Hikueru is one of the central Tuamotu atolls in French Polynesia. It has been a significant place twice in its life as an atoll. First, as the place of inspiration for an award winning book "Call it Courage", and then as the place where the first Tahitian black pearl farm was created.
Indeed the first man ever to experiment with pearl farming in this area of the world was Jean-Marie Domard. Domard a Frenchman was responsible for the marine resource division and began his pursuit of the black pearl in the early 1960's. Following in the tradition of Mr. Kokichi Mikimoto, he began experimenting with the Pinctada Margaritifera using Japanese culturing techniques. In 1961 he arranged through the French government to bring in professional Japanese pearl technicians into Tahiti. After a few years of failed attempts, in 1965 Domard successfully harvested approximately 1000 high quality Tahitian pearls. This harvest was the result of nucleating 5000 oysters and waiting for 3 years. Not only did this motivate the Tahitian government but the private sector as well. The first pearl farm was established in Hikueru and the second in Bora Bora.
But before being the place where the first pearl farm would be created, the French Polynesian atoll Hikueru was the setting for American author Armstrong Sperry's novel "Call It Courage", which won the Newbery Medal in 1941.
A boy named Mafatu, son of the chief of Hikueru, afraid of the sea determines to conquer that fear or be conquered-- so he went off in his canoe, alone, except for his little dog and pet albatross. A storm gives him his first challenge. Then days on a desert island finds him resourceful beyond his own expectation. This is the story of how his courage grows and how he finally returns home.This Polynesian legend is to this day sung by the people of Hikueru over their evening fires.
Call It Courage was filmed for television with a teleplay by Benjamin Masselink and a narration by Don Ho, and appeared on The Wonderful World of Disney for the first time on April 1st, 1973.