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Ethnology of Tongareva

The Genealogical Record

The Genealogical Record

At the meetings of the Native Land Court at Omoka the genealogies of the island were collected to form the basis of the rights of the people to land. Every inhabitant claims descent from one of the three main lines of ancestry which, through intermarriage, have been fused. Table 2, which shows the three sources as they are traced in the family of Pa through twenty-six generations, illustrates the fusion that has taken place.

In generation 9 Mahuta and Taruia were both immigrants, but Takatu seems to have belonged to a previous migration. Taruia arrived in Tongareva before Mahuta. He came from Savaiki, from “na turuturu matua” (the large villages). He is stated to have built the marae at Tokerau and left two men there, one of whom jumped overboard and swam to Omoka when the canoe was leaving. Taruia himself did not remain at Tongareva but, according to the genealogy of Pa, one of the men who remained must have been Taruia's son, Titia. Taruia is said to have met Mahuta later and given him two men to guide him to Tongareva. An Aitutaki tradition states that Taruia was an ariki in the island, and he was deceived by Ruatapu into making a voyage around the islands. Subsequently, on discovering that Ruatapu had supplanted him in the position of ariki in Aitutaki, Taruia sailed off and eventually brought up at Mangarongaro. Mangarongaro, the name of one of the island divisions, is used by the Aitutakians to distinguish the Tongarevan atoll. It is further stated that some of the descendents of Taruia subsequently returned to Aitutaki. The Tongarevan version associates Taruia with Tokerau and stresses his leaving. He probably went to Tahiti, where he met Mahuta. The Rarotongan genealogies of Ruatapu would place the Aitutakian Taruia at an earlier period than that shown in the Tongarevan list (Table 2).

Mahuta is a historical character in Rakahangan traditions, and he lived on Rakahanga until domestic troubles caused him to leave. His first wife, Roriki, was from Rakahanga. Both she and her son, Puneke, were drowned at sea, but a daughter, Pokiroa, survived. According to the Tongarevan story, Mahuta went to Tahiti, where he married Hotio, the daughter of Tu-koropanga, a well known chief of that island. Mahuta. after learning of Tongareva from Taruia, set sail for it in his canoe, Waimea. The canoe was so large that the outrigger float struck against a rock well to the side of the western passage, by which he entered the lagoon. He settled down and his daughter, Pokiroa, married Purua. Mahuta built the marae of Punaruku on Te Puka, in which he was buried. The Tongarevans are descended not only from Pokiroa, Mahuta's daughter by his first wife, but from the children of page 18
Table 2. The Three Main Lines of Descent

Table 2. The Three Main Lines of Descent

page 19 his second wife, Hotio. Of Hotio's children, the eldest was a male named Pange. Although the closeness of Rakahanga to Tongareva makes direct communication seemingly easy, the traditional evidence of Mahuta's second marriage to the daughter of a Tahitian chief named Tu-koropanga supports the statement that Mahuta came to Tongareva via Tahiti. The names of Tu-te-koropanga and his wife, Rukutia, occur in Maori tradition relating to the period of occupation of the Society Islands. The same names are found in Hawaiian traditions in the form of 'Olopana and Lu'ukia. That this couple was known to the Tongarevan ancestors is evidenced in the names of the two adjoining islands on the north side of the lagoon, Koropanga and Rukutia. The Hawaiian ancestor, 'Olopana, came from Tahiti and the name occurs in Tahitian tradition as 'Oropa'a. Mahuta's father-in-law Tu-koropanga was married to Pouri and belongs to a later period than the Koropanga who was married to Rukutia. However, the association of the family name of Koropanga with Tahiti is sufficient evidence that Mahuta's route via Tahiti is probably correct.

