Ureparapara, in the Banks Islands
|Archipelago||Vanuatu, Torres Islands|
|Area||39 km2 (15 sq mi)|
|Highest point||Mt Qusetowqas|
|Population||437 (as of 2009)|
The first recorded European who arrived to Ureparapara was the Spanish explorer Pedro Fernández de Quirós on the 15th June 1606. He first named the island Pilar de Zaragoza; however, later on, it is charted as Nuestra Señora de Montserrate both by him and his chaplain Fray Martin de Munilla.
Ureparapara island is an old volcanic cone that has been breached by the sea on its east coast, forming Divers Bay. Apart from this indentation, the island is circular in shape, with a diameter of eight kilometers. The land area is 39 km².
According to a legend, natives of the island claim to be visited weekly by mermaids, who they say come from the extinct volcano's core.
The island is locally named Noypēypay [nɔjpejˈpaj] in Lehali, and Aö [aˈø] in Löyöp
Ureparapara is known to host historical sites made of coral stone, named nowon and votwos in Lehali. These ancestral villages, located inland in the forest, were abandoned in the 19th century, yet have been preserved under the vegetation; they have been proposed for inclusion amongst the World Heritage sites of UNESCO. One of the most famous sites is a 12-feet high stone platform called Votwos. These used to serve as a ceremonial platform for the high-profile grade-taking ceremonies, known as sok or nsok in Lehali, and referred to in the anthropological literature as suqe or sukwe (after their name in Mota).
These sites are now only visited for ceremonial purposes, as most people nowadays live along the coast.
- Kelly, Celsus, O.F.M. La Austrialia del Espiritu Santo. The Journal of Fray Martín de Munilla O.F.M. and other documents relating to the Voyage of Pedro Fernández de Quirós to the South Sea (1605-1606) and the Franciscan Missionary Plan (1617-1627) Cambridge, 1966, p.121.
- 2009 National Census of Population and Housing: Summary Release (PDF). Vanuatu National Statistics Office. 2009. Retrieved October 11, 2010.
- Vincent Lebot und Pierre Cabalion: Les Kavas de Vanuatu, S. 83
- Maffi & Taylor, 1977, "The Mosquitoes Of The Banks And Torres Island Groups Of The South Pacific".
- François (2012); see also Detailed list and map of the Banks and Torres languages.
- “The Nowon and Votwos of Ureparapara”, Tentative list for UNESCO World Heritage sites (homepage of UNESCO).
- François (2013), p.234.
- François, Alexandre (2012), "The dynamics of linguistic diversity: Egalitarian multilingualism and power imbalance among northern Vanuatu languages", International Journal of the Sociology of Language 214: 85–110, doi:10.1515/ijsl-2012-0022.
- François, Alexandre (2013), "Shadows of bygone lives: The histories of spiritual words in northern Vanuatu", in Mailhammer, Robert, Lexical and structural etymology: Beyond word histories, Studies in Language Change 11, Berlin: DeGruyter Mouton, pp. 185–244, ISBN 978-1-61451-058-1.