23 August 2015 | Raiatea
Raiatea has the ruins of Taputapuatea Marae, the largest spiritual centre of Polynesia. Dating back to 803AD the remains are incredible and today they have become a place of pilgrimage for Maoris and Hawaiians as well as the Polynesians. These Marae mark the presence of litchi cal structures made out of coral blocks that were taken on to the reef burning them to make them blow up. Each Marae covers 300 square yards and with several,the size of the whole site is amazing. These are the sites of the sacred stone loaded with "mana" - spiritual power - called Mata Rahi ( the large eye), different tikis, shooting platforms and 9 ft monolithic stones called Tepapoteaiau'ia.
This marks the place where chieftains got their symbolic red belt called the maro'ura, when kings and queens were named during ceremonies. Raiatea was the first island settled by Polynesians and remains the cradle of their culture. Raiatea is also rich with pearl farms where the nucleus is grafted into the oyster shells to cultivate the beautiful black pearl. They say black but in fact they come in various colours like aubergine, pale green, mauve sand blue. They don't do white and until recently they were the only place doing colours. Now China has started mass cultivation implanting 3 nuclei in a single oyster to increase yield.