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Mangaian Society



The period spent by me on Mangaia extended from December 1929 to April 1930, the months alluded to as the hurricane season. It was the slack time of the year when no vessels visited and the fruit trade was suspended. As a return for the assistance of the Cook Islands Administration, I agreed to act in the place of the Resident Agent, Mr. J. McGruther, during his absence on leave, and was officially gazetted a Commissioner of the High Court of the Cook Islands to try all offences committed during my term of office. The Hon. Sir Apirana Ngata, Minister for the Cook Islands in the New Zealand Cabinet, and Judge Hugh Ayson, Resident Commissioner, who were both interested in the ethnological survey, appointed me acting Resident Agent for the months of my stay on Mangaia as much to facilitate the survey as to assist the administration.

Except for morning sick parades, the weekly court, which occupied less than an hour, and the monthly paying of civil servants, my official duties made little demand on my time. In my official position I was authorized to use the resources of the government in such way as I deemed expedient. The government, therefore, devoted its attention to the ethnological survey. The police in the villages acted as assistants in gathering the people together for the purpose of making head and body measurements. The district and subdistrict chiefs were called upon to conduct official visits of inspection through their districts. The maraes and old battlefields were visited and described by local experts. Prisoners utilized to clear the growth off the maraes took as much interest in practical archaeology as did the Resident Agent. To Sir Apirana and Judge. Ayson my thanks are due for giving an ethnologist such a unique opportunity for carrying out field work. To the ariki Matekeiti and the district and subdistrict chiefs who form the Island Council of Mangaia my personal thanks are rendered for their hearty coöperation. My thanks are due to all my informants, but particularly to Aiteina and Akaeakore for the Ngati-Vara genealogies and history and to Daniela Tangitoru for information on certain crafts. I thank Mr. and Mrs. J. McGruther for the use of their residence and equipment. My wife assisted page 4me as recorder in the anthropological work and took charge of the reciprocal hospitality so necessary in the campaign of a field worker in Polynesia.