The settlement period in Tongareva, as taken from the contemporaries Mahuta and Taruia to the year 1900, averages 18 generations. Taking the average number of years to a generation, adopted by the Polynesian Society as 25 years, the second settlement of Tongareva would have occurred in about the middle of the fifteenth century. This is fairly late, for genealogical evidence places the final settlement of New Zealand in the middle of the fourteenth century and the settlement of Rarotonga by Tangiia in about the middle of the thirteenth century. If, however, the Taruia of the traditions of Aitutaki and of Tongareva was the same person, the second settlement in Tongareva must be put back a century earlier, for Ruatapu, the contemporary of Taruia of Aitutaki, would be assigned to that date by genealogies of both New Zealand and Rarotonga.

The line which gives the descent from Purua, husband of Mahuta's daughter, goes back to the primary nature parents, Atea and Hakahotu. In answer to my inquiry as to which of Purua's ancestors first arrived on Tongareva and what the name of his canoe was I was told that there was no canoe because the Purua line had been on Tongareva from the time of the creation. It was emphatically held that Purua belonged to the soil and had no connection with the Taruia expedition. Thus there is evidence of an earlier migration, the details of which have been forgotten or overlaid by the Mahuta tradition. Working backward, Takatu, the father of Purua, is the genealogical contemporary of Mahuta and Taruia. From Takatu to the mythical Atea and Hakahotu, the genealogical table records but six generations. The shortness of this line is accentuated by comparison with Mahuta's genealogy, which goes back to Iki, and contains eight generations or two more without reach- page 20 ing the mythical period. The migrational period of the Purua line is thus not only lacking in historical detail but shortened out of scholastic acceptance by being linked with the primary nature parents, Atea and Hakahotu, sometime around the period when Tangiia settled in Rarotonga. One of the Rarotongan genealogical tables contains no less than 68 generations from the period of Tangiia back to Atea. The discrepancy indicates a serious loss of scholarship in the Tongarevan tradition, which in itself is extremely valuable information concerning the events of some of the minor migrations. The absence of historical detail, combined with a mutilated pedigree, may indicate that the first settlers were without an educated priesthood and that the discovery of the atoll may have been made by chance by a small group of people who made the best of the fragments they remembered. The Taruia expedition was exploratory. The Mahuta expedition, with known data concerning the geographical location of the atoll, was a definite voyage for settlement, as is brought out by the tradition of introducing the coconut and the Pandanus, the marriage alliance with the people already there, and the history of permanent occupation. Other islands have a similar history of an earlier settlement followed by the arrival of settlers with more dominant chiefs from 'Avaiki (Tahiti).

During the 18 generations from the time of Mahuta the people multiplied and the three lines were connected by intermarriages. They spread over the habitable islands and planted the coconut wherever they went. They built their religious inclosures (maraes) and houses and made the most of the material which their environment provided. The foundations of their culture had been laid in other lands, but their environment, with its meager natural resources, exerted its influence on adaptation and adjustment in a flat island.

The importance attached to blood relationship is shown by the care given to the preservation of family pedigrees. The genealogies prove the blood kinship and the derivation from common ancestors. The older men were accustomed to recite a preliminary introduction to the genealogy. One recited by Tupou Isaia at the Land Court reads as follows:

1. Teia te titi te hanange nei,
Teia te hohoke te hanange nei,
Uruanga te kakau o te kite nei,
Uruanga te tamasi mate.
Kete onoono, kete matakitaki,
Pu aso kura, pua kau marama,
Soro mai ra.

2. Tatai roa ki na tupenaki o te rangi matua
Tatai roa ki te tau o Atea.
Tapekahia kia mau
Kia mau te serenga
Kia mau te napenga
Kia mau.

2. The descent goes back to the very regions of the heavens,
The descent goes back to the line of Atea.
Bind it to hold firmly,
Let the tying be firm,
Let the knotting be firm,
That it hold.

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3. Tauria atu ra ki na tupenaki o te rangi matua,
Koi te rau mata kakã,
Koi te sau kakatonga ia Itu-ma-eva,
Koi te tini o Rava-tangi-sere
Koi te hanaunga a Iki,
Koi te aoanga a Atea ma Hakahotu.

From the family of Iki,
From the creation of Atea and Hakahotu.

