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Mangaian Society



The Magaians divide the land into three classes, the puna, the rau-tu-anu'e, and the rau-tuitui.

The puna lands comprise the low-lying region between the inland wall of the makatea and the slopes of the central mountain. They are referred to by Marshall as the "taro flats" (16, p. 35). At the makatea boundary the land is swampy. On the mountain side the boundary is irregular, owing to the varying width of the valleys. Wherever the valleys are wide enough to permit terraced cultivation, the land is included in the puna class. The taro supply of the island is grown in the puna by means of terraced irrigation.

The rau-tuanu'e derives its name from the awu'e fern which clothes the volcanic slopes and sides of the narrow valleys. Strictly speaking, the rau-tu-anu'e includes the area between the puna and the raised ridge of Rangimotia, but practically it refers to the narrow upland valleys. The valleys (vao) contain forest growth including the nono (Morinda citrifolia), the fruit of which is eaten in times of dearth. Along the sides of the small streams are narrow patches of fertile soil in which taro is grown. The area of such soil is small, but the taro produced is good in quality. A drought might cause page 126the taro swamps in the puna to dry up, but the narrow streams would probably still contain enough water to irrigate the small taro patches of the rau-tu-anu'e.

The rau-tuitui denotes the makatea area. The name is derived from the candlenut tree (tuitui), which grows plentifully on the makatea and supplies food in time of want. The old channels and hollows where soil has been deposited, termed puta ka 'atu (holes in the rock), are of value in the cultivation of the sweet potato and paper mulberry.

After a battle the puna lands were divided up among the victors. The conquered were relegated to the rau-tu-anu'e and the rau-tuitui. The term puna, as applied to a district, includes a portion of upland valleys and makatea, but in speaking of classes of land as a form of property puna is restricted to the taro flats. Similarly, rau-tu-anu'e is used instead of vao, and rau-tuitui instead of makatea.

The high central land which produces no food is referred to as the maunga (mountain).