Explorers of the Pacific: European and American Discoveries in Polynesia
J. A. Moerenhout
J. A. Moerenhout
1828 to 1834
Moerenhout's expeditions to the islands of the Grand Ocean consisted of three voyages by small ships within Polynesia itself. They are included in this series because, though Dutch, Moerenhout acted as French Consul toward the end of his residence in Tahiti and his accounts of his voyages were written in French and published in Paris. They have recorded useful information concerning the inhabitants of the islands visited.
The first voyage was made in a schooner named the Volador, which left Chile in December 1828 and reached Pitcairn Island some time in January 1829. In February, the ship left Pitcairn and passed by a number of Tuamotuan islands on the way to Tahiti, one of which, the island of Maria, was a new discovery. Moerenhout Island has been accepted as its European name. Besides the Society Islands, the island of Tubuai in the Australs was visited.
The second voyage started from Valparaiso toward the end of 1830. Moerenhout called at Easter Island and then at a number of Tuamotuan islands on the way to Tahiti. The course was farther north and a different set of islands was seen, but they had all been previously discovered.
The third voyage set out from Valparaiso on January 5, 1834. Calls were made at Ducie and Elizabeth Islands before the ship arrived at the Mangareva Islands (Gambier) on February 6. The schooner then took a southern course and called at Rapa and Raivavae on the way to Tahiti. It is not clear whether Moerenhout actually visited the Cook Islands, but he has something to say about them.page 86
Moerenhout resided for some years in Tahiti and acted as consul to the United States. He evidently knew the Tahitian dialect, and his valuable work requires sifting, for he applied the Tahitian spelling to the dialects of other islands and generalized overmuch, taking it for granted that what he knew of one group applied to other groups. Thus, his description of the method of embalming in Mangareva was really what he had learned of the local method in Tahiti, and his assumption that it was also the Mangarevan method drew forth a vigorous contradiction from Pére Laval who had lived for years in Mangareva.