General issues: Designation Cook Islands/New Zealand territory 1919-1932, Postal area Cook Islands/New Zealand associated state 2011-Present
Country name on general issues: Rarotonga
Currency: 1 Shilling (Tiringi) = 12 Pence (Pene) 1919-1932, 1 Dollar = 100 Cents 2011-Present
Population: 10 600 in 2011
Political history Rarotonga
Rarotonga, located in the central-south Pacific Ocean, is the major island of the Cook Islands – for the exact location, please refer to the map of Modern Oceania. The first European to visit the island may have been the British captain William Bligh of the HMS Bounty in 1789. In the late 19th century, the chiefs of the major Cook Islands, including Rarotonga, requested British protection, which was granted in 1888. In 1900, the chiefs of the Cook Islands signed documents of cession and thus the Cook Islands became a British possession. The Cook Islands, including Rarotonga, were granted to New Zealand as a New Zealand territory in 1901. Having been administered by New Zealand since then, the Cook Islands gained self government as an associated state in 1965. Avarua on Rarotonga is the seat of the Cook Islands government.
Economically, the islanders depended on small scale domestic farming and handicrafts, until, in recent years, tourism was developed to become a major component of the island’s economy. The population is largely Polynesian. Rarotonga is the most populous of the Cook Islands with almost two thirds of the Cook Islands population living on Rarotonga.
Postal history Rarotonga
The first stamps used on Rarotonga were the stamps of the Cook Islands from 1892. The stamps for the Cook Islands were designated ‘Rarotonga’ between 1919 and 1932. New Zealand stamps, overprinted ‘Rarotonga’ and a new face value in the native language, were issued in 1919, followed by definitives, inscribed ‘Rarotonga’, in 1920. Sets issued in 1920 and 1927 are of the same design as concurrent issues from Aitutaki, Penrhyn and Niue. Since 1932, stamps were again inscribed ‘Cook Islands’.
Although part of the Cook Islands, Rarotonga has a separate stamp issuing policy since 2011, and since then a limited number of stamps were issued. The stamps of the Cook Islands are valid on Rarotonga, while the issues of Rarotonga are valid only on the island itself.