PO Box 156, Avarua, Rarotonga, Cook Islands

Hero? Part 1

From an early age, my interest was captured by the mystery surrounding the origins of our esteemed ancestor – a Englishman who had originally travelled around the Pacific as a trader and general seaman until he was eventually dropped off on an isolated little atoll in the Pacific specifically to gather copra and beche de mer for a Tahitian trader, John Brander.

The record of William Marsters and his adventures in the Pacific were related mainly by word of mouth among the family and to researchers who travelled to the island to seek out information about this man who eventually established a dynasty on a tiny island in the Cook Islands.

Depending on the informant and from what has been revealed of him in my family history research, the stories that were told of him were somewhat embellished to make him a little larger than life. Ironically, the one photograph we have of the old gentleman was of him seated on the beach with a background of island palms. He appears to have been small in stature.

If we were looking for a hero in the family, you have to admit that his origins took on a heroic bent when we learned from the old people that he had left England and travelled to the South Pacific via the California goldfields. He married the daughter of a chief and took her and their children on his travels around the Pacific. Sadly his eldest daughters died during these travels. One daughter, Ann, died in Samoa and the other, Elizabeth, on a copra development venture on another isolated island – Manuae in the Cook Islands.

He is supposed to have arrived in the Pacific with gold in his possession but this does not seem probable because he ended up being rescued from Manuae, impoverished and needing work which is apparently how he ended up on Palmerston Island.

(From maureenhilyard.blogspot, 2007)