Vikings of the Sunrise
9. The Southwest Course
9. The Southwest Course
As the rainbow spans the horizons,
So the canoe of ‘Ui-te-rangiora crosses the open seas between.
Among those who followed a lucky spoke of fortune's wheel was Ru. Ru lived in ‘Avaiki (Havai‘i) and, realizing that overpopulation was taking place in his district, he called his family together. He said, ‘I see that the valleys are thick with people and even the uplands are becoming crowded. I have selected a star, and beneath that star there is a land that will provide us with a peaceful home.’ A voyaging canoe named Te Pua-ariki was built and provisioned. Besides his own family and near relatives, Ru selected twenty young women of high rank to people the island of his dreams. When in 1926 I visited the island discovered by Ru, a feast in honour of my wife and me was given by one of the villages. At its conclusion, the presiding chief said, ‘You are blood of our blood and bone of our bone. Behold the story of our ancestor Ru.’
To the accompaniment of drums and singing, a procession of twenty young women, keeping time with paddles, marched in before us. They lined up on either side of a length of coconut leaves tied end to end to represent the voyaging page 102 canoe. Four men taking the part of Ru's brothers were at the bow of the canoe on watch, and Ru himself with the married women of the party was at the stern. Ru, with a steering paddle, guided the canoe on the course of his star.
The canoe remained stationary before us, but the paddling movements indicated that it was speeding ahead over new seas and under new skies. Suddenly one of the lookouts dashed back and in agitated tones reported to Ru that a whirlpool lay on their course and would destroy them. The crew ceased paddling in pretended alarm, but Ru, striking a heroic attitude, cried, ‘Am I not Ru who has been girdled with the scarlet belt of chieftainship and who knows the things of the air and the things of the sea? We shall not die. Paddle the canoe!’ The lookout returned to his post and the reassured crew resumed paddling in time to the seafaring chant.
A rock and later a waterspout were reported, but Ru again restored confidence to his crew by repeating his oratory. The person taking the part of Ru happened to be our cook boy, but during the play I forgot his humble occupation and saw only that in spirit he was true to the blood of his seafaring ancestors. A chorus announced that a storm had arisen, the skies were clouded, and Ru could no longer see his guiding star. The storm continued for three days and three nights; it was only then that Ru sought divine assistance from Tanga-roa, God of the Ocean. Standing erect in the stern of his canoe, he raised his right hand aloft and, in sonorous tones, thus invoked his deity:
O Tangaroa in the immensity of space,
Clear away the clouds by day,
Clear away the clouds by night,
That Ru may see the stars of heaven
To guide him to the land of his desire.
The clouds parted, the stars shone through, and the good ship Pua-ariki, following the southwest course directed by Ru's star, made its landfall on the island of Aitutaki, the most northerly of the Cook Islands. In the time of distress, Ru had not whimpered to his god to land him in safety on the sought-for isle. All he asked for was a sight of his star, for, with the blood of sea kings running in his veins, he knew that he could do the rest. It was the confidence of leaders in themselves that inspired faith in their crews.
The opening lines of Ru's invocation in the native text ran as follows:
Tangaroa i te titi,
Tangaroa i te tata.
As I wrote the words down, I mentally translated them as ‘Tangaroa in the titi, Tangaroa in the tata’. It seemed a mere play on sounds, so I turned to my senior host and asked, ‘What is the meaning of titi and tata?' The old man stood up, swept his arm the full horizon round, and, pointing upward, said, ‘That!’ In answer to my puzzled look he asked, ‘Can we find words? Are not titi and tata as good as anything else to represent what we cannot express?' A light dawned upon me, and I murmured in English, ‘The immensity of space.’ ‘What?’ he queried. ‘Yes,’ I answered, ‘Tangaroa in the titi, Tangaroa in the tata. It could not be better expressed.' I thought so then, and I feel more so now.
