Places of Worship

Cook Island Christian Church

Cook Islands / The Pacific

Cook Island Christian Church

The Cook Islands Christian Church (Ekalesia Avarua) in Avarua stands on the main road at Taputapuatea.  This is the second church, built from limestone and timber (by the wattle and daub method) in 1853 and named Ziona Tapu (Holy Zion).  Major renovations were carried out in 1887 and again in 1995, the church reopening on 4 November that year.  In 2003 the pulpit was damaged by fire, caused by an electrical fault.  The vision of the church is ‘growing with one mind, one heart, one purpose in joy, love and strength to prosper the new generation.’   The CICC has existed for nearly 200 years and has 23 branches in the Cook Islands, Christianity having been introduced to the islands by the London Missionary Society in 1821.

In the graveyard next to the church many famous figures in the history of the Cook Island lie buried, including Rev John Williams who introduced Christianity (martyred by cannibals in the New Hebrides, now Vanuatu, in 1839), Tapairu a Makea, and (Sir) Albert Henry (1907-81) and Sir Thomas Davis (1917-20070, the first two Prime Ministers of the Cook Islands.  Albert Henry was knighted by the Queen in 1974 but was convicted of fraud in 1978 and stripped of his knighthood.  He was described by his biographer, Kathleen Hancock as ‘certainly the most colourful character yet to emerge on the lively stage of South Pacific politics.’  When he died his body was conveyed around Rarotonga on a pick-up truck, before being buried here.

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