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Mangaian Society



The staple food of the Mangaians is taro, locally termed mamio. The term taro has been diverted to the irrigated patch bounded by four raised edges. In the ordinary diet, the taro was cooked whole (mamio tao); for special occasions and feasts three preparations were made, poke, roroi, and poi. The tender leaves of the taro were cooked as greens. The sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas), termed kuara (cf Hawaiian, 'uala; Rarotongan, kumara), was the chief food of the conquered in peace times, for it grew in the dry soil of the makatea and the uplands. No special dishes were made of sweet potatoes, and the tubers were brought uncooked to the feasts. Three kinds of yam were cultivated, and a wild species ('oi) was utilized in times of scarcity. The plantain (netu) and banana (koka, not meika) and coconut were grown.

Fugitives lived on such fruits and berries as they could find in the vicinity of their shelters. The drupes of the hala ('ara; Pandanus) contain small kernels which are extracted by beating (pao) the hard outer ends between stones. The fruit of the nono (Morinda citrifolia), the berries of the poroiti (Solanwm), and the kernels of the tuitui (candlenut, Aleurites) were also eaten. Two songs published by Gill refer to the misfortunes of the vanquished (12, pp. 183, 121):

Te pao nei i te 'ara, Beating the hala fruit,
Te kai nei i te nono i te ra'ei. Eating the nono among the rocks.
E kai eki ua, te mikorau ra, Eating seeds [?] merely, the green shoots of plants,
Kua pipi vaitorea, ta te 'ao manga ia. A drink of stream water, these were the foods of the conquered.

Other foods commonly associated with the conquered are as follows: the ti (Cordyline terminalis), i'i (native chestnut), pia-ntaori (native arrowroot), and teve, a species of arrowroot with side tubers termed karo'e (Rarotongan, 'unga). In times of dearth (tuatau onge) the conquerors, too, resorted to these foods.