Aitutaki, as already mentioned, was originally held in position by a knotted vine which anchored it to the bottom of the sea. The sinews of the fish Tahiti were severed to prevent it from swimming off. Rarotonga was originally named Nuku-tere (Floating-island) because it moved about until the goddess Ari went below and fixed its foundations. Such tales are page 104 echoes of the romance of finding islands in the earliest days of Pacific exploration. The elusive islands moved about on the sea of imagination until the Polynesian discoverers brought them into the world of reality and so fixed their positions.
In the wake of Ru's great canoe, other mariners steered their ships to the southwest and, diverging from their course, found the islands of Atiu, Mauke, Mitiaro, Mangaia, and Rarotonga. Centuries later these islands were rediscovered by Captain James Cook and named the Hervey Islands in honour of the First Lord of the British Admiralty. More recently the name was changed officially to Cook Islands. The group is administered by the New Zealand Government through a Resident Commissioner at Rarotonga.
The first tropical island I ever visited was Rarotonga. At the time, 1909, I represented a Maori constituency in the New Zealand Parliament. To eke out a meagre stipend, I managed to get myself sent to Rarotonga during the recess to relieve the local medical officer in his fight against an epidemic of dengue fever. I shall never forget the first odour of tropical plants, the first sight of the lush foliage and vivid scenery, the strangeness of outrigger canoes and of houses thatched with pandanus, and, above all, the kindly salutations and spontaneous hospitality of the handsome brown-skinned inhabitants who were kin to my own people. Their dialect was similar to Maori, for they retained the k and ng, and like the people of my own district they did not aspirate the h sound.
On the first day that I passed through the main village, two venerable chiefs barred my path and guided me to the verandah of their near-by house. The smiling family gathered with handshakings and salutations of ‘Kia orana’ (May good health attend you). A platter of peeled green oranges and drinking coconuts was placed before me. One of the page 105 old men, who I later learned was a descendant of a hereditary line of high priests, handed me a drinking nut, saying, ‘In New Zealand you have drunk the water of the land, but here in the land of your fathers you will drink of the water of trees.’ Since then I have drunk the contents of many nuts in various isles of the Pacific, but that first drink with the old priest looking on approvingly was in the nature of a libation to the shades of my ancestors.
I had met many of the Rarotongan chiefs who had attended an International Exhibition in New Zealand two years before. We had lived together in a model Maori village to which I had been assigned as medical officer. Now my old friends and others vied with one another in feasting my wife and me. The high chief (ariki) of Arorangi village sent his son for us with a four-wheeled carriage surmounted by a canopy with a tasselled fringe along the edges and drawn by a single horse. The harness, however, had decayed and the leather traces were replaced by ropes. The diminutive horse found our triple weight embarrassing. In response to the suasion of a long stick, the horse made a jerky effort to start, both the rope traces parted, and we came to a standstill. The prince leaped out and examined the parted ropes, but they were too short to be knotted together. The Maoris of New Zealand wonder what their kinsmen do without the flax with which all things are tied. I wondered also what our escort would do. Without the slightest hesitation, he took a large bush knife from the back of the carriage and went to one of the native hibiscus trees which grew all along the road. He slashed the trunk high up, tore down a long, wide strip of bark, joined the ends of his traces together with the bark, and we went gaily on our way. Thus I learned that what the flax was to the Maori, so the bark of the wild hibiscus was to the inhabitants of volcanic islands.page 106
The food for the feast had been provided by the chief's family and his tenants who paid for the use of the land with part of its produce. Sweet potatoes, yams, taro, breadfruit, bananas, coconuts, fowls, pigs, and fish were assembled. The requisite quantity went into the earth ovens, and the remainder was heaped up to make a brave showing. Various puddings of pounded taro and breadfruit mixed with coconut cream were cooked beforehand in leaf wrappings. We arrived on an animated scene with the whole village population bedecked in garlands of flowers and scented leaves. Choice wreaths were put about our necks, and people crowded in with outstretched hands and smiling salutations of ‘Kia orana’. In the old days, they would have pressed their noses against ours. I held my nose poised for the nasal contact to which I was accustomed in my own land, but the reciprocal movement did not come. The ancient pattern of greeting had been abandoned throughout tropical Polynesia. I was both disappointed and relieved.
