From 1500 BC Polynesian islands were gradually populated by Maori ancestors who landed in their Vakas (magnificent giant double-hulled canoes) guided by the stars and their famous power of navigation.
Captain James Cook sighted Manuae in 1773, then subsequently Palmerston, Takutea, Mangaia and Atiu, where Lieutenant Gore landed in 1777.
all under our control
Originally named the Hervey Isles after a British lord, the Russians named them the Cook Islands in honour of the famous captain in 1823.
In 1888 they became a part of the British Dominion, due to fears France may seize the islands first.
In 1901 New Zealand decided to annex the country despite opposition from the traditional chiefs. Many of the islands were independently ruled by local chiefs with no laws and authority to decide such things. However it remained a protectorate until 1965, when as a self-governing state under New Zealand’s care and protection, Sir Albert Henry was elected Prime Minister.
Today the country is essentially independent or self-governing in free association with New Zealand, which oversees defence.