Volume 74 1965 > Volume 74, No. 1 > Commentary: The rise of the Cook Islands party, by David Stone, p 80 - 111
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The year 1964 has been notable in the Cook Islands for the finalization of plans for the introduction of full internal self-government, but it has also marked the advent of party politics in the Territory in the rise of the Cook Islands Party.

This paper 1 describes the origins of the Party, the developments leading to its formation and, more briefly, its efforts at consolidation and reactions to the Party in the period that followed. The paper concludes with an interim assessment, as at November 1964, of the present significance and future prospects of the Party.

The timing of the Party's formation is clearly connected with the present stage of constitutional development of the Territory, and at the same time, the Party has an obvious antecedent in the Cook Islands Progressive Association (C.I.P.A.) which was established in 1943 and was most active in the period up to 1947. For these reasons, a brief account of constitutional development is given here. Hooper has already published a brief account of the C.I.P.A. 2 in which a leading figure had been Mr. Albert Henry, who was to be the founder and leader of the Cook Islands Party.

Constitutional Development 3

The Cook Islands' initial contact with Europeans was not with traders but with missionaries. Following the first visit of the Rev. John Williams in 1823, - 81 missions of the London Missionary Society were established in most islands of the Southern Group; and in the period up to about 1891, the Society's representatives were the sole political authority, working with the ariki whose prestige and power they enhanced. In the latter part of the Missionary Period, there was increasing contact with traders, and a number settled permanently. It was largely under pressure from the resident traders, the growth of the liquor trade and rumours of an extension of French influence in the area, that the British Protectorate was established in 1888.

The British Consul was replaced in 1890 by a British Resident, who set up Island Councils in each of the islands of the Southern Group, and a Federal Parliament and Executive Council in Rarotonga. Although there was a degree of popular representation, the Federal Government was dominated by the ariki. Arising from New Zealand territorial and commercial ambitions in the Pacific and a petition from a number of ariki of the Southern Group, who appear to have been at least partly misled on the outcome of the step, the whole of the Cook Islands were annexed by New Zealand in 1901 and the Federal Parliament abolished.

In the period that followed, a system of Resident Agents was established in the outer islands and all political and judicial powers and functions were transferred to the Resident Commissioner and Resident Agents. The chiefly powers over land were considerably limited by the newly formed Native Land Court. Details of administration were formally laid down in the Cook Islands Act, 1915, and no important change occurred until 1947. The Territory, although formally part of New Zealand, was governed as a colony, with the Resident Commissioner directly responsible to a Minister in Wellington, and authority given for the Governor General in Council to issue regulations. There was no participation in government by the Islanders themselves except in local councils which, presided over by the Residents and comprising ariki and nominated members, had only local functions. European officers seconded from New Zealand took over all important posts in the Public Service.

In 1946, in line with the principles of the United Nations Charter, to which New Zealand had been an initial signatory, and probably more important, in view of the widespread support for the political aims of the C.I.P.A., the water-front troubles of early 1946 and the publicity in the left-wing press in New Zealand, a Legislative Council and reconstructed Island Councils were introduced. The Legislative Council, presided over by the Resident Commissioner, had an equal number of official and unofficial members, although the latter were representatives of the Island Councils elected annually. The Island Councils, presided over by the Resident Agents, included the ariki and others elected triennisally by popular vote. The powers of the Legislative Council were severely restricted. It met for only a few weeks each year and there was no system by which unofficial members could be familiarized with the work of administrative departments or meet together between sessions.

In 1955, in a report to the New Zealand Government on economic development of the Territory, it was stated that a programme of social and economic development would be successful only if the people were given an increased share of responsibility for their own affairs. Arising from a subsequent constitutional survey of the Territory carried out in 1956, New Zealand legislation in the following year set up a Legislative Assembly. Of the 26 members, four were officials, fourteen were elected by direct secret ballot from the various islands, one by resident Europeans and seven by the various Island Councils. The Island Councils were given increased local powers.

In 1962, following the granting of full budgetary control to the Assembly - 82 (including the New Zealand subsidy which constitutes the major part of the Territory's income), an Executive Committee was established to replace the previous Finance Committee. The Committee, which was empowered to execute any of the Resident Commissioner's powers delegated to it and report and make recommendations on any matter referred to it by the Legislative Assembly, consisted of the Resident Commissioner (chairman), Secretary to the Government, Treasurer, and seven members elected by the Assembly.

In the same year, the Minister of Island Territories told the Legislative Assembly that the New Zealand Government thought that the Territory would be in a position to assume complete control of its own affairs in two or three years. He outlined four alternatives for future constitutional development: full independence, participation in a Polynesian Federation, integration with New Zealand, and full internal self-government with common citizenship with New Zealand. The New Zealand Government favoured the last course and this was agreed on by the Assembly.

In its 1963 Session, the Assembly discussed future constitutional plans with three overseas advisers and, following the presentation of a report based on their discussions, confirmed the choice of internal self-government. There would be a small cabinet of Ministers and an Assembly elected directly by universal suffrage; separate European representation would be removed. A timetable was agreed upon whereby the life of the present Assembly would be extended for one year to allow time for preparation of constitutional legislation and its approval by the Assembly, and to enable a “shadow cabinet” to gain more experience.

Consequently, a new Executive Committee was established consisting of a Leader of Government Business and four other Members selected by him, to whom was allocated responsibility for the administration of Government Departments. The Resident Commissioner would continue to work with the Executive Committee. In the meantime the official members on the Assembly were reduced to two—the Secretary to the Government and the Treasurer. It was planned for the constitution to be passed by the Legislative Assembly and New Zealand Parliament in 1964, and on its being confirmed by the new Assembly elected in 1965, full internal self-government would be introduced.

Thus, after 45 years of New Zealand administration (1901-1946), during which the Territory was ruled without any significant participation by the Islanders themselves, and a further 12 years (1946-1958), when participation was relatively minimal, a major constitutional advance was made in 1958. Four years later, under pressure from the United Nations, which had in the meantime made its comprehensive “Declaration on the granting of independence to colonial countries and peoples”, a plan for the rapid introduction of self-government was set in train. By the closing months of 1963, a detailed timetable had been established and the main principles of the new constitution agreed upon.


The formation of the Cook Islands Party arose directly from the visit to Rarotonga of Mr. Albert Henry during the four months, March to July, 1964. When he arrived, the Administration, Executive Committee and Rarotongan Legislative Assembly Members were in the midst of discussions with the Minister of Island Territories, Mr. Hanan, and the Secretary of his Department, Mr. McEwen, who were also in Rarotonga in the course of what had become an annual ministerial visit; and a team of six New Zealand Parliamentarians on a goodwill and study tour of South Pacific Territories.

There had been some speculation on the significance of Mr. Henry's visit among both Maoris and Europeans, but it was some time before the situation - 83 crystallized. According to Mr. Henry himself, he paid his own travel expenses for the visit and received no other outside financial assistance, and he came for three reasons: first, he had been invited in October, 1963, by members of the Cook Islands Progressive Association (C.I.P.A.) in Rarotonga to discuss constitutional developments with them and the possible establishment of a new popular Maori movement. 4 Secondly, the Cook Islands Society of New Zealand, of which he was President, was deeply concerned about the decision the Assembly had made the previous year on the residential qualifications for electors and candidates for the Legislative Assembly—in particular the clause requiring candidates to have three years' residence in the Cook Islands immediately prior to an election. 5 Consequently, Mr. Henry brought with him a letter from the Society to the President of the Legislative Assembly protesting at this and advising that the bearer had been appointed to represent the Society in this matter on his visit to the Cook Islands. Thirdly, Mr. Henry also intended to further the activities of Polynesian Agencies Limited, a co-operative wholesale business for the purchase of island products for sale to Cook Islanders in New Zealand, and of consumer goods, mainly groceries, for sale to the people of Rarotonga.

In the light of the prominent part played by Mr. Henry in the C.I.P.A. in the years immediately after the Second World War, and his prominence again in the Cook Islands Society in New Zealand, and particularly in view of the way his activities in Rarotonga later developed, it would be easy to conclude that his visit was part of a carefully worked out plan to return to political life in the Cook Islands, probably at the head of a new political party to fight the 1965 General Election. The fact that this situation did finally come about, however, is not necessarily conclusive evidence that such a plan existed.

It would, perhaps, be unrealistic to assume that Mr. Henry did not harbour such hopes. The Cook Islands Society in New Zealand, in the formation of which he played a leading part, had become an established and growing organisation, which had been recognised by the Minister of Island Territories, Mr. Gotz, who was its Patron. Mr. Henry's work among the Cook Islands community over a number of years had also, according to advice he received from the C.I.P.A. in Rarotonga, not gone unrecognised in the Cook Islands among people who had been told of it by relations in New Zealand. These factors, and the encouragement he was receiving from his C.I.P.A. contacts, must have given him an indication that the idea of a new popular movement would find at least some degree of receptiveness. There remained, however, room for doubt as to the outcome of Mr. Henry's stay, as the extent of his personal support was still unknown, and he had been absent during a period of political development which had given prominence to others.

The C.I.P.A. had in fact maintained what might be termed a skeleton existence over the years. It had not been a formal body during the period since - 84 its heyday; it had not held regular formal meetings nor had it regularly elected officers. To the extent that it retained its identity, it did so through the continuing attitudes of a number of people in the various villages who had not lost faith in the ideals and aims of the old Association, who from time to time had discussions, often in the informality of ordinary social contact, and some of whom had maintained correspondence with Mr. Henry in New Zealand.

This contact with Mr. Henry appears to have been a continuing one, but it probably increased after his short visit to Rarotonga in 1956. One of the main links during the next few years between Mr. Henry in New Zealand and the C.I.P.A. in Rarotonga was Mr. Teaukura Roi, who held the informal position of Leader, a kind of “grand old man” of the Association. Mr. Roi, although living in Avarua, is a planter and holds the title of Tautu Mataiapo for the Arorangi District. He has also been a member of the Legislative Assembly since its inception in 1958. Mr. Roi was one of those directly elected. Although he was not formally sponsored by the C.I.P.A., but stood independently, as did all other candidates, it is reasonable to assume that some of his electoral support came from those involved in the Association in previous years.

Another who corresponded periodically with Mr. Henry during this more recent period was Mr. Mana Strickland. Mr. Strickland is Headmaster of the Avarua School and Chairman of the Cook Islands Co-operative Bank Limited. He had not been a member of the C.I.P.A. during the years when it was most active. His experience of public affairs was gained principally through the co-operative movement, which he helped to establish in 1955 and through which, in the years following, he had risen to his present prominence. The co-operative movement had always been subject to Government supervision—a public servant holds the position of Registrar and his office forms the Government Department of Co-operation. It appears, however, that among the members of the movement there has been a growing feeling over the last few years that a more sympathetic attitude was needed from the Administration and the Assembly for the movement to develop its fullest potential 6; moreover, that if it failed to flourish, what Government support it had might be withdrawn, thereby endangering its continued existence.

Among those who shared these views was Mr. Strickland and it was this that led him to believe that some new effort was needed among the Maori people themselves to stimulate social and economic advancement in which the co-operative movement would share. With the approach of self-government, it appeared essential to him, therefore, that there should be a revival of a strong Maori movement, along the lines of the old C.I.P.A. Accordingly, Mr. Strickland, whose previous correspondence with Mr. Henry dealt mainly with the - 85 general progress of the co-operative movement, joined with the C.I.P.A. in inviting him back to Rarotonga to seek his advice and help on the wider issue.

Reference has been made earlier to the speculation as to the significance of Mr. Henry's visit. This had increased towards the end of 1963 when it became generally known that Mr. Henry was definitely coming to Rarotonga early the following year; and it was heightened by rumours circulating during the months of January-February, 1964, concerning the supposed formation of a new organisation called the Cook Islands Maori Association.

The activities which gave rise to public discussion of this new development began on 3 January, 1964, at a meeting held in the village of Titikaveka. 7 It had been announced in the Cook Islands News that Mr. Corner, the New Zealand Permanent Representative at the United Nations, was to visit Rarotonga for a week early in January “to familiarize himself with Cook Islands affairs, have discussions with the Executive Committee and meet as many people as possible during his stay”. 8 Consequently Mr. Strickland, as Chairman of the Cook Islands Co-operative Bank Limited, called the meeting at Titikaveka for all the Rarotongan district co-operative committees for the purpose of discussion of submissions to be made to Mr. Corner on the subject of the future of co-operatives in the Cook Islands, about which, as has been noted, some anxiety had arisen.

