Aitutaki is one of the Southern Cook Islands in the Pacific Ocean. The island sits atop an underwater mountain and is surrounded by fringing reef which then slopes steeply to deep water. It is one of the 15 tiny islands that comprise the Cook Islands, spread over 770,000 square miles of sea. The capital of the Islands is Avarua located on on Rarotonga.
Religious effigies are the main surviving works from the area, and both abstract and semi representational sculptural styles can be found. Gods in human shape were also carved on Aitutaki; they resemble Tahitian figures in posture, but their hands are more oval, their features are mere slits, their bellies droop and protrude, and their limbs are puny and square in section.
James Cook landed on numerous islands in the southern group between 1773 and 1779 and named them the Hervey Islands. In 1888 the Cook Islands were made a protectorate of Great Britain, and in 1900 they were annexed to New Zealand. In 1965, the Cook Islands became self-governing in association with New Zealand.
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