Cook Islands

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I added the population data from the 2011 census.

Peter Dotzauer sent a reference to the Lonely Planet travel book for Rarotonga: "... each outer island has a resident-elected/appointed island council presided over by a mayor.... On Rarotonga, island councils are replaced by vaka (district, tribe) councils, one in each of the three traditional vaka." The councils of Rarotonga are Puaikura, Takitumu, and Te Au O Tonga (map ). His message impelled me to do some more research, with these results.

The Rarotonga Local Government (Repeal) Bill, abolishing the three vaka councils of Rarotonga, took effect on 2008-02-08. See, for example, this report .

Mr. Dotzauer believes that the island councils are divided into districts, and the districts into subdistricts called "tapere"; and that Manuae, Nassau, and Suwarrow have no island councils of their own but are governed from the nearest larger island. There is a blog entry  that lists five districts and fifty tapere for Rarotonga, and the maps linked from here  show eight districts and 19 tapere on Aitutaki, six districts on Mangaia, and five tapere on Atiu. I have a 1978 map that shows five districts of Rarotonga: Arorangi, Avarua, Matavera, Ngatangiia, and Titikaveka, where Arorangi matches Puaikura in extent, Avarua matches Te Au O Tonga, and the other three combined match Takitumu.

According to the book "South Pacific islands legal systems ", by Michael A. Ntumy, the Outer Islands Local Government Act 1988 created island councils on all the islands except Nassau, Pukapuka, and Rarotonga. The Rarotonga Local Government Act 1988 created an island council and nine district councils for Rarotonga. However, the same book speaks of island councils during earlier periods, as far back as 1915. The Cook Islands Initial National Communication under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change  says, "A system of local government for Rarotonga was reactivated in 1997 with the passage of the Rarotonga Local Government Act. The first elections for Mayors and Councillors took place in November 1998."

Country overview: 

ISO codeCK
LanguageEnglish (en)
Time zone-10


On 1901-06-11, the Cook Islands changed from a British protectorate to an integral part of New Zealand. On 1965-08-04, they became an autonomous state in free association with New Zealand. This means that New Zealand retains some responsibility for them. In particular, it handles their foreign relations.

Other names of country: 

  1. Dutch: Cookeilanden
  2. French: ╬les fp Cook
  3. German: Cookinseln f
  4. Icelandic: Cookeyjar
  5. Italian: Isole fp Cook
  6. Norwegian: Cook°yene (Bokmňl), Cook°yane (Nynorsk), Cooks °yer
  7. Portuguese: Ilhas Cook
  8. Russian: Острова Кука
  9. Spanish: Islas fp Cook
  10. Turkish: Cook adaları

Origin of name: 

Discovered by Capt. James Cook (1728-1779) in 1773

Primary subdivisions: 

The administrative divisions of Cook Islands are deprecated herein, pending further research.

Cook IslandsCK.CK17,794293113Avarua

Territorial extent: 

Cook Islands includes the Pacific islands in the rectangle defined by roughly 7░ to 23░ latitude south, and 156░ to 167░ longitude west. These islands can be divided into a northern group and a southern group. The northern group includes Manihiki, Nassau, Penrhyn, Pukapuka, Rakahanga, and Suwarrow Islands. The southern group includes Aitutaki, Atiu, Mangaia, Manuae, Mauke, Mitiaro, and Rarotonga Islands. Palmerston Atoll, which is relatively isolated, has sometimes been classed with either group; the census currently puts it in the southern group. Avarua, the capital, is located on Rarotonga Island.

The UN LOCODE page  for Cook Islands lists locations in the country, some of them with their latitudes and longitudes, some with their ISO 3166-2 codes for their subdivisions. This information can be put together to approximate the territorial extent of subdivisions.

Population history:

The Cook Islands Statistics Office  has provided a table of historical census data, by island. There is no indication that the islands should be considered as administrative divisions.

Back to main statoids page Last updated: 2015-06-30
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