PALMERSTON VISIT - SEPTEMBER 2004
Palmerston Island lies
270 miles north west of Rarotonga, the main island of the Cook Islands.
I visited the island’s one school in 2004 in my capacity as Distance
Education Manager with the Ministry of Education. I was accompanied by
my grandson Liam, my cousin Eddie Marsters, and other family members,
Brent Fisher, his son Daniel and his niece, Rachelle Harvey.
We arrived in beautiful weather after two and a half days of travel on
the ‘Bounty Bay’. As well as working at the school I was able to meet
several members of the Marsters family who live permanently on the
island. On the weekend, Brent and Eddie decided we should
take the children to Bird Islet, the habitat of the bosun bird - an
island delicacy. After arriving on the islet, the guys decided to go
fishing so that Rachelle, Jane and I were able to have some quality R&R
Brent and Eddie caught a shark in their net which caused a bit of
excitement for the youngsters. Sharks are apparently quite numerous in
the lagoon but not considered dangerous—not that I wanted to test their
theory. Mealtimes on the island always include fish (and rice) but the
different varieties and ways of preparation made up for the regular
We stayed overnight and tried to sleep while landcrabs crawled around
our campsite. The next day we visited the beautiful North Islet. On our
way to the island Brent gathered paua off the rocky ledges in the middle
of the lagoon. We had lunch under the shelters that have been built for
when family visit for a change of scenery. North Islet has to be one of the
most beautiful islets anywhere in the world.
The highlight of visiting Palmerston Island for me apart from finally
getting to see the island that my mother talked about with such
nostalgia, was visiting the gravesite of my grandmother who died when my
mother was 12 days old. Here-Jane Brell-Marsters originally came from
Manihiki. Her father, French-Tahitian Louis Brell, had constructed
concrete water tanks on the northern group islands in the early 1900s
and one of his structures remains between the Tin House and the church.
The morning sky on the day our departure was brilliant red which
indicated that we might experience a rough return to Rarotonga, and we
did. It wasn’t the most comfortable trip I have ever been on but we made
it back safely.
The visit to Palmerston was the trip of a lifetime and gave me a
valuable insight into the stories that my mother told me of her early
years when she was brought up on the island by her grandparents, William
II & Marama Marsters.
Maureen Marama Hilyard
Brent diving for
paua on the way to North Islet