The steaming mounds before us were rapidly denuded of their covering of leaves and the pigs baked whole were revealed on the hot stones beneath. Coconut and banana leaves were spread on the ground before the pile of uncooked food, and on these were placed the pigs and other cooked foods from the oven. The chief's orator standing beside the food thus addressed me, ‘This is the oven of food of the high chief Tinomana and his people. Here are pigs, fowls, fish, and other foods. Here are uncooked taro, breadfruit, and other foods. This food is in honour of your visit.’ As he pointed to each kind of food, he called it by name. He continued, ‘We come of the same ancestry. We welcome you as a kinsman to the land through which your ancestors passed on their voyage to the South. All this food is now given into your hands.’page 107
The Rarotongan dialect is very similar to that of New Zealand. I arose with what dignity I could assume and replied in fitting terms for the honour done me. I chanted a Maori incantation which impressed them, though they did not altogether understand it. I ended by saying, ‘Divide up the food that we of the same blood may eat together.’
In a short time, the pigs were divided into individual portions. In every Polynesian community, there are experts who can divide the food into heaps so that each family gets its correct share. Then all sit down to eat, and what is left over is taken home together with the share of uncooked food. After we had eaten, listened to songs, and watched dances, our liberal share of the food was packed into the carriage that took us home. All live fowls came into our share of the feast. We had no hen coop at the doctor's residence, so our maid tethered the fowls with strips of hibiscus bark to the shaded fence in the backyard. Our cook worked down the line of fowls as occasion required, but before he could reach the end, another invitation to a feast would arrive and the casualties in the ranks of the chickens were replaced by fresh recruits.
At one feast, I forgot the usual concluding remarks of my speech in reply. A dead stillness ensued. The air of suspended expectancy was retained. The orator came quietly to me and whispered, ‘Will we load all the cooked pigs and the food into your conveyance?’ With Polynesian politeness they were prepared to send the whole feast to my home unless I said a word to the contrary. I stood up as if I had never sat down and cried, ‘Divide up the food that we may all eat together.’
I have digressed somewhat in the hope that these first experiences in Polynesia might convey a little of the atmosphere that eighteen years later influenced me to give up page 108 medicine to join Bishop Museum in its programme of research in Polynesia. It was not until twenty years after my visit to Rarotonga that I was given the opportunity of visiting all the islands of the Cook group.
The early settlement of the Cook Islands passes from myth and legend to the period of traditional history. Each island has its own story of the first human discoverers and those who came after. After the discovery of Aitutaki by Ru, came Te Erui and his brother, Matareka. Te Erui first set out in his ship Viripo, which was dismasted by a hurricane. He was sorely puzzled that a hurricane should have arisen in what he knew to be a favourable season for exploration. So after his return to ‘Avaiki, he consulted a priest as to the cause of his misfortune. The wily priest asked, ‘What name did you give your ship?’ ‘Viripo', replied Te Erui. ‘Ah,’ said the priest, ‘that was the cause of the trouble. You should have included the name of a god in some part of your vessel.’ Te Erui built another ship, which he named Te Rangi-pae-uta, and, on the advice of the priest, he named the two masts after the gods Tangaroa and Rongo. With divinity supporting both sails, Te Erui set forth once more and landed on the west side of Aitutaki. Here he was met by the descendants of Ru, who said, ‘This is the land discovered by Ru and left to his children's children. Before you lies the purple sea of ‘Iro. Go there to seek out a land for yourself.’ Te Erui, however, forced a landing after slaying various opponents. With his famous adze, Haumapu, he cut a channel named Te Rua-i-kakau through the encircling reef, and thus made a passage for his ship to enter the lagoon. This passage at Aitutaki and two at Rarotonga are the only ones in the group that will admit whaleboats-a great advantage in modern times in the landing and loading of cargo. It is natural that page 109 the Aitutaki people should boast of their ancestor, Te Erui, and the boon he conferred on the island.
