Toru a Puru Cave

Touroporou Cave

Useful Information

Location: Mangaia island.
East side of Mangaia. Ivirua Taro Swamp Road, inland from Ivirua village.
(-21.914738, -157.901914)
Open: no restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst Cave
Light: bring torch
Dimension: L=587 m, VR=4 m, A=16 m asl.
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography: Joann C. Ellison (1994): Caves and Speleogenesis of Mangaia, Cook Island, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C., U.S.A., August 1994. pdf
Address: Toru a Puru Cave, Perau family,
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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Toru a Puru Cave, also Touroporou Cave, is a sacred site which is known for its burial chamber. It is the burial site of the Totongaiti tribe, as a result permission to visit the cave must be obtained from a member of the tribe in Ivirua village. 22 skeletons were found in the main cave and 9 more in a small cave above the entrance. Most skeletons are in a right-hand side passage right behind the entrance. 19 skeletons are buried in open coffins, the older ones (pre-contact) are buried in canoes, the younger in coffins made of planks. All skeletons are close to the entrance.

The entrance is a huge portal 10 m above the Kirikiri swamp. A large shelter nearby was inhabited, but unfortunately collapsed in the late 1980s or early 1990s. The main passage is a 1-2 m wide and 3 m high, fossil vadose stream passage, in other words it formed while the cave was still water filled, but the level of the ground water went down and the passage is now dry. After 350 m the passage forks, the left branch ends after 150 m where it is closed off by speleothems, and the other branch ends after 40 m at a doline which is actuall in nearby Ivirua village. The doline has 22 m high vertical walls, so it not a suitable entrance to the cave.