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Mangaian Society

Rarotongan Infusion

Rarotongan Infusion

As listed in Table 2, Tangiia in the family of Vatea was a younger brother of the gods Tangaroa, Rongo, Tonga-iti, and Tane-papa-kai. Gill (6, p. 24) says this mythical Tangiia, whose ironwood form was deposited in the Museum of the London Missionary Society, must be distinguished from the Rarotongan ancestor of that name, who is unquestionably a historical character.

The tribal god of the Ngariki tribe was Motoro. Gill (6, p. 19) gives the following origin of Motoro, after stating that Rangi had rejected Tane-papa-kai because he spoke without frenzy through his son:

His grandfather Rongo lived only in the shades; Rangi wished for a god who would live with him in this upper world. He therefore sent to Rarotonga to ask Tangiia, a renowned warrior king of that island, to send over one of his sons "who had grown up under the sacred shade of the tamanu leaves" to be his god. Rangi's wish was gratified, and Motoro was fixed upon by his father for the purpose.

No details are given as to how Rangi, who had made no canoe voyages, knew of the existence of Rarotonga and Tangiia. It might be inferred that Gill had blended his knowledge of Mangaian and Rarotongan traditions, were it not for other details regarding Motoro:

The Mangaian tradition (6, pp. 25-27) states that Tangiia sent Motoro with two of his brothers, Ruanuku and Kereteki. Another brother, Utakea, followed some time after. Of these four sons, Motoro was the fourth and best beloved. At sea a violent quarrel took place and the two eldest brothers threw Motoro into the sea, where he perished. Motoro's body was devoured by sharks, but his spirit floated on a piece of hibiscus until it reached Mangaia. Here it entered Papaaunuku and, "drawing him into a frenzy, compelled him to utter his oracles from a foaming mouth." The two brothers Ruanuku and Kereteki reached the west coast of Mangaia and landed opposite the marae of Rongo. Here they decided to bathe in a pool of fresh water; but, a quarrel arising as to who should bathe first, Kereteki treacherously slew his first-born brother in the bath. Utakea, the third brother, arrived later on the south of the island. He lived peacefully with his brother Kereteki. Kereteki set up a marae sacred to his dead brother, Motoro. Both Kereteki and Utakea lived and died on Mangaia and in the next generation were worshipped as gods.

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Te Kuraaki was a god brought from Rarotonga by Tui (6, p. 31).

Tui is first on the list of the combined high chiefs and priests of Rongo known as the ariki-pa-tai (Shore High Chiefs). He is said to have come from Rarotonga and, by courtesy, to have shared the High Chief's honors with Rangi by sitting with him on the sacred sandstone in Rongo's marae at Orongo. The Orongo marae was situated on the coast below the makatea on the west. Rangi occupied the position of the first Inland High Chief (ariki-pa-uta). Tui's son, Tamatapu, succeeded to the position of Shore High Chief on his father's death. His mother was a native of Mangaia and belonged to the tribe Te Tui-kura (The Red-marked). Their god was Te Kuraaki, brought from Rarotonga by Tui, but it is not stated in what way they were related to the Ngariki or how they became established on Mangaia in the time of Rangi.

Rarotongan influence in the earliest part of Rangi's occupation must have been strong for Tui to obtain the high position created for him and for Rangi to obtain the Ngariki god from Rarotonga. Much detail concerning Motoro is found in Rarotongan traditions:

Tangiia, while living in the Society Islands, heard of the beauty of the two daughters of Uki, a chief of the island of Mauke. He voyaged there, and while the two girls were bathing in an inland fresh-water pool, he approached by stealth to observe them. He married both. By the elder sister, Moetuma, he had a son named Te Rei; by the younger sister, Puatara, he had Motoro. The name Motoro, which means "to approach a woman by stealth," was given to Puatara's son to record the incident at the bathing pool. Tangiia left his wives in Mauke, but subsequently sent from Tahiti for Motoro. In a battle on Tahiti between Tangiia and Tutapu, Motoro would have been consumed in a forest fire had the gods not taken pity and saved him. They conveyed him to Mangaia, where he was brought up, according to one version. After Tangiia became established in Rarotonga he sent to Mangaia for Motoro and set him up as a high chief with maraes and lands. He had issue, one of whom, Ruatapu, is a prominent Cook Islands and New Zealand ancestor.

The Rarotongan and Mangaian stories regarding Motoro vary considerably. The Mangaian version, in which Ruanuku, Kereteki, and Utakea were elder brothers of Motoro, is not supported in Rarotonga. Tangiia had a number of wives at different times, but none of the children's names agree with those mentioned above. Gill (6, p. 25) states that Ruanuku of Mangaian mythology is the Uanuku of Rarotonga, who is respresented by the "wise men" of Rarotonga as the eldest son of Tangiia. This statement is not confirmed by the Rarotongan genealogies, but Uenuku (not Uanuku) is given as Motoro's son.

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