Cultural heritage research of the CICC

Master of Architecture student with the University of Auckland, New Zealand, Carolyn Hill, who is on Rarotonga this month, seeks to research the cultural heritage significance of the 19th century Cook Islands Christian Church (CICC) – formerly London Missionary
Society –  in Rarotonga, using Matavera church as a case study.

The purpose of the study is to examine the cultural heritage significance of the CICC churches and the Matavera church in particular by exploring why the church complexes are significant from historic and building fabric perspectives, and how meanings and values have been recontested, recontextualised and renewed over time through the continued use of these places. The study will then seek to analyse what a conservation approach to these buildings could look like, taking into account both their past and present as active “living” heritage places.

Many locals have been invited to contribute to this project by participating in interviews to share memories, experiences and thoughts regarding the historic places of the CICC.

When interviewed, this writer acknowledged the CICC as historically, a major force, which helped to shape the Cook Islands as a modern nation. As the ‘state’ religion, CICC was the first administrator of disparate islands that became the united, modern nation of the
Cook Islands (known then as the Hervey Islands). Secondly, the church contributed to the early education of Cook Islanders, and the CICC church’s precepts influenced (and continues to influence) the culture of the people and the psyche of its adherents. CICC is still the predominant religion in the Cook Islands.

Following publication of her thesis, Carolyn will donate a copy to the CICC, the Cook Islands government and CILAMS.  CILAMS is always keen to assist researchers like Carolyn and is happy to make freely available to her the resources of its library and archives. J. Mason, Curator, CILAMS


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