National Geographic : 1967 Aug
like sitting outdoors, as they have for cen turies, to sing old love songs and watch old drum dances. At Ngatangiia I dropped in on rehearsals of the village dance team. Turepu, young schoolteacher and guitarist coach of the team, was forthright about the difficulty of being an educated Rarotongan. He wanted to study anthropology as a career. "But how can I give my whole mind to study," he asked, "when all around me are young people who only want to be happy?" I left Rarotongan problems behind when I boarded the midget 200-ton trading ship Aka tere. I had a promise to keep, to a man from Manihiki. Ahead was a 1,600-mile round trip 216 through northern atolls of the Cook group to pick up copra and deliver mail and supplies. "We go up when the copra makes it worth while," Archie Pickering, the Fijian skipper, told me. "They don't see us often-maybe three or four times a year. Our top speed is seven knots. That makes it a long haul." We stood together on the bridge as the Akatere made ready to depart Rarotonga. Ashore the crowd was thick and noisy. Peo ple flung or exchanged garlands. Deck pas sengers were northern islanders, often elderly, returning perhaps forever to their native atolls. Younger people who had chosen life in Rarotonga or New Zealand said farewell.