HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 597: 05 January 2012

Cook Islands Sandalwood
Santalum Insulare, more commonly known as ‘Polynesian Sandalwood’ or A’i/Maramia to the locals of Mitiaro, was brought to the island at the request of a persistent Rarotongan resident. The people of Mauke guarantee its power to cure the most minor ailments, such as headaches, earaches and boils. As the story goes, when the Cook Islands first got wind of this unique plant, which was in the early 1800’s, the ship Cumberland sailed into our country’s waters from England, in search of a certain type of wood called Sandalwood. When the crew retrieved what they thought to be sandalwood (which was actually the wood of the Noni plant, Morinda Citrifolia) and set sail for the return trip back to England, they would soon be disappointed in discovering that their findings were not all what they had hoped it to be.
Currently, the Cook Islands have its own mini-production of Sandalwood, with the plant growing on four of the islands in the Southern Cooks, which are Mangaia, Mauke, Mitiaro and Aitutaki. The plant is small in stature, which flowers but never fruits. The wood itself is golden yellow in appearance and has a slight fragrance. When used in medicine, the wood is grated and then infused with coconut oil. The medicine can either be applied directly to the body or inhaled, so that the scent, which is considered to be relaxing, can help tone down oncoming headaches. There are a small amount of Sandalwood plants growing here on Rarotonga and, although scarce, has been used for a variety of reasons. Locally made perfumes and creams have been scented with this unique plant and have been quite an attraction with the tourists.
Sandalwood has often been mistaken for driftwood, because of its uncanny resemblance. But don’t be fooled. Sandalwood is, as mentioned above, more fragrant than driftwood, so it would be easy to differentiate between the two. -Norma Ngatamariki

Herald Issue 554 09 March
- Norm exposes Trio of Doom
- Briefs from PM’s media conference Tuesday
- Tourism Industry ponders $5 million draft strategy
- Norman George resigns from Cook Islands Party
- Letter of Resignation from CIP
- Norman selfish says Prime Minister

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