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Ethnology of Manihiki and Rakahanga

History Of The Single And Dual Ariki Titles

History Of The Single And Dual Ariki Titles

Primogeniture, or seniority in the male line, governs succession to rank and title in the Cook Islands and in the Society Islands. In the Cook Islands matahiapo is a general term for “eldest son,” but in certain family groups the matahiapo is a title held in the senior family. The ariki (chief) is simply the senior matahiapo of a number of family groups which have branched out from the original family. The more numerous the family groups, the greater the seniority and power of the ariki. The leaders of the expeditions which settled the islands must have had rank originally to enjoy the position of leadership. No matter, however, what their rank may have been in their original homeland, they have assumed the ariki title in the new lands on which they settled. The early use of the ariki title in Rakahanga shows that the institution was known to Toa and Tapairu and was introduced by them from their island of origin. In the later development of the dual ariki titles and the tribal titles, the names used indicate a local development and that the people were not guided in the formation of nomenclature by any memory of past tradition. The Rakahangans instituted new offices based on Polynesian principles but had to coin new local terms.

The term ariki was regarded as a taohanga (title). Toa was a warrior, as his name implies, and as Gill (10, vol. 2, p. 281) records. Toa himself may have had no title, but his wife, from her name, Tapairu, was evidently of high rank. The establishment of the ariki title dates from Toa's second family. The title-holders are shown in capitals in Table 5.

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Table 5. Single Ariki Title Holders

Table 5. Single Ariki Title Holders

Haumata-tua in Table 2 gives a different family of male children to Nanamu and derives Te-pori-o-kaivai and his brothers from Naunau, who is given as the youngest daughter. If correct, they were passed over for some reason and the title went to the sons of the youngest daughter. Of these, Te-pori-o-kaivai was the first-born, but he disappeared from the story and left no issue. Kairenga held that the title went first to the second son, Matangaro, and that his descendants were hui ariki (of the assembly of ariki) until the period of Kanohi, a female in the 10th generation. The title then passed to the Hukutahu line upon Kanohi's marriage to Tautape, a high chief of that line. The majority, however, state that the title went primarily to Huku-tahu, a younger brother of Matangaro. It is not clear why it should have passed to a junior. It was held that his grandmother, Tapairu, named him for the position. Tapairu's influence probably came from her supposed descent from Hiro and from the fact that she was a sister of the discoverer of the land. She was probably of higher rank than her husband, and the title may have been instituted from her side of the family. The phrase used to confirm Huku-tahu's appointment runs, “Te page 45 kapi o te hui ariki kei a Huku-tahu, kei a ia hoki te pohatu.” (The male issue of the ariki was with Huku-tahu, as he also had the symbol of office.)

The term pohatu (stone) was used to designate the symbol of office. Nothing is known of a stone symbol of office, but the term was at least used metaphorically. The ariki had priestly as well as chiefly duties.

In the 4th generation the title was held by Rua. Kairenga held that this was Rua-ariki, the son of Matangaro. The majority held that the second ariki was Rua-a-makoha, the elder son of Huku-tahu. He went on an expedition to Hawaiki and never returned. Some of the witnesses at the Land Court held that Hawaiki was New Zealand, but others referred to Rua as having gone to Tokelau. Rua left word that he would send back some sign if he arrived safely at Hawaiki. Some time after Rua's departure, a shoal of fish named marau-awa appeared, and the people, accepting them as the promised sign, refer to them as the excrement of Rua (Tutae-o-Rua).

Rua left no issue, so the title passed to the son of his younger brother, Kakahi. The ariki of the 5th generation had two names, Huku-tahu-rourou-a-whara and Tapu-mahanga. He had two wives. By the first wife he had a son named Kaitapu and by the second wife a son named Huku-potiki. The title passed to Kaitapu, who had the pohatu, but the powerful family of the second wife brought such influence to bear that Huku-potiki was given the office of attending to the distribution of land among the families. The office was termed tuha-whenua (land distributor), and Huku-potiki received special grants of land to go with his office, Paerangi in Rakahanga and Haroi in Manihiki. Huku-potiki was also entitled to the mata kairau, a contribution of food from the people in recognition of his rank. Thus the first division of authority is said to come from the two puna (families) of Huku-tahu-rourou-a-whara. This was the period in which the Hukutahu group was dividing into two subgroups which formed the bases of two tribes.

From the period of Kaitapu in the 6th generation there follows a list of four ariki, Nikai-patu, Touiho, Te Renga, and Tautape. According to Gill (13, p. 144) the name of Ruare-tapu comes before Tautape. These names are placed in brackets in the lineal line because it is not certain whether or not they are father and son. As the column on the right gives Niho-tapu as Tautape's father, the ariki who immediately preceded Tautape, whether it was Te Renga or Ruare-tapu, could not have been his father. This raises the problem of how Tautape became ariki when his male line of descent is evidently derived from the junior line of Huku-potiki in the 6th generation. It may have been that Tautape's mother belonged to the senior line in which male issue failed after Ruare-tapu. It will be noted that in the middle column of Table 5, if the doubtful Ruare-tapu is left out, Tautape coincides with the 10th generation, which is the same as that of his two wives, page 46 Heitutae and Kanohi, who are descended from Matangaro. His lineal descent, however, through Huku-potiki, is 4 generations longer. This makes a considerable difference in time if calculated in generations. However, it was stated that Niho-tapu, father of Tautape, and Poupou-whenua, father of the girls who married Tautape, were contemporaries. Thus the difference of 4 generations may be due to earlier marriages on the longer line or lapses of memory on the part of genealogists. For the purposes of following out the titles, Tautape will be regarded as living in the 10th generation.

