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Mangaian Society

Biological Family

Biological Family

The biological family consisting of the children of one pair of parents is alluded to as their 'anau (birth). Before giving the names, as in reciting a family pedigree, they may be termed te puke tamariki a — (the group of children of —). Male children are tamaroa (sons), and female children, tama'ine (daughters). The term puke may be applied to a family of boys (puke tamaroa) or girls (puke tama'ine). The eldest son is tama and the eldest daughter, 'ine.

The recognition of bilateral descent is seen in the custom of sharing children between the father's and mother's families. Patrilineal descent, to which the greater weight is attached, is described by the term tama tone, and matrilineal descent by tama va'ine. All the children of a biological family are tama tane to their father's family group or tribe and tama va'ine to their mother's group. Though tama tane literally means "male child," in the above usage it means "child of the male." Similarly tama va'ine means "child of the female." If the father belongs to the Ngati-Vara tribe and the mother to Ngati-Tane, every child is tama tane to Ngati-Vara and tama va'ine to Ngati-Tane.

The family is patrilocal. The wife leaves her father's household and comes to live with her husband in his house within his tribal territory or on land which has been allocated to him. The family thus shares all the teachings and traditions of the father's tribe as it grows up.

The blood tie of the children with the mother's tribe is less significant owing to remoteness of domicile. Yet under the custom of sharing children and of adoption, children might leave the father's home and be brought up by the mother's people in their territory. They became matrilineal, though not living with their mother. Forced to rely upon his wife, a husband of a defeated tribe who found himself destitute of land after peace was declared, domiciled his family upon the wife's share of land in her tribal territory. The family then became matrilocal.

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Within the patrilineal and patrilocal family, the authority of the husband and father was supreme. As a member of the tribe, he had a right to share in the cultivable land belonging to the tribe. His rights to land he in turn divided among his children so that the succession to land was also patrilineal. The mother, on the other hand, had a right to a share in her father's land, but when she married and left the tribal residence she could not take the land with her. In matrilocal residence, owing to the husband's being destitute, the mother as tama tone within her own tribe claimed a share of land upon which, to bring up her family. She was awarded a share of land "to feed her husband," but the land was hers; she could not transfer it to a person of another tribe, even her husband. The family then, besides being matrilocal, was also matripotestal.