Freelance Journalist/Writer


This the story of Cyclone Martin, told through the eyes of the people who were there, who watched as waves tall as the coconut trees broke over Manihiki — a remote, sea-level atoll in the northern Cook Islands.


On 1 November, 1997, Martin generated a sea surge that flattened two villages and stole 19 lives. The cyclone remains the Cook Islands’ most tragic weather event in recorded history. In 2014, some Manihiki people formed the Cyclone Martin Charitable Trust with the aim of fundraising for, and commissioning, a book about the cyclone. They wanted to preserve incredible stories of survival and resilience, but also to document lessons learned in order to better disaster response and management in the Cook Islands and the greater Pacific region. The trustees teamed up with Cook Islands News, entering into a partnership agreement with publisher John Woods that would carry Matini from concept to completion. Matini memorialises those who survived Cyclone Martin and those who didn’t. The stories in it will make you cry, give you hope, remind you to count your blessings, and inspire in you a great respect for the island people.


Click here for an excerpt.


“The book will serve as a historical record for many years to come and a reminder to all of the vulnerability of low lying islands. It may be used as an evidence based document to support our national quest on the world fora with the on-going struggle to mitigate climate change.”
Dr. Robert Woonton, former prime minister of the Cook Islands

“The first time I saw the book my body went hiroroa as we say in Manihiki meaning ‘goose bumps all over’ from the front cover to the back cover without actually reading it... It is a beautifully written book. You will not be able to resist it as the human side of disasters is so well told from the affected people and to not read it would be to deny yourself an incredible experience. Kia manuia e te katoatoa. Te Atua te Aroha.”

– Niki Apii-Rattle, Speaker of the Cook Islands Parliament

“An important book that does what no government since 1997 has done–hold an investigation into deaths that occurred during Cyclone Martin that year. Matini names, blames and shames, yes, but also gains an understanding of what could have been done differently… And what can be done, still, to prevent this happening again, on such a tragic scale. A huge congratulations to author Rachel Reeves and Cook Islands News for producing this groundbreaking book.”
– Jason Brown, journalist

“People need to read about things like this… Hopefully this book will go out to the north and the south for people to prepare.”
– Senior Sergeant Rebecca Hosking-Ellis, policewoman and Martin survivor

“That’s good to get everybody’s story. I was wishing that one day somebody will come up and tell this story of Martin.”
– Papapia Taraeka, oldest Martin survivor in Tauhunu village

“A lesson for not only Manihiki but for the whole of the Cook Islands… A document that we can go back to, refer to, when it comes to disaster management.”
– Daniel Apii, Martin survivor

“Praise the Lord. It’s about time that these events were recorded and properly documented.”
– Kora Kora, Martin survivor

“There are some stories told that I never knew. I have to admit I read the manuscript at one go couldn’t put it down – it is still a very emotional experience. I think it is balanced and the main objectives of letting Martin victims tell their story has been achieved. I think we can truly say that this is their story, told from the heart without embellishment and guile.”
– Arthur Neale, Martin survivor

“The story has to be told… I believe it has to be told so people in other countries or other Pacific nations… especially the new generations can prepare… We must drum it and install it in them to be aware and be prepared for nature when it hits.”
– Apii Piho, formerly Manihiki’s Member of Parliament

“This book is the only other book since ‘The Man Who Refused to Die’ to record and talk about a calamity occurring in the Cook Islands/to Cook Islanders. It’s good to know one’s history so one learns how to be better prepared next time. And there will be a next time. It was sad what happened to our people on Manihiki, and sadder still what happened (or didn’t happen) in the aftermath.”
– Jean Mason, director of the Cook Islands Library & Museum Society