Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

Mangaian Society

Relationship Terms

Relationship Terms

The relationship terms in Mangaia are similar to those in general use in Polynesia. Relations are classified into five strata which cover the range of generations from the grandparent to the grandchild of the speaker (Table 17).

Table 17—Relationship Terms
—2 Tupuna: Grandparents, granduncles, grandaunts; collateral granduncles and grandaunts.
—1 Metua: Parents, uncles, aunts, collaterals.
0 Tuakana, teina: Elder, younger, denotes seniority in the same sex, whether of one biological family, cousins, or distant collaterals.
Tungane, tua'ine: Brother of sister, sister of brother; also sex distinction between cousins or collaterals of same generation.
+1 Tamaiti: General term for child, nephews, nieces and collaterals.
Tamaroa: Son.
Tama'ine: Daughter.
Tama: Eldest son.
Ine: Eldest daughter.
+2 Mokopuna: Grandchildren, grandnephews, grandnieces, or grand-collaterals.

Relations are addressed by their personal names and not by the relationship terms, except occasionally. The five generations named cover all who are likely to be living at the same time, but the range may be increased by adding numerals to the limiting terms tupuna and mokopuna: the grandfather may be termed the tupuna mua (mua, "first"), the great-grandfather the tupuna rua (rua, "two"), the great-great-grandfather the tupuna toru (toru, "three"), and the great-great-great-grandfather the tupuna 'a ('a, "four"). This may be carried on indefinitely to indicate a relationship to some ancestor. Similarly, grandchildren may be mokopuna mua, great-grandchildren mokopuna rua, great-great grandchildren mokopuna toru., The terms include all collaterals of the same generation stratum.

All members of the Ngati-Vara are related to each other through the eponymous ancestor Vara; but to decide the relationship term to be used, the descent would be traced through Mautara or the most recent common ancestor. If one person was six generations removed from Mautara and page 100another was seven, the difference of one generation would indicate their relationship. The person who was one generation less removed would be metua to the other and the other correspondingly tamaiti to him. A difference of two generations would constitute the relationship of tupuna and mokopuna. The genealogical count may differ on different lines of descent. Usually the relationship from the nearer common ancestor of two is selected, whereas relationship from more remote ancestors is of academic interest. Each term covers a number of relations of varying degrees of consanguinity, but the exact degree of consanguinity is made clear by the family pedigree which is taught to all concerned. The classifying terms stress blood kinship and the unity of the tribe. (25, pp. 26-30).

The terms tupuna, metua, and mokopuna apply to both sexes, but sex may be indicated by adding the qualifying terms tane (male) and va'ine (female). The term tamaiti is common gender and refers merely to a child. Son and daughter are distinguished by the terms tamaroa and tama'ine. Brother and sister are distinguished in their relationship to each other. Thus tungane means the brother of a female but cannot apply to the brother of a male. Similarly, tua'ine is the sister of a male but not of a female.

The first-born is alluded to as the kiko mua (first flesh) and his descendants enjoy priority over the families of the younger brothers. The term tama means a son; but in Mangaia, it has become restricted to the first-born son, while 'ine is applied to a first-born daughter. Tama may be used as a term of respect to visitors, as it implies that the person spoken to has the prestige of a first-born son. Within the family, the terms tuakana and teina are used to denote seniority of birth, but their use is confined to members of the same sex. Thus the tama is tuakana to all his brothers, and they are all teina to him. His sisters, however, are not teina to him, but tua'ine. Any one of the other brothers is called tuakana to the brothers younger than himself and teina to those who are older. Similarly, the 'ine is tuakana to all her sisters and they are all teina to her. Her brothers, however, are tungane to her, irrespective of whether they are younger or older. The seniority terms, therefore, are not used between opposite sexes. The seniority terms tuakana and teina apply to cousins and more remote collaterals according to their descent from the older or younger children of the common ancestor.

Though seniority counted for much, junior lines could rise above their seniors in actual power within the tribe through the exercise of greater ability and leadership. When Mautara conquered the Ngariki tribe, he gave the office of Temporal Lord to his eldest son, Te Uanuku, who was the kiko mua. The descendants of Te Uanuku are still regarded as the kiko mua of Ngati-Vara, but the family of the third son, Ikoke, rose to greater prestige in the subsequent development of the tribe.

page 101

The terms indicating relationship through marriage covered three generation levels:

—1 Purunga: Father-or mother-in-law.
0 Taokete: Brother-or sister-in-law.
+ 1 'Unonga: Son-or daughter-in-law.

In addressing a brother-in-law the term taokete may be shortened to tao, as in Te Uanuku's historical greeting to his brother-in-law, Akatara.