This introduction contains so many archaic words that I was unable to get a literal translation. The general meaning in its application, however, can be understood. In the first stanza the reciter indicates the sources from which the knowledge of the person's pedigree is derived and ends with “Soro mai ra” (emerge from thence). The second stanza deals with the necessity for preserving the lines of descent. The third stanza again indicates the sources of descent and the last two lines mention the descent from Iki (ancestor of Mahuta) and the primary parents Atea and Hakahotu.

The introductory recitation is termed a tau or tauranga. It is usual to have one for each main line of descent. The one already given introduces the descent from Atea and Hakahotu through Mahuta's first wife, Roriki, whose daughter, Pokiroa, married Purua, the descendant of Atea and Hakahotu. A tauranga copied from a Tongarevan manuscript is attributed to Pouri, wife of Tukoropanga and mother of Mahuta's second wife, Hotio. Before commencing a genealogy through Pange or the other children of Hotio it was correct to recite the following:

Na Tangi-tuai, na Kahuruhuru, na Pokaiatu, na Tiakura, na Kura-tata. I taka ki ko ra, i taka ki konei ra. Na Akaiti mai, na Perai atu; naku, naku te mea o te po, naku naku te mea o te ao, te mea o te Kaumarama, te anga siri marie, te rangi taupe, te rangi tau, te maea, te makita—tina, karoa, tiakura.

An exact translation could not be found. The first proper names evidently form a list of ancestors who probably belonged to the home land of Hotio, that is Tahiti. The reciter goes on to say, “It falls there, it falls here,” referring to the line of descent. “Mine, mine, are the things of the night, mine, mine, are the things of the day” refers to the fact that everything is clear to the reciter. He concludes with mystic words of knowledge which prove his contention. The reader, like the hearer, has to take the assertion for granted, as the very fact that such introductions are used shows that the person who used them had been well taught. That the meaning of words may be forgotten does not in any way detract from their value in an orthodox commencement. The reciter experiences pleasure and satisfaction in making the correct opening and his hearers are influenced by the mere sound of the words to regard him not only as a scholar, but to accept the veracity of the pedigree that he subsequently unfolds.

Some of the tau have been composed for a particular line such as that page 22 of the high chief, Poaru, which commences with, “Tautaitini, Tautaitini, ko te tini o Atea” (Myriads, myriads, it is the myriad of Atea). Then follows a list of names: Rangiatea, Haitonga, Rehua, Matanui, Rorangi, Arotoki, Kaniu, Te Tau, Te Toronaki, Te Tapinga, Tangiruru, Te Isu, Te Taringa, Te Murimuringa, Tauaepuke, Tuarea, Te Matekaipo, and Maurirua and his younger brother, Tekeputa. The line then follows down from Maurirua. From Rangiatea to Maurirua there are 18 generations which with another 10 on to Poaru make 28. As Poaru, in another line of descent, is only 9 generations from Mahuta, the. tau carries Poaru's line back for 19 generations beyond Mahuta's period. However, as the words Te Isu (nose) and Te Taringa (ear) occur in the list, it is likely that all the names are not those of real persons, but rather are fragments of forgotten lore that are recited in genealogical form to add dignity and length to the introductory chant.

The genealogist may preface his recital with the words, “Ko te hakatupuanga teia i te katirianga tangata o Raroranga, Tongareva” (This is the growth of the human lines of descent of Raroranga, Tongareva). Increase in population is tupuanga or hakatupuanga—words derived from tupu, to grow. A line of descent is katiri or katirianga; and, as growth and descent are not confined to human beings, it is qualified by tangata (human) to indicate clearly that human growth and increase are being dealt with. A genealogical term applied to descendants is tira, as in the phrase, “Te tupuanga teia o te tira o Mahuta” (This is the growth of the descendants of Mahuta). In dealing with the complete genealogical line the scholarly reciter will run down through the mythical period if it has not been included in the set form of introduction used. On reaching the names which are known to be human the father and mother may be given with such a qualifying phrase: “Noho atu Purua ia Pokiroa, te tamahine a Mahuta; kua hanau mai ko Te Vaihakatupua” (Purua stayed with Pokiroa, the daughter of Mahuta; there was born Te Vaihakatupua). The term noho (to stay or remain with) is used to indicate what is understood by marriage. If the reciter is concerned solely with his own descent, he will mention the one offspring of each marriage that concerns him. The other brothers or sisters are the concern of those who are descended from them and are left for them to trace down. If, however, he is required to expound his knowledge as an expert, he will recite the names of all the children of each marriage together with their sex, and he will then repeat the name of his particular ancestor, the person married, and all of their children. If the ancestor had more than one wife, the wives and offspring in the order of marriage will be enumerated. In denoting sex. the following terms are used:

  • Tamaiti: male child

  • Tamahine: female child

    page 23
  • Tuangane: brother of a female

  • Tuahine: sister of a male child

  • Teina: younger brother of a male

  • Teina: younger sister of a female

  • Tane: male, husband

  • Wahine: female, wife

If there is only one child to the marriage the male sex is indicated by adding e tane (a male) to the proper name, or tamaiti may be used; if a female, tamahine is used, but wahine may be used. Usually the main lines of descent are so well known that the reciter does not specify the sex of single births. When two children are named the form of recital indicates the sex of the second if it differs from that of the first. Thus, “Anau mai ko Sinatae ma te tuahine to Sikira” is literally, “Born were Sinatae and his sister Sikara.” The use of the term tuahine indicates that Sikira is a female and sister to Sinatae, who is therefore a male. If the first born is a female the term tuangane is applied to the second name: “Anau mai ko Tiakura ma te tuangane ko Arenikau” (Born were Tiakura and her brother Arenikau). If the first born had more than one brother, as Tiakura had, the plural, mana, must be prefixed to tuangane instead of the singular, ma te, as in “Anau mai ko Tiakura mana tuangane ko Arenikau ko Maurisare” (Born were Tiakura and her brothers Arenikau, Maurisare). The grammatical construction of mana is ma (and) and na (the plural form of the definite article te, meaning “the,” and corresponding to the nga of other dialects). The term tuahine may thus be translated literally “his sister”; and tuangane, “her brother.” When the two offspring are of one sex, the term teina is used: “Anau mai ko Matakunui ma te teina ko Takikava” (Born were Matakunui and Takikava, who was younger and of the same sex). The term teina indicates that the person to whom it is applied is of later birth and of the same sex as the person first named, but there is nothing in the word itself to indicate the sex. It is well known throughout Tongareva that Matakunui was a male, and that Takikava was, therefore, his younger brother. The stranger from outside would have to ask what the sex of Matakunui was, when the position would be made clear. The same word, teina, is applied to the younger of two sisters, and again the sex of the elder must be asked for by the ignorant. In a careful recital the sex which is not clear in the term teina may be cleared up by indicating the sex in the subsequent marriage which follows as a matter of course in a genealogical recital. Thus the sex of both Matakunui and Takikava is cleared up when the genealogist goes on to say, “Noho atu Matakunui i te wahine ia Hakarere” (Matakunui married a wife, Hakarere). The sex of the female teina is also cleared up by the subsequent marriage as “Noho atu Hakau i te tane ia Apikara” (Hakau married a husband, Apikara). The use of the relationship terms also indicates the sex quite clearly where more than two are involved, thus: page 24 “Kua puta ko Hakau mana teina ko Kikauae mana tuangane ko Mahuta” (There came forth Hakau and a younger of the same sex [named] Kikauae and her brother, Mahuta). Here teina shows that Kikauae is of the same sex as Hakau, but the sex is not indicated until the term tuangane is applied to Mahuta. The general term for birth is hanau, but in the above quotation puta (to come forth or emerge from within) is used as an alternative term. Some genealogists, when enumerating a large family of which the first born is a male, will recite all the males in order of birth and then the females in order of birth, though some of the females may have preceded some of the males.