A third navigating ancestor who came to Aitutaki was Ruatapu, who had ventured to various islands. He changed the name of his ship during his voyages, and when it arrived at Aitutaki, it bore the name of Tuehu-moana (Sea-spray). He is credited with the introduction of coconuts and the gardenia known as tiare maori (Gardenia tahitiensis). The spot where he planted the flower is known to this day as Tiare (Flower). The ruling chief at the time was Taruia, and Ruatapu, after establishing friendly relationship with him, began to scheme as to how he could supplant him in the rule of the island. He excited the curiosity of Taruia by telling him tales of the islands he had visited. He finally persuaded the high chief to accompany him on a sea voyage to see the beautiful women of other lands. Each fitted up a voyaging canoe, and Ruatapu purposely set sail before the other was quite ready. To Taruia's appeal that he should wait so that they might set sail in company, Ruatapu called back, ‘I will go on to Rarotonga and be on the beach to welcome you in.’ Ruatapu sailed off to the other side of the small islet of Ma‘ina, and, when he saw Taruia set sail, he purposely capsized his canoe. Taruia shortly after appeared, and, to Ruatapu's appeal to wait until he had righted his canoe, he replied with no small satisfaction, ‘No, I will go on to Rarotonga and be on the beach to welcome you in.’ Ruatapu waited until Taruia was out of sight. He righted his canoe and returned to Aitutaki, where he usurped the position of Taruia. Taruia eventually arrived at the atoll of Tongareva (Penrhyn), where he settled down. His name occurs in the lineages of that region.
A comparison of lineages and traditions, both in New page 110 Zealand and the Cook Islands, shows that Ruatapu lived about 1350 a.d., when the last voyages were being made to New Zealand. Aitutaki lineages show that Te Erui lived about three hundred years earlier, while Ru was earlier still. Though the descendants of these three ancestors have intermarried, the groups which claim direct male descent live as distinct tribes in different villages. On festive occasions, each village puts on plays illustrating incidents in the traditional history of their particular ancestor. During my stay, the descendants of Ru enacted ‘The Voyage of Ru’, those of Ruatapu played ‘The Fishing Quarrel Between Ruatapu and his son, Kirikava’, and those of Te Erui danced ‘The Song of the Adze Haumapu’. No village would dream of acting a play concerning an ancestor not its own. Even a theme not based on history was respected.
At a village where I asked for information about stilts, my informant said, ‘Stilts? Yes, we have stilts, but they are the property of the village of Vaipae. When you go to Vaipae, ask them. They have a stilt dance.’ Later at Vaipae, I asked again about stilts. ‘Yes,’ they said, ‘we have stilts. We have a stilt dance. Would you like to see it?’ ‘Certainly,’ I replied. A middle-aged man walked quickly over to a large drum of European pattern but native make, suspended from the roof of an open shed. He beat loudly upon it, shouting, ‘Ho, the stilt dancers! Come and dance for our guest.’ Four young men appeared carrying stilts. Four boxes were placed in a row. Mounting their stilts beside the boxes, the dancers went through various movements in time to the beating of the large drum and a smaller wooden gong. They hopped on one stilt, turned round, clicked stilts together, climbed onto the boxes where they performed various steps, dropped to the ground again, and carried out a regular series of movements page 111 in perfect time with the music and with each other. Stilts had been common to the whole island, but Vaipae had been the first to put on a stilt dance in public. They had therefore established a copyright which was protected by no law except that of innate courtesy.
Atiu, the nearest island to Aitutaki, was peopled from central ‘Avaiki. The first colonists were led by Mariri and his younger brothers, Atiu-mua and Atiu-muri. Their father was Tangaroa, whose qualifying epithet, the Source-without-a-father (Tumu-metua-kore), implies that he and consequently his sons were of divine origin. Mariri named the island ‘Enua-manu, the Land-of-insects, in order to stress the fact that there were no previous human inhabitants. According to the most reliable lineages, this first settlement took place about 1300 a.d. Though the lineages of the present inhabitants include Mariri as an ancestor, the principal descent is traced from Atiu-mua, and, in his honour the name of the island was changed to Atiu.
Mauke was settled at the same period as Atiu by an ancestor named Uke, whose daughter married a son of Atiu-mua. These ancestors came by voyaging canoes from central ‘Avaiki.
