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NASA picture of Takutea Island
Map of Takutea
An older juvenile brown booby on Takutea Island

Takutea, in the Cook Islands, is a small uninhabited island 21 kilometres (13 miles) northwest of Atiu in the southern Cook Islands. Because it is only 1.22 km2 (0.47 sq mi) in size and has a very dangerous landing at the northwest corner of the reef, it has been designated a wildlife sanctuary, mainly for the red-tailed tropicbirds and red-footed boobies.

Administratively, the island is considered part of Atiu, the closest island. It is owned equally by all inhabitants of Atiu and not allocated to one specific village or district of Atiu.

The wildlife sanctuary is administered by a Trust and special permission for visits is needed from the Trust Chairman, High Chief Rongomatane Ariki. Alternatively, it is possible join the research vessel Bounty Bay for an eco tour, run by Pacific Expeditions Ltd. out of Rarotonga, the main island of the Cook Islands.

Copra cutters from Atiu visit once a year to cut coconuts from the trees, and a quantity of the tail feathers of the tropic birds.

The conservation service, made up of local residents from other islands, makes regular trips to the island to monitor the conservation.

In 2004 a television episode of Survivorman (Les Stroud) was filmed on Takutea Island.


The original name of the island was Areuna until it was renamed by Mariri, one of Atiu's ancestors. When Mariri returned for the third time from Avaiki to Atiu together with his wife, he landed on the small islet, which he had seen on his previous visits to Atiu. While fishing, he caught a “white Ku”, that is “Ku tea”, and therefore called the island Ta-Ku-Tea, My White Ku, later shortened to Takutea. Another name for the island is Enua-iti (Small Island).

Takutea is the only island in the Cook Islands that never had a permanent population. When Captain James Cook sighted the island on 4 April 1777, and some crew members went ashore, they found some huts, but no evidence of a permanent settlement. Commander Nicolls of H.M.S “Cormorant” declared the island to be under British protection in June 1889.


  • Alphons M.J. Kloosterman (1976). Discoverers of the Cook Islands and the Names they Gave. p. 53.
  • Gerald McCormack (1994). Takūtea Wildlife Sanctuary, Cook Islands. South Pacific Regional Environment Programme.
  • BirdLife International (2015). "Important Bird Areas factsheet: Takutea Wildlife Sanctuary". Retrieved 2015-03-23.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 19°48′47″S 158°17′39″W / 19.81306°S 158.29417°W / -19.81306; -158.29417