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Mangaian Society

Recovery and Fall of the Ngati-tane

Recovery and Fall of the Ngati-tane

The Ngati-Tane were not all exterminated by Matataukiu at Te-ana-nui. Those who were fortunate enough not to have slept in the cave on the night of the attack were allowed to live on in the district of Ivirua. They would not, however, have become of significance numerically had it not been for the advent of six canoes from Tahiti. The newcomers were all worshipers of the god Tane. They spread over Putoa and the district of Ivirua. It is extremely likely that Vairanga, Kaki, and Mataroi came with this second wave instead of with the first settlers in the time of Rangi. The newcomers and the remnants of the original Ngati-Tane joined together and grouped themselves under the name Aitu or Ngati-Tane. Evidently Tane-ngaki-au, the warrior who assisted Rangi against the Tongaiti, was given a chieftainship over Ivirua and was not only deified by his descendants of the first wave but was accepted by the second wave as one of the forms of Tane. page 45The later comers were probably influenced by the fact that Tane-ngaki-au had had local power and prestige. By accepting him, they became associated with a settlement that had preceded their own date of coming.

A leader named Pauteanua set about erecting a marae to Tane-ngaki-au. The site selected was on a low ridge just before it ran out into the low land at the base of the makatea wall in the subdistrict now known as Te-pauru-o-Rongo in the Ivirua district. The boundaries of the marae are still sharply defined by basaltic rocks firmly embedded in the ground. It is a long, narrow rectangle, the greatest length running with the line of the ridge. Measurement showed a width of 32 feet and a length of 114.5 feet on one side and 118.5 feet on the other, figures somewhat larger than those given by Gill (12, p. 50). The Mangaian marae, after having the sides and ends defined, was filled in with earth to form a low rectangular raised platform. Pauteanua, however, decided to make his marae famous by filling it in with human heads. From the account by Gill (12, pp. 49-53) it appears that

… to accomplish this object, Ngati-Tane sent out raiding parties in the evening which attacked the scattered families of the other tribes, usually while they were assembled at their evening meal. Whole families were killed and their heads carried off to form the filling for the marae. No official war was declared against any particular tribe, but the raids were conducted against individual families of any tribe. A period of terror set in. Families ate their evening meal before sunset and then hid to avoid being taken by surprise. The saying spread from family to family, "Hasten our meal or the Aitu will be upon us bringing terror and death." The marae was filled in with human heads, leveled over with earth, and covered with a layer of sea gravel. It was named Maputu and dedicated to Tane-ngaki-au.

It is curious that there were no immediate reprisals on the part of the Ngariki and other tribes upon whom the capital levies had been made. Possibly there was no outstanding warrior at the time whose family had suffered. Tirango, the great warrior of the Tongaiti, was alive, but as the Tongaiti territory was in the south the Ngati-Tane raids may not have reached that far. Raids on the Ngariki would be no concern of the Tongaiti, who would be pleased at the incursions upon them.

The Ngati-Tane were probably very strong at this time. Near the Maputu marae is a marae named Taumatini which was also erected by Pauteanua to Tane-ngaki-au. Most likely, this marae was built before Maputu and served the purposes of the Ngati-Tane until their growing strength convinced them that they could wipe off old scores with their enemies by a series of raids. The building of Maputu was an excuse to enable them to carry out their plan of revenge and at the same time to add to their prestige.

Reprisals against the Ngati-Tane did not take place until some time after the building of Maputu. A treacherous scheme was devised by Ungakute, a chief of Ngariki. Taro is scarce in the dry season (July to December), when the main food is the flesh of the mature coconut and wild yams. It page 46was customary, during this time of scarcity, to cook the underground stems of the ti (Cordyline terminalis) in large ovens. Families within the tribe combined to make one large oven in which the marked bundles of the various families were cooked. Ungakute sent out invitations to a large oven (umuti) for all Mangaia. The oven was dug in the Ivirua district in the midst of the homesteads of the Ngati-Tane, so that the home tribe would all be present. The oven was dug and prepared by the Ngati-Tane; according to Gill (12, p. 52), they were the proper party, descended from Tane-papa-kai (Tane-piler-up-of-food) under whom all other Tanes were grouped.

