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Moorea-Maiao (Winward Islands, French Polynesia)

Last modified: 2013-06-23 by ivan sache
Keywords: tahiti | winward islands | moorea-maiao | map (green) | pineapple |
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[Flag of Moorea]

Flag of Moorea-Maiao - Image by Juan Manuel Gabino Villascán, 28 December 2008

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Presentation of Moorea-Maiao

Quoting the website of the Presidency of French Polynesia (page no longer online):

Moorea, with a population of some 12,000 persons, has an area of 132 square kilometers (51 sq. miles), its tallest volcanic peak, Tohiea, having an altitude of 1,207 meters (3,983 ft.). The island is located 17 kilometers (11 miles) from the island of Tahiti. Moorea, with its two major bays, Opunohu and Cook's, has the shape of an isosceles triangle. While some works indicate that the name Moorea means "yellow lizard", those who strongly disagree prefer the less poetic interpretation of "kid".

Moorea's history can hardly be separated from that of Tahiti. Populated during the same period (around 600 AD), the two islands were often linked together during the rich Polynesian history of the pre-European discovery era.
When Wallis arrived at Tahiti in 1767, he did not judge it necessary to explore Moorea. He called it only the "Duke of York's Island", a name that has long since fallen out of use. The first Europeans to set foot on Moorea were Captain Cook's officers and naturalists, who crossed the channel from Tahiti on the night of June 1-2, 1769 to make an astronomic observation. Cook himself did not visit Moorea until 1777 during his third and last voyage to Tahiti. He anchored in Opunohu Bay on Sept. 30 and stayed there until Oct. 11. So it was this bay that should have been named in his honor and not Paopao Bay, which today is known as Cook's Bay.
King Pomare II was forced to flee Tahiti in December 1808, so he went to Moorea, his exile at Papetoai lasting for seven years.

The island still relies on tourism as its major industry. Moorea had a hotel capacity of 1,127 rooms at the end of 1987, welcoming more than 7,000 visitors yearly. The tourism industry provides permanent employment for 40% of the working population and provided significant direct and indirect extra earnings for most of Moorea's workforce (artisans, farmers, small businesses, etc.)

The small island of Maiao, mostly flat with a small mountainous center, has an area of only 10 square kilometers (3.86 sq. miles). Its highest point is 154 meters (505 ft.).
When the first Europeans arrived in these islands, Maiao came under the protection of Huahine in the Leeward Islands.
Maiao has always been known for its supply of pandanus, used for making thatched roofs in typical Tahitian homes known as fares. The pandanus has been produced on Maiao in a folkloric manner, serving to keep tourism away. Besides providing pandanus, the people of Maiao also fish and produce copra.

Ivan Sache, 22 August 2005

Flag of Moorea-Maiao

During the opening ceremony of the 1st Games of the Windward Islands (report, no longer online), held on 14 December 2008 in Vairao, Taiarapu-West, the Moorea team marched carrying its own flag. The flag is vertically divided green-white-green, the white stripe being wider than the green ones and charged with a pineapple over a green map of the Moorea island.

Juan Manuel Gabino Villascán, 28 December 2008