Mangaia Celebrates 200 Year Bicentennial

May 29th, 2024

Mangaia Celebrates 200 Year Bicentennial

We are now only two weeks away until huge celebrations on the island of Mangaia for the 200-year anniversary of the arrival of Christian missionaries on the island in 1824. The Bicentennial Celebrations will take place from June 9 to 16, 2024.

Mangaia in the Cook Island's southern group is expecting around 1,000 visitors from Australia, New Zealand, and other countries. A group from Papua New Guinea will also attend in recognition of the fact that in the late 1800s, nearly 100 Mangaians were sent to Papua New Guinea as missionaries by the London Missionary Society.

Mangaia’s vibrant Historical and Cultural Society has been meeting every Thursday to research and write a significant book on the history of the Gospel's arrival on the island. They have collected stories and photos from around the world to create a comprehensive narrative of Christianity's 200-year history on Mangaia. This new book will be a very important treasure for preserving this knowledge and past experiences for future generations.

Once home to around 3,000 people, Mangaia’s population has now decreased to about 450 due to people heading away mainly for work prospects. Despite the small population, the island supports around 10 active churches, including the Cook Islands Christian Church, Assemblies of God, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists, Latter-Day Saints, Apostolic, Catholic, and the newer True Vine Church, all with their own ministers or deacons.

The June 2024 Bicentennial Celebrations will involve people from all the churches, who have collaborated to prepare an island-wide Bicentennial Plan. Many Mangaians have joined the ariki and aronga mana on fundraising trips to Australia and New Zealand to gather donations for the events, Mangaians living abroad have also been very generous in supporting the celebrations, even though a number of them won’t be able to attend.

Hosting and catering for a huge celebration has been done in the past, and the residents of Mangaia are up for the challenge. While many items will need to be brought from Rarotonga by ship and barge, the island aims to supply most of the vegetables, pigs, and goats – and in preparation last year they planted extra crops and raised extra livestock.

The Bicentennial Celebrations will span ten days, with the main events scheduled for Saturday morning, June 15, and the closing ceremony in the evening. The team at Polynesian Rental Cars wholeheartedly supports this important cultural event and wishes our friends and family in Mangaia all the best.