Tetiꞌaroa in the Pacific

Saturday, 31 July 2021 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, Hotels
Reading Time:  4 minutes

© Supertoff/cc-by-sa-3.0

© Supertoff/cc-by-sa-3.0

Tetiꞌaroa (French: Teti’aroa) is an atoll in the Windward group of the Society Islands of French Polynesia, an overseas territorial collectivity of France in the Pacific Ocean. Once the vacation spot for Tahitian royalty, the islets are under a 99-year lease contracted by Marlon Brando. Tetiꞌaroa is administratively part of the commune of Arue, whose main part is in the northeastern part of Tahiti. The atoll is located 53 kilometres (33 mi) north of Tahiti. The atoll has a total surface area of 6 square kilometres (2 sq mi); approximately 585 hectares (1,450 acres) of sand divided by 12 motus (islets) with varying surface areas. The lagoon is approximately 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) wide and 30 metres (98 ft) deep. The atoll has no reef opening, making access by boat nearly impossible.

In 1904, the royal family sold Tetiꞌaroa to Johnston Walter Williams, a Canadian national and the only dentist in Tahiti. Williams later became Consul of the United Kingdom from 1916 to 1935. Williams managed Tetiꞌaroa as a residence and a copra plantation.

Tetiaroa Airport © Saga70/cc-by-sa-4.0 © Supertoff/cc-by-sa-3.0 © Saga70/cc-by-sa-4.0 © Saga70/cc-by-sa-4.0 © Cyriljouin/cc-by-sa-4.0 Tetiaroa Airport © Saga70/cc-by-sa-4.0
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Tetiaroa Airport © Saga70/cc-by-sa-4.0
In 1960, Marlon Brando “discovered” Tetiꞌaroa while scouting filming locations for Mutiny on the Bounty, which was shot on Tahiti and neighboring Moorea. After filming was completed, Brando hired a local fisherman to ferry him to Tetiꞌaroa. It was “more gorgeous than anything I had anticipated,” he marveled in his 1994 autobiography Songs My Mother Taught Me. Brando eventually purchased Tetiꞌaroa’s islets (motus) from one of Williams’s direct descendants, Mrs (Madame) Duran. The reef and lagoon belong to French Polynesia. (Williams and his wife are buried on motu Rimatuu.) He had to overcome political interference and local resistance to purchase the atoll, which is now the property of French Polynesia. Many important archaeological sites have been located, identified, and studied on Tetiꞌaroa. Thus, the historical significance of Tetiꞌaroa to the people and the government of French Polynesia continue to make future development questionable at best.

Wanting to live on the atoll, Brando built a small village on Motu Onetahi in 1970. It consisted of an airstrip to get there without breaching the reef, 12 simple bungalows, a kitchen hut, dining hall and bar, all built from local materials: coconut wood, thatch roofs and even large sea shells for sinks. The village became a place for friends, family and scientists studying the atoll’s ecology and archaeology. Over the years, Brando spent as much time as he could there and used it as a getaway from his hectic life in Hollywood. Although he didn’t spend as much time there as he wished, it is said that he always cherished his moments on Tetiꞌaroa. During his stay on the island he was often visited by his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Upon his death, Brando’s son Teihotu lived on the island for some time. Eventually the village became a modest hotel managed by his Tahitian wife, Tarita Teriipaia, who had played his on-screen love in Mutiny on the Bounty. The hotel operated for more than 25 years, even after Brando left French Polynesia to return to Los Angeles. Many hotel guests lamented the lack of amenities normally found at an island resort.

Read more on The Brando, TahitiTourisme.uk – The Brando and Wikipedia Tetiaroa (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.








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