by Marau Taaroa & Henry Adams


Now that I have told the story of the Papara family and its connections down to the time of the Rahui war of 1768, and the recognition of Otoo's right to wear the Maro-ura at Marae Maraetaata, which happened to coincide with Captain Cook's Voyage, I must take up the story of the Pare Arue family, who under the name of Pomare were to rouse singular interest and passion, not only in Tahiti, but even throughout the Christian world, which became at times, for religious or political reasons, keenly excited about our small island.

Otoo was of course an English name. The full name was Tu-nui-ea-i-te-atu, shortened in common use to the first syllable, Tu, which meant God, whether in its simple monosyllabic form, or in Atua, Aitu and so on. Tu meant the same in most languages, even in English, as in the identical word in Tuesday. I get this information from no deeper source than the Century Dictionary, and claim no credit for it, except that to a European it may help to bring Otoo a little nearer; but whether Tu is English or not, in Tahitian Tu-nui meant a Great God, and the word Tu was a sacred word. I suppose that Tu-i-te-rai is another example of the same thing: God-of-the-Sky. I suppose, too, that Toa, warrior, is a different word, and goes with Duke, and the old Anglo-Saxon here-toga, army-leader; but I mention this only to keep the two ideas separate in the mind of any reader. Tu was a god; Tunui was a great god; and as every chiefly family traced descent from Taaroa or Oro or some of the established deities, the family whose chief bore the title Tunuieaite-atua merely went with the custom of chiefs.

In ordinary native use, the name was simply Tu, the prefix O being no part of the word. I shall, therefore, call him Tu, but to distinguish the succession of Tus, one has to use the other names which the chief had or took. Before touching the family at all, I shall have, also, to make a long digression in regard to the district of Pare and its history, for the Tu family did not originally belong there in the male line and had a wholly different source.

Many Ariis ruled over Pare before the Tu dynasty was known there, and have left legends enough to fill a volume of their own. The names of five were: (1) Tauaitaata; (2) Teuira arii i Ahutoru; (3) Niuhi; (4) Te huritaua o te Mauu; (5) Taihia. Tauaitaata was the subject of a legend or story that shows what the Tahitians thought interesting or so exceptional as to be worth remembering in their own character and society.

Taua-i-taata, or Tau, for short, Arii of Pare, married Taia, sister of Vanaama-i-terai, chief or Arii of Papenoo, the district beyond Haapape, some fourteen or fifteen miles to the east of Pare. They had two children, whose descendants, by the way, remain Arii of Papenoo down to the present day. That they are Arii of Papenoo and not of Pare was due to the feud told in the following legend.

Vanaa of Papenoo had two jesters, a class of men much petted and allowed many liberties by all Arii. Among other privileges, they were always in the habit of receiving some of the best shares in distributions of food by the Arii. Vanaa's two jesters were or thought themselves slighted in some such distribution and swore revenge. They asked permission to visit Tau at Pare, and on their arrival were received by Tau with the usual feast, for which fatted pigs were killed as an offering (Faaamua). When it was brought before them they turned to Tau and thanked him, remarking, with a laugh, that Vanaa had compared him with a pig. Of all the stock insults that are most resented throughout Polynesia, one of the worst is to call a man a pig. Such a man is, like a pig, fit only for sacrifice. Many a death and not a few wars have sprung from this word puaa. Naturally Tau felt himself mortally insulted by his brother-in-law, and lost no time in preparing his revenge.

Ordering a great feast to be made ready at the Marae of Raianaunau, Tau immediately bade his men bring out his canoes, while the two jesters, fearing the consequences of their act, especially to themselves, escaped to Papenoo. Tau's wife, Taia, noticing the preparations, asked her husband where he was going, and he merely replied, "I go to visit your brother." Very little time was needed for expeditions of this sort in the South Seas, unless some ceremony was to be performed or resistance was expected. A few hours would be enough for the insult, the passion, and the revenge. Tau started immediately, and his men soon paddled his canoes round the point at Matavai and abreast of the village of Papenoo, where they stopped and hailed, with the cry that it was Tauaitaata of Pare. The people of Papenoo gathered on the beach to receive him, but were surprised to find that no one came ashore. The Arii himself, Vanaamaiterai, then hailed the canoes and asked, "Why does not Tauaitaata land?" The reply came that the sea was, for the moment, too rough. Then Vanaa, in the courtesy of the chiefly relation, did what Tau intended him to do, he swam out, and on swimming alongside Tau's canoe he was quietly and instantly clubbed on the head and his body drawn into the canoe without betraying to the people on the shore a sign of what was happening. They were only somewhat surprised to see that after their chief had got aboard, alone, the canoes turned and paddled back toward Pare with Vanaa, but without a single attendant.

