Taakura was an extremely beautiful red-haired maiden that lived on the island of Rarotonga. She was so much in love with her young warrior boyfriend. But one day, she discovered that he was having an affair. Devastated she vowed to destroy her boyfriend and every other Rarotongan man. So she committed suicide and at night her spirit would sit on a rock by the side of the road, combing her long red hair, she used her hypnotic beauty to lure her boyfriend off the edge of a bridge.
Taakura’s spirit still roams Rarotonga and continues to lure men to plunge to their deaths. Don’t worry, the last case i heard off was back in the early 1980’s, when a man drove his vehicle off the side of a bridge, he didn’t die, but claimed it was Taakura.
Ina and the Shark
Do you know why sharks have a dent on top of their head. Well, long time ago there was a beautiful maiden called Ina who asked a shark to take her to another island to see her boyfriend. Anyway, during the journey she was hungry and decided to open one of the coconuts she had brought along. But she didn’t have anything to open it with. Then she suddenly got an idea. She got one of the coconuts and cracked it open on the sharks head. The shark then shook her off his back and ate her. Anyway, thats how sharks got a dent on their heads.
The Octopus and the Rat
Another similar story is about the octopus getting ink in his head. This is how it was explained to me. There was a rat on a canoe that was being hurled around in a storm. Eventually, the canoe started to break up. Afraid and shivering, the rat looked around for something to which he could cling too. Then he noticed an octopus swimming nearby and called over to it. He asked it to take him to land and that he would pay him generously. The octopus being ignorant positioned himself and allowed the rat to climb on top of his head, then carefully made his way towards land.
Once they were near the beach, the rat jumped off and quickly ran onto dry land. The octopus then called out to him « where is the payment you promised me ». Then the rat turned around and said, « Feel the top of your head ». Anyway, enough of the gross tales. But that is why the octopus has that black ink in his head and thats why octopus’s hate rats.
According to legends, Raemaru was the tallest mountain on Rarotonga. Raemaru is on the west side of Rarotonga in the village of Puaikura or now known as Arorangi. Raemaru, means ‘in the shade of the sun’. The fame of this mountain reached as far as Aitutaki island. Aitutaki was completely flat then and so they sent some warriors to steal the mountain. Hence, in the night, these Aitutakian warriors cut the mountain top off and took it back to Aitutaki. So now Raemaru has a flat top which has been that way long before white man ever set foot on Rarotonga and Aitutaki has a small mountain.
Ati and the people from the Underworld (Momoke)
Ati was a humble planter who lived in the village which is now Arorangi, a long time ago. One day when he went to his plantation, he discovered some of his crops were missing. He paid his neighbours a visit and demanded that they own up to this offence, he even accused and threatened his neighbours loose animals. But nobody would come forward. So determined to get justice, he figured that the thief was bound to return. So he hid in the bushes nearby and waited for the thief to come back again.
He did this nite after nite, but the thief did not return. Then one night, the moon was full, Ati was almost about to dose off convinced that his threats to the other villagers had definitely scared off the thief, when there was this funny sound like rippling water. He glanced over at the pool near his plantation and it was glowing. Then suddenly, human figures started to emerge from the pool. They were almost like him except that they were white-skinned. He watched more in amazement than fury as they uprooted and helped themselves to the fruits of his labour.
When they had gathered enough, they climbed back into the pool and disappeared into its depths. Curious, Ati followed them into the pool, but no matter how hard he tried he could not hold his breath long enough. Not that he knew how deep he had to go either. Eventually, he gave up. He then planned how he would capture these white-skins (momoke) the next time.
On the nite of the next full moon, Ati again lay in the bushes, but this time nearer the pool and watched the momoke raid his plantation. While they were busy, he threw a net that he had woven especially for this purpose over the pool and then rounded up the momoke. They rushed back to the pool, but the weight snapped some of the twine and all except one was able to escape.
Ati, ecstatic, gathered up his captive and took it home. When morning came he took a good look at his captive and realised it was a woman. He decided to make her his wife. She was very unhappy initially. In addition, she couldn’t go outside during the day because it hurt her eyes. However, time went by and she became accustomed to living in Ati’s world, eventually bearing him a son. They were very happy together. However, one day when Ati came home, he found her crying. She asked him if they could go and visit her parents as she wanted to show them their child. So that nite they prepared and went to the pool. Ati held the child.
They took deep breaths and attempted to dive. Ati could not hold on and had to come up again for more air. He tried again and again, unsuccessfully. His wife had not emerged again to assist him. Eventually, he gave up, and sat by the pool with their son, mourning, knowing she was never to return to the surface again. He named his son Ati’ve (which means seperation) and sealed off the pool. Anyway, I am telling you this story, cos while you are in Rarotonga and if you come across some extremely fair Rarotongan’s (no, not the Caucasians living there or the Cook Islanders who have Caucasian ancestors), then you will know they are descendants of Ati’ve. Momoke is the Rarotongan word for albino.
No matter how much these people try, they don’t tan. Anyway, the pool is still there too, but you have to ask the old folk in Arorangi where it is.