The terms tupuanga and katiri are applied to the general genealogy, but a particular line of descent from a specified ancestor is termed ara (a path). Matakunui and his wife, Hakarere, had seven sons and three daughters. The ramifications of this large family have made Matakunui an important ancestor. A person who is descended from more than one member of that family has more than one path (ara) to Matakunui and in a recital runs them down in order of their seniority. In Table 3 the pedigree of a woman named Toreapo is given as an example of multiple descent from three brothers and one sister of the one biological family.

Table 3. Genealogy of Multiple Descent, Showing the Ara from One Family.

Table 3. Genealogy of Multiple Descent, Showing the Ara from One Family.

page 25

The reciter, a half-brother named Tangi-metua, after enumerating the family of Matakunui, commenced with the eldest son, Horauroa. He prefaced the recital with the explanation, “Te ara o Horauroa” (The path or line of Horauroa). The Tongarevans use the possessive, o (of), which in English would be expressed by “from.” The husbands and wives of each marriage were given, but the second member is left out of the table except where they link up the lines of descent. Matakunui is the 5th generation from Mahuta, the colonizer, and Toreapo comes out in the 18th generation. Masuhoa, the younger brother of Tukekemoana, was omitted in the first recital to be presented later. The reciter then took the ara of Tuatini, a younger brother of Horauroa. When he reached Akatapuria in the 14th generation the lines of Horauroa and Tuatini were joined by the marriage with Sauika, but he ran the line out to Toreapo as a matter of form. The ara of Ponakino, a younger brother to Tuatini, was then run down to Kauia in the 13th generation, who united the three lines of descent by marriage with Namuata of the 16th generation through the Horauroa-Tukekemoana line and the 15th generation through the Tuatini line. The ara of Mohotu, a sister of the three brothers dealt with, was carried down to Te Vae in the 14th generation, who married Moepo of the same generation in the Horauroa line. The union of the Mohotu and Horauroa lines took place before that with either Tuatini or Ponakino but was recited last as it was the junior line. The reciter then concluded with what he termed “te pae ki Tokerau” (the part toward Tokerau), in which the Horauroa line was traced down through his second son, Masuhoa, who evidently went to Tokerau on the north side of the lagoon. Takaniniua, in the 12th generation through Masuhoa, joined the two branches through marriage with Renaua of the 13th generation through Tukekemoana. The term used in working out a particular line is hakasari (to trace down), as “hakasari te ara ia Hakau” (trace down the path from Hakau).

A comparison of the number of generations through different lines is interesting. Thus, from Matakunui to Toreapo, inclusive, the number of generations through Horauroa-Tukekemoana is 14, Horauroa-Masuhoa 13, Tuatini 13, Ponakino 11, and Mohotu 14. It is natural to expect a longer line through the senior members of a large family, as they reach the marriage age some years in advance of the youngest members of the same family. In the course of several lifetimes even a few years of difference in each generation may total one or more generations. Taking the common parent as zero for comparison with the senior Horauroa-Tukekemoana line, a minus difference of 1 generation occurs in the Horauroa-Masuhoa line in 6 generations, and the same difference is found in the Tuatini line in 9 generations, whereas a minus difference of no less than 3 is found in the Ponakino line page 26 in 8 generations. The late start of junior members in some generations may, however, be made up by senior members in other generations, and the junior Mohotu line shows just as many generations as the first senior line. A presumably younger marrying age for females may also be a factor in increasing the number of generations over a given period, for in the three shorter lines the males exceed the females, and in the longer Horauroa-Tukekemoana and Mohotu lines the females exceed the males. In the period covered by an average of 18 generations from Mahuta to 1900 in one locality the differences in the numbers of generations of many lines are not great, but over longer periods taking in different islands they may create chronological problems.

The preservation by the whole population of family pedigrees connecting with historical ancestors different family lines of descent indicates clearly the importance attached to blood relationship. The social organization of the people was knitted by ties of blood which were memorized and transmitted from generation to generation. Though in some societies the relationship with a common ancestor may be fictitious, in Tongareva there is no reason to doubt that the pedigrees of the settlement period which have been preserved were authentic oral records of ancestors who lived, married, and bore their children on Tongareva.