Discussion at this meeting ranged over a wider area than co-operatives and, in view of this, it was stated by some of those present that the opportunity should have been given for others outside the co-operative committees to attend. However, because of the short time available to prepare submissions for Mr. Corner, it was decided that they should go ahead. Four small working committees were then set up to prepare submissions on the co-operative movement, social and economic conditions, agriculture, and economic development of the outer islands, and to act as deputations to present them to Mr. Corner. 9 During discussion it was also suggested that some new organization (a “Cook Islands Maori Association”—C.I.M.A.) should be formed to further the objectives sought in the submissions, but the matter was not pursued.

The submissions made to Mr. Corner, in the presence of the Executive Committee reflected an unhappy view of life in the Territory. 10 Doubts were expressed as to the future well-being of the co-operative movement, which was alleged to have been attacked by people in high places. On social conditions, it was said that the traditional social structure and culture of the people had suffered a drastic decline in the years of the New Zealand Administration, leaving a spirit of disunity, frustration, apathy, distrust and ignorance among the people. Economically, the people had been subjected to exploitation by monopolies in local trading, shipping and marketing. And yet these social and economic facts were not generally known in New Zealand and had been completely hidden from successive official visitors over the years.

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On the subject of agriculture, it was said that the citrus planting scheme had been a failure, as a result of which most growers were in debt. Others suffered from inadequate shipping, which caused large quantities of perishable products, such as pineapples, to rot. The copra industry had been neglected. Moreover, the agricultural producers as a whole had received little direct benefit from the increasing New Zealand Government financial aid, which had been taken up mainly by social services, public works and administration. The outer islands had fared even worse in these respects.

The deputation dwelt on the need for experts, possibly from the United Nations, to advise on finance, economic (particularly agricultural), social and cultural development, and administration. Better shipping was needed, guaranteed prices should be set for the Territory's produce, and restrictions on access to the New Zealand market, such as that operating on the period tomatoes can be exported, should be abolished. 11

There were no further meetings like that held at Titikaveka, but the discussion that had then taken place, and the experience gained in having deputations meet Mr. Corner, confirmed the belief of Mr. Strickland and others in both the need for, and feasibility of, a new popular Maori movement. The problem, however, was how to bring such a movement into being, because the people from whom it might draw its support were divided between three existing groups—the Co-operative movement, the Industrial Union of Workers and the C.I.P.A. The latter had in previous years been a movement of this kind, but had lost most wage workers to the Union and many others were now in the Co-operative movement—both organisations having been Government initiated. Moreover, there was little immediate identity of interest between these bodies which could be used to bring them together officially. The Co-operative movement, as such, was also hampered by its non-political aims. The solution to the problem which Mr. Strickland chose was to establish a committee consisting of three prominent members from each of the three groups acting as individuals, and this was the committee which then began to set up the organisation for the visit of Mr. Henry. 12

This committee met twice before Mr. Henry's arrival. It discussed what kind of movement it was hoped to establish, its aims and how it should be organised; and in these matters it received from Mr. Henry details of the constitution and work of the Cook Islands Society in New Zealand. It was eventually decided, however, to leave these matters for decision during Mr. Henry's stay. Its more concrete work was the setting up of eight small village groups covering the island: one in each of the outer villages (Matavera, Ngatangiia, Titikaveka, Arorangi and Nikao) and three in Avarua (Tupapa, Takuvaine and Avatiu). The immediate purpose of these groups was to help prepare for the initial reception of Mr. Henry, and later to receive him at village level and organise meetings at which he could speak to the people. Thus, prior to Mr. Henry's arrival, there was in existence a central committee and eight less formal village groups, involving a cadre of probably some fifty people.

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It is not surprising, therefore, that these activities, even if they did not amount to the establishing of a new association or political party, at least gave rise to considerable conjecture. The speed with which this grew can perhaps be gauged by the fact that three weeks after the appearance in the Cook Islands News of an anonymous letter inquiring about the C.I.M.A., an address was broadcast over Radio Cook Islands by Mr. Julian Dashwood, a member of the Executive Committee, sharply criticising the idea of the introduction of political parties into the Cook Islands. 13


Mr. Henry arrived at Rarotonga on 23 April, and on the same day was welcomed at an umukai (feast) at Avarua. 14 This gathering was attended by about one hundred people and among those present by invitation were the Minister and Secretary of Island Territories, Mr. Hanan and Mr. McEwen, the six visiting New Zealand Parliamentarians, the Resident Commissioner, Mr. Dare, the Leader of Government Business and other members of the Executive Committee, Rarotongan Legislative Assembly and Island Council Members and the ariki of the Island. The guests were greeted by old supporters of the C.I.P.A. led by Taru Moana (spokesman for Tinomana Ariki) who acted as Master of Ceremonies.

Later Mr. Henry rose, explaining that previously he had spoken as a visitor but that now he wished to speak as a returned Cook Islander. He stated that he had gone to New Zealand mainly so that he could earn enough money to give his children an education. But as they had all married, he had turned his eyes back to the land of his ancestors. The duty to his children finished, he had to turn to his next duty—that of serving the people in the last few years left him by God.

The Cook Islands, he continued, were on the verge of taking a very important step. No one could say that this was the right way or that was the right way. The principle of democracy had been given the people and they were to decide who would govern them. There should be no bickering—all should try to help those trying to help the Cook Islands. He had learnt many things in New Zealand for which he was grateful. It was good to see that New Zealand had kept the Cook Islands for the Cook Islanders. There were none of the problems of Tahiti or Fiji—the land still belonged to the Cook Islands people. It was the duty of everyone to make the land better. He concluded by paying tribute to the visiting New Zealand Members of Parliament.

Mr. Henry had little further contact with the visiting New Zealand official party with one notable exception. This was at a public meeting held a week later in the Court Room at Avarua. 15 It was held following a meeting of Mr. Hanan and the Executive Committee, and was chaired by the Resident Commissioner. In part of his opening address, Mr. Hanan spoke about housing. He noted the improvements that had been made in housing conditions and appreciated the related problem of land tenure. However, he was disturbed at the primitive conditions and substandard housing in the Tutakimoa area, which he attributed mainly to lack of title to housing sites. He suggested that the Cook - 88 Islands Government should negotiate with the land-owners for the purchase of the land in order to develop a scheme for re-housing for many of the people of Tutakimoa, either there or somewhere else. If the owners proved “unreasonable” there should be no hesitation in taking the land under the law.

This proposal was commented on by Mr. Henry, who questioned the procedure of the Government taking over the land. He pointed out that the land at Tutakimoa had been set aside in perpetuity by the Vakatini Ariki family, some forty years before, for accommodating in Avarua Islanders from the Northern Group who did not have access to land in Rarotonga. He suggested that to take this land would be to infringe the rights of the Tutakimoa people and abrogate the decision of the Vakatini Ariki family. Mr. Hanan subsequently assured the meeting that he was not trying to dictate and acknowledged the right of the Assembly to make a free decision.

The question of land, upon which there is much sensitivity among Cook Islanders, was to be the subject of controversy on two further occasions during the 1964 Legislative Assembly Session, when the majority baulked at decisions to acquire land. Mr. Henry, significantly, took the traditional viewpoint, that of the importance of upholding native land customs as against legal re-organisation. This was to prove a vital element in the Cook Islands Party attitude and was the subject of submissions made by Mr. Henry to the New Zealand Parliamentry Select Committee later in the year, which in themselves gave rise to controversy. 16

In the first few weeks after his arrival in Rarotonga, Mr. Henry set up an office in Avarua and proceeded to organise the Rarotongan end of the trading activities of Polynesian Agencies Ltd., having brought with him from New Zealand a large quantity of basic foodstuffs, soap, tobacco and textiles. 17 Shares in Polynesian Agencies Limited were offered on the basis of four shilling units, with a maximum of one hundred (i.e., £20 worth) per person.

He apparently had little difficulty in attracting members, (there were some five hundred before Mr. Henry left Rarotonga) each of whom received a printed card upon which receipt of contributions was acknowledged, and were able to buy from the initial shipment and two others that followed. The prices were well below those of the local stores and caused a fall in the price of 70 lb. bags of sugar. 18 It is not without significance that Mr. Henry, after several months' absence in New Zealand following his visit, was remembered not only as the leader of the Cook Islands Party but also as the man who brought the price of sugar down. At the same time, he also organised local sources of supply for island products for the New Zealand market, and before he left four months later, was dispatching up to two hundred cases of taro a ship.

During these weeks, there was also a great deal of informal discussion with groups all over the Island. The main points of concern to the people which emerged were the high cost of living, agricultural production and marketing, the land laws and their administration and, above all, the nature and merits of internal self-government, including the position of the ariki.

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It seems likely that already thoughts were beginning to crystallize on the political future, for these early discussions confirmed the impression that a new popular movement would be widely supported. In the new constitutional context, however, where it was not a matter of trying to influence an administration, but rather to control it, this could only lead to a decision to form a political party. To lead the party, the obvious choice was Albert Henry himself. However, it was decided to make haste slowly—the early discussions revealed that there was still much to be done by way of political education and building up support. A programme of village public meetings was planned by which Mr. Henry could meet the people. This round of village meetings began about the middle of May and continued into the first week of June. All followed a similar pattern. The meetings were well attended, averaging about eighty people, and took the form of an address by Mr. Henry, followed by questions from the audience which the speaker answered. Despite the variation in subjects advertised Mr. Henry followed a similar pattern in his addresses and they were far more comprehensive in content than the advertised subjects suggested. He was well prepared, having with him a large number of charts which he used to good advantage in the manner of a skilled teacher.

A typical meeting attended by the writer was that held on 23 May in the Sunday School Hall at Nikao, a smaller village, at which attendance was about forty.

Mr. Henry began by tracing the general history of the Cook Islands since the arrival of Europeans. He appeared here to be interested mainly in establishing in the minds of his audience the chronological sequence of historical periods and events—the Missionary Period, the British Protectorate, the Annexation by New Zealand, the 1915 Cook Islands Act and the main post-World War II constitutional landmarks. He briefly explained the nature of each in turn, but rather conspicuously passed quickly over the Missionary Period as one he would rather not discuss. 19

The speaker then compared the systems of Government that had been experienced in the Cook Islands, well illustrated with charts; the traditional system of Ariki, Mataiapo, Rangatira and iti-tangata (with the are tuatua—“house of talk”); the Federal Council of the 1890s, in which each island was represented on the basis of local custom; the system of Resident Commissioner and Resident Agents; the present system of Resident Commissioner, Executive Committee and Legislative Assembly; and finally the cabinet system of self-government to be introduced in 1965. His approach here was mainly an explanatory one, although he tended to take the line that after a period of over sixty years during most of which the people had been ruled from above by a paternalistic Administration, they were at last being allowed to return to the position of 1895, when control was in the hands of representatives of the people. 20

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Mr. Henry turned next to education. Again with the use of charts, he outlined the history of education in the Territory, beginning with the two old colleges of Araura (Aitutaki) and Tereora (Rarotonga). He spoke regretfully of their being closed down in the early years of the New Zealand Administration, 21 and then described their eventual replacement by Government Primary Schools, and concluded with the introduction of secondary education in the early 1950s. He commented in particular on what he called the education gap between the closing of the colleges and the opening of the new Tereora College nearly fifty years later, pointing out that for much of the intervening period the highest education available in the Territory was at the Grade 4-5 level, that is, about Standard 3 in a current New Zealand primary school. To this he attributed what he himself called the ignorance of the present day generation of Cook Islands adults, but he expressed satisfaction at the recent rise in education levels.

