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Mangaian Society

Genealogical Record

page 26

Genealogical Record

The family pedigrees characteristic of Polynesia are of much greater value in tracing a chronological record than are the lists of title holders which have sometimes been used. The value of lists is impaired because tenure of office is generally much more variable than the duration of life from birth to reproduction covered in a family pedigree, and also because of the probability that some titleholders in a list have not produced male issue but have passed the title on to brothers or uncles. A disturbed chronology of generations is not indicated in lists as it is in full family pedigrees.

The time value of a generation in a pedigree is variable, however, extending as it does between the first-born and the youngest of a large family and depending upon whether the mother was a first wife or a later wife married when her husband was approaching old age. The Polynesian Society has decided on 25 years as an average duration for one generation as a working hypothesis in establishing a chronology. It will serve until something better can be devised.

It is unfortunate that Gill did not obtain some Mangaian family pedigrees while the old men who had seen premissionary days were alive. From Mamae's manuscript, however, I was allowed to copy out the family pedigrees of the Ngati-Vara tribe. I made attempts to secure genealogies from the other tribes without success, and I was assured by my two reliable informants that they did not exist. Table 3 gives a Ngati-Vara pedigree with the wives from Papaaunuku down. I possess other details regarding plural wives and total offspring in each generation, with their marriages. Because of such details, the pedigree must be as authentic as any Polynesian pedigree can be.

The first six generations from Papaaunuku to Mautara in Table 3 form a doubtful period, the length of which is supported by the list of the priests of Tane. Turuia, the first priest of Tane, landed in Mangaia during Rangi's time. Te Vaki, the sixth priest of Tane, was a contemporary of Mautara, the sixth priest of Motoro. From Mautara down, the number of families recorded in the Ngati-Vara genealogies is numerous enough to give an authentic average of generations. An interesting check on the time is provided by Koroa in the 9th generation and his descendant, Tauapepe. Koroa, who was one of those who went out in canoes to barter with Captain Cook's ship in 1777, was a grown man in authority at the time of Cook's visit, and his son Tauapepe had been born. The time from Tauapepe in the 10th generation to Tauapepe in the 14th generation includes five generations, which, at 25 page 27
Table 3.—Genealogy of the Ngati-Vara tribe

Table 3.—Genealogy of the Ngati-Vara tribe

page 28 years a generation, totals 125 years. The period of 125 years added to 1777 gives the year 1900, in which Tauapepe, the second, lived as a young adult. The period of occupation from Papaaunuku to the year 1900, or thereabouts, is 16 generations to Vaevae through Raumea (7th generation) and 14 generations to Tauapepe through the younger brother Ikoke (7th generation).

A genealogy (Table 4) obtained from Akeakore gives his male descent in the Akatauira tribe. It is not so convincing, for there is repetition of names and the wives of the earlier generations are not remembered.

Through a sister of Akaeakore the genealogy in Table 4 works out at 16 generations to 1900. Of the number of Ngati-Vara pedigrees examined, none exceeded 16 generations. Allowing 25 years to a generation, the period of occupation to 1900 is only 400 years. Even allowing an extra 50 years for good measure, the date of the first settlement is only put back from the year 1500 to 1450. Gill (7, pp. 24, 25), using lists of priests, not pedigrees, figures the period of occupation in Mangaia at 450 years. Though he does not say from what date the 450 years are to be taken, it is obvious that, as the offices of the priests were abolished by the acceptance of Christianity, they must be referred to about the same date as in Rarotonga.

Between the settlement of Rangi on Mangaia and the time of Tangiia on Rarotonga there is a gap of 200 years. Gill (10, p. 627), in attempting to settle the length of occupation of Rarotonga and Mangaia, states that when the missionary, John Williams, landed in Rarotonga in 1823, Makea Pori was the 29th of his family. Gill points out, however, that as collaterals had ruled, there had been, strictly speaking, only 24 Makeas in direct lineal descent from the first Makea Karika (contemporary of Tangiia) to Makea Pori. He allowed 25 years to each Makea, which indicates a period of occupation of 600 years (or possibly 625) to 1823 in Rarotonga. This places Makea Karika's advent in Rarotonga somewhere between the years 1200 and 1223. Smith (19, p. 234), working with other pedigrees, places Tangiia in the 26th generation from 1900. As he also uses 25 years to a generation, the period covered is 650 years, and Tangiia is placed in Rarotonga in about 1250. These dates are close enough for practical purposes. They throw light on the history of Mangaia, whose records state that Tangiia of Raro-tonga and Rangi of Mangaia were contemporaries.