In the far south-eastern corner of the Cook Islands lies Mauke, a raised atoll named after its legendary founder, Uke. Encircled by the characteristic fossilised cliffs of "makatea" Mauke is virtually flat with its centre about 100 feet (30 m) above sea level. The island has a circumference of 12 miles (18 km). Its ancient name was Akatokamanava. Europeans called it Parry's Island, a name which, thankfully, has not endured.
The soil is fertile and supports agriculture. There have been numerous agricultural experiments on Mauke most of which have failed. However, one thriving industry is "maire", a small bush whose leaves the islanders weave into "eis" for export to Hawai'i where they are renamed "leis" and used to garland incoming tourists.
Other local crafts include "kete" baskets, pandanus mats and bowls carved from "miro" wood. Nineteenth century accounts mention the magnificent hardwood trees that thrive on the coral limestone. Energetic travellers can enjoy hiking through the luxuriant jungle interior and the less physical can follow the road right around the coast.
Mauke offers numerous coves and white beaches as well as caves in which to swim. The huge Motuanga Cave has galleries which reach out under the reef. Its name means the Cave of 100 Rooms.
Much oppressed by the warlike Atiuans last century, Mauke was regularly invaded and its inhabitants killed and eaten. Legend has it that the Atiuans spared the prettiest women from the "umu" (ovens) resulting in Mauke's reputation for having the most beautiful women in the southern group islands!
The English expatriate, Julian Dashwood, married a Maukean and lived on the island for many years. For a time he was one of the Ministers of the newly independent state. Dashwood wrote some entertaining and penetrating books about the Cook Islands under the pseudonym Julian Hillas (see Literature). His body is buried on his family land at the north-western corner of the island.