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Mangaian Society

Supernatural Brings

Supernatural Brings

Three supernatural beings, not tribal gods, were believed to bring success in fishing:

Rua-tamaine was a female goddess who seemed particularly useful to the Shore High Priest of Rongo when he took up his residence near the marae of Orongo. A large basket was hung up, and all who went fishing in the lagoon placed an offering in the basket to insure success. Cooked taro was the offering of fishermen going down to the sea. A whole fish was placed in the receptacle by the successful fisherman upon his return, and a small coral pebble was placed there by the unsuccessful to prevent his ill-luck from being carried forward.

Ruaatu was represented by some rock to which offerings were made to ensure success in fishing. An informant stated that his marae was Tau-kea, which I took to be a slab or rock of limestone (kea) set up as his shrine.

Mokoiro, one of the first three settlers of Mangaia, seems to have been deified. His descendants, as the official Rulers of Food (ariki-i-te-tapora kai), were also priests of Mokoiro. It was part of their office to put coconut-leaflet charms on the bow of each canoe in the fishing fleet before it set out for the fishing grounds in the regular season. The charm representing Mokoiro exercised a calming influence over the wind and gave success to the fishing. Both Ruatamaine and Ruaatu were served by individuals without a middle priest, but Mokoiro was the god of the fishing fleet and required a medium.

A number of supernatural beings appear in classical allusions but seem to exercise no definite influence:

Ruanuku, who appears in the official food call (p. 140), is a memory of a widely distributed Ruanuku not to be confounded with Ruanuku, the alleged brother of Motoro, who was not deified like Motoro, Utakea, and Kereteki.

Tu-tavake figures in the first combat on Mangaia in which he slew Tu-kai-taua. Both these names are widespread names of Tu, the war god of other areas. After the mythical combat, however, Tu-tavake returned to the shades. He was not worshiped, but references to him occur in war dirges (12, p. 87): "A kai Tu-tavake i te 'aunga toto." (Tu-tavake inhales the odor of blood.)

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Te-makava-tai (The-single-ringlet) was the guardian of the rocks and is also referred to in song (12, p. 207):

Akatapa Vaia'a ko Te-makava-ta'i e! Vaiaa calls upon Te-makava-tai!
Mei Te-makava-ta'i ra, e na'ea taua ē? If that is Te-makava-tai, which way shall we two go?

Tumu-te-ove was a minor god of the Manaune tribe.

Veri was mentioned as the god of Potai.