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Mangaian Society



In addition to the right to land by the original sharing (tu'anga), families strengthened their rights by cultivating the field. With the increase of population the irrigation system was developed until all the suitable part of the puna lands were terraced into irrigated plots. All members of the tribe held shares, but the leading families acquired larger ones. The lands of the family were administered by the family head. So long as the tribe could maintain occupation, the land allotments of families passed by inheritance.

The frequency of intertribal wars, however, placed an increasing emphasis on individual valor as against hereditary chieftainship. The puna lands of the conquered became the sport of the victors, so that with each battle the land ownership changed. Land tenure came to depend on conquest, which obliterated the rights of previous occupation and cultivation. In the redivision of conquered land, the largest shares went to the principal warriors (too). The large landholders today claim the right to their lands through their warrior ancestors.

The loss of their puna lands led the conquered ('ao) to seek sustenance in the rau-tuitui and rau-tuanu'e lands. In the course of time it became recognized that the conquered had a right to these inferior lands and that, after peace, the conquerors should not interfere with their occupation of them. Hence, a dominant chief encroaching on the makatea was told by the conquered to return to his puna land: "E 'oki ki uta!" (Go back inland!) Similarly, a chief who advanced his cultivations into the narrow valleys of the rau-tuanu'e was told to return to the puna: "E 'oki ki miri!" (Go back behind you!) Public opinion was with the conquered, and the greedy chief was condemned. The conquered were entitled to the produce of their inferior lands, but they took presents to a dominant chief to ensure his protection. If the conquered tribe regained supremacy, they ceased to be 'ao and, by securing shares in the rich puna lands, they abandoned their previous holdings.

The conquered husband who worked on his wife's land was not subject page 130to eviction, because the land belonged to his wife. The conquered man who received a portion of taro land from a chief was in a different position. He was a serf to a master who demanded a share of the produce. If the serf annoyed his master, he was summarily evicted. The master notified him verbally or by planting his staff in the taro patch or by commencing to weed the sloping sides of the patch himself. The action denoted that the chief was about to take back his land.