Pukapuka - History and Cultural Relations

From genealogical information, anthropologists Ernest and Pearl Beaglehole deduced that the island was settled around 1300. More recent archeological data (Chikamori and Yoshida) suggest the atoll was settled perhaps during the third century B . C . Traditional accounts indicate that prior to Western contact immigrants came from two sources: Yayake and Manihiki. Reports also describe voyages by Pukapukans to other Polynesian islands, mostly to the west of the atoll, such as the Tokelaus, Samoa, and Tonga. Pukapuka was Formally "discovered" by the West when Spanish explorers Alvaro de Mendaña and Pedro Quiros sighted the atoll in 1595. Byron sighted it again in 1765. Because the rocks surrounding the atoll made a landing dangerous, Byron called the atoll's three islets "islands of danger," a phrase from which the name "Danger Island," still used on certain maps, derives. In 1857 native missionaries from the London Missionary Society landed on the island. Pukapuka became a British protectorate in 1892 and in 1901 New Zealand took over its administration. It was incorporated into the Cook Islands in 1915. The Cook Islands became self-governing in Internal matters in 1965. The Beagleholes suggest Pukapukan culture shows strong affinities with both eastern and western Polynesia but, overall, is not part of the western Polynesian core.

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