Ethnology of Manihiki and Rakahanga
Fish, the staple article of flesh food, is plentiful in the inner and outer lagoons and the deep sea beyond the reef. Though no permanent deep channels connect the sea with the inner lagoon, shallow channels exist between the islands, and through these the sea flows in and out with the tides. Shoals of fish enter the lagoon by these channels with the incoming tide and retire with the ebb. Fishing with hand nets was done in lagoons and in the passages during the incoming tide. A favorite time for fishing was at night, when torches of dry coconut leaves were used.
Torches made by bundling whole leaves together in the same manner as in Cook Islands were used in the outer lagoon, some men carrying the torches while others used the scoop nets. A party generally worked along the lagoon in line so as to prevent the escape of fish. Torches were also used on canoes in the inner lagoon and out at sea when netting flying fish.
In the outer lagoon spears were used as well as nets. Nowadays, a piece of hoop iron is often used while torching. The fish, attracted by the light, swim very near the surface and are readily killed with a blow of the hoop iron. In olden days, a piece of wood was used.
Crayfish are caught in a strange manner by torching at night. The crayfish may be seen moving about on the bottom. The fisherman wades toward it and quickly puts his foot on it to hold it down on the reef. He page 159 then grasps it in his hand and deposits it in a basket carried around the waist for the purpose.
In all these methods, quick judgment and allowances for the rate and direction of movement of fish are required. Constant practice has made the native fisherman expert with net and spear.
The spears in use are iron-pointed, and no data were offered regarding old types. Self-acting traps were not made, but walled traps were used on both atolls. The fishing craft concerned itself mainly with nets and angling.