The Atiuans were redoubtable warriors, and about 1820 a.d. they conquered the neighbouring islands of Mauke and Mitiaro. In their wars they wore sennit helmets of coiled work as protection against slingstones. On a field expedition in 1929, a group of Atiuans, while displaying their family war helmets, vividly described the last occasion upon which they had been used.
‘A warrior from Tahiti arrived on his voyaging canoe and was peacefully received on the island of Mitiaro. He incited the people of Mitiaro to defy us, the warriors of Atiu. He instructed them to build a defence in the midst of the coral page 112 rock of the upraised inland reef known as the makatea. When our war canoes landed on Mitiaro to deal with the challenge, we found the villages deserted. Our scouts, however, soon located the stone fort in the midst of the makatea. We immediately attacked in three divisions representing the three ruling high chiefs of Atiu. The division of Rongo-ma-tane under its war leader had the place of honour in the front. The coral of the makatea had so many sharp points that we could not rush the fort. We laid our long clubs of ironwood down on the sharp points and crawled along them. When we got to the end of the clubs, we upended them and laid their full length in front of us for another advance. Our progress was slow, and all the time the Mitiaro people, from platforms built up above their stone walls, showered slingstones down upon us. We could not stand up to return their fire. All we could do was to keep our heads bent forward so that the stones, which would have struck our heads, were stopped by our sennit helmets. You will notice that the helmet fits close against the sides of the head, but, being high, there is an air space between the top of the head and the top of the helmet. A stone that hits the top of the helmet has its force weakened, and so the head is saved from being split open. We kept our helmets at the proper angle to stop the slingstones and kept crawling along. Some were hit on the body, but we kept crawling along to get to close quarters. The chief warrior of Rongo-ma-tane led the van. He was a tried fighter with a great war record, and we knew that once we reached the walls of the fort, the victory would be ours. Then disaster fell upon us. A Mitiaro slinger threw a large slingstone made of the white stone that is found in caves [a stalagmite]. This is the best kind of slingstone, for if it hits a rock it will burst into fragments that fly in all directions with great page 113 force. The slingstone struck the hard coral in a hollow near our leader and burst. A large piece struck him in the eye, and he rolled off his club, badly wounded. A yell of triumph rose from the fort and the attack of the Atiu people was stayed. We thought our leader was dead. In the supporting line at the back was the youngest son of the high chief, Rongo-ma-tane. He was so young that his place was among the womenfolk and not among adult warriors. We hardly knew him, yet the warrior's courage ran in his blood. He had slipped in among the supporting line without being noticed.
‘The Mitiaro people had hung the figure of their god, Te Pare, from a pole in order to inspire the defence. They were still shouting and raising their hands to Te Pare for having helped them to put the attacking leader out of action. At this critical moment, when we were about to retire, the youngest son of Rongo-ma-tane stood upright on the points of the makatea in the supporting line behind. He had a sling in his hand, and, as he made a preparatory swing, he recited an incantation to direct his slingstone and give it power. He was young, but he had been taught as the son of a high chief should be taught. The enemy jeered—what could one youth with a sling do against so many? But again, mark the battle wisdom that runs in the blood of chiefs. In his chant he called upon his own gods to direct his slingstone against the hostile god, Te Pare. He threw with all his force and skill. His gods heard him and guided his stone straight and true so that it struck Te Pare on the head just below the pole lashing with such force that the sennit braid broke and the god tumbled to the ground. A cry of horror broke from the fort, for it was indeed an ill omen for them, But the front and supporting lines of the Atiuans, as they saw the god fall, raised a great yell of exultation. They rose in one body and, page 114 taking no heed of the sharp points of the makatea, dashed across the intervening space, poured over the coral walls, and captured the fort.’
