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Legends tell of the island of Pukapuka rising from the sea with men inside it, and of great voyages to the west. Given its history of first being discovered 2000 years ago by Samoan and Tonga voyagers, unlike the southern group, which is made up of Society Islanders, those tales of inter-island journeys westward help to explain the settlers origin. Culturally and linguistically, Pukapuka is more similar to Samoa than any of the other Cook Islands, and due to its distance and isolation, its people and location have remained alluringly mysterious and romantic to the outside world.

The island was discovered in 1595 by the Spaniard Alvaro de Mendana, and over 150 years later two British ships sighted the island, but because of high surf did not attempt to land. Because of this, they called it “Danger Island” a name it is still occasionally referred to as.

The islands isolation ended in 1994 when an airstrip was built, and telephones arrived in 1999. Only occasional flights are scheduled to Pukapuka, every few months, and most visitors arrive by boat.

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