On arriving at Pare, Tau had the body of Vanaa carried to the Marae of Raianaunau, and without going to his house, followed the body to the Marae where the feast was already prepared. Of course Tau meant that the murder should be kept a secret from his wife until he should be ready to deal with her; but when the drums of the feast began beating for the dead, Taia, hearing them and not hearing of her husband's return, asked: "Why are the drums of Raianaunau beaten?" Her women answered that the Arii must have arrived; but she knew the tones of the pahu too well to be deceived. She listened again, and cried: "That is not for an Arii's arrival; it is for an Arii dead! Who is dead ? Not Tau, for I should have been told! Why am I not told?" She sent one of her women to ask, but the woman came back without an answer. Then Taia sent for her husband, Tau, who sent back word that he could not see her for three days, as his duties or ceremonies required.

This was enough to waken Taia's suspicions. She knew that Tau had abruptly started to visit her brother, and had returned without coming near her, and was making a feast over a dead Arii. She ordered one of her women to go out and look for the first person coming from Papenoo, to ask about Vanaa. Two days passed before the woman reported that she had just seen a man from Papenoo who told her that Vanaa had gone away with Tau, on his return to Pare. "I know now," she cried, "that my brother is dead;" and she ordered the man to be brought to her, to tell her all he could. Then she sent him back instantly to tell the people of Papenoo that their Arii was murdered, and they must send canoes immediately to rescue her. The same evening the boats arrived and she set out in them, taking with her, after much hesitation, her two children.

Then began the part of her activity which was most characteristic of the island society. Custom prescribed a regular course for women who sought justice or revenge. In the murder of Vanaa, Tau had outraged not only the district of Papenoo, of which Vanaa was Arii, but all the districts and Arii connected by political or social ties with Papenoo. The whole eastern coast of Tahiti beyond Pare Arue (Haapape, Papenoo, Tiarei, Mahaena, Hitiaa) formed one connected group known as Teaharoa. When united, the Aharoa were much stronger than the Purionuu, or Pare Arue, where Tau was Arii. To revenge her brother, Taia had to visit each of the Aharoa Arii in turn, and claim his assistance, which, in such cases, was seldom refused.

Accordingly Taia stopped first at Haapape and made her complaint. Then, continuing on her way eastward, she stopped abreast of her landing-place at Papenoo, where the beach was already crowded with people awaiting her; but she cried out: "I will not land! My orders are: Let no one pass through Papenoo! Bind the two jesters! Prepare for war! Wait my return! I go to tie our alliance of the six Teaharoas!" Going directly on to Tiarei and Mahaena, she ended her journey at Hitiaa, received everywhere with open arms and pledges of support. Returning to Papenoo, she put the two jesters to death and their bodies were taken to the Marae. This done, she waited the arrival of the other districts to make the attack on Pare.

Against such an attack the chief of Pare seems to have felt himself helpless, for when his feast was over,and he learned that his wife and children had fled, he knew what she would do to revenge her brother, and, without waiting for the invasion from Teaharoa, he escaped to Moorea.

With his departure, his line ceased to be Arii of Pare. He never appeared there again. His wife, afterward married Tevahitua i Patea, and from this marriage our Papara family is descended,

Tau was followed in Pare by Teuira-arii, of whom little is remembered except that he was beaten in battle, and as usual lost his chiefery.

Then came Niuhi, who was the subject of another tragedy caused by his killing the two sons of a man named Tetohu of Faaa, and placing their bodies on the Marae of Raianaunau. When the father heard of their death he called his daughter Terero and said to her: "I have just heard that my sons are put to death by Niuhi, and I am going to Raianaunau to mourn for them." She remonstrated: "Do not go! You will be killed." "I will go!" he replied; "but I wish you to wait three days, and if I do not return I shall be dead. Then go to Hitiaa, where you will find Teriimana, Arii of Moorea, who is feasting withTeriitua at Hitiaa. Say to him that I, Tetohu, beg him to revenge the death of my sons. The Fee [cuttle-fish or squid] has eight tentacles. Temahue, the mount of Pare, has eight peaks. There are eight districts of Moorea. There still remain the head and two eyes of the Fee. Give the head to Tefana i Ahurai: one eye to Teruru of Pereaitu (of Paea); the other eye to Vavahiiteraa (of Mahaena). If Terimana accepts my request, beg him to leave instantly for Moorea, start the war-canoes, and give battle to the Arii Niuhi."

The figure of the cuttle-fish was very characteristic of Tahitian ways of talking, which seemed to find metaphor necessary for intelligent expression. The head and two eyes of the squid were Niuhi and his two sons. The eight tentacles were the eight districts of the Purionuu.

