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Mangaian Society

First Human Settlers

First Human Settlers

In the fifth generation from Vari the sons of Tavake by the god Rongo were living on the land of Auau in the underworld of Avaiki. Mamae writes:

Tera te aiteanga ia A'ua'u, " 'akatautika." Kia tae i te tuatau i takina mai ai a A'ua'u i nunga, na Rangi ma i taki mai. Kare i kitea te ravenga i takina ai. The meaning of Auau, "leveled-off" When the time arrived that Auau was brought to the surface, it was Rangi and the others who brought it up. It is not known by what means it was brought up.
Tera te korero a te ai metua, i karanga'ia e e 'aka'aka 'ua te rangi i raro. Tera tona teitei e 'a 'onu. Noreira te pia e te teve i para ai te rau, kare e nga'i e tupu atu ai ua papani'ia mai e te rangi. Karanga'ia e na Ru i toko te rangi i teitei ai. This is the story of the fathers that it was told that the sky was spread out low down. Its height was four finger spans. That is the reason why the pia and the teve [two species of arrow-root] have flat leaves, there being no space for them to grow, as the sky confined them. It was said that Ru propped up the sky, which makes it so high.
E toru kopu i kake mai i nunga nei, no raro mai i 'Avaiki. Tera aua nga kopu, o Rangi, Te 'Akatauira, o Moko. E mokopuna ratou na Rongo. Three groups of people came up to this upper region from below in Avaiki. These groups were Rangi, Te Aka-tauira, and Moko. They were grand-children of Rongo.

Note: Drawing up an island to the surface is not a unique legend. Both Raka-hanga and the North Island of New Zealand were raised from the bottom of the sea by inhabitants of the upper world who journeyed to the site in the ocean by canoe. Auau, however, was drawn or led up (takina) from the underworld where there were other lands. Mamae naively says of Auau that it is not known how it was drawn up. The myth of the sky's proximity to the earth is widespread, and Ru figures in the Cook, Society, and Tuamotu islands as the person who pushed up the sky to its present position. In Tahiti Ru propped up the sky at the request of Tane, but in New Zealand Tane himself did the work. The effect of the sky's pressure in flattening the leaves of the arrowroot is known throughout the Tuamotus.

page 19

Three of Rongo's grandsons, Rangi, Te Akatauira, and Moko (Mokoiro), were the first human beings on the land. Although Rongo was actually their father, they are usually referred to as his grandsons through their mother in order not to stress the illegitimate strain, for Rongo could not very well marry his own daughter. The incest was accepted but not approved.

Incidents are often narrated by natives to stress the fact that their ancestors, the early voyagers, were the first on the land. In Mangaia a story with such a purpose, naively inconsistent with the myth that Rangi and his brothers drew Mangaia up from the underworld, was originated.

Rangi, while exploring his domain, came to a pile of rocks overhanging a gorge. He shouted and to his surprise all his questions were answered by similar questions. He cursed the unseen owner of the voice and was cursed back in a mocking strain. At last he caught sight of a female laughing at him. When asked her name, she replied that she was Tumu-te-ana-oa who had occupied the rocks of Mangaia ere Rangi had set foot on the soil. She was the sister of Vatea and the personification of echoes. Her offspring were the rats and the shrimps, eels, and small fish which lived in the fresh-water streams of Mangaia. She had no husband. Her offspring evidently came into being without a male parent. The story as given in full by Gill (6, p. 114) stresses the point that though Tumu-te-ana-oa was first on Mangaia she was a spirit and her offspring were not human, whereas Rangi was the first man.

Mamae says that family groups (kopu) ascended with the three brothers. Among the few names remembered are those of the wives. Rangi was married to Potangotango and had a son Paparangi. Moko was married to Angarua and had a son, Vaeruarangi. Te Akatauira was married to Ruange.

The three brothers ruled over their land, but Rongo distributed the authority between them. To Rangi he gave the drum of peace which subsequently confirmed temporal authority over all the people. To Moko he gave the authority over food which developed into the position of the official Ruler of Food (Te-ariki-i-te-ua-i-te-tapora-kai, "The-chief-at-the-head-of-the-food-platter"). To Te Akatauira he gave the karakia (prayers and ritual) out of which developed the positions of the two priests of Rongo. The ritual had to do with Rongo and not the gods who became established later. Rangi and his brothers could descend at will through Tiki's hole (p. 199) to consult with Rongo.

