A Tapere or Sub-District is a low level of traditional land subdivision on five of the Lower Cook Islands ( Rarotonga, Mangaia, Aitutaki, Atiu, and Mauke), comparable to the ahupua'a of the main Hawaiian Islands. Among the populated raised islands, only Mitiaro is not subdivided into tapere. The remaining southern Cook Islands, Manuae, Palmerston and Takutea are atolls and/or uninhabited, and therefore not subject to this type of traditional subdivision. The atolls of the northern Cook Islands are subdivided into motu (populated atoll islets), instead.
A tapere is a subdivision of a district (the major island subdivision) or puna, which is headed by a district chiefs or Pava (in the case of the Island of Mangaia). A tapere is normally headed by a mataiapo (a chief of a major lineage) or ariki (a High Chief, the titular head of a tribe). It is occupied by the matakeinanga, the local group composed of the residential core of a major lineage, plus affines and other permissive members.
Most of the tapere lands are subdivided among the minor lineages, each of which was headed by a rangatira or kōmono, or by the mataiapo himself.
Below that level, there is the uanga, the extended family, the residential core of which occupied a household.
Historically, taperes were almost always wedge-shaped - the boundaries beginning at defined points on the outer reef and running inland to enclose an ever narrowing strip of land until converging at a point in or near the center of the island. By this type of delineation, any one tapere included every category of soil type and land surface of the island, from the typically mountainous interior, where forest products were collected, through fertile valleys where the major food crops were grown, across the rocky coastal strip of elevated fossil coral (makatea), out to the lagoon and fringing reef.