A Cook Islander has fulfilled a lifelong dream to find his mother’s grave on a now deserted island.
Manuae was once a copra plantation, where Charlie Quarter used to live.
After Charlie’s mother died during a TB outbreak when he was six, he was sent away.
He always felt he had to go back, however.
With the help of New Zealand-based fisherman Faimau Robati, he has returned to the island of his childhood.
After a year of planning and approval from the mayor and landowners, Charlie was allowed to embark on a four-hour boat trip from Aitutaki to Manuae.
With Fai’s help, Charlie and his nephew Tai found the burial ground holding seven graves.
The group got hard to work on restoring Mama Koe’s grave, giving it a much-needed makeover with concrete and a plaque.
“I was there, I walked on that beach, played on that beach, that was a memory, everything started coming back it was spiritual in a way,” he said of returning to the island.
For Charlie, it’s brought a sense of closure and for his mate Fai, whose grandmother was a landowner here, a sense of purpose.
“This is only the beginning, I want to find out who else is buried there, hopefully find their families and hopefully they can do what Charlie did,” Fai said.