Tautape is also known as Rahui-ariki, and some genealogists confuse him with Temu. The middle and right columns in Table 5 show the descent from the two families of Huku-tahu-rourou-a-whara, among whom the power was divided. The senior line of Matangaro, in the left column, joins the Huku-tahu-rourou-a-whara line through the two daughters by different wives of Poupou-whenua. Both daughters married Tautape. As a result of this double marriage a further rearrangement was made in social structure. Tautape was the last of the ariki to rule singly over the people. If Ruare-tapu is counted, there were nine ariki who held the single pohatu from Haku-tahu to Tautape. The number of generations, if taken on the shorter side, indicates that the period of the single ariki occupied from 250 to 300 years, roughly.

By the time of Tautape the population had increased (kua tupu te kura tangata) and aggregations of one blood (kura toto) had begun to develop into separate family groups. The individual households within the same group had, in turn, built their houses around the group nucleus within the common village. When a group moved out to secure more room for expansion, all the individual members linked together by a more recent blood tie (kura toto) moved and built their homes in proximity to each other. This expansion with the establishment of extra households is referred to in the phrase, “Kua tere te tangata me tona nani.” (People moved with their households.) Here nani is the equivalent of kainga (household) in other dialects. All the elements were present for a quarrel between the descendants of Matangaro and those of Huku-tahu, unless some arrangement was arrived at whereby the increased descendants of Matangaro could be pacified and given an active share in the government.

The head of the Matangaro stock at this period appears to have been Poupou-whenua, who is shown in the ninth generation in the Matangaro line in Table 5. Poupou-whenua had two wives, by each of whom he had a family of three children. A daughter from each family was united in marriage to the ariki Tautape, and in this way the two divisions descended from Matangaro and Huku-tahu came together. What subsequently transpired is as follows:

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The descent of the two wives of Poupou-whenua could not be traced, but it seems probable from what transpired that the mother of Heitutae came of Matangaro stock and the mother of Kanohi of Huku-tahu stock. The reason for this statement is that in quarrels over succession to a title it is usually the families of the respective mothers of two heirs who create the trouble which ensues. Heitutae had a first-born son, Temu-matua, and Kanohi had a first-born son, Tianewa-matua. Under normal circumstances the son of the first wife should have succeeded to the title. On the death of Tautape, however, complications came up as to the succession. Though both Temu-matua and Tianewa-matua were descended from Matangaro through the maternal grandfather, Poupou-whenua, a single title would have left the power with the Huku-tahu stock through their father, Tautape. It is evident that the Matangaro stock wanted direct representation through Temu-matua, which makes me think that his mother, Heitutae, was of Matangaro stock on her mother's side as well as on her father's. The other claimant to succession, Tianewa-matua, was associated with the Huku-tahu stock which had become divided into the two groupings known as Nu-matua and Tia-ngaro-tonga. If Kanohi, mother of Tianewa-matua, was of Huku-tahu descent on her mother's side, all the elements were present for the factional division of the Matangaro and Huku-tahu people, each faction demanding the succession of its respective close blood kinsman. It must have required strong expression of divided opinion to bring about the change in social organization which occurred. The opposing factions were pacified by a compromise, for the native historians state that in the period of Temu-matua and Tianewa-matua the authority (pohatu) was divided (I to raua tuatau i ngaha te pohatu). The compromise was the creation of a dual arikiship. Temu-matua was made an ariki and was the first to hold the Whainga-aitu title. Tianewa-matua was made an ariki and was the first to hold the Whakaheo title.

The people also divided into four tribes, and two tribes supported each title. The old tribes, Numatua and Tia-ngaro-tonga, upheld the Whakaheo title. Two newly-created tribes, Heahiro and Mokopuwai, banded together under the leadership of the Whainga-aitu. The native historians state, “Ko Heitutae e Poupou-whenua, ko te tumu ia o Mokopuwai.” (Heitutae and page 48 Poupou-whenua, they were the foundation of the Mokopuwai tribe.) The younger brothers of Temu-matua became heads of subtribes in the Heahiro tribe. Thus the descendants of Matangaro supported their own direct representative in the person of the Whainga-aitu, and the descendants of Hukutahu supported the continuation of the old single title under the new Whakaheo. The lands in both Rakahanga and Manihiki became divided among the tribes. The dual ariki ruled over their respective tribes, with evidently no serious friction, as there are no traditional records of local wars. The ariki were supported by their hui rangatira (assembly of chiefs), which included the special officers dealing with land and food, and the heads of subtribes. There was some differentiation in the powers of the two ariki. (See p. 210.) The dual arikiship existed down to the advent of Christianity, when the offices gradually fell into abeyance owing to changed conditions affecting the social structure of the people.

Lists of the successive holders of the two titles were obtained. Of the Whakaheo, eleven title-holders are listed from the time of Tianewa-matua to the last holder, Iese, who was alive in 1898. Of the Whainga-aitu, fourteen held office from the inauguration of the title to Tupou-aporo, the last holder. It is not clear whether the earlier names in the list are direct successions of fathers and sons, but the pedigrees of later members of both titles will be referred to to throw light on the question of succession. It may be said, however, that the period of the dual titles extended over more than 200 years.