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Mangaian Society

Chief of the Makatea

Chief of the Makatea

A curious position, Chief of the Makatea, was created in the time of Atatoa.

According to the Ngati-Vara version, Atatoa, after being mortally wounded by a section of Ngati-Vara under Kaunio, was succored by another section of Ngati-Vara, though too late to save his life. Atatoa was a high chief of the Keia district. To requite the assistance of the friendly section of Ngati-Vara, Atatoa on his deathbed gave one of them, Kapua, the authority over the makatea of the Keia district. This action was followed by Veitatei and other districts so that all the makatea surrounding Mangaia was placed under Kapua, making him the Chief of the Makatea (te ariki o te makatea).

The office descended in the Ngati-Vara, who by the last battles fought on Mangaia became associated with the makatea without hope of regaining chieftainship over the puna lands. The position was subsequently held by Mamae and passed to his son Aiteina, who retains a share of Ngati-Vara land in the district of Veitatei. In connection with this district, Aiteina has a special share of food at feasts and the official call is "Te 'ui rangatira no Ka'u-mata!" (The assembly of chiefs from Kau-mata!) He has no tapere in the district, but the land over which he rules is the makatea and the mountain, the land of the conquered. He holds the office given to Kapua, but the relationship between Kapua and Kau-mata was not made clear to me.