The mythology of Atiu and Mauke includes the Tahitian concept of Te Tumu (Source) and Papa (Earth-stratum), who, in these islands, gave birth to Tane, god of forests, birds, and forest foods. Tane begat Rongo-ma-tane, god of peace, and Tu, god of war. Tangaroa occurs as the guardian of all things and the protector against adverse winds and rough seas. In Rarotongan mythology, Te Tumu married Papa; and, after the stages of childbirth, as personified by Te Uira (Lightning-pains), Te ‘A‘a (Massaging), and Te Kinakina (Amniotic fluid), Papa gave birth to the gods Tane, Rongo, Tu, Tangaroa, and Ruanuku. This seems to be the pattern that was carried out from. Havai‘i before the Ta-aroa elaboration took place at Opoa.
A High Chief Of Rennell Island in Melanesia. The island is inhabited by a tattooed people speaking a Polynesian dialect
The Coronation Pillar, named Te Papa-ia-ruea, at Taputapu-atea, with K. P. Emory and the author beside it
Ancient Vavau (Porapora), the first high volcanic island sighted on eastward voyages to central Polynesia
The Unique Temple Of Mahaiatea, erected in 1769, which gave rise to mistaken theories of affinity with the pyramids of Egypt
Rarotongan High Priest on the Temple of Arai-Te-Tonga with the pillar of investiture named Tuamakeva
Tangaroa, in a fit of jealousy, left Mangaia, and Rongo became the principal god of the island. In giving Rongo the greater portion of food, the Mangaians retained an early pattern with Rongo as god of agriculture. They made him the war god, which conflicted with his earlier position in the Tahitian pantheon as god of peace. Human sacrifices were made to Rongo, and, after the temple ceremony, the body of the victim was thrown into the bushes as food for the hungry Papa. Tu, the ancient god of war, appears in Mangaian myth as a valiant warrior from the underworld. He taught the Mangaians the art of war, though he had been deprived of the portfolio of war by Rongo.
The period of darkness was personified under the names of Po-tangotango and Po-kerekere, as it was in the centre, north, east, and south but not in the west. The myth of the sky resting on the flattened leaves of the arrowroot is present. The sky was raised by Ru-te-toko-rangi (Ru-who-propped-up-the-sky).
Mangaia departs from the orthodox pattern of human settlement by maintaining that the island emerged from the Underworld of ‘Avaiki with the first settlers upon it. These ancestors were the sons of Rongo by his own daughter. Thus the creation of man from earth and his arrival on the island by voyaging canoe were discarded. Among the gods of Mangaia are Tangiia and Motoro, who appear as human ancestors in the genealogies of near-by Rarotonga. The genealogies of Mangaia include seventeen generations from 1900 back to the god Rongo, but the genealogies of Rarotonga include twenty-six generations from 1900 to the navigator Tangiia, who lived in about the thirteenth century. page 116 Mangaia was probably settled after the time of Tangiia by people from Rarotonga who omitted from their histories the accounts of discovery and settlement and, perhaps to increase their prestige, revised their mythology and linked themselves directly to the gods. The chiefly tribe, Ngariki, claimed that their ancestors were autochthonous, the direct descendants of Rongo. The Tonga‘iti and Ngati-tane tribes admitted that their ancestors came later by canoe. The Mangaians were doughty warriors, and created the special spirit land of Tiaria for the souls of warriors slain in battle. All other souls descended on a pua tree that reached down into the Underworld, where they fell into the clutches of Miru, a female cannibal, who cooked and ate them.
The Rarotongan genealogies, with the exception of those of Hawai‘i and Marquesas, are the longest in Polynesia. Percy Smith accepted them as human documents giving the movements of people from India to Indonesia and on into Polynesia. However, so much post-European information has been included in the native text accompanying the genealogies that I cannot accept them as accurate and ancient. Rarotongan mythology includes tales of remote ancestors who ventured forth on the seas in the dim past. Among these was ‘Ui-te-rangiora, who lived in the early part of the seventh century, and in his ship Te Ivi-o-Atea sailed to the far south where he saw the rocks that grew up out of the sea named Tai-rua-koko, the long hair that floated on the surface, the sea covered with foam like arrowroot, the animal that dived down under the sea, a dark place where the sun was not seen, and the high white rocks without vegetation upon them. These wonders have been interpreted as the sea south of Rapa, bull kelp, the frozen sea, sea lions, the Antarctic night, and icebergs.page 117
Three hundred and fifty years later Te Ara-tanga-nuku felt the call of the sea and decided to leave the land of Kuporu where he was living. His uncles shouldered their adzes, and, on their way into the mountain forest in search of a tree for the keel of Te Ara-tanga-nuku's canoe, they encountered a white heron and a sea snake that were fighting out an old-time feud. The white heron was sorely wounded and it appealed to the first two brothers, but they passed on. The third brother, who had dropped behind, went to the assistance of the heron and killed the snake with his adze. In gratitude the heron directed its rescuer, Oro-taere, to a suitable tree. Oro-taere and his party felled the tree, trimmed it, fixed the hauling rope, and went home.
