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Ethnology of Tongareva

The Year

The Year

The year (mataiti) is divided into 12 months as follows:


Paroro mua


Paroro muri


Silinga mua


Silinga muri


Aitua mua


Aitua muri













It was stated that in the Paroro mua month the winds turn to the northwest and the west (Kua haere te matangi kia Turakipu e Matapare). The local people say that the northwest and west winds arrive in February. In both the Paroro months food grows (Ka tipu te kai). The names of the first two months resemble the Samoan months of Palolo mua and Palolo muli, both of which are based on the appearance of the palolo, sea worm (Nereis). In Tongareva, however, the sea worm is unknown. The names, therefore, appear to have been carried over from a region in which the sea page 216 worm had such a set time of appearance that it was of definite use in a calendar. The name of the last month, Serehu, appears in a chant.

Kua haiti au ki na ra kimi ai,
Tu mai va e—
Kua noho koe ki te upoko o na kainga kimi ai,
Tu mai va e—
Ko Serehu matua taku nohoranga.

I draw near to the days of searching,
O season stand—
You will remain at the head of the food lands, searching,
O season stand—
With father Serehu I will stay.

The people gathered at the marae of Tongariro to bid farewell to the old year and welcome the new year. They danced to the following song:

Ka tekiteki au,
Ka tekiteki koe,
Ka tekiteki karu,
Karu ai na po.
Kua riro te mataiti,
Tekiteki karu,
Karu ai na po.

I will dance,
Thou wilt dance,
Dance at the loosening,
The loosening of the nights.
The year has passed away,
Dance to the loosening,
The loosening of the nights.

The term tekiteki means to pass in procession by hopping on one foot and then on the other. The word karu means the loosening of a rope. The passing of the nights of the old year is thus figuratively referred to as the loosening of the rope that bound them together successively. My informant was unable to say when the new year commenced and what was the sign.