This excursion is a recent innovation in the domain of eco/cultural tourism on Aitutaki Island; an island rich in history, culture and living traditions.
Join your two guides Mark and Ngaa as they take you on an adventure into the past and present culture of Aitutaki. Mark, an archaeologist had undertaken excavations and research on the island on marae temples with Ngaa, his assistant. This ancient culture will be revealed to you in the first part of your excursion where you will be driven in your transport vehicle to the Paengaariki marae temple where most of Mark's work has been done. There, discover the results of the excavations and learn about the ancient religious practices enacted in the past. See the large stones upright, representing ancestors, the sacred sub-incision stone to initiate young boys into manhood and the tribal gathering ground or 'koutu'. Hear the stories of the great warrior chiefs associated with this place. You will also be able to see the rare endemic lorikeet of the island the kuramo'o that is ultramarine blue! Then drive to the highest point of the island Mauga Pu for scenic shots across the turquoise blue lagoon out to the surrounding coral motu's.
Continue into the interior again to arrive at a traditional Maori village Punarei reconstructed based upon Mark and Ngaa's research to give an authentic image of the past. Be welcomed in the traditional way by the toa warrior and his enlivened oratory dressed in his feather plumed 'pare' war headdress and tapa loincloth brandishing his ironwood spear or ikatuna. Stand upon the 'poaki' or welcoming stone that gives you the right to stand on the land. Traditional dances will be performed to re-enact the arrival of the first ancestor Ru to the island on his double hulled sailing canoe or vaka Nagpuaariki. Enter the 'are nikau or traditional meetinghouse and discover the surviving traditions of Aitutaki. There will be demonstrations of weaving mats and baskets from coconut fronds. Also tapa making for bark-cloth as practiced in days of old; as well as wood carving and tattooing to reveal to you those ancient arts. See the life-sized traditional god or 'tiki' images carved in local tamanu hardwood including the famous atua vaine or Aitutaki 'goddess' with her unique tattoos. Fresh fruits and sweet coconut will be offered to refresh you, all grown in natural ecologically friendly gardens around the site which you can visit as in ancient times.
After visiting the village participating in various activities and taking photos, you will rejoin your transport to be driven back to the wharf at Aratanga village.
Please note: The excursion requires no physical exertion but bring a bottle of water and some insect repellant. Also some money as handicrafts may be for sale in the village.