Ethnology of Tongareva
Fish nets were made of two-ply twisted sennit fibre (hau ato), but commercial twine has now completely superseded sennit. A netting needle (ta) and a mesh gage (mata) were said to have been used. As ta is the widespread Polynesian verb meaning to make a net, and as mata is the mesh, the lack of specific terms indicates that special implements were not used. Lamont (15), however, saw the toto hand net in use, so there is no doubt that the netting technique was known. The knot is the same as that in Rarotonga, New Zealand, and Samoa (29, p. 471). The small meshes are termed mata hiohio, and the large ones, mata tua nunui. Four types of net were described:
1. Ordinary hand net (toto). The toto was the commonest net. It had an oval frame made of two thin pieces of wood tied together at either end and with a crossbar tied across a few inches from the thicker end to spread the frame out into oval form. A bag net was made, a circumferential two-ply cord was run through the circumferential meshes, and another cord was run spirally around the circumferential cord and the oval frame to keep them together. The net was used to scoop up fish in sweeps and drives. It was also set in the channels where fish were driven into it.
2. Fine meshed scoop net (sema). The sema had a finer mesh than the toto, but otherwise was similar.
3. Bag net (takeke). The takeke was a bag net without a wooden frame but with ropes attached to it to keep the mouth stretched and open. It was set on the bottom of the lagoon on one side, with the opening in vertical position. Stones were set on the part of the net opening that lay on the bottom.
4. Baited net (taka). The taka was a bag net with a hoop of ngagie around the opening. A line was attached to the hoop, and the net was baited. It was lowered with the line, and fish such as kohiri were caught by drawing the line up quickly when the fish were felt biting at the bait.
A flying fish net with a long handle similar to that used in the Cook Islands (28, p. 288) is now also used in Tongareva. As the aroaro drive method of catching flying fish was recognized, it seems probable that the present form of flying fish scoop net has been introduced in post-European times. The flying fish net seen had two crossbars across the frame at the handle end.