From education, Mr. Henry proceeded to finance, and again by charts and tables, outlined the pattern of Government expenditure and income. 22 He particularly drew attention to three points—(1) the steady rise in expenditure, the bulk of which was taken up by education, health and public works; (2) the gap between this expenditure and the revenue raised locally, which was filled by the New Zealand subsidy amounting to about £750,000 annually; (3) the nature of direct and indirect taxes which make up a modest proportion of the total local revenue (the rest being mainly from sale of goods and services). He pointed out the desirability of reducing the extent of financial dependence on New Zealand, but showed that this could only be done by an increase in production, which would thereby increase incomes and, accordingly, the amount that could be raised by taxation.

Turning to trade, the speaker analysed the Territory's exports and imports by value, product and country. He was thus able to illustrate the trade deficit of some £220,000, what products the Territory was selling overseas and what its main categories of imports were, and finally the fact that, although goods were bought from a number of other countries, notably Britain, Hong Kong, Japan and Canada, nearly all its exports went to New Zealand. He pointed out the continuing rise in import levels and advocated an effort to expand overseas markets by finding out what other countries wanted and seeing if the Cooks could provide it. In the meantime, imports should be trimmed.

Finally, Mr. Henry dealt with land. He showed first of all by charts how the land of each island in the Territory had been officially classified as usable and non-usable, and the area making up each category. He questioned the accuracy of these figures, and suggested that a full investigation should be made to find out if more of the currently classified non-usable land could in fact be cultivated. Stressing the importance of making more use of all land so as to increase production and thereby the prosperity of the people, he dwelt on what he believed to be a general feeling of uncertainty of tenure which had arisen from the activities of the Land Court. The present system and its administration had grown away from traditional custom and were not understood by the people. On the other hand, if an attempt was made to revive the traditional social - 91 structure of the people, the land question, both its tenure and use, might be more early dealt with. He reminded his audience that during the period of the British Protectorate, when the traditional social system was allowed to operate freely under the ariki, the Cooks had achieved a high level of economic activity. 23

Questions which followed at the Nikao meeting included the subject of the method of electing (and removing) the Premier, and indirect taxation. Two others of interest were:

  • (1) Where do the ariki fit into the coming system of government? Mr. Henry pointed out that there was no specific place for the ariki, as such, in the political system of a parliamentary democracy. However, they did have a place and a function to fulfil—in the ceremonial and symbolic position of Head of State, 24 and in their tribal social structure. The restoration of the ariki, and through them, of the traditional communal system, would inject a helpful measure of cohesion and purpose into the lives of the people. It was something that was understood and would help bridge the gap between tradition and the new political system being introduced.
  • (2) With reference to all that you have spoken about, what are your solutions to the problems raised? To this very pertinent question, Mr. Henry, with amusement and aplomb, told his questioner that she would have to wait, as the time was not yet ripe to give out his ideas. Others might otherwise seize them as their own.

On this note the business of the meeting concluded. A few things stand out in the writer's over-all impression. Mr. Henry managed successfully to combine the functions of politician and teacher. His address was virtually an adult education tutorial, but there was no doubting his political impact. As far as his audience were concerned, he was someone who understood the technicalities of modern government, finance and trade, and was able to help them to understand. At the same time, he also understood the things they did know about and which concerned them—their traditions. On the other hand, there was very little acrimony in Mr. Henry's address. He did make reference to what he termed monopolies in the local trading stores and in the marketing of the Territory's produce, which he held to be contributing factors to the present economic conditions, but he did not dwell on them. He drew attention to what he called the mistakes of the past, but mainly to emphasize that they should learn from them. “We know the mistakes of the past,” he concluded. “It is our job to see that they are not repeated in the future.”

As might be expected, Mr. Henry was also asked questions at some of these meetings concerning the money raised by contributions for the purchase of the - 92 ship, La Reta, in 1949 by the Cook Islands Producers' Co-operative Society. He recounted the developments leading up to foreclosure of the mortgage on the ship by the New Zealand Government in 1950 and the collapse of the Society in the following year, in which he himself lost all his own considerable investment. His questioners were apparently satisfied with the explanation given.

As these advertised meetings followed one upon another, none of them reported in the press, speculation in the European community grew apace. As has been noted, all the meetings had been conducted in Maori, and it was therefore not surprising that Europeans did not attend them. The initiative for a meeting to be conducted in English came first from a small social and discussion club whose members included a number of young Europeans. It was held in the Avarua Sunday School Hall on 28 May and the audience, which comprised about one hundred and forty Europeans and almost as many Maoris, included the Acting Leader of Government Business (Julian Dashwood), a large proportion of the Government Departmental Heads, heads and elders of the various religious missions, several leading traders and many expatriate public servants and teachers.

At the outset, Mr. Henry said he wished to make it clear that it was not a political meeting, although it might have a political flavour. The address he then gave turned out to be a telescoped version of that heard at the village meetings, complete with charts, this time in English.

The first person to rise at question time reminded the speaker that in the old Federal Council the people were represented by the ariki, and asked if this could really be compared with the modern system of democratically elected representatives. Mr. Henry replied that if members of the Council were ariki, then their selection was according to the local custom of the islands from which they came. Another questioner asked if it was not true that economic development was hampered by the problem of land tenure, and what Mr. Henry proposed should be done. The reply was that the land question was a most difficult one, but that the land was of great importance to the Maori. He said the solution would not be easy to find but that perhaps economic plans should be made to fit the land system which the people understood and wanted, rather than the land system be made to fit economic plans. Other questions included one on tourism, about which the speaker took a cautious view; and incentives for the younger people to stay in the Territory.


In the following week, Mr. Henry addressed a meeting sponsored by the mataiapo of Tupapa, chaired by their ariki (Vakatini), 25 and another at Ngatangiia, which was attended by a number of the ariki of Rarotonga and many of their mataiapo. It was at the latter meeting that he first announced his plan to form a political party and that this would be done at a public meeting in Avarua on the following Monday, 15th June. The meeting was duly advertised with the baldly stated objective, “To form a political party”; Albert Henry was to be the speaker and the meeting was to be conducted in Maori. 26 The village committees had also spread the word and the Avarua Sunday School Hall was packed with an audience conservatively estimated at five to six hundred.

At this point, when the Cook Islands Party was formally established, it is worth noting what can be described only as a remarkable transformation in the - 93 psychological climate in Rarotonga that had taken place during the period of just under three months since Mr. Henry's arrival.

In January, the very people who later became deeply involved in the party had themselves felt constrained to speak to Mr. Corner of the apathy of the Maori people. 27 In March, when Mr. Hanan met Legislative Assembly members in Rarotonga, it was pointed out by Mrs. Ingram M.L.A. that a minority did not approve of self-government, favouring complete integration with New Zealand. There was also a fear that New Zealand might leave the Territory to its own resources and many people still did not understand the position despite explanations at public meetings. 28 A month later, on their return to New Zealand from their visit to the Cook Islands, some members of the Parliamentary Delegation were reported as being “inclined to think that self-government has been thrust upon the islanders too early”. 29

In view of these opinions, the mere size of the audience at the June 15th meeting would appear to be fair testimony to the change that had come about in the political awareness of Rarotongans. Truckloads of people from the outer villages had swelled the numbers from Avarua itself. Consequently, an equivalent of nearly one third of the total number of voters at the 1963 Rarotonga by-election had come to a meeting the express purpose of which was to form a political party. 30 Moreover, included in the audience were three of the ariki and a spokesman for a fourth, and a large number of mataiapo. Mr. Henry's ceaseless round of discussions and meetings, together with the timing of his arrival and his past associations, had clearly borne fruit.

Mr. Henry began his address by outlining his visit to the villages and his meetings there, and noting a new spirit of purpose. The people had asked him to stay to take part in the new type of government that was to be established. He emphasized the necessity for avoiding past mistakes and advocated the formation of a political party, which would be part of the new life ahead.

The speaker said that the question that had to be answered that night was whether the Maori people were going to govern themselves. If they didn't know how to run their country, it would fall back into the hands of New Zealand. They had to prove that they could find ways of improving their standard of living, not to themselves alone, but to the Government and people of New Zealand, and to the world. They had to make up their minds that night, but he would show them the way to go about it. He explained that the purpose of a political party is to help obtain the election of a Government. If they wanted him, they should join his party, the Cook Islands Party, which was for both Maoris and Europeans, who should work together for the good government of the Cook Islands.

Mr. Henry then explained the proposed party platform which he had printed on charts displayed at the meeting.

  • To lift up to increased knowledge and prosperity the chiefs and peoples of the Cook Islands.
- 94
  • 1. To ensure the election to Government of those men and women dedicated to the cause of greater prosperity and increased social welfare of the Cook Islands.
  • 2. To extend to all Outer Islands of the Cook Group opportunities for new and greater economic development.
  • 3. To maintain ties which exist between New Zealand and the Cook Islands.
  • 4. To re-establish some of our traditional ways of life, customs and culture, and to restore recognition to the holders of traditional titles.
  • 5. To plan facilities for the encouragement of our young people to remain in the Islands.
  • 6. To strengthen our economic resources by good planning.
  • 7. To ensure the establishment of good laws for all peoples in the Cook Islands.

He concluded by inviting those present to join the party and amplified some of the platform points in answer to questions.

There was no dissent to resolutions that followed, that a party be established and confirming the name, “Cook Islands Party”. Mr. Henry was then nominated as President but there was some confusion, mainly concerning how the officers should be elected and their term of office. The speaker suggested that the meeting should elect a President then and that the position should be held temporarily until the Party was under way, when the election of the officers could be confirmed.

So far, the meeting had gone well for Mr. Henry, but he was visibly taken aback at this point (and so was everyone else), when Makea Nui Teremoana Ariki entered the hall and angrily questioned his right to hold the meeting. Apologizing for her lateness, she said she had expected an invitation and wanted him to go through the proceedings of the meeting again. She then asked what right he had to call a meeting on her soil without informing her first.

In an atmosphere which had markedly increased in tension, Mr. Henry told her that the meeting had been advertised in the press, and briefly went over what had happened so far. He apologised for not informing her of the meeting, adding that no-one had previously objected to the calling of public meetings on the island.

Presumably directing his remark at Makea's assumption of authority as an ariki, an Islander from Mauke then intervened to say that if the subject of the meeting concerned only Rarotonga, he would leave. Makea then asked if the new party was against the Government and was told by Mr. Henry that it was not against anything. The people had asked him to form the party and he had agreed to help them. The meeting was therefore open to everybody. He had gone round the island as he had wanted to hear the people's ideas. They could elect whom they wanted—if they wanted him they would elect him. It was up to the majority to decide. On the suggestion of Mr. Strickland, he then went over the platform of the Party again, and prompted the chairman to ask Makea if she would agree to the meeting continuing.

She thanked him for explaining the platform and then referred in particular to the plank dealing with traditional ways of life and of recognition of the ariki. She said that she herself had suggested this in the Legislative Assembly the previous year, but the members had objected. She wanted the people to know that. She had not wanted internal self-government; everything had gone well during the period 1962-63. She had stood alone in the Assembly and the people - 95 had gone the other way. A seat for the ariki had been refused. 31 She was happy to see this new platform and if the Party was good for the ariki, mataiapo and the people, she would support it. But she feared it was too late. She had wanted to help her people but, turning to the audience, she told them it was their fault as they had elected an Assembly they now wanted to get rid of.

Makea spoke with obvious emotion and the audience had become increasingly restive and impatient. However, her words were not lost on some. Raitia Tepuretu rose and told her gravely that he was speaking as a mataiapo. He would keep her to her word and would back her if she supported the Party. 32 Mr. Henry told her he was sorry that she had not known what had been going on, but asked where she had been when her people had needed her help. The outer islands were important also, but Rarotonga had to stand firm. He was willing to withdraw if she would be President of the Party, if she really wanted to lead. She had not been supported before, but if what she had said about wishing to help her people were true, she could now lead the people without fear.

The challenge had been made, and the atmosphere was heightened when the elderly Kainuku Ariki then told Mr. Henry to wait. “What about me?” he said. “Don't be afraid. The country is yours!” But, if Makea wanted to raise the Cook Islands she should come into the Party. He told her that she was the one that had divided the people and he appealed to her for peace. He prayed that the people would be re-united. Albert Henry had spread his light through the land. Where was the knowledge of Makea?