A huge oven was dug. It took a correspondingly large quantity of firewood to heat the huge basaltic stones placed on the fire. When the stones in the fiery furnace were red hot, the unburnt wood was ejected with long, forked poles of green wood. The stones were also pushed and pulled into position with the poles to form an even floor for the cooking of the ti root bundles. The stones being heated, the Ngati-Tane stood by with their poles to commence the leveling (uru) when the word of command should be given by Ungakute. The command had been arranged by the plotters as a signal of another nature. When Ungakute shouted, "Ka uru te umu" (Let the stones be leveled), each Ngati-Tane found himself seized by a neighbor of another tribe and hurled into the glowing pit. The plotters seized the pointed ironwood sticks used for digging the oven and, with them, beat back any who attempted to crawl out. Of the Ngati-Tane, only those who were absent from the gathering escaped death. This massacre is referred to historically as the "first oven" at Tutaeuu, Putoa. It was regarded as a battle and, as Ungakute was the leader, he was officially recognized as the War Lord of Mangaia. The women of Ngati-Tane fled to the mountain and makatea, but after the peace drum was sounded in honor of Ungakute's supremacy they returned in safety.

Some time after the first oven, a priest of Tane named Ue arrived in a double canoe from the eastern side of Taiarapu in Tahiti. An incident involving his contemporary, Marouna, is derived from Aitutaki sources.

The god of Ue was Tane-kio, and Ue set up a marae to him at Maungaroa on the southeastern side of the island. The older Ngati-Tane survivors, who worshipped Tane-ngaki-au, would not have anything to do with Tane-kio, and Ue was pushed out of the inhabited territory to the barren coast. Ue decided to leave the inhospitable island. A friend named Mataroi, belonging to the second migration of Ngati-Tane and celebrated for his skill in making stone adzes, accompanied him. They crossed the island to its western side where Ue erected another marae to Tane-kio and where a spring is still named after him.

Gill (12, p. 62) states that at this time the warrior Marouna arrived from Rarotonga seeking warriors to assist him in succoring his maternal grandfather, Tama-eva, high chief of Aitutaki, from the dominance of invaders who were over-running Aitutaki. Ue and Marouna fought together, but, being evenly matched, they made peace and became friends. Ue accompanied Marouna to Aitutaki, where, after a successful campaign, he settled down and became the progenitor of a tribe. The Mangaian story ends when Ue and Mataroi leave Mangaia.

The advent of Ue occurred, according to Gill (12, p. 56), between the two ovens that consumed the Ngati-Tane and the period of Te Rau, the third priest of Motoro. Ue, Marouna, and Te Rau were contemporaries. An Aitu-takian pedigree of Marouna (Table 7), gathered in Mauke, shows his descent from Tangiia of Rarotonga as follows:

page 47
Table 7.—Pedigree of Marouna

Table 7.—Pedigree of Marouna

The genealogy of Marouna did not run down to 1900 but, working down from Tangiia in the 26th generation, Marouna is placed in the 17th generation. Table 3 shows that his contemporary, Te Rau, if worked back from Vaevae in 1900, would be in the 14th generation. In the two genealogies there is thus a difference of three generations, which is approximate enough.

The Ngati-Tane recovered and increased in numbers. The Ngariki, however, still bore a grudge for Maputu. Kaveutu, now the leading chief of Ngariki, emulated the treachery of Ungakute by planning a second oven. The oven was prepared at Angaitu in the northern part of the island near the boundary line between the districts of Tavaenga and Karanga. With a lack of suspicion that is extraordinary, the Ngati-Tane again dug the oven. Gill (12, p. 54), who saw the site of the oven, says that it was quite round, 48 feet in diameter, and deep. History repeated itself, and almost all the Ngati-Tane, men, women, and children, were slain in the second oven. The second oven at Angaitu figures as the tenth battle, and Kaveutu of the Ngariki became Lord of Mangaia. Those who were known to have escaped were Te-punga (priest of Tane), Te-vaki, and Te-Ko. Some inconsistency is apparent, for Gill (12, p. 308) gives this as happening in the period of Te Rau, third priest of Motoro, and states that Te-Ko was the wife of the famous Mautara (12, p. 55). Mautara certainly married Te-Ko of Ngati-Tane, and Te-vaki was a contemporary of his. Mautara, however, was the great-grandson of Te Rau and became the sixth priest of Motoro. Both Te Vaki and Te Ko must have been very young at the second oven, or else the second oven occurred after Te Rau's term of office.

After the second oven, the Ngati-Tane were left with but two known males to continue the stock. Probably there were other Ngati-Tane of lesser note who survived.