The Spaniards are the first to visit the islands. They name one island Gente Hermosa meaning Beautiful People. The name Cook Islands comes from a Russian naval chart, probably in honour of Captain James Cook. Today the main islands are Rarotonga and the “honeymoon island” Aitutaki. On the southern island of Mangaia the warriors, before going to battle, used to tattoo spirals on their faces and buttocks. But unlike the Maori of New Zealand, the designs are not unique to each warrior. They are however, also intended to instill fear in the enemy.

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