When Makea was then nominated as President, one of Mr. Henry's closest supporters seconded her nomination with obvious reluctance. He told her that she had opposed Albert in the past, but the time had come for her to make up for her tears by honest help. Mr. Henry then formally withdrew and Makea was elected. It was noticeable that some did not vote and a few raised their hands to oppose her election. After expressing some doubt Makea accepted the position.

Albert Henry was elected Vice-President. He then requested and was granted permission to select a Central Executive Committee which could be confirmed or amended at the next meeting. Before the meeting closed, rolls for recording Party membership were given out for each village. The age was set at eighteen years and above, and the subscription at one shilling.


The Cook Islands Party had been successfully launched, but the meeting had also brought to a head the question of the role of the ariki. At this stage, Mr. Henry considered that the key to his policy of re-establishing some of the traditional way of life lay in bringing together the ariki and, through them, revitalizing the whole social structure of the people by creating a spirit of co-operation. Makea Nui Ariki had only just returned from vacation in New Zealand. Although her family had been recognised as paramount by the New Zealand Administration, traditionally, she was only one of the six ariki of Rarotonga. 33 He believed that if she joined the Party, all six ariki could then - 96 be united in a kind of Council working in close co-operation with the Party's Executive. 34

Apart from Makea's ariki status, this partly explains Mr. Henry's deference to her when she intervened in the meeting; for though he was initially taken aback by her dramatic entry, he quickly saw the opportunity that it provided. He was backed by the challenge issued by Raitia Tepuretu. Some forty years before, in a dispute over succession to the Makea title, it was granted by the Land Court not to Ngoroio, who had been chosen by the mataiapo, but to Tinirau, father of Makea Nui Ariki. As a result of this, and led by Raitia's own father, all the mataiapo had refused to accept the Court's decision, and, following the death of Ngoroio, had also withheld their support from Makea Nui Ariki. 35 Now, with his fellow mataiapo present at the meeting, Raitia was in fact offering to re-establish her links with her people, the former mana of her family, if she was willing to re-join her people by leading the Cook Islands Party.

There were now two inter-related questions to be resolved. Would Makea stand by her decision at the meeting, and could the ariki be united behind the party? Because he felt he had the support of the other ariki, Mr. Henry thought that if Makea joined also, all the ariki would then be supporting the party. Unaware of the issues involved, the meeting had not been unanimous concerning Makea, but the news that she had joined forces with Albert Henry, confirmed in a brief press report the next day, became the talk of the island 36 By the end of the week, he announced the members of his Executive Committee in a fuller report of the meeting in the Cook Islands News; the list included all the six arikis Makea Nui Teremoana, Karika, Vakatini, Pa, Kainuku and Tinomana. 37

In the next few days, however, the situation changed. At their first meeting together, there was disagreement among the ariki and Mr. Henry was called in to help them. Any initial success he then had was undermined shortly afterwards when Makea publicly announced that she had relinquished her position as President of the Cook Islands Party. 38 There was some doubt as to exactly where Pa and Karika stood and the Party was left with the firm adherence of only the three men—Vakatini, Kainuku and Tinomana. In the meantime, following Makea's defection, Vakatini Ariki was appointed President by the Executive Committee. 39 At the first meeting of the Party on 6th July, the position was finally clarified by the election of Vakatini as Patron of the Party, and Kainuku and Tinomana as Vice-Patrons. This also left the way clear for Mr. Henry to assume the position of President. 40

The role of Makea Nui Ariki is an intersting one. For a long time she and her predecessors had been known as loyal supporters of the New Zealand Administration, and her decision to join the Cook Islands Party would have been in the nature of a triumph for the Party. Its significance was apparently great enough for her past attitudes to be overlooked. There was, of course, in Raitia's challenge, the identification of the Party with the people—that leadership of the - 97 one would involve a return to leadership of the other. 41 In the excitement of the June 15th meeting this was perhaps understandable. And Makea herself had said that if the Party was good for the ariki, mataiapo and people, she would support it.

It is not clear why Makea changed her mind. There is some doubt, for example, whether she fully understood the position at the meeting. She had advocated an Assembly seat for the ariki and presumably believed at the meeting that this was included in the Party's support for “recognition of the holders of traditional titles”. She also appeared to equate this view on the ariki position with the constitutional status quo, having stated her opposition to the introduction of self-government. If this was so, then on both counts she had misinterpreted the position and she would soon have realised this. Mr. Henry appeared to believe that she would still have been content with a policy which gave the symbolic and ceremonial leadership to the ariki in the form of the Head of State, together with the restoration of the traditional social system and his plan for the advisory position of the ariki in relation to the Party. A second factor that has been mentioned by some observers was a more personal one of antipathy to Albert Henry himself which, away from the situation of the meeting, might have affected her decision.

A final possibility was publicized in a report in the New Zealand weekly, Truth, which alleged that Makea, during the week following the meeting, had been subjected to pressure by the Resident Commissioner to resign her position, but she denied this in a subsequent letter to the editor. 42 However, it was not necessary for such pressure to have been applied if she herself, in calmer reflection after the meeting, decided that to join the Party would involve disloyalty to the Administration which had given added prestige to her family for so long. She had opposed the C.I.P.A. in the past 43 and may well have found it difficult to become involved in a movement in which she saw the same “nationalistic” tendencies. In the absence of any public explanation of her withdrawal by Makea herself, these are the main interpretations of her action that have been put forward.


The supporters of the Party had already shown at the 15th June meeting that they would have been prepared to have backed Mr. Henry without Makea. Proof of this came on the 6th July, when an audience estimated as approaching one thousand attended the first meeting of Party members at the “Victory Theatre” in Avarua.

At this meeting, 44 chaired by Vakatini Ariki, Mr. Henry introduced the members of his temporary Executive Committee. The reasons for his choice of each, which he mentioned briefly, will be evident from the list: Mr. Mana Strickland, who had acted as Secretary to the original central committee; Mr. Tui Pori, President of the Industrial Union of Workers; Dr. Manea Tamarua, Superintendent of the Sanatorium; Mr. Sadaraka Sadaraka, M.A. (in Economics), Senior Clerk in the Administration; Mr. Raui Pokoati, prominent in Church affairs and an Agriculture Department official; and Teaukura Roi of - 98 the C.I.P.A. In addition he had chosen five young people from among leaders of the village youth clubs. Each then spoke briefly in support of the Party and its platform, most mentioning that they had appreciated the manner in which Mr. Henry had explained it to the people. The younger members made a particular point of the fact that this was the first time the mapu had been recognized, having been ignored by past Assemblies and Governments.

In the election that followed, the ariki became Patrons, Albert Henry was elected President; Manea Tamarua, Vice-President 45; Mana Strickland, Secretary-Treasurer and Sadaraka Sadaraka, Assistant Secretary-Treasurer. The remainder of the Committee were confirmed and three women were added: Mrs. Maria Henderson, President of the Country Women's Institutes Federation, Mrs. Raitia Tepuretu and Mrs. Marguerite Story, both well known for their community work—the latter a sister of Albert Henry. In addition, he asked the various villages to form their own district committees and to forward the names of two delegates for each who could represent them when required.

Mr. Henry then spoke of the three years' residential qualification for candidates decided upon by the Legislative Assembly. A petition was being prepared which members could sign if they wanted this clause amended. He explained that the residential qualifications in New Zealand were of shorter duration than those proposed for the Cook Islands. 46 By this time the fact that Albert Henry himself would be ineligible to stand as a candidate at the 1965 election had already become a subject of wide discussion.

The major part of Mr. Henry's address was devoted to an explanation of the four alternatives that had been offered the Territory concerning its constitutional future: participation in a Polynesian federation, full independence, integration with New Zealand and internal self-government. The Assembly had chosen internal self-government and the Party supported this. He then outlined the disadvantages of the other three alternatives. In a federation, for example with Niue, Samoa and Tonga, he considered the Cook Islands would amount to nothing. Full independence could not be favoured because the Territory was unable to support itself and for the time being needed substantial New Zealand help. It would also involve loss of the valued New Zealand citizenship.

He spoke at greater length in comparing integration with internal self-government. 47 With the help of charts he illustrated the advantages and disadvantages of integration. The advantages included award wages, child benefits and old age pensions, and New Zealand electoral residential qualifications, but he pointed out that the first three would come but slowly, quoting Mr. Hanan as - 99 indicating at least ten to fifteen years. On the other hand, as part of New Zealand, the Territory would be entitled to no more than one representative in the New Zealand Parliament and might even be merged with another electorate. But even with a separate member, one in a Parliament of eighty would mean that they would be back as they were before—“voiceless”. They would have to pay New Zealand taxes, especially income tax, whereas most of them paid only small indirect taxes in the Cooks and were unable to cope with more. New Zealand laws would be introduced into the Territory and they would soon start selling their lands. He concluded that with integration, “the good things will come slowly but the bad things will come quickly.”

In reiterating the Party's support for internal self-government, Mr. Henry said that whereas before everything was in the hands of the Resident Commissioner, it was now to be in the hands of the people, who elected an Assembly from which the Government was to be formed. The good laws could be kept and the bad ones discarded or improved upon. Economic development could be pushed ahead and a way found to expand the market for the Territory's produce. The Party had been formed to make the new system work by ensuring the election of Assembly members dedicated to the welfare of all the people of the Cook Islands.

Much of the “question time” was devoted to internal Party matters, subscription and platform. While most of the detailed policy would not be announced until the election campaign, Mr. Henry promised an old age pension of £2 per month, which he said could be financed outside the New Zealand subsidy.

Mr. Strickland also gave a village break-down of the Party membership up to the time of the meeting. This was fairly evenly spread and totalled 2,030 for the whole island. Later, the spokesman for Tinomana Ariki gave the figures for Arorangi—382, including 48 out of 54 mataiapo and rangatira. He called upon the other mataiapo and rangatira to bring the people together in the same way throughout the island.

Teaukura Roi said earlier that he had never seen a meeting like it before, and there seems little reason to doubt his testimony. In the twelve days that followed before Mr. Henry left Rarotonga to return to New Zealand, the Central Executive met several times, usually along with the district committees. Such was the enthusiasm generated, that the system of two delegates from each District Committee broke down completely so that these meetings were usually attended by 50 or more committee members. 48 At the same time, Mr. Henry continued to attend village gatherings, including the Sunday uapou, 49 and the endless discussion went on. He also spoke to the employees of the Island's two clothing factories, and subsequently he was appointed President of the Industrial Union of Workers.

During this period the petition on the residential qualifications for electors and candidates for the Assembly was prepared and circulated through the district committees. It requested that the 1958 regulations be amended to conform with the recommendations of the constitutional advisers the previous year, which had initially been accepted by the Assembly but reconsidered and rejected a few days later (October-November 1963). Particular concern was expressed at the period of 3 years' residence required of Cook Islands-born candidates for the Assembly - 100 (the advisers' report recommended 3 months). By the time Mr. Henry left Rarotonga, most of the forms had been returned and these contained some 2,000 signatories. Plans had already been discussed, however, whereby if the Assembly rejected the petition, a “stooge” 50 would be elected, only to resign in favour of Mr. Henry when, assuming the Party gained a majority, the appropriate clauses in the constitution would be amended.

With the Party now firmly established, much discussion came down to the more concrete, every-day matters which its members wanted attended to. 51 Reports filtered back from individual members distributed throughout the various fields of employment. There was particular dissatisfaction expressed with the Price Tribunal, which, it was said, was not doing its job. Consequently, the trading stores were alleged to be guilty of excessive profit margins reaching up to more than 200% over landed cost on textiles and cotton piece goods from the Far East. Public works projects came under fire as being ill-planned and subject to seemingly interminable delays—nothing seemed to be completed, so that at one time, the new hospital, laundry and post office were all at varying stages of construction with little indication of the end in sight. Copra and fruit were said to be left rotting periodically in the outer islands during what had been a particularly bad year when only one, and some months later, two of the three licensed inter-island ships were working. 52 A small yacht which had called at Rarotonga was temporarily licensed to help fill the gap. The Co-operative movement was continuing to get a “raw deal”. The education system was considered lop-sided, offering little opportunity at the secondary level for non-academic work, and no trade vocational training for those who were unable to obtain jobs in government or commerce. A trades school was demanded. 53 The Land Court was said to be continuing to further a system of tenure which was alien to native custom, not understood, and causing increased resentment and dispute. The marketing of the Territory's produce was in the hands of a “big business monopoly”; exports should not be restricted to only those products Fruit Distributors Limited wanted, and at the price it was willing to offer.

