The purpose behind our reef

Coral are live animals. not rocks, but live animals. They are very fragile and vulnerable structures that serve one of the most important roles in the ecosystem.

Often referred to as the “rainforests of the sea,” coral reefs support approximately 25 percent of all known marine species.

Providing one of the most important ecosystems in the world, coral reefs host and protect marine species, sheltering coastal areas from storms, and providing a crucial source of food and income for millions of people, and most importantly reef reliant communities, like here in the Pacific. Coral reefs teem with diverse life and thousands of species can be found living in one reef. Much of these coral reefs and species populations are rapidly declining due to temperature rises, over fishing, pollution, and foreshore developments.

Studies show that some corals can live for up to 5,000 years, making them the longest living animals on Earth.

Over half a billion people depend on reefs for food, income, and protection, as do our marine life. So to imagine our decreasing coral reefs all around the world, the all species including the human race depend on these animals for survival.

Our goals

Regrowth & Re balance

Te Ara o te Akau Inc is to foster the re-growth and re-balancing of coral populations. Coral reefs face numerous threats, including climate change, tourism overuse, pollution, and

overfishing, which have led to widespread coral degradation. To achieve this goal, our team employ techniques such as coral transplantation, where healthy coral fragments are carefully transplanted onto damaged reefs to stimulate their recovery. Efforts also focus on reducing stressors like water pollution and excessive nutrient runoff that disrupt the delicate ecological balance of coral ecosystems. By nurturing coral growth and restoring equilibrium, we aim to revitalise these fragile ecosystems and enhance their resilience to future challenges.

Re ignite

The second critical goal of coral reef rehabilitation is to re-ignite the biodiversity and ecological functions of these underwater wonderlands. Te Ara o te Akau Inc represents a promising initiative that seeks to rekindle not only the health of our precious coral reefs but also the bonds within the communities that rely on them. By reintroducing and revitalizing traditional methods (Ra’ui) of coral reef management, this innovative approach aims to reignite a delicate balance that has been disrupted by environmental challenges. Through the wisdom of age-old practices and the collective efforts of local communities, we aspire to restore the vibrancy of these underwater ecosystems. In doing so, it not only safeguards the biodiversity of our oceans but also reignites the vital source of sustenance and livelihoods that coral reefs provide to coastal communities, thus fostering a harmonious co existence between humans and nature, and better management to safeguarding our marine life populations.


The third and perhaps most far-reaching goal of coral reef rehabilitation is education.

Education encompasses not only raising awareness about the dire state of coral reefs but also fostering an understanding of their intricate ecological roles and the direct connections they have to human well-being.

Engaging local communities, schools, volunteers and tourists in educational programs not only instils a sense of responsibility but also empowers individuals to become stewards of these fragile ecosystems. Education can also take the form of scientific research, helping us better comprehend coral reef dynamics and develop innovative restoration techniques. Ultimately, well-informed individuals and societies are more likely to make informed decisions and support policies that protect and preserve coral reefs for generations to come. In summary, coral reef rehabilitation is a complex and multifaceted endeavour that revolves around the goals of re-growth and re-balance, re-ignite, and education. By strategically addressing these objectives, we can work toward revitalising these invaluable ecosystems, fostering biodiversity, and ensuring that coral reefs continue to thrive and contribute to the health of our planet.

The Cook Islands Coral Reefs: Guardians of Biodiversity and Island Life

The Cook Islands, nestled in the heart of the Pacific Ocean, are a true paradise on Earth. Turquoise waters, lush green landscapes, and vibrant cultures define this Polynesian nation. However, beneath the surface of these crystal-clear waters lies a hidden treasure that is not only breath-taking but also essential to the survival of the islands and their inhabitants – the coral reefs. The purpose of the reef in the Cook Islands is multifaceted, serving not only as a haven for marine life but also as a guardian of the islands biodiversity, a source of livelihood, and a symbol of resilience in the face of climate change.

Biodiversity Hotspot

The Cook Islands coral reefs are a biodiversity hotspot, teeming with an astonishing variety of marine life. These underwater ecosystems provide a safe haven for countless species of fish, invertebrates, and coral. The intricate web of life within these reefs contributes to the overall health of the surrounding marine environment. The reefs serve as nurseries for many fish species, where juveniles find shelter and food,

helping to sustain the local fish populations. Furthermore, the coral reefs of the Cook Islands are of global significance. They provide refuge to species that are endemic or endangered, such as the hump- head wrasse and the Cook Islands grouper. Protecting these reefs is not only a responsibility for the Cook Islands but also a contribution to global conservation efforts.

Economic Livelihood

Beyond their ecological significance, the coral reefs play a crucial role in the economic livelihood of the

Cook Islands. Tourism and fishing are the primary economic drivers, both of which are heavily reliant on the health of the reefs. Tourism, in particular, thrives on the pristine beauty of the underwater world. Visitors from around the world come to the Cook Islands to snorkel and dive in the crystal-clear waters, where they can witness the vibrant coral gardens and the kaleidoscope of fish species. The tourism industry supports jobs, local businesses, and sustains the islands economy. However, for this industry to remain viable, the reefs must remain healthy.

Fishing is another vital aspect of the Cook Islands economy. Local communities depend on the abundance of fish and other seafood for sustenance and income. Coral reefs serve as fish aggregating devices, attracting a variety of species that are vital for both subsistence and commercial fishing. Sustainable fishing practices that protect the reefs are essential to ensure long-term economic stability.

Climate Change Resilience

In the face of climate change and rising sea temperatures, the Cook Islands coral reefs also play a pivotal role in protecting the islands themselves. Coral reefs act as natural barriers, dissipating the energy of waves and storm surges. This protection helps prevent coastal erosion and minimizes the impact of extreme weather events on the islands communities.

Moreover, the Cook Islands are part of the Pacific Ocean Coral Triangle an area known for its exceptionally high marine biodiversity. Preserving the health of the reefs in this region is vital not only for the Cook Islands but also for neighbouring countries. Healthy reefs can be more resilient to the effects of climate change, offering a glimmer of hope in the struggle to protect these delicate ecosystems.

The coral reefs of the Cook Islands are not merely a beautiful natural wonder; they are a lifeline for the islands people, their economy, and the global ecosystem. These reefs act as guardians of biodiversity, provide livelihoods through tourism and fishing, and serve as a critical defence against the impacts of climate change. Preserving and protecting these fragile ecosystems is a shared responsibility, not just for the Cook Islands but for the world. In doing so, we ensure that this paradise on Earth continues to thrive for generations to come.

"Our Coral Rehabilitation Program seeks to leave a legacy of vibrant and resilient coral reefs for future
generations in the Cook Islands. By working together with our communities, partners, and the global
community, we aim to create a world where our underwater paradise flourishes, serving as a beacon of
hope for our country"

Te ara o te akau


Alex King Photography
Go Local Cook Islands
Climate Change Cook Islands