Taputapuātea is a cultural landscape and seascape on Raiatea Island. Raiatea is at the centre of the “Polynesian Triangle,” a vast section of the Pacific Ocean dotted with islands, the last part of the globe to be settled by humans. At the heart of the property is the Taputapuātea maraecomplex, a political, ceremonial, funerary and religious centre. The complex is positioned between the land and sea on the end of a peninsula that juts into the lagoon surrounding the island. Maraeare sacred ceremonial and social spaces that are found throughout Polynesia. In the Society Islands, marae have developed into quadrilateral paved courtyards with a rectangular platform at one end, called an ahu. They have many simultaneous functions.
Criterion (iii): Taputapuātea illustrates in an exceptional way 1000 years of mā’ohi civilisation. This history is represented by the marae complex of Taputapuātea at the seashore and the variety of archaeological sites in the upland valleys. It reflects social organization with farmers who lived in the uplands and warriors, priests and kings settled near the sea. It also testifies to their skill in sailing outrigger canoes across long stretches of ocean, navigation by observation of natural phenomena, and transformation of newly settled islands into places that provided for the needs of their people.
Criterion (iv): Taputapuātea provides eminent examples of marae: temples with cult and social functions built by the mā’ohi people from the 14th to the 18th century. Marae were the points of intersection between the world of the living and that of the ancestors. Their monumental form reflects competition for prestige and power among the ari’i chiefs. Marae Taputapuātea itself is a concrete expression of the paramount alliance formed by its line of chiefs and the cult of worship associated with it, as stones were transported to other islands to found other marae with the same name.
Criterion (vi): As the ancestral homeland of Polynesian culture, Taputapuātea is of outstanding significance for people throughout the whole of Polynesia, for the way it symbolises their origins, connects them with ancestors and as an expression of their spirituality. These living ideas and knowledge are embedded in the landscapes and seascapes of Raiatea and particularly in the marae for the central roles that they once performed.