag from the Governor-General, Hon. Sir Anand Satyanand, at Government House on 7 September 2009.


Tokelaus national symbol

Tokelau has also adopted a national symbol.  The symbol depicts a Tuluma, a uniquely Tokelauan carver wooden tackle box used by fishermen.  The Tuluma bears a white cross in the centre, symbolising Christianity.  The inscription Tokelau mo te Atua (Tokelau for God) describes the strong emphasis on Christianity in every day life in Tokelau.


Tokelau Police sleeve patch



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Hubert de Vries 2012-04-18


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