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Samoan Material Culture

Tern Netting

Tern Netting

The tern (ngongo) was caught in a net similar to the pigeon net on the edges of the high cliffs along the south coast of Savaii and the method of netting was termed seu ngongo.

Decoys. Trained decoy terns were used. The Samata people held that only white ones were used. Schultz (28) in quoting the saying, "Tavai manu uli," says that black decoys were used as well. They did not have the status of the white birds owing to their defeat by the funga fish in the battle of the birds with the fish. The decoys were given the fluid from drinking coconuts but if there was a shortage of nuts, the white bird was given coconut and the black bird ordinary water.

Method. The fowler sat naked without an eyeshade in a clear space near the cliff edge with his net on the ground before him. The decoy (maunu) had a string about two fathoms long tied to its leg and it flew about to attract the tern. As the tern came up over the cliff edge, the fowler caught it with his net.

When the tern is caught, it cries out "A." In the discussions of men, talk must be indulged in first before a decision is arrived at. Metaphorically, when a decision has been reached, the ngongo is caught and cries out "A." Hence the saying, "'Ua fafunga le A pei o le faiva o seu ngongo" (The A has been arrived at as in the sport of netting tern.)