After the craftsmen had left, Tangaroa-i‘u-mata, the owner of the forest, arrived and found one of his trees prostrate. He sought out his keeper, Rata-of-the-forest, and others, but no one could tell him who had felled the tree. Tangaroa by a magic chant erected the tree trunk and restored the branches, chips, and leaves to their original position.
Next day, Oro-taere returned with his party to the spot. The only apparent evidence of their previous work was the hauling rope hanging from the branch of a tree. They searched through the forest and finally located the tree they had felled by a white spot on the trunk, due to their having taken a piece of bark home with them.
Ora-taere realized that it had been possible to raise the tree again because his adze, consecrated to a specific task, had been defiled by killing a sea snake. He went to the shore with his party to reconsecrate their adzes. They returned with purified adzes and again felled the tree, trimmed, and dragged it to the place where the high priest lived. During the night, the ship was built by a spirit craftsman with four page 118 assistants on either side of the vessel. Hence the ship was named Tarai-po (Built-at-night). Atonga, the high priest and father of Te Ara-tanga-nuku, sent a messenger to the white crane to assemble the birds to transport the ship down to the shore.
The sea birds and the land birds gathered on either side of the ship, and, lifting it on their wings in time to a chant sung by one of their number, they carried it through the air and deposited it before the boathouse that had been especially built for it. The ship was then renamed Te Manu-ka-rere (The Flight-of-birds).
The ship was launched before the multitude of Kuporu who had gathered for the occasion. Under the command of Ta Ara-tanga-nuku, it made voyages to other lands grouped together under the name of Iva. The ship was renamed Te Orauroa-ki-Iva (The Long-voyage-to-Iva). Later Te Ara-tanga-nuku sailed to the south in order to verify the wonders seen by ‘Ui-te-rangiora. If the details of the trips to the south are pre-European, these two voyages were wonderful feats of endurance, considering the scanty clothing of the Polynesians. However, I believe that no Polynesian voyager would continue south into grey, cold, inhospitable seas. Traditions of several islands mention a dangerous sea to the south, generically termed Tai-koko. Probably the original Rarotongan legend said that ‘Ui-te-rangiora and Te Ara-tanga-nuku voyaged into the Tai-koko, and later historians embellished the tales by adding details learned from European whalers and teachers.
Rarotonga, under the name of Nuku-tere (Floating-island), was located by the god Tonga-‘iti, who stamped upon it; and his wife Ari dived down to fix its foundations. The island was then named Tumu-te-varovaro. The god page 119 Toutika arrived and deposed the other two by trickery.
The first human settlers came from Iva under Ata, and afterward another group arrived from Atu-‘apai under ‘Apopo. ‘Apopo appears in the widespread story of Apa-kura, who waged war against her eight brothers to avenge the murder of her son. After the defeat of the brothers, ‘Apopo, the only survivor of the eight brothers, fled to Rarotonga at about the end of the ninth century. He was killed and his party defeated in a war with the people from Iva.