After giving these instructions to his daughter, Tetohu bade her farewell and started for Marae Raianaunau, where he arrived the same evening, and found the bodies of his sons on the Marae, tied together and covered with a cloth of tapa. He uncovered and separated them, and then lay down between them, with their heads on his arms, and there he lay till, in the morning, the Tahua or priest, coming to the Marae to prepare the sacrifice, was surprised to see six legs instead of four under the tapa covering. Lifting it, he saw Tetohu, and was so deeply touched by his mournful face, with the dead sons lying in his arms, that he had not the heart to call the alarm, which must be the signal for the death of the father. "Get up and fly while there is yet time," he said to Tetohu. "Do you not know that it is death to interfere with Niuhi's vengeance and mount his Marae of Raianaunau?" Tetohu answered: "I have come to follow the fate of my sons, sure that my revenge is close at hand." The Tahua had then no choice for his own life but to report the event to Niuhi, who instantly ordered Tetohu to be killed.

The daughter waited till the third day passed without her father's return, and then, knowing he was dead, she hurried to Hitiaa. Throwing herself before Teriimana or Temana, she said: "I have come to ask you to revenge the death of my father and brothers." "Against whom?" asked Temana. "Against Niuhi, Arii of Pare." Temana asked for what reason they had been killed. "That is a mystery," she replied.

This habit, that any one with a grievance could appeal before another Arii, made public law in Tahiti. Ariis rarely refused to take up such a quarrel, and sometimes, as I shall have occasion to show from our own family, risked their whole fortune to do it. Temana replied to Terero by the usual formula, bidding her go home, he would attend to her complaint. She then repeated to him her father's message, which he heard with close attention and instantly obeyed. Calling out his followers, he prepared at once to start, and on arriving at Nuurua in Moorea he sent messengers to Namiro of Tefana i Ahurai, to Teruru of Pereaitu, and to Tevavahiiteraa of Mahaena for their help. They accepted, and their acceptance insured the downfall of Niuhi, for they completely surrounded him and cut off all hope of succor or escape. The war-canoes attacked by sea under Temana; on the Faaa side Namiro and Teruru led Ahurai to the attack by land; on the Mahaena side Tevavahiteraa closed the path. Niuhi was surprised, captured, and bound.

Another curious custom of war was shown in this affair of Niuhi, who seems to have been the object of rather unusual hatred. Temana, having led the attack, was perhaps required by courtesy to share his victim with his allies. He invited them to exercise the right of offering the worst insult that could be inflicted on an Arii, of beating the back of the victim with their spears, as he lay bound. Namiro, who figured as the head of the cuttle-fish, was the first to strike. "I am a prisoner," said Niuhi, who could not see, and did not know his captors; "I am dishonored by any one who strikes me on the back; but still I have the right to ask who strikes me." "I am Namiro, the warrior of Ahurai," was the answer; "I beat you with my lance Tuahinearama-rama." Niuhi was silent. Teruru of Pereaitu stepped forward next and struck. Niuhi repeated his question, and was told: "I am Teruru of Pereaitu. I strike you with my lance Teaho." Again Niuhi was silent. Tevavahiiteraa struck next. "Who is that?" asked Niuhi; "what wood is your lance made of?" "It is the apiri of Tamahue,' replied Tevava, with another insult, for the apiri is only a weed. "No!" said Niuhi; "the apiri would sting, and would make a singing in the air as it struck, while this falls on my back with a dull thud." "Know, then!" said Vavahiiteraa, "that it is the Teae of Mouoe!" The teae was a hard wood growing only on the hills of Mahaena. "I know now that I am lost," said Niuhi, "for I am surrounded."

Niuhi lost his chiefery, indeed, but he is supposed to have escaped to the mountains, for he was afterwards again heard of and killed at Papara. Among the fragments of history that survive in the island is a song called the "Boast of Niufi," or Niuhi, which is, as usual, so crowded with local allusions as to be unintelligible, but which seems to show that in his day he was a powerful chief, who ruled over the Aharoa districts as well as the Purionuu. I quote a few lines only to show its form:


