1973 – Originally Was South Marutea
1973 was the year of the first oil crisis. the Kippur war, the coup in Chile, the Peron return in Argentina, the World Trade Centre and the Sydney Opera House official openings, the first visit of a Soviet leader in the United States since 1917, the Papua-New guinea autonomy, the right to vote for Australian Aborigines, the cease-fire in Vietnam, Suharto’s re-election in Indonesia, the declaration of the Afghanistan republic, the entry in the CEE (European Economic Community) of the United kingdom, Ireland and Denmark.
1973 was also in an anonymous notarial office of the small city of Papeete at the other side of the world, the year when a young Chinese Polynesian bought his first pearl farm located in the big Pacific Ocean on one of the most remote islands of Tahiti : Aukena in the gambier archipelago.
40 years ago was the start of an unpredictable adventure and a big passion.
Ten years later another founding event confirmed Robert Wan’s passion for the pearls :The purchase of South Marutea atoll. South Marutea was 1550km far from Tahiti and has never been much populated at the pre-european period.The atoll was spotted by quiros in 1606 before being completely forgotten for many years. In 1791 it was named Lord Hood’s island by an English marine who was seeking for Fletcher Christian and the Bounty Mutiny. It was left apart again for another century during which only few itinerant fishermen looking for mother of pearls visited before being located by Jean-Claude Brouillet and Jacques Branellec.That’s where they decided to set up their pearl farms in 1975. It is probably when Robert Wan bought them this atoll he used to call dearly « my lucky island » , that he decided to devote his life to the pearl. « My most beautiful pearls are coming from South Marutea» he says. Nothing to add ! Aukena and South Marutea….Robert Wan decided these remote islands lost in the biggest ocean on Earth would be the land of his choice for the pearl farming. It was a human and financial challenge. But it was also an exceptional vision, thanks to which forty years later this ambitious young man who used to be considered like a fool, is today called the Tahitian pearl Emperor.