Takutea is an uninhabited makatea (fossilise coral reef) island with a total extension of approximately 1.2 square km, elevated some 3 to 4 metres above sea level. It belongs to the island of Atiu under the jurisdiction of the island's ariki (high chiefs) and the Atiu Trust. It is left as a nature reserve. To go there one must obtain a visitor's permit rarely granted, so sailing to Takutea is an adventure for few privileged visitors only. According to legend, the great navigator and Adelaide discoverer of Atiu, Mariri Tutu A Manu, caught a white Ku (red snapper) and called out "taku ku teatea" (my white snapper), thus giving the island its name. The reef that surrounds the entire island without passage to the sea makes landing quite a difficult task mastered best in the company of experienced local companions. The sea around
Takutea is full of fish. Sea birds show Atiuan fisherman where to find the fish and they catch plenty on our rough 16-mile cruise. Nine species of seabirds use Takutea for nesting. At the time of our visit (April) many were nesting or had young ones to look after. On the beach, we had to be careful not to step into a nest and break the eggs of the Brown Boobies (left). Since the island hardly ever gets visited the birds know little fear, let you come close (centre: adult brown booby with young bird) and fly curiously low above your head to study the intruder of their unspoilt paradise home.