The great ancestors of Rarotonga were Tangiia and Karika. Tangiia was a direct descendant of ‘Ui-te-rangiora and Te Ara-tanga-nuku, and lived in Tahiti in the middle of the thirteenth century. He fought with his half brother, Tutapu, over the share of breadfruit and other perquisites associated with the position of their father, the high chief, Pou-vananga. Though Tangiia was successful in the first engagement, he was subsequently defeated and pursued to different islands by his brother, who earned the title of Tutapu-the-relentless-pursuer. During this period of flight, Tangiia sailed to the west, to Samoa, Wallis Island, and Fiji. In addition, he went to ‘Avaiki-te-varinga, which Percy Smith assumes to have been in Indonesia, where a religious ceremony was being held at the temple. Tangiia interviewed the priests and the gods, and they gave him power (mana) goods such as drums and shell trumpets, ritual dances, and various gods. On his return, he met the celebrated Tahitian navigator, ‘Iro (Hiro), and asked him for his son to be a chief over some of his people, because his own sons had been killed by Tutapu. ‘Iro replied that his son was at Rapa; and the native history says that Tangiia sailed for Rapa-nui (Easter Island) where he found the youth and returned with him to Tahiti.
In this extraordinary series of voyages, Tangiia is credited page 120 with sailing from Tahiti to Indonesia and, after his return, sailing to Easter Island and returning. The total distance travelled would be well over 20,000 miles. A range from Tahiti to Samoa in the west and to Rapa in the east might be possible, but the extension to Indonesia in one direction and to Easter Island in the other would imply friendly ports of call for food and water supplies and a knowledge of such a stretch of the Pacific Ocean that no one Polynesian could possibly possess.
I believe that the ‘Avaiki from which Tangiia received his gods and ritual was not a remote island in Indonesia but Ra‘i-atea in the central Pacific. Why go to Indonesia for gods who had been established at Opoa long before Tangiia was born? It is likely that the ‘Iti where he met’ Iro was not Fiji but an old form of Tahiti. Probably Tangiia played hide-and-seek with Tutapu in central Polynesia and then fled to Rarotonga.
On his voyage to Rarotonga from Tahiti, Tangiia encountered the ship of Karika, who hailed from Manu‘a in eastern Samoa. Hostilities were smoothed over and both settled in Rarotonga. Tutapu-the-relentless-pursuer, true to his name, pursued Tangiia to Rarotonga where he was slain in battle. Temples (maraes) were established in the various districts and among them was Taputapu-atea, which derived its name from the mother temple at Opoa. In addition to the strictly religious temples there were courts of honour, where the highest chiefs and priests sat on stone seats that were the special privilege of high rank. The most noted of these courts was Arai-te-tonga with its tall stone pillar of investiture named Taumakeva.
The districts were peopled and tribes developed with tribal chiefs (mataiapo) and high chiefs (ariki) ruling over island page 121 divisions. The ariki line from Tangiia is that of Pa-ariki living at Ngatangiia and ruling over the human canoe of Takitumu. Kainuku is a supporting ariki. The ariki line from Karika is that of Makea residing at Avarua and ruling over the Au-o-Tonga. An early Makea was evicted for tyranny and fled to Arorangi, where he was accepted as ariki and his successors established the Tinomana title. The Makea title split and the divided authority is now held by Makea Tinirau and Makea Karika.
The distance between Rarotonga and Tahiti is about seven hundred miles so that the Cook Islands were within easy range of central ‘Avaiki. Noted ancestors sailed their named ships to the various islands and erected maraes after landing to conduct a ritual of thanksgiving to their gods for their favour. They brought the various cultivable food plants to stock their new homes. The pig was introduced in Rarotonga, Atiu, Mauke, and Mitiaro, where it was used symbolically to express rank in social and religious functions.
The myths, religion, and social system of the Cook Islands link up directly with the culture of the central home in ‘Avaiki. Variations, omissions and additions have occurred, but the main principles were never lost. In the material crafts there is much that is identical, as the shapes of wooden bowls and stone adzes with their hafts and lashing patterns. It is in weapons and the representation of gods that extreme diversity took place. Each island evolved its own form of art in carving on wood, and art motifs differ. The ceremonial adzes with hafts carved with a K-pattern that are erroneously attributed to the Cook (Hervey) Island as a whole belong exclusively to Mangaia. Though bound to a certain extent by tradition in religion and social matters, the artist's hand followed the guidance of his own spirit until he saw that his work was good.