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Mangaian Society

Rarotongan Invasion

Rarotongan Invasion

Evidently after Rangi's death but while Papaaunuku, the first priest of Motoro, was still alive, a fleet of double canoes containing 200 warriors led by Kateateoru arrived from Rarotonga. They landed on the west coast at a place named Avarua after the place in their own island from which they came. They lived peacefully at first but later killed a man named Tepuvai, who Gill (12, p. 34) states was the third king of Mangaia. The name does not appear in any of the lists of "kings" given by Gill. The mythical element once more appears in the story of Moke (12, pp. 32-38):

page 40

Moke was the illegitimate son of Tavare, who slept between the months corresponding to July (Pipiri) and February. He was born at Ukuroi in one of the sequestered valleys and was swept by a freshet into Lake Tiriara and the subterranean passage under the makatea by which Tiriara flows through to the sea. Tumu-te-ana-oa, the personification of echoes, reared him and. finally allowed him to drift out into the sea. His mother Tavare, happening to be on the reef in her wakeful period, saved him and brought him up on fish and other food until he became a giant 60 feet high. Moke, under the guise of friendship, led the Rarotongans into an ambuscade in a taro swamp in the Tamarua district. Twenty Mangaians were killed, but all the Rarotongans perished except their leader, Kateateoru, who was allowed to escape to carry back the fame of Moke to his own land.

Kateateoru reached Rarotonga alone in a double canoe and fitted out a second expedition. Among the warriors was Te-ua-o-pokere, a giant only 30 feet high. Moke built a fortification of rough stones on the hill opposite the Avarua landing place. He cleared the hillside and lopped off the undergrowth to the height of ordinary men. The stumps he dressed up with cloth to look like men of an army with spears poised in their hands. The Rarotongan fleet duly appeared, guided to the landing place by Kateateoru. The appearance of the huge army reinforced by men moving about deceived the Rarotongans and made them hesitate to land. Meanwhile Moke, who had submerged himself in the sea outside the reef, emerged and stepped onto the reef. The sight of his gigantic form caused terror, and the fleet turned and sailed straight back to Rarotonga. Moke threw some pieces of rock at them which fell on the reef. They are still pointed out as Moke's missiles and, according to Gill (12, p. 37), weigh about 20 tons each. "Moke is said to have charged Amu, the fourth king, to dispatch all strangers on landing."

Moke figures as the third virtual Lord of Mangaia, and Amu comes third on the list of Rulers of Food. The battle in the Tamarua district was termed Raumatangi and is the fourth on the Mangaian battle list (Table 5).

Although outsiders were supposed to be killed on landing, a later story (12, pp. 39-44) shows that a Rarotongan chief named Tairi-te-rangi came to Mangaia to pay unsuccessful court to Matakore, the daughter of Te-aio, the fifth recognized Lord of Mangaia. One Akatea-ariki of Atiu subsequently came to Mangaia in search of his father's twin kites which had blown away on a south wind.

Akatea-ariki married Matakore after having ingratiated himself in her favor by singing a song concerning the two kites. On returning, however, to Atiu with his bride, he met Tairi-te-rangi at sea, returning again to sue for the hand of Matakore. When Tairi-te-rangi saw that another had been successful, a fight ensued. The husband and wife and most of the crew were slain. Tairi-te-rangi returned to Rarotonga with the body of Matakore, which was treated with oil and kept in a marae. The members of the crew who were spared returned to Mangaia. Pukenga, an uncle of Matakore, made an expedition to Rarotonga, slew Tairi-te-rangi, and succeeded in carrying off the body of his niece.

This story shows definite communication between Rarotonga and Mangaia. In Aitutaki, however, a different story is told (23, p. 351). Tairi-te-rangi is said to be a giant from Mangaia who was slain by Pukenga, a native of Aitutaki disguised as a woman, with a sharp-pointed ironwood thatching needle concealed in a fan composed of a bunch of ti leaves. The Mangaian story is more likely, as Tairi-te-rangi is a well-known Rarotongan name.