The case of the missing islands: Tuanaki and Victoria.

Tuanaki, also known as Tuanahe, in the southern Cook Islands was familiar to people on adjoining islands, including some of the early colonial administrators in neighbouring French Polynesia, traders and whalers who occasionally stopped at Tuanaki to get supplies.

In the early days of Christian missionaries in the region, much mention was made of Tuanaki (Gill 1856, 1919: Brown 1924), and an eyewitness account of the island has come down to us today (Crocombe 1983).

Yet in 1844, when a mission ship was sent to Tuanaki, the island could not be found (Gill 1856). It existed in an area of ocean where there is no other island and it has been suggested that a rocky shoal known as Haymet Rocks is what remains today (Smith 1904; Stommel 1984).

Victoria was visited for 18 months by copra-cutters around 1875 and generally known at the time but had disappeared by 1921 (Percival 1964).

Recent unpublished research suggests Victoria existed north of Tongareva (also known as Penrhyn) and was visited regularly during the 1900s for coconuts but vanished around 1930.

Read this illuminating article in full at the Library and Museum.

(Source: Geological histories and geohazard potential of Pacific islands illuminated by myths –  Patrick D. Nunn & MA Ronna Pastorizo, article published in Piccardi L & Masse WB (eds). Myth and Geology, Geological Society of London, 2007).

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