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Mangaian Society

Temporal Lord

Temporal Lord

The supreme temporal power (mangaia) was held, not by a hereditary successor, but by the leader supreme on the field of battle who became what Gill (12, p. 308) terms "victor and consequent real 'Lord of Mangaia.'" When the victorious party was not dominated by one personality the leading warriors decided which of them should hold the position of Temporal Lord.

The installation of the Lord of Mangaia was preceded by six distinct processions around the island by the victorious party which are described by Gill (6, pp. 294, 295) substantially as follows:

In the first procession the victorious party went fully armed to assert their supremacy and challenge opposition. Anyone, regardless of age or sex, who crossed their path, was killed. The subsequent processions were peaceful and intended to demonstrate that peace was about to dawn oil the land. At the end of one circuit, a number of second-rate wooden weapons, modeled after the various types in use, were broken against the trunk of a large chestnut tree growing near the inland marae of Akaoro. The breaking of spears denoted the ending of war. During another circuit, all the principal maraes of the island were visited and a forked stick (toko) was set up in each. This signified that the principal chiefs of each district would act as a toko (support) of the new rule. Small houses, termed 'are ei 'au (house for conserving peace), about 6 feet long, were erected on all the maraes. The gods were thus provided with a well-thatched house which shut out wind and rain, signifying war and bloodshed. All the tribal gods having been pacified, the great national god of war, Rongo, remained to be propitiated with a human sacrifice.

The human sacrifice (p. 179) was exposed first on the inland marae of Akaoro and later taken to the shore marae of Orongo.

The Shore High Priest cut off the ears of the victim with a bamboo knife. The right ear represented the land districts on the right or southern side of the island. It was cut up into sections representing each subdistrict on that side. The left ear, representing the left or northern side of the island, was dealt with similarly. The priest asked who held the mangaia and the person agreed upon stood up, saying, "Ei aku te mangaia" (I have the mangaia). The appointment was confirmed by the silence of the assembled chiefs. The Temporal Lord sat down without receiving any portion of the ears. The names of the district and subdistrict chiefs were then called in order, commencing with the head of the fish of Rongo on the right (Tamarua) and ending with the head of the fish of Rongo on the left (Ivirua). The order was the same as in the ceremonial distribution of food (p. 139) Each of the chiefs so named then received a portion of the ears, wrapped in a ti leaf according to Gill (6, p. 297), but according to my informants pinned to a tamanu leaf. The Temporal Lord, whose name was called out again as head of a land district, received a share in that capacity and was served first. The portions of the human sacrifice to Rongo formed the letters patent to office. The pieces were deposited on the various tribal maraes and later buried in the subdistricts they represented.

The presentation of the piece of human ears was followed by a feast to the warriors and chiefs. At this feast the Ruler of Food presided and the. shares were called in ceremonial order.

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The drum of peace was then sounded by the official drummer, whose position was hereditary. His relations assisted in increasing the volume of sound by playing on smaller drums. The high priests of Rongo headed a procession and recited an incantation for peace. At certain parts, the male members of the priestly families joined in a chorus while the drums kept time. A seventh circuit of the island was made, the ceremonies being repeated at the maraes in each district. The drum of peace announced that the rule of the Temporal Lord was properly inaugurated and all fugitives in hiding could emerge in safety. After the sounding of the drum, no blood was to be shed.

On the termination of a campaign the lands of the conquered were forfeited to the victors. The Temporal Lord was thus enabled to reward the leading warriors who had supported him by giving them positions of authority over districts and subdistricts. The position of Temporal Lord carried no land with it. In order to share in the material benefits of conquest, the Temporal Lord took authority over a district and subdistrict as well. In the earlier period of Mangaian society the conquerors simply took the lands of the conquered. The development of ceremonial, however, necessitated the public naming of the various officeholders during the installation of the Temporal Lord on the marae. It is probable, therefore, that powerful chiefs of neutral tribes who had not been involved in a war were not disturbed in their territorial holdings, but were confirmed in them at the marae ceremony. Owing to the practical extinction of the Tongaiti and its subtribes and the loss of influence of the Ngariki, Pangemiro, by defeating the Ngata-Vara, was able to award all the district and subdistrict positions to the combined tribes of Manaune and Ngati-Tane.

Gill (12, p. 376) states that after the accession of a new chief the wise men ('are korero) charged him to rule well. Two of the phrases used are: "Aua ei vu'u te rango" (Let not the flies [the serfs] be swept away), and "Aua ei nga'ae te rauika" (Let not the banana be split). The banana leaf symbolized the state, which was not to be rent by internal discord.

Mautara's reign as Temporal Lord (te 'au 0 Mautara) of about 25 years is the longest on record. The reign of Potiki was 20 years, but most of the reigns were comparatively short. Gill (6, p. 300) states that the coral tree (Erythrina coralodendron), which has blood-red flowers, was planted in the valleys in token of peace. Coconut trees were also planted. It is stated that the only Temporal Lords under whom peace lasted long enough for the planted coconuts to bear were Tuanui, Mautara, Ngara, Potiki, and Pangemiro.

The Temporal Lord made a visit of state to any district where trouble was brewing. After the feast in his honor, he exhorted the local chief to page 124support his rule by preserving peace. He asked them to prop up his rule, not with rotten sticks, but with ironwood. Referring to the coconuts he had planted, he begged them to let the coconut palms grow tall and not to fell them. The tall palm, which bore fruit, symbolized a long reign of peace (12, p. 376). The maintenance of peace was of paramount importance to the ruling Temporal Lord, for with the shedding of blood his reign automatically ended.