Go to TikiTouring
New Zealand
Go to TikiTouring
Go to TikiTouring
Solomon Islands
Go to Cook Islands home page


Activities in Rarotonga,
the Cook Islands

Highland Paradise: Drums of Our Forefathers,
Sunset Cultural Show and Feast


Highland Paradise, Drums of our Forefathers show, Rarotonga

Check out Highland Paradise Pictures

Having heard a lot about the award-winning Highland Paradise Drums of Our Forefathers show we decided to head along and check it out.

The shows are held on Wednesday and Friday evenings and include pick-up from your lodgings, a village experience, a marae visit, a good feed and a very fine cultural show.

When you arrive at Highland Paradise you are sorted into groups, each with a leader, and you are taken around the "lost village".

Highland Paradise, Drums of our Forefathers show, RarotongaThe village site is 600 years old and was home to the Tinomana tribe. When the islanders converted to Christianity in the early 1800s it was abandoned so the people could move closer to the coast.

Now the Pirangi Family, decendants of the first High Chief Tinomana, have rebuilt and rejuvenated their tribal village.

It is in an amazing spot and is situated on a mountainside midway between Arorangi and Rutaki on the western and south western part of Rarotonga.

Highland Paradise, Drums of our Forefathers show, RarotongaAt Highland Paradise we were led around by a guide who told us the history of the village, about its leaders, their customs, medicines, warfare and justice system.

As you can see from the pictures the Cook Islanders had some very interesting costumes in the old days and their unique look brings visual interest and authenticity to the tour.

So does the little punishment area where they have two very large rocks - that offenders had to carry around the village as punishment - and a very nasty-looking execution stone.

Highland Paradise, Drums of our Forefathers show, RarotongaOh, and make sure you've got some insect repellent on as the mosquitos will eat you alive.

You will be told about native medicines made from local vegetation and, if you have an ailment, you can have some applied.

There is a large marae, or meeting place, at Highland Paradise and this is really special. Unlike NZ Maori marae, the Cook Islands ones are areas of stones where tribal chiefs would sit and gather to make decisions. The one at Highland Paradise is large and tiered so the High Chief sits above all the others and so it goes down the hierachy.

To go into the marae area there is a tapu-lifting ceremony performed and it is rather moving.

Highland Paradise, Drums of our Forefathers show, RarotongaHaving survived the mossies it is now time for the umu feast. An umu is an underground oven, very much like the Maori hangi, and the food is very tasty.

The buffet service was orderly and the food excellent and plentiful - I have to recommend the breadfruit salad (better than potato salad) and the ever delightful Ika Mata (raw tuna marinated in lime juice and coconut milk).

Then it was show time and the Drums of Our Forefathers is a terrific show to watch.

Highland Paradise, Drums of our Forefathers show, RarotongaIt takes you on a journey from the earliest times in the Cook Islands, through to the missionaries and up until the opening of its international airport.

I've said it before and will do so again, Cook Islands music is fantastic and this show will wow you with both the dancing and the drumming.

During it you get to learn just how the drums, or pate, are used and orchestrated and this is surprisingly complex.

Highland Paradise, Drums of our Forefathers show, RarotongaAnd, it would be remiss of me not to mention the fabulous dancers. The men are all energy and the lovely girls are graceful and delicate. And boy can they move their hips!

The Drums of our Forefathers is excellent and should be on your list of things to do while on the Cook Islands.

- Richard Moore


Copyright 2011 RICHARD MOORE