The list of complaints grew until it covered nearly every aspect of life in the Territory and most items were attributed to official mismanagement and monopoly. If the Party was to assume power the following year, it became clear that it would have its hands full. Emphasis was laid on the necessity for thorough economic planning 54 and this was linked with the demand for a bigger say in the marketing of produce, possibly with a permanent trade repre- - 101 sentative in New Zealand, who could also travel further abroad to seek other markets. In other fields, the call was for obtaining the service of experts to survey the position and make recommendations. 55

Before Mr. Henry left, he made a formal call on the Resident Commissioner, raised some of these matters in discussion and informed Mr. Dare of the two constitutional provisions adopted by the Assembly the previous year on which the Party would be seeking amendment—residential qualifications which should be of shorter duration, and the Head of State, who should be elected from and by the ariki. Mr. Henry left on 18th July for New Zealand. Here it was his intention to attend a conference of the Cook Islands Society; lead its deputation to the New Zealand Parliamentary Select Committee on the new Constitution, and represent the Party too; make further commercial arrangements for Polynesian Agencies Limited; and attend to personal matters, before finally returning to settle in the Cooks in three or four months' time. 56


After Mr. Henry's departure, attention turned to the Legislative Assembly which commenced its 1964 session three weeks later. The main subject of interest was the new Constitution and, as far as the Party was concerned, the clauses dealing with residential qualifications.

This was reflected in the fact that when the Rarotongan Members of the Assembly called the customary village meetings with their constituents prior to the Assembly session, they were constantly asked to change the three year clause to three months. Clearly concerned at this and news of the petition, as well as press publicity on the subject in New Zealand, the Leader of Government Business, Mr. D. C. Brown, issued a statement in the Cook Islands News seeking to remove what he termed “confusion in the minds of many people concerning the residential qualifications”. 57 He stated that the Assembly had only confirmed regulations existing since 1958, and that he knew of no case when anyone had objected to them. He argued that people should not expect the best of two worlds and stated that he wished to do the best he could for those loyal people who had continued to work in the Cook Islands for the good of the Cook Islands. In a caustic reply in a letter to the editor a few days later, Mr. Strickland declared that a petition objecting to the clauses concerned had been signed by 2,314 electors. 58

The first politically significant event in the Assembly, however, occurred much earlier than expected. The Session was only six days old when, without any warning (and only two minutes' warning to the member concerned) Mr. Brown moved that Mr. Julian Dashwood resign from his position as one of the Executive Committee members. 59 On the understanding that to oppose it would be tantamount to a vote of no confidence in the Leader of Government Business, and therefore of the Executive Committee as a whole, the Assembly passed the motion. When pressed by Mr. Dashwood to state his reasons, - 102 Mr. Brown said his motion arose from complaints about his Address-in-Reply speech. 60 Mr. Dashwood preferred to call his dismissal the “first shot in a political war” and it was firmly believed by Party members and many others that the motive for his dismissal was that he had joined forces with Albert Henry. This was the interpretation that Mr. Dashwood himself gave in a subsequent statement to Truth, which had cabled him with a request for his version of the event. 61 The whole affair had the effect of providing the Cook Islands Party with both a martyr and a second representative in the Assembly alongside Teaukura Roi.

Discussion of the new Constitution began on Monday, 7th September, in the presence of Mr. J. B. Wright, New Zealand High Commissioner to Western Samoa and one of the constitutional advisers of the previous year, Mr. J. McVeagh, the Crown Law draftsman responsible for the Bill and Mr. L. J. Davis, Assistant Secretary of Island Territories, and continued until the end of the week. 62

At the beginning of discussion on the first day, Mr. Brown quickly rose to request that one or two ariki should assist the High Commissioner. The debate on this matter continued for the rest of that day and most of the following morning. The result was agreement on a “Council of State” comprising the Resident Commissioner and two ariki, one from Rarotonga and one from the outer islands, to be chosen every four years by the ariki themselves. This was such a marked change of mind from the decision made the year before, that it seems clear that the discussion of the position of the ariki initiated by the Cook Islands Party had had some effect.

The Party's petition on residential qualifications had been duly submitted to the officials concerned during the previous week. Its wording, however, although clear in intention, had not allowed for the fact that the 1965 elections were to be governed by the Cook Islands Amendment Bill which was to be debated along with the Constitutional Bill 63; more serious was the discovery that, contrary to the Assembly's Standing Orders, some petitioners had signed for others. Consequently the petition was withdrawn, newly worded forms prepared, and a meeting of the combined committees called—all in a space of three days. In the further three days remaining to it (Saturday 5th to Tuesday 8th September), the Party managed to obtain 2,280 signatures to the new petition. 64

When the day of the debate came, in contrast to the small public attendance at the Assembly it had noted on previous days, the Cook Islands News reported the presence of a large crowd which filled the public seats and overflowed outside. 65 The petition, upon being presented by Teaukura Roi, was tabled and, during a debate that followed on the residential qualification clauses - 103 in the Constitution Bill, an amendment in line with the petition was moved by Mr. Dashwood. He could have used either of two approaches. One would have been a closely reasoned approach in which it could have been argued that the people's right to choose from a wide field of candidates should not be restricted. This might at least have had the effect of narrowing the margin of voting if the motion were defeated, which seemed likely, and thereby increasing the possibility of a review by the Parliamentary Select Committee in New Zealand, where there had been some official opposition to the residential clauses. 66 The second approach would have been to centre the whole case on Albert Henry, with the argument that the purpose of the longer residential qualifications was to keep him out of the Assembly the following year. This might have had the effect of provoking his opponents into expressed hostility, and because of this, of rallying the Party's supporters, actual and potential, to their leader, and of heightening their resentment against the Assembly.

Mr. Dashwood chose the latter course. 67 In doing so he made it certain that the vote would be lost—it was, 16 to 3 68—but he also helped to ensure that the Party, while losing the immediate issue, gained immeasurably in the long run. The issue of residential qualifications, even though it would delay Mr. Henry's entry into the Assembly, had a remarkably unifying effect on the Party. At a time when the initial excitement of forming the Party was over and Mr. Henry was to be absent for several months, it injected just that degree of conflict into the situation to consolidate the allegiance of Party members, and cause many others to think deeply about the motives of the Assembly in adhering to the three year provision

It is not within the scope of this paper, based as it is on events within the Cook Islands themselves, to deal in any detail with Mr. Henry's activities during the period of his return to New Zealand. However, it is important to note that while he has undoubtedly been missed from the local scene, he has maintained contact with his Party by correspondence, and tape recordings which were played in the villages. Through this contact, and publicity arising from his activities, the Party has been kept informed of developments in New Zealand and political interest thus maintained.

One matter that had considerable reaction in the Cooks was the report brought back by the Assembly delegates to the New Zealand Parliamentary Select Committee that Mr. Henry had seriously misrepresented to Cook Islanders in New Zealand the legal position concerning the security of the land rights of - 104 absentees. This and several other points were attacked by Mr. Vaine Rere in a radio broadcast introduced by the Leader of Government Business as a report on the work of the delegation in New Zealand. In the Assembly, Messrs. Roi and Dashwood protested forcefully at what they held to be an electioneering address, and the Resident Commissioner was supported by a resolution in forbidding any further political broadcasts until near the election. In reply to inquiries from Rarotonga about the statements he was alleged to have made, Mr. Henry wrote a long letter to reassure his Central Executive. He told them that his submissions to the Select Committee had been corrected after discussion, that a new (but unrelated) clause had been inserted in the Constitution Bill concerning the Crown acquisition of land, and reiterated his more general fears about the practice of the Land Court departing from native custom, particularly referring to absentees and the right of succession. The substance of his complaints has been denied by the Chief Judge of Land Court, but they echo allegations that have frequently been made in the Assembly over recent years. The question of land tenure has been examined by several writers whose findings on ancient tradition and later practice help to explain present-day confusion and even bitterness. It is clear that it will remain a problem of at least potential importance politically. 69

Meanwhile, in Rarotonga, the Central Executive and district committees continued to meet. Apart from the tape recordings from Mr. Henry, members were kept up with events by a series of circulars distributed by the Secretary. By the end of November, six had been issued dealing with such matters as the Party's platform. the dispute over residential qualifications; two New Zealand press interviews with Mr. Henry, 70 and the efforts of two Cook Islanders who had come from Auckland to Rarotonga to canvass support for a petition in favour of integration and a referendum on the constitution. 71

These circulars were also sent to a number of outer islands with which contact had been made in varying degree over previous months by correspondence and by visits of Party supporters. All the Southern group—Aitutaki (visited by Mr. Henry himself), Atiu, Mitiaro, Mauke and Mangaia—had been visited, and Manihiki, Rakahanga, and Pukapuka (including Nassau) in the Northern Group. It was planned that Mr. Henry should personally visit the islands of the Southern Group when he returned to Rarotonga, but because of the lateness of his return and the scarcity of shipping, particularly during the - 105 summer season, it was improbable that he would be able to visit the Northern Group. His visit had been asked for in the case of most islands, and in Mangaia, the invitation is reported to have been extended by the newly appointed ariki. With the exception of Mauke, no formal organisation has been set up in the outer islands comparable with the situation in Rarotonga, but by November, support in semi-organised form appeared also to be relatively strong in the islands of Aitutaki and Mitiaro. In Mauke there were 148 financial members.

In Rarotonga, where membership had reached some 2,320, of whom 1,930 were financial members, fund raising for the election campaign was begun by the Central Executive in November and a bazaar and dance were held for this purpose. Details of policy and candidates were discussed only informally and have been left for full consideration until Mr. Henry's return in mid-December. 72 In some islands, for example in Mauke, Mitiaro and perhaps a few cases in Rarotonga, the selection of candidates may only be a matter of confirmation of decisions already made informally, but the Party has yet to face the problems of candidate selection as a whole.


To help ensure a coherent and continuous account of the development of the Cook Islands Party, little reference has been made so far to reactions from other interests. This has been made easier by the fact that such reactions, up to the time of writing, were restricted either to disputes on particular issues or to the formation of other, as yet small, political parties, which had little if any effect on the development of the Cook Islands Party itself.

Of the disputes, the controversy over residential qualifications alone gave rise to any attempt at sustained opposition to the Party. When it became plain that the Party was obtaining solid support for its petition, the Leader of Government Business, Mr. Brown, started a counter-petition favouring the three-year clause. Signatures were canvassed in Rarotonga, and telegrams were sent to likely supporters in the outer islands requesting support there.

Definite information on the results of Mr. Brown's efforts have not been available. However, inquiries made suggest that support in Rarotonga, where it was particularly needed for the petition to be even moderately successful, was very small. In Atiu, where it received the support of the local Member, it was supported by about 50 per cent of the adult population. 73 In Aitutaki, support although forthcoming, was much less than for Atiu, and was countered by an opposing petition sent direct to Mr. Henry in New Zealand, which was signed by 640 Islanders. 74 The fact that Mr. Brown had not submitted his petition to the Assembly by the end of its session some two months later, would seem to indicate that it did not gain the support necessary for it to be regarded as significant.

Three other political parties were formed in Rarotonga, but up to the time of writing, none had held a public meeting. The most firmly established is the Cook Islands Unity Party which got under way towards the end of June. The initiators of the Unity Party appear to have been two members of the Legislative Assembly, Mr. Teariki Tuavera, Speaker of the Assembly and a Matavera grower (who became President), and Mrs. Poko Ingram, a director - 106 of a Rarotonga trading company and clothing manufacturing concern; and Mr. Tangata Simiona, Headmaster of the Nikao Primary School (who became Secretary). Two private meetings at Matavera were of an exploratory nature and the name and most of the platform were decided upon at two further private meetings at Arorangi in the following week. Attendances at the latter meetings were about twenty and forty respectively, comprising mostly growers, with some public servants, teachers and store employees.