The three brothers were the High Chiefs (nga ariki), and the term Ngaariki, subsequently shortened to Ngariki, was, in the course of time, applied as a tribal name to the combined groups under them. With the later increase of population the Ngariki split into three subgroups which evidently traced descent to each of the three brothers; the Ngariki proper, or Parangi, from Paparangi, the son of Rangi; the Ngati-Vaeruarangi from Vaeruarangi, son of Moko; and Te Akatauira from Te Akatauira. The three groups still come under the name Ngariki.

From the distribution of authority by Rongo, certain titles were estab-page 20lished by succession in the Ngariki tribe. Of these, the two priests of Rongo and the Ruler of Food remained in the Ngariki tribe throughout Mangaian history in spite of the vicissitudes and defeats that it subsequently suffered. The office of Supreme Temporal Lord which went with the drum of peace was kept in the Ngariki for some generations, but, becoming intimately merged in a military dictatorship, it passed to the strongest military power of the time.

The names of three of the first settlers are given in a myth briefly para-phrased from Gill's version (6, pp. 282-286):

One of the first settlers, Matoetoea, possessed the wonderful power of causing violent shivering fits to assail anyone who lifted up an arm to strike him. Thus anyone having gooseflesh with a shivering fit was said to have the skin of Matoetoea (te kiri o Matoetoea). A warrior named Tukaitaua, son of Tavarenga, in the underworld of Avaiki, was attracted to the upper world by the fame of Matoetoea. Matoetoea's art failed him and he fell under the spear of Tukaitaua. Tukaitaua also killed Ngake and Akuru. Matoetoea was the first person slain in the early reign of Rangi. Rangi went down through Tiki's chasm to seek advice of his grandfather Rongo. Rongo sent Tutavake to exact vengeance, instructing him not to attack Tukaitaua while the sun threw a long shadow in the morning or afternoon, as his strength increased or diminished with the length of the shadow cast. Tutavake thus met Tutaitaua at noon and slew him when the sun cast no shadow. The Ngariki people were supposed to have learned about weapons and methods of using them from covertly watching Tukaitaua during his daily sparring practices before he was killed by Tutavake.

Papaaunuku, next to the three High Chiefs, was the most famous of the first immigrants from the underworld. Gill (6, p. 19) states that he was a son of Tane-papa-kai, the brother of Rongo, and that Tane spoke through him quietly and without frenzy. Rangi, who wanted another god in addition to Rongo, rejected Tane, took Motoro as his god for the upper world, and appointed Papaaunuku as his priest. Mamae, who is a direct descendant of Papaaunuku, does not agree with the Tane paternity, for he says, in speaking of his own tribe (kopu):

Tera te ingoa o te tupuna mua tika i o tona kopu o Papaaunuku. I tuatua'ia e no raro mai no 'Avaiki. Kare 'ua i kitea tona metua tane e tona metua va'ine. The name of the very first ancestor of his tribe was Papaaunuku. It was said that he came from below from Avaiki. It is. not known who were his father and his mother.
Kua 'akariro atu ra teta'i tangata ia Pa-paaunuku ei pi'a atua nona. Tera te ingoa o taua tangata o Rangi. Riro atu ra a Papaaunuku ei pi'a atua no te kopu o Ngariki. A certain man appointed Papaaunuku as the medium of his god. The name of that man was Rangi. Thus Papaaunuku was taken as a priest for the tribe of Ngariki.

The descendants of Papaaunuku do not recognize their first ancestor as a son of Tane. It is known that six generations later Mautara consulted Tane on his own business, but both Aiteina and Akaeakore held that the communications were made indirectly through his wife, Te Ko, who belonged to the Ngati-Tane tribe, and through Te Vake, his uncle-in-law, who was page 21high priest of Tane. The descendants of Papaaunuku for some generations became followers of Tane, but they were never priests of Tane, which would have been their right had Papaaunuku been Tane's son. The worshipers of Tane did not arrive on Mangaia until some time after the advent of the Ngariki and Papaaunuku.

Rauvaru, another first settler mentioned by Gill (6, p. 273), built the first house on Mangaia at Tamarua and left the long thatch ends hanging down. Rangi admired the new invention but thought improvements could be effected. He descended to the underworld, where Rongo presented him with an adz named Ruateatonga. With the adz he trimmed the thatch all around the eaves while Ruavaru was asleep. The owner was astonished to see the improvements effected on his house.