Cook Islands Church Records

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For information about records for non-Christian religions in the Cook Islands, go to the Religious Records page.

Online Resources and Websites[edit | edit source]

History[edit | edit source]

Religions: Cook Islands Christian Church 49.1%; Seventh-day Adventist 7.9%; Assemblies of God 3.7%; Apostolic Church 2.1%); Roman Catholic 17%; Mormon 4.4%; Other 8%. This "Other" group includes smaller Christian denominations, and mostly non-indigenous adherents of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam, as well as the irreligious.[1]

"The dominant religion of Polynesia and the Cook Islands is Christianity. The missionaries arrived in 1821 and quickly uprooted the old animistic worship of tribal gods and idols. The London Missionary Society focussed its early efforts on the Society Islands. Ex-ironmonger John Williams hit on the idea of using converted Polynesians to spread the gospel to the islands to the west. He sent two Raiateans to Aitutaki in 1821 and others followed shortly after to Mitiaro, Mangaia, Mauke and Atiu. Finally, Rarotonga fell to the new beliefs...Missionaries had a huge impact on the land, structure of society and the people. Most of them came from the lower middle classes of 19th century England, what has been termed the "mechanic" class. They brought their wives with them. Many of these women were the daughters of missionaries in New South Wales, Australia, and were well aware of the hardships of missionary life. The islanders were employed by these families around the mission houses to cook, clean, wait at table and work in the garden....

Before contact with missionaries, the Rarotongans lived inland deep in the valleys and thus protected from neighboring tribes. However, the location of these settlements did not suit the missionaries' attempts at conversion since access was difficult and restrictive. The missionaries set up their stations on the coast and persuaded the chiefs to build villages around them. [2]

Information Recorded in the Records[edit | edit source]

Different denominations, different time periods, and practices of different record keepers will effect how much information can be found in the records. This outline will show the types of details which might be found (best case scenario):

Baptisms[edit | edit source]

In Catholic and Anglican records, children were usually baptized a few days after birth, and therefore, the baptism record proves date of birth. Other religions, such as Baptists, baptized at other points in the member's life. Baptism registers might give:

  • baptism date
  • the infant's name
  • parents' names
  • father's occupation
  • status of legitimacy
  • occasionally, names of grandparents
  • names of witnesses or godparents, who may be relatives
  • birth date and place
  • the family's place of residence
  • death information, as an added note or signified by a cross

Marriages[edit | edit source]

Marriage registers can give:

  • the marriage date
  • the names of the bride and groom
  • indicate whether the bride and groom were single or widowed
  • their ages
  • birth dates and places for the bride and groom
  • their residences
  • their occupations
  • birthplaces of the bride and groom
  • parents' names (after 1800)
  • the names of previous spouses and their death dates
  • names of witnesses, who might be relatives.

Burials[edit | edit source]

Burial registers may give:

  • the name of the deceased
  • the date and place of death or burial
  • the deceased's age
  • place of residence
  • cause of death
  • the names of survivors, especially a widow or widower
  • deceased's birth date and place
  • parents' names, or at least the father's name

How to Find Records[edit | edit source]

Digital Copies of Church Records in the FamilySearch Catalog[edit | edit source]

Watch for digitized copies of church records to be added to the collection of the FamilySearch Library. Some records might have viewing restrictions, and can only be viewed at a Family History Center near you, and/or by members of supporting organizations. To find records:

a. Click on the records of Polynesia, Cook Islands.
b. Click on Places within Cook Islands and a list of towns will appear.
c. Click on your town if it appears, or the location which you believe was the parish which served your town or village.
d. Click on the "Church records" topic. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
e. Some combination of these icons will appear at the far right of the listing for the record. FHL icons.png. The magnifying glass indicates that the record is indexed. Clicking on the magnifying glass will take you to the index. Clicking on the camera will take you to an online digital copy of the records.

Writing for Records[edit | edit source]

You will probably need to write to or email the national archives, the diocese, or local parish priests to find records. See the Letter Writing Guide for Genealogy for help with composing letters.

Apostolic Church[edit | edit source]

Writing for Records[edit | edit source]

Assembly of God[edit | edit source]

Writing for Records[edit | edit source]

Catholic Church[edit | edit source]

Writing for Records[edit | edit source]

Earlier records can be held at the diocese, with more recent records still kept in the local parish. To locate the mailing address or e-mail address for a diocese or local parish, consult:

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

The first Roman Catholic church was dedicated in 1896.[3]

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints[edit | edit source]

Writing for Records[edit | edit source]

Online information is available to current members, for deceased members, and immediate family members who are still living. Sign in to FamilySearch and then select Family Tree in the drop-down menu.

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

During World War II, Matthew Cowley, then president of the New Zealand Mission, assigned Fritz Kruger, a New Zealand baker who owned a business at Avarua, Rarotonga, to help establish the Church on the Cook Islands. He and his family subsequently moved to Rarotonga, and their first convert was Samuel Glassie and his family...A Rarotonga Mission was created 20 November 1960, but later became part of the New Zealand Mission. In 1979, there were 718 members in 10 branches (small congregations) in the Cook Islands. [4]

Cook Islands Christian Church[edit | edit source]

Online Resources and Websites[edit | edit source],, and can be searched free of charge at your local family history center or the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Writing to Local Churches[edit | edit source]

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

The Cook Islands Christian Church (CICC) is the largest religious denomination in the Cook Islands. It belongs to the Reformed family of churches.The CICC is a Christian Congregationalist church and has approximately 18,000 members, including around half of the residents of the Cook Islands. The CICC has its origins in the work of the London Missionary Society (LMS), which began work in the Cook Islands in 1821. In 1852, the LMS founded the Cook Islands LMS Church. [5]

Seventh-day Adventists[edit | edit source]

Writing for Records[edit | edit source]

Contact mission headquarters to find addresses for the individual churches:
Cook Islands Mission
Street Address: Titikaveka, Rarotonga, Cook Islands
Mail: P.O. Box 31, Rarotonga, Cook Islands

Phone: 682-22-851
Fax: 682-22-852

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

John Tay, an American, was the first Seventh-day Adventist to visit the Cook Islands. During his visit in 1886 Tay sold Adventist literature to the people there. Another missionary voyage to the Pitcairn Islands provided a second opportunity to sell literature and offer medical services to the Cook Islanders. Dr Joseph Caldwell and his wife Julia accepted a request to stay on the island as permanent doctor. Julia, a schoolteacher, opened an English-language school. Along with them remained Dudley and Sarah Owen and Maud Young, a Pitcairner who came as a student nurse. The five Adventists worshipped regularly with the London Missionary Society believers in their church in Avarua. The services were conducted in English, but many islanders attended as well.[6]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Wikipedia contributors, "Demographics of the Cook Islands", in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,, accessed 20 February 2020.
  2. "Religion in the Cook Islands",, accessed 20 February 2020.
  3. "Religion in the Cook Islands",, accessed 20 February 2020.
  4. Facts and Statistics: Cook Islands,, accessed 20 February 2020.
  5. Wikipedia contributors, "Cook Islands Christian Church", in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,, accessed 20 February 2020.
  6. Wikipedia contributors, "South Pacific Division of Seventh-day Adventists", in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,, accessed 20 February 2020.