The first and major part of the Party's platform agreed upon was integration with New Zealand—“to become part of New Zealand in every way in the shortest possible time”. It emerged from discussion that economic factors were the main considerations. Some appeared concerned that New Zealand might have been finding the Territory a burden which it wished to throw off by granting self-government, although others disagreed with this. More important, it was thought that integration with New Zealand would more likely provide the Territory with direct and unrestricted access to New Zealand markets for local produce and representation on New Zealand producer boards. There was also a more general feeling that self-government, either in the complete form in which it was to be given, or by leading to full independence, might give rise to the “mess” which appeared to have been the fate of so many other independent countries.

In subsequent discussion, it seemed to be recognised that full integration might not come for several years but it was held that the principle should nevertheless be firmly stated. Because of lack of detailed knowledge of the nature of local government in New Zealand, most of those present were not fully aware of what jurisdiction would remain in the Territory under integration if, as was proposed, it were represented in the New Zealand Parliament, but have only local bodies, akin to New Zealand boroughs and county councils, hospital and education boards, etc., in the Territory itself.

Two further private meetings were held, to one of which outer islands Assembly members were invited, but the Party had not met again by the end of November. No information is available on any contact its Rarotongan members have made with the outer islands, except that the Secretary (an Atiuan) sent a large number of circulars to his home island, containing the platform and a general plea for support for the Party at the elections. Some copies were also sent to other islands. According to the Secretary, the Party was to delay its campaign until at least December or the New Year.

A central figure in the formation of the remaining two parties was Mr. Taira Rere of Arorangi, a Lecturer at the Nikao Teachers' Training College. The first of these was named the Democratic Party which had four small private meetings at Arorangi during June, 1964, and those attending included businessmen, growers, teachers and labourers. The Party at no stage made any public announcement, and went into recess during the absence of Mr. Rere from Rarotonga. By the end of November, it had not been reactivated.

The third party first became known when an item appeared in the Cook Islands News in November announcing the formation of the Cook Islands Labour Party. 75 It stated that this was a party of working people—men and women—that would do its best for the good of the working people, growers and those with little or no income. The policy of the Party and the candidates for the elections would be announced in the near future. Seven names were given as organizers of the Party, and apart from Taira Rere, the list included Dr. John Numa, who is in charge of the out-patients section of the Rarotonga Hospital. Others included a building supervisor of the Public Works Department, growers - 107 and a trading store employee. Although informal discussions have taken place, the Party had not held a formal meeting by the end of November. In answer to inquiries, Mr. Rere confirmed that the policy of the Party would be centred on means to raise the standard of living of the less prosperous Islanders and it was to emphasize this policy that the name, “Labour”, was chosen.

As far as known policy is concerned, there appears to be no sharp divergence between these parties and the Cook Islands Party, with the exception of the Unity Party's commitment to eventual integration with New Zealand, and possibly the Labour Party's emphasis on “working people” (compared with “all the people” in the case of the Cook Islands Party). A difference of at least equal significance appears to be the question of personnel, and in particular the leadership of Albert Henry in the Cook Islands Party; for it seems clear that these alternative parties have drawn what support they have not so much from any identifiable, coherent group, but from among those who were opposed formerly to the C.I.P.A. and whose distrust of Albert Henry has not since been allayed.

Because of its lack of organisation and public meetings, it has been difficult to assess the amount of support the Unity Party has for its policy of integration, and, for the same reason, the extent of public unease that exists about the return of Mr. Henry to the local political scene.

Apart from the three or four involved in the Unity Party, it is noteworthy that the present members of the Assembly have not attempted to form an alternative to the Cook Islands Party, not even those who have most to lose by a change in Government, that is, the members of the Executive Committee.

Part of the reason appears to lie in the belief of some, including the Deputy Leader of Government Business, Mr. William Estall, a Member for Aitutaki, that political parties are not in the best interests of the Cook Islands 76—the line taken in Mr. Dashwood's broadcast early in the year. Implicit, too, is the belief that their chances of being returned in the election are at least as good if they stand, as in the past, as independents, although it was noticeable that several members, both inside the Assembly and on other occasions, expressed some doubt that they might not be in the Assembly in the future. 77

A third factor is the disunity of the members arising from their diversity of interests. While it is true that they were not willing to do anything that might jeopardise the tenure of office of the Executive Committee, there was a good deal of criticism by Members during the Assembly Session on a variety of subjects, not least the delays in projects for their own particular islands. It is an obvious fact of political life in the Cook Islands that, owing to the geographical division of the Territory into a relatively large number of separate units, a large proportion of government expenditure is devoted to schemes and buildings which are of immediate benefit to the separate islands (or at least apparently so) rather than to the Territory as a whole, and this leaves more than usual opportunity for local feelings of injustice. 78

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For whatever reason, however, in the political situation as at the end of November, there was no substantial organised body of opinion opposed to the Cook Islands Party. The Unity Party alone was to any degree organised, but its support could not be described as substantial. A substantial number of Rarotongans not in the Cook Islands Party might constitute political opposition, but they had not been organized.


A major result of the rise of the Cook Islands Party is that the greatly increased political activity it involved has meant that self-government has become a more real thing for the majority of the Islanders, certainly of Rarotongans, than it might otherwise have been. Understanding of the working and implications of the new Constitution may still be far from complete, but discussion has obviously penetrated the community and is no longer confined principally to the Assembly. This has some relevance to the debates in the New Zealand Parliament where the Labour Party Opposition argued to the contrary in advocating a referendum. It would appear that its case was more pertinent to the situation at the time of the visiting Parliamentary delegation in March than when it was propounded in October-November, a conclusion borne out by the relative lack of support in the Territory for the petition seeking a referendum.

In a number of respects, the Cook Islands Party shows some resemblance to parties that have arisen in other emergent countries. The original initiative came from an existing semi-political association which provided a leader and an at least potential body of support. The Party originated outside the Assembly, “having been constructed by particular individuals and groups to take advantage of a new electoral and political situation”. The position of leader is of vital importance as chief theoretician and strategist. He also “symbolizes the nationalist idea for the mass of Party members” and “it is above all his duty to make his party's policy intelligible to the rank and file”. 79 However, unlike many political leaders in other emergent countries, although relatively well-educated in comparison with many of his generation, Mr. Henry has none of the features that characterize the products of foreign universities. His experience in New Zealand was that of a perceptive working man. Consequently, despite his long absence, this background has left no gulf to bridge in his communication with the people. Indeed, for many he would appear to have filled a vacuum in leadership that has resulted from the decline in power of the ariki during the rule of the New Zealand Administration, and the failure of any dominant personality to emerge from the Legislative Assembly.

In his approach to the people, Mr. Henry gave some prominence to the restoration of traditional customs which he thought appropriate to the present-day situation, but the full implications of this are not clear. In land tenure, for example, over sixty years' activity of the Land Court is a formidable factor to be contended with. The ariki system he would like restored at the district level has also to be reconciled with the practice of parliamentary democracy. It remains an interesting question whether these ideas can be put into practice to produce a unique, especially Polynesian kind of modern society. Practicability aside, however, his appeal to tradition, coupled with a tendency to idealize certain aspects of the past, acted as a unifying factor—an important ingredient in a a nascent nationalism—which helped rally the people to the Party. His appeal tended to bear out the observation that in a situation of social and cultural change, “the people of a community tend to respond most easily to stimuli which have some - 109 continuity with, or analogy with, their traditional values and forms of organization.” 80

If the Cook Islands Party achieves power, however, it is probably more likely to be judged in the first instance by its handling of more immediate economic issues, and in particular to base its popular support on a policy of expanding markets to encourage increased production and of lowering the cost of living. The attainment of these objectives, however, would involve considerable modification of existing trading conditions both at home and abroad.

The exact nature of the membership of the Party cannot be ascertained short of a thorough and comprehensive social survey. Gilson states that at its height, in 1946, the C.I.P.A. was supported by half the Rarotongan population. 81 Assuming this to mean adult population, this approximates to the strength of the present Party in Rarotonga. It is tempting therefore to assume that much the same people, or rather their families, are to be found in both organizations, or that the present size of the Party represents its maximum potential support. On the other hand, it is interesting to note that of the Party's central executive, only two or three are identifiable as former C.I.P.A. supporters, and two of its principal officers had deliberately refrained from supporting the C.I.P.A. If this situation even remotely reflects the composition of the Party's membership, it may be assumed that the Party's appeal has penetrated sections of the community in which the C.I.P.A. was not supported.

The timing of the formation of the Cook Islands Party in relation to the coming of self-government is one possible clue. The fact that the Islanders are to take over the running of their country would provide a stimulus for political involvement hitherto absent. The bulk of the Party's support, evidenced by attendances at meetings, would seem to come from the middle-aged and older age group. Because women's organizations are not very active, there is little possibility of identifiable bloc support there. The youth, however, provide the biggest question mark, for there is little evidence as yet that politics has captured their interest.

At the time of writing, the Party's support appears to be such that it is certain to be represented in the new Assembly in 1965, but it is too early to predict the likely extent of its representation. On present indications, for example, it would be surprising if it failed to poll well in Rarotonga and some of the outer islands, but the situation is less clear in several islands where seats would be required to provide a comfortable majority.

A final matter for consideration is the effect that the rise of the Cook Islands Party has had on the overall plans for self-government. The New Zealand Government, in proposing an extension of the term of the present Assembly for a further year, partly to enable a “shadow cabinet” to gain experience, clearly did not take into account the possibility of a new mass party outside the Assembly, still less the possibility of a “clean sweep” that has been predicted in some quarters. 82 Whereas the Government may well view favourably the obviously increased desire of the Islanders to assume the responsibility of self-government, it may well view with apprehension the possible directions that Cook Islands Party policy might take should the Party obtain a majority at next year's general election. If this should come about, so strong are vested interests believed to be that, for many Islanders, it will be a test of New Zealand's expressed intention concerning the Territory's self-governing status, and of the impartiality of her promised financial aid.

