Rikitea lagoon

RIKITEA or RIHIREA is a small port town and tourist centre situated on MANGAREVA LAGOON, which contains a number of MOTU.  It is about 1,650km southeast of Tahiti, to the north of the Tropic of Capricorn.  The average elevation of the town is 26ft.

Two mountains —Mount DUFF (1,581ft) and Mount MOKOTO (129ft), which are approached by trails, are north of the town.  The climb to DUFF’s peak takes about 90mins.  The stones found on the hill were used by the ethnic MANGAREVANS to predict weather and to look for boats headed for the island.  The mountain is covered with tall AEHO grass.  The mean annual rainfall is 1,169 millimetres (1979 — 1999) and the record for 1999 was 1,728 millimetres.

Rikitea lagoon

Black pearls are cultivated on numerous platforms of the MANGAREVA LAGOON, which is full of corals and black-lipped oysters are harvested by the people.  The inhabitants are also involved in agriculture and fishing to the minimum level.  The Church is involved in the technical school CED (Centre for Educational Development) to train people in skill trades such as carpentry, mechanics, electricity and mother-of-pearl shell engraving.

Rikitea Motu

A Father Laval built 116 stone buildings and arches and roads were laid.  The buildings included a fortified palace with FOLLIES and Saint Michael’s Cathedral , which has also been categorized as a FOLLY.  The structures were built with shaped coral stone blocks.  Several of the structures, dating to Laval’s time, still remain, such as the Watch Towers on the coast and a turret., the remains of the palace built for MAPUTEOA, the last King of the Island.  King Maputeoa’s crypt is located in the Saint Pierre’s Chapel behind the neo-Gothic Saint Michael Cathedral.


The ROURO Convent, near the southern end of the cemetery, is now in ruins, but housed 60 nuns at one time.  There is a carving school near the Cathedral at CAMIKA CED, which features mother-of-pearl carvings.  Pendants and barrettes created here can be purchased at the centre’s sales outlet.

Rikitea house

RIKITEA has a large nuclear fall-out shelter which was built at the time of the French Atmospheric Testing.  The town also has a post office, a few shops, a military establishment, a medical room and schools.

RIKITEA was a part of the GAMBIER ISLANDS, and was a Protectorate of France in 1871 and was annexed in 1881.

2 thoughts on “Rikitea

  1. Pingback: Teva Rohfritsch : « La Polynésie doit s’ouvrir au monde et montrer tous ses attraits » | Vāve'a

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