A walk into the history of Taravai

Yesterday our neighbour Herve showed us the ruins of the old church and its cemetery in the forest behind his house. An overgrown stone road leads up the mountain to the site where only one wall of the first church and a huge cross of the cemetery remain. Those were built by the people soon after the arrival of the missionaries in 1860. A landslide has destroyed the church and covered the cemetery and Herve wasn’t sure about the date when this site was abandoned and a new church built on the shore, but he knows that his great-grandfather lies buried there.
He told us that in the 19th century 2000 people lived on little Taravai. Roads led over the ridge and there were villages in the bays of Onemea and Anganui on the western side. At this time the island was completely deforested, only in the last few decades trees were planted. The pines, acacias and other introduced species thrived in the fertile soil and today Taravai is covered by dense forest again. Unlike the trees the people didn’t return. Nowadays only 10 people live on the island–soon the population will decrease to 8 again, because we’ve almost finished our boat projects and will shortly move back on Pifufa.

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