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  • BEAGLEHOLE, Ernest, 1957. Social Change in the South Pacific: Rarotonga and Aitutaki. London, Allen & Unwin.
  • CROCOMBE, R. G., 1962. “Development and Regression in New Zealand's Island Territories”. Pacific Viewpoint, 3, No. 2:17-32.
  • — — 1964. Land Tenure in the Cook Islands. Melbourne, Oxford University Press.
  • DAVIS, T. R. A., 1947. “Rarotonga Today”. Journal of the Polynesian Society, 56:197-218.
  • FIRTH, Raymond, 1956. Human Types: An Introduction to Social Anthropology. London, Nelson.
  • HODGKIN, T., 1956. Nationalism in Colonial Africa. London, Muller.
  • HOOPER, Antony, 1961. “Cook Islanders in Auckland”. Journal of the Polynesian Society, 70:147-193.
  • Cook Islands News (Rarotonga), December 1963-December 1964.
  • (b) NEW ZEALAND:
  • The Auckland Star, March-July 1964.
  • New Zealand Monthly Review, April-October 1964.
  • New Zealand Truth, February, July, September 1964.
  • Salient (Victoria University of Wellington Students' Assn.) 7 September, 1964.
  • Sunday News (Auckland), October 1964.
  • AIKMAN, C. C., J. W. Davidson and J. B. Wright, 1963. A Report to the Members of the Legislative Assembly of the Cook Islands on Constitutional Development. Rarotonga, Government Printer.
  • COOK ISLANDS CONSTITUTION BILL, 1964 (As reported from the Island Territories Committee, N.Z. House of Representatives, 15 Oct. 1964). Wellington, Government Printer.
  • COOK ISLANDS LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY REGULATIONS 1958, THE (Pursuant to the Cook Islands Act (1915) (1958-120) Wellington, Government Printer.
  • Department of Island Territories, 1962, 1963, 1964. Report of the Department of Island Territories. (A.J.H.R.-A.5) Wellington, Government Printer.
  • — — 1962, 1963, 1964. Report on the Cook, Niue and Tokelau Islands. (A.J.H.R.-A.3) Wellington, Government Printer.
  • ELECTORAL ACT 1956 (From Reprint of Statutes of N.Z., 1908-1957, 4:341-438.) Wellington, Government Printer.
  • NEW ZEALAND PARLIAMENTARY DEBATES, 1964. Wellington, Government Printer.
  • PAPERS OF THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF THE COOK ISLANDS, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964. Rarotonga, Government Printer.
  • PROCEEDINGS OF THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF THE COOK ISLANDS, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961 (Summaries); 1962, 1963, 1964 (Verbatim Reports). Rarotonga, Government Printer.
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  • AIKMAN, C. C., 1956. First Report on Constitutional Survey of the Cook Islands. Cyclostyled, Wellington.
  • — — 1957. Letter to Minister of Island Territories (Second Report). Cyclostyled, Wellington.
  • ANONYMOUS, 1964. Letter to Secretary-General of the United Nations Organisation. (First Petition). Cyclostyled.
  • — — 1964. Letter to Secretary-General of the United Nations Organisation. (Requesting referendum) (Revised Petition). Cyclostyled.
  • BELSHAW, H. and V. D. Stace, 1955. A Programme for Economic Development in the Cook Islands. Cyclostyled, Wellington.
  • COOK ISLANDS (N.Z.) SOCIETY INC., 1964. In the Matter of the Cook Islands Constitution Bill and Cook Islands Amendment Bill (Submissions to Island Territories Committee of N.Z. House of Representatives). Cyclostyled.
  • COOK ISLANDS CO-OPERATIVE BANK LTD. 1962. Submissions to the Legislative Assembly Select Committee on Co-operation. Cyclostyled, Rarotonga.
  • COOK ISLANDS PARTY, 1964. Circulars File. Cyclostyled, Rarotonga.
  • — — 1964. The Cook Islands and Self-government: Some Notes and Suggestions. Typescript, Rarotonga.
  • — — 1964. Correspondence. Rarotonga
  • — — 1964. Petition to the Legislative Assembly of the Cook Islands. (Requesting amendment of Bills concerning Residential Qualifications). Cyclostyled, Rarotonga.
  • — — 1964. Residential Qualifications for Electors and Candidates: Cook Islands Legislative Assembly (Background Paper). Typescript, Rarotonga.
  • — — 1964. In the Matter of the Cook Islands Constitution Bill and Cook Islands Amendment Bill (Submissions to Island Territories Committee of N.Z. House of Representatives). Cyclostyled.
  • DARE, A. O., 1961. Address delivered on behalf of the Resident Commissioner at a Co-operative Rally in Aitutaki, November, 1961. Typescript, Rarotonga.
  • GILSON, R. P., 1952. The Administration of the Cook Islands. Unpublished thesis, University of London.
  • MILLS, K. S., 1964, Maungaroa, Section 102, Vaiakura Tapere, Arorangi, Rarotonga (Details of Lease). Manuscript, Rarotonga.
  • SYME, Ronald, 1964. Report on the Proceedings of Four Deputations of Cook Islanders to F. H. Corner, Esq., (Permanent Representative for New Zealand at the United Nations). Typescript, Rarotonga. (Later reproduced as United Nations General Assembly Document, A/AC.109/PET.225/Add.1, 6 May, 1964).
1   This paper is the first part of a larger project being undertaken by the writer on the coming of self-government to the Cook Islands. Thanks are extended to the large number of people in Rarotonga, both within and outside the Cook Islands Party, who have assisted in the preparation of this paper by interviews and discussion with the writer. Only on some specific matters is acknowledgement included in footnotes, but gratitude is particularly expressed to Mr. Albert Henry and Mr. Mana Strickland (President and Secretary of the Party), for a great deal of general assistance; to Mrs. Marguerite Story for interpreting and translating; and to my wife, Joan Stone. Unless otherwise stated, however, any opinions expressed are entirely those of the writer.
2   Hooper 1961:185-187, whose account is based on Gilson, 1952, which remains the only independent source for information on this body.
3   The account of the constitutional development of the Territory is based on: Gilson, 1952 (the main source for the period up to 1955); Crocombe, 1962; Belshaw and Stace, 1955; Aikman, 1956; Report on the Cook, Niue and Tokelau Islands, 1962-64; Report of the Department of Island Territories, 1962-64; Aikman, Davidson and Wright, 1963; Proceedings of the Cook Islands Legislative Assembly, 1957-64.
4   This was confirmed by Mr. Henry in an interview published in Sunday News (Auckland), 25/10/64.
5   This residential qualification had in fact existed under The Cook Islands Legislative Assembly Regulations 1958, pursuant to the Cook Islands Act 1915 (1958/120), Clause 9, Sub-clause (1), paragraph (6)—which Mr. Henry described in N.Z. Truth, 28/7/64, as “utterly obsolete”. In the debate on the Second Reading of the Cook Islands Constitution Bill in the New Zealand Parliament, Mr. Mathison, who had been Minister of Island Territories in 1958, explained that the provision had been agreed upon in entirely different circumstances and was aimed primarily at seconded officers “interested in getting into politics”.—N.Z. Parliamentary Debates, 1964:2835. In its decision in favour of 3 years' residence for candidates, the Assembly disagreed with the recommendation of the constitutional advisers—Paragraph 41 and Recommendation 15 in Aikman, Davidson and Wright, 1963:13 and 32, and Proceedings of the Legislative Assembly of the C.I., 1963:903-911 and 960-967.
6   Over the past few years there has been a state of mutual suspicion between the Co-operative movement, on the one hand, and the Administration, and more recently, the Assembly, on the other. There is general agreement on both sides that previous co-operative failures had been in part caused by lack of Government support. The Co-operative movement still has serious doubts on this score and resented, for example, the refusal of a shipping licence in 1962, and Government sponsored housing schemes and a Copra Board in opposition to its own. The Administration's policy of discouraging consumer co-operatives is particularly resented and pressure by the traders suspected. Both Administration and Assembly have recently been critical of “over-expansion” within the movement's limited resources, and of alleged secretiveness in its affairs. Administration policy favours producer co-operatives, although it did not assist in the purchase of Manuae Island, now a co-operative copra station, in 1961. (Proceedings of the Legislative Assembly, 1962: 138-153 and 371-376; 1963:314-334; Legislative Assembly Papers, No. 3: 1962, 1963; Submissions of the C.I. Co-operative Bank Ltd. to the Legislative Assembly Committee on Co-operation—Cyclostyled, Rarotonga, 1962; Address delivered on behalf of the Resident Commissioner to a Co-operative Rally in Aitutaki—Typescript, Nov., 1961.)
7   Memo to Report on the Proceedings of Four Deputations of Cook Islanders to F. H. Corner, Permanent Representative for N.Z. at the United Nations. Rarotonga. 5-7 January, 1964 (R. Syme, typescript, Rarotonga). A copy of the report was sent to the U.N. Committee on Colonialism, and subsequently became a U.N. General Assembly paper.
8   Cook Islands News, 23/12/63.
9   The leaders of the deputations elected by the meeting were: Mr. David Hosking, M.L.A. (Co-operatives), Mr. Ronald Syme (Social and Economic Conditions), Mr. Karlo Anderson (Agriculture) and Mr. Raui Pokoati (Outer Islands). The two Europeans, Messrs. Syme and Anderson, expressed doubts as to whether they should lead their deputations but did so on the insistence of the meeting. (Memo to Report on Proceedings . . .)
10   The following account is based on the Report already quoted which included verbatim texts of the speeches delivered by deputation leaders.
11   A copy of the Report, or at least a summary of it, must have been sent to the weekly N.Z. Truth, which published a sensationally presented account of the deputations under the headline, “Cook Islands: Our Badge of Shame”, and a sympathetic editorial (4/2/64).
12   This committee was therefore of a less formal nature than was implied in a report by Mr. Noel Holmes, then visiting Rarotonga (The Auckland Star, 28/3/64), and was also established some time before Mr. Henry's arrival. While it is true that the name, Cook Islands (Islands) Society (to distinguish it from the Cook Islands (N.Z.) Society) was mooted, the three bodies, the Co-operatives, Industrial Union of Workers and C.I.P.A., were never “merged” into an additional organization of that name. The same impression was later to be given in reports in the New Zealand Monthly Review (May 1964) and Truth (7/7/64) which closely followed Mr. Holmes's account.
13   Cook Island News, 19/2/64 (letter) and 9/3/64 (text of broadcast). There is irony in Mr. Dashwood's address in view of his future dismissal and support for the Cook Islands Party (discussed later in this paper). It is partly explained by the fact that he was apparently unaware of the extent and nature of the activities outlined above, and of their subsequent connection with the return of Mr. Henry, with whom he had had intermittent associations over a number of years.
14   The following account is based on a report in the Cook Islands News (24/3/64). See also The Auckland Star (28/3/64) and Truth (7/7/64).
15   The following account is based mainly on a report in the Cook Islands News (31/3/64).
16   Submissions by the Cook Islands (N.Z.) Society Inc. and Submissions on behalf of the Cook Islands Political Party (both cyclostyled, September, 1964). This matter is discussed later in this paper. Controversy in the Assembly over Crown acquisition of land arose over the site for a can-making factory for Island Foods Ltd., the W. Gregg & Co. subsidiary which produces “Raro” fruit juice products, and proposals to extend the present Rarotonga Airport to accommodate international jet aircraft. (Proceedings of the Legislative Assembly 1964:560-580 and 961-997.)
17   The Auckland Star, 28/3/64.
18   The price for sugar in Rarotonga had been £4.11.0 per 701b. bag to small shopkeepers and £4.16.0 retail. The Polynesian Agencies price was £4.5.0. Subsequently, several stores cut their prices to £4.5.0 and less, and these remained until the official New Zealand reduction in December.
19   Mr. Henry later explained to the writer that he viewed the Missionary Period as destructive of the traditional culture and wisdom of the Cook Island people—an opinion shared by a number of writers on the Territory. See Gilson, 1952:44 et seq.; Beaglehole, 1957:89; Crocombe, 1962:18; and Davis, 1947:56, 203.
20   Mr. Henry was referring to the Federal Parliament set up during the period of the British Protectorate. However, although there were “popularly elected representatives” in the Federal Parliament, there was also an Upper House of ariki which, according to Gilson, controlled the Government. Moreover, in the absence of a secret ballot, the ariki were also able to influence the election of the members in the Lower House. At a later meeting (see below), Mr. Henry pointed out that representation by ariki would be in accordance with local custom. On the other hand, Gilson states that the ariki often acted in self-interest. (Gilson, 1952:120 et seq.)
21   Mr. Henry implied that the closing of these secondary schools resulted directly from action by the New Zealand Administration, but the situation seems to have been less straightforward. The London Missionary Society, which ran the schools, was having its own difficulties and was responsible for the final decision. But it could also be said that a more encouraging policy on the part of the Resident Commissioner (Colonel Gudgeon) might have helped. (Gilson: 289 et seq.).
22   The tables on Government finance, trade, and land utilization were drawn from the data provided in Reports on the Cook, Niue and Tokelau Islands (Dept. of Island Territories) for the year ended 31 March, 1963 (AJHR, A3, 1963).
23   There is disagreement on this question. Crocombe supports the view that there was a high level of economic activity during this period and seems to imply that the benefit was felt by the people as a whole (Crocombe, 1962:20). Gilson, however, tends to emphasize the trading and financial difficulties in the 1890s (Gilson, 1952:137 et seq.), and describes the “economic supremacy” of the ariki dating from the Missionary Period (ibid.:98 et seq.). There is also the probability that European merchants were already gaining much of the benefit from any trade despite references in Gilson to the effect that alienation of land was limited. Recent research has revealed that in one case alone, the firm of Donald and Edenborough took out a 30 year lease from Tinomana Ariki in 1887 for a block of 309 acres at 300 dollars p.a. “when all cleared and planted”—Maungaroa. Section 102. Vaiakura Tapere, Arorangi (K. S. Mills—Manuscript, Rarotonga. 1964).
