An open-air temple on Raiatea in French Polynesia, the Taputapuatea marae joined the prestigious list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites on 9 July 2017. It is France’s 43rd natural or cultural site to receive the honour.
At the heart of the Society Islands lies the Taputapuatea marae, a political, ceremonial, and burial site characterised by a paved courtyard with a large standing stone at its centre.
Dedicated to Oro, the god of war and fertility, the holy site is known as a place where the worlds of the living and the ancestors converge, but mainly as testament to the ancient Ma’ohi civilization.
Last summer, UNESCO decided to grant the site World Heritage status, as one of the most important marae in French Polynesia.
Common throughout Polynesia, marae serve as cultural, social, and political venues in the local culture.
Diving and sailing, too
A visit to the Taputapuatea marae is also a chance to discover all the island has to offer. Not as well-known as its neighbours in the Society Islands, Raiatea boasts a varied marine life (dolphins, spotted eagle ray, blacktip reef sharks, etc.) that is sure to delight divers. Raiatea is also paradise for sailing aficionados. The sailing conditions within the lagoon are optimal, and the island is home to the only navigable river in Polynesia, the Faaroa, which can be navigated in canoe.