E fatu rau i tau hau o Taveroiterai
I te talua o Manavataia. te tootoo o Ninihotetoa.
Te taamu o Tiaperetii. te tahiri o Nunaaehau.
E too rau i tau nuu Pare Arue Mahine
Teharuru Eue Temehiti Ahuare Tetaero.
To ina te horo i paepae iriiri e maau rau nei na Teva.
"I am lord of my chiefdom of Taveroiterai
Of the girdle of Manavataia, the staff of Niniho-te-toa,
The union of Tiaperetii, the fan of Nunaaehau.
I am leader of my armies: Pare, Arue, Mahine,
Te Haururu, Eue, Temehiti, Ahuare, Tetaero.
Ask the fall of Paepae-iriiri if I am the idiot of Teva!"
Although the idiot of Teva again appears here, Niufi and his boast now concern our side of the island very little and the Pomares not at all, for in Niufi's time the ancestors of the Pomares were still probably chiefs of Fakarava or Faarava, one of the low coral islands of the Pau-motu archipelago, some two hundred and fifty miles northeast of Tahiti. The exact date of the first Tu's arrival in Tahiti is unknown. Even the generation cannot be fixed. I can say with certainty only that the Pomares were always ashamed of their Paumotu descent, which they considered a flaw in their heraldry and which was a reproach to them in the eyes of Tahitians, for all Tahitians regarded the Paumotus as savage and socially inferior. The Pomares religiously tried to hide the connection in every possible way, and very few Tahitians would have dared to make even an allusion to the subject in their presence, for it might have been taken as an insult and perhaps cost the jester his life. Once such an allusion was tried and was ignored. Moe, the wife of Tama-toa, son of Pomare IV, and herself Queen of Raiatea, was talking with her mother-in-law, Queen Pomare IV -- Aimata, of whom I shall have much to say, -- who spoke of naming one of her horses "Teva." Moe objected that Teva was a name to which the Pomares had no right; "It belongs to me, the great-grandchild of Tati. Why don't you call your horse 'Paumotu'?" The queen quietly replied: "That's an idea! My father was very fond of the Paumotus. I remember when they came to visit Tahiti, Pomare used to receive them as his most honored guests, and I was often the loser by it."

Aimata's son, Pomare V, the last king, wanting to establish his title to lands in the Paumotus, had naturally to acknowledge the connection and to prove his descent. The genealogy adopted for the occasion made the first Tu, who came from the Paumotus, grandfather to Taaroa manahune, who married Tetuaehuri i Taiarapu, as I have told in Chapter III. Tu of Faarava, having undertaken a visit to the distant land of Tahiti, came in by the Taunoa opening, which is the eastern channel into what is now the harbor of Papeete. Landing at Taunoa a stranger, he was invited to be the guest of Mauaihiti, who seems to have been a chief of Pare. Tu made himself so agreeable, or so useful to his host, that Mauaihiti adopted him as hoa, or brother, with the formal ceremonies attached to this custom, which consist in a grand feast, and union of all the families, and offering of all the rights and honors which belong to the host. Tu accepted them, and at the death of Mauaihiti he became heir and successor in the chiefs line. He gave up all idea of returning to the Paumotus, and devoted his energy to extending his connections in Tahiti. He himself married into the Arue family, which gave his son a claim to the joint chiefery of Pare Arue; and at last his grandson, or some later generation, obtained in marriage no less a personage than Tetuaehuri, daughter of Vehiatua of Taiarapu. The received genealogy represents the son of Taaroa manahune and Tetuaehuri as Teu, who was known as Hapai or Whappai to the English, and lived into this century, but Tahitian genealogies have a perplexing way of dropping persons who do not amuse them, and there may well be a leap of one or two generations in that of Pomare.

I have already said that, according to our Teva genealogies, at least two generations should have lived between Taaroa manahune and Teu, but, however this may be, Teu was born about 1720, and married first Tetupaiai Hauiri, of the head-chiefs of Raiatea. This was another step upward in the social scale. Raiatea and Rorabora, which belong to the group of high islands about one hundred and thirty miles northwest of Tahiti, had head-chiefs of their own, who wore the Maro-ura in their own Marae, and had their great Mouas, Tahuas, and Outus which took rank with, or above, the oldest of Tahiti. In the hierarchy of the Tahitian society, Tetupaia gave to her descendants the claim to wear the Maro-ura in Raiatea.

E Moua inia o Teaetapu
E Tahua o Hauiri
E Outu o Matahira-i-terai
E Marae o Taputapuatea.
The son of Tetupaia and Teu had not only the right to a seat in the great Marae of Taputapuatea in Raiatea, but he could take his stone from Taputapuatea and set it up in his own district of Pare Arue, so founding a Marae Taputapuatea of his own to wear the Maro-ura in. This he did. Some of Vancouver's officers at Matavai, in 1792, "embarked in a canoe belonging to Mowree, the sovereign of Ulietea [Raiatea], who, together with Whytooa [Vaetua] and his wife, accompanied them [from Matavaij toward Oparre [Pare]. On their way they landed for the purpose of seeing the Morai of Tapootapootatea." This must have been at or near Tarahoi, and Tu wore the Maro-ura there in his right ot descent from Raiatea before he was ever permitted to wear it at Maraetaata.

Table V: Pomare

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Tahiti - Marau Taaroa & Henry Adams