24   Although using the term “Head of State” in this connection on this and other occasions, Mr. Henry clearly did not mean that an ariki should replace the Queen. He was referring to the Queen's representative, who was then the Resident Commissioner and whom the Assembly had requested should continue to be a New Zealand official (Proceedings of the Legislative Assembly, 1963:632-648 and 895; and Aikman, Wright and Davidson, 1963:11 and 31).
25   Advertised in the Cook Islands News, 3/6/64.
26   Cook Island News, 12/6/64.
27   Report on Proceedings of Four Deputations of Cook Islanders to Mr. F. H. Corner (see above).
28   Cook Islands News, 15/3/64.
29   The Auckland Star, 10/4/64 (reprinted in Cook Islands News, 5/5/64). In this and subsequent reports, the words “confusion”, “lack of confidence”, “bewilderment” and “fearfulness” were used to describe the situation.
30   The total number of valid votes at the by-election was 1,906. The Rarotongan roll stood at 3,737. (Administration Election File). By contrast, at a meeting held by the Rarotongan Assembly members a few weeks later in the same hall, the audience barely out-numbered the Assembly members who attended.
31   There had been some emotion in the Assembly debate the previous year over the question of a seat for the ariki when Makea herself implicitly refused to consider standing for election by popular vote. (Proceedings of the Legislative Assembly 1963:587.)
32   The background to this statement is discussed in the next section.
33   The pre-European contact situation of the ariki is described in Gilson (Gilson, 1952:14), who later describes inter alia the prominence achieved by the Makea Nui Ariki during the Missionary Period. Beaglehole describes Makea as the “paramount Chief of Rarotonga” during the Protectorate (Beaglehole, 1957:110)—a position which appears to have been accepted by the New Zealand Administration following annexation a few years later.
34   In addition to these long term plans, it was hoped that she might also be able to help persuade the Assembly to amend its decision on residential qualifications for election candidates, which were obstructing his candidature.
35   This background was provided by Raitia Tepuretu.
36   Cook Islands News, 16/6/64.
37   Cook Islands News, 19/6/64 (Maori translation 22/6/64).
38   Cook Islands News, 29/6/64.
39   Cook Islands News, 30/6/64. The Central Executive clearly lost no time in replacing Makea, as Vakatini's appointment was announced on the day following her published resignation.
40   Cook Islands News, 7/7/64.
41   This draws attention to a certain dualism in the Party's thinking—the idea of a revival of the traditional spirit of union under the ariki along with adoption of the usages of the modern, parliamentary, democratic system. It is not clear how it is hoped to reconcile these in practice.
42   N.Z. Truth, 14/7/64 and 1/9/64.
43   Gilson, 1952:338.
44   Cook Islands News, 7/7/64.
45   Dr. Manea Tamarua took a comparatively late interest in the events leading to the formation of the Party. He had never been a member of the C.I.P.A., but recently told the writer that he had been impressed by the Party's platform and Mr. Henry's explanation of it at the 15th June meeting and in subsequent discussions.
46   Under New Zealand law, in which residential qualifications for candidates and electors are the same, only three months' residence before an election is required, provided electors have at some period resided continuously in the country for one year. For the great majority of New Zealand-born citizens, three months therefore meets the residential qualification provisions. But, even for other British subjects, the period is one year—not three. (Electoral Act 1956—clauses 25, 37, 38 and 39—Reprint of the Statutes of New Zealand 1908-1957, 4:358-359 and 365-366). It seemed paradoxical, therefore, from the Party's point of view, that Cook Islanders going to New Zealand are eligible as candidates after one year, but if away from the Cooks for more than three years, are required to have three years' residence on their return. Residential Qualifications for Electors and Candidates: Cook Islands Legislative Assembly—Cook Islands Party Background Paper (Typescript, Rarotonga, August 1964).
47   Integration with New Zealand as an alternative preferred by a minority to full internal self-government, had been mentioned by Mrs. Ingram to the Minister of Island Territories in March (see above). It had now received further support at private meetings of the Cook Islands Unity Party, which had been formed since the 15th June meeting at which the Cook Islands Party was established. The Unity Party is discussed later in this paper.
48   This meeting pattern has continued up to the time of writing (November).
49   The uapou has been described by Hooper as “a religions meeting, but a specifically Polynesian one, involving a chosen religious text to which participants may speak from the floor, an oral examination for aspirants to ekalesia status, fervent singing of hymns in a traditional chanting style, and general élan”. (Hooper, 1961b:189). In discussion of the religious text, it appears to be an important aim to strive diligently to arrive at a unity of thought and feeling in resolving a question posed.
50   The term that Mr. Henry himself has apparently used as reported by Mr. Noel Holmes in The Auckland Star, 27/7/64.
51   Some of the matters that follow were repeated by Mr. Henry in interviews published in Truth (28/7/64) and the Victoria University of Wellington student paper Salient (7/9/64).
52   By a decision of the Assembly in 1962 following an Executive Committee recommendation, licences for inter-islands trade were restricted to three firms (the Co-operatives were excluded). Proceedings of the Legislative Assembly, 1962:371-376. At one stage only the A. B. Donald Ltd. ship Akatere was working. The Bodmer, owned by Mr. D. C. Brown (Island Merchants Ltd.) left early in May to undergo repairs in Pago Pago, American Samoa, and later in Suva, where it still was in November. The Silk and Boyd ship, Tagua, in which W. Gregg & Co. (Island Foods Ltd.) and the Cook Islands Trading Co. each have an interest, did not arrive at Rarotonga until late in July.
53   The Assembly later began to move on similar subjects. Thus, on 7th October, a motion moved by the Leader of Government Business, Mr. Brown, was passed by the Assembly, approving in principle the establishment of trade schools “whether . . . sponsored by the Government, or Church Missions or privately” (Proceedings of the Legislative Assembly, 1964:739).
54   On 12th October, on the motion of the Deputy Leader of Government Business, Mr. Estall, the Assembly approved the “early establishment of an Economic Development Planning Board which should, under the guidance of an experienced international economist, give immediate attention to the preparation of a development plan covering the next 5 years” (Proceedings of the Legislative Assembly, 1964:771).
55   Following discussions earlier with a representative of the United Nations Technical Assistance Board, on 4th November, the Assembly authorized the Executive Committee to negotiate for expert assistance with emphasis on citrus fruit production, economic planning, underground water investigation, and pearl shell culture.
56   By the time Mr. Henry returns, a period of five months will have elapsed.
57   Cook Islands News, 31/7/64.
58   Cook Islands News, 6/8/64.
59   According to Mr. Dashwood, Mr. Brown had asked him to resign at the end of the Assembly's morning tea break, and said that if he refused, a motion would be moved immediately the sitting resumed. Mr. Dashwood refused to resign without being advised of the reasons for his dismissal, and these were not given (N.Z. Truth, 8/9/64).
60   In his speech, there was criticism of the relieving Resident Agent for Mauke—the island Mr. Dashwood represents—for failing to follow official instructions concerning the growing of tomatoes on the island, which he described as resulting in a financial fiasco. (Proceedings of the Legislative Assembly, 1964:34-35).
61   N.Z. Truth (8/9/64). A fuller version of Mr. Dashwood's account appeared in N.Z. Monthly Review (October, 1964). Other reasons for his dismissal were suggested in an item in the Sunday News (18/10/64) but the matter may now be sub judice in view of the possibility of libel proceedings on behalf of Mr. Brown. (Cook Islands News, 9/11/64).
62   Proceedings of the Legislative Assembly, 1964:294-433.
63   Background Paper on Residential Qualifications for Electors and Candidates—Cook Islands Legislative Assembly. (Unpublished Typescript, Rarotonga, August, 1964).
64   The figure given by Mr. Teaukura Roi in presenting the petition to the Assembly. (Proceedings of the Legislative Assembly, 1964:350). However, in a letter the Cook Islands Party wrote to the Minister of Island Territories later in that week, the figure stated was 2,228.
65   Cook Islands News, 8-9/9/64.
66   This approach was implied in the reasons for amending the clause outlined in the Cook Islands Party's petition and Background Paper referred to above. In the Party's letter to Mr. Hanan (11/9/64), which he was asked to refer to the Select Committee dealing with the Constitution Bill, the Acting President and Secretary also took this approach. A number of reasons for amending the three-year clause were put forward, but emphasis was laid upon the right of the people to choose from the widest possible selection of candidates, together with a reminder that the United Nations and the Minister himself had emphasised that the Constitution should reflect the will of the people. The Party's petition was cited as evidence that the people's wishes had been ignored by the Assembly. During the debate on the clause in the Assembly, the Assistant Secretary of Island Territories had confirmed that his Minister was unhappy about the three-year provision. (Proceedings of the Legislative Assembly, 1964:360-361).
67   In an interview with the writer, Mr. Dashwood said that he did not think a case based on reason alone would change the minds of most of his colleagues. However, Mr. Vaine Rere told his constituents on his return to Atiu that he personally favoured a one-year residential qualification for candidates, and this view was also expressed by Mr. William Estall when interviewed by the writer. Mr. Estall was apparently under the impression that the three-year clause was Executive Committee policy. Nevertheless, there was no sign of compromise from those who spoke in the Assembly debate, and no subsequent amendment was moved in favour of one year.
68   In addition to Messrs. Dashwood and Roi, the amendment was supported by Mr. Ine Rutera of Pukapuka.
69   Proceedings of the Legislative Assembly, 1964:755, 764-765 and 767-770 (broadcast debate); and 1961 (summary):52, 1962:313-315, 1964:51-52 and 68 (complaints and discussion of land tenure). Mr. Henry's letter was dated 25/10/64. The latest complaints in the Assembly about the Land Court were cited by Mr. Henry in his Submissions on behalf of the Cook Islands Party, Sept. 1964. The Chief Judge's denial was made in an interview with the writer. Writers who have discussed the land tenure question are Gilson, 1952 Beaglehole, 1951 and Crocombe. 1964, all inter alia.
70   Those published in Salient (7/9/64) and Sunday News (25/10/64).
71   There had been opposition to the introduction of self-government by some Cook Islanders in New Zealand, initially in Wellington (statement by Mrs. Inanui Rio Nia, who is related to the Makea family—The Auckland Star, 7/5/64) and later receiving some support in Auckland, including from among Mr. Henry's Cook Islands Society colleagues; it was believed that the Cook Islands people did not understand the implications of the Constitution and that it should be fully explained to them. The N.Z. Labour Party unsuccessfully sought a referendum on the Constitution during the debates on the Bill (N.Z. Parliamentary Debates, 1964:2836 et seq., 3038 and 3262 et seq.). Later, a petition seeking a referendum was rejected by the N.Z. Parliament (Cook Islands News, 4/12/64), but a similar petition was sent to the United Nations, and copies were taken to Rarotonga in November by two previous office holders of the Cook Islands (N.Z.) Society. Mr. Henry had written to his Party warning of the visit of these men. Shortly after their arrival, their petition was modified by deletion of reference to integration with New Zealand. However, they obtained very little support despite a round of village meetings, and, apart from the Party circular, their case was replied to by the Resident Commissioner (Cook Islands News, 30/11/64).
72   The Party's officers, however, were provided with a lengthy, confidential paper covering a comprehensive range of subjects, as a basis for future discussion—The Cook Islands and Self-government: Some Notes and Suggestions. (Typescript, Rarotonga, 1964).
73   This estimate was given by Mr. Rere in an interview with the writer and confirmed by an independent observer. It is not clear, however, if support for this clause is now as strong.
74   This information was conveyed in a letter (16/9/64) to the Cook Islands Party in Rarotonga by a leading Party supporter in Aitutaki.
75   Cook Islands News, 18/11/64.
76   Expressed by Mr. Estall in an interview with the writer.
77   Among others, the Leader and Deputy Leader of Government Business both stated this during the Address-in-Reply debate—Proceedings of the Legislative Assembly, 1964:64 and 69. Another member expressed similar doubt when speaking at a school function.
78   These feelings are clear in speeches in the Address-in-Reply Debate and on such Departmental Reports as Public Works, Agriculture and Education. They came to a head late in the 1964 Session on the issue of the proposed extension of the Rarotonga Airport (an alternative was Aitutaki), a decision which was deferred until 1965 after a division was taken. The debate also underlined attitudes on Crown acquisition of Land, as there was considerable opposition among landowners. (Proceedings of the Legislative Assembly, 1964 :961-997; Legislative Assembly Papers, 1964 No. 41 and 45; Cook Islands News. 30/10/64 et seq.)
79   Hodgkin, 1956:154, 156 and 162.
80   Firth, 1956:198.
81   Gilson, 1952:338.
82   This possibility was expressed as early as April by Mr. Noel Holmes, The Auckland Star, 14/4/64.