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Polynesian Researches


page 175

Promulgation of the new code of laws in Huahine—Literal translation of the laws on Murder—Theft—Trespass—Stolen property—Lost property—Barter—Sabbathbreaking—Rebellion—Bigamy, &c.—Divorce, &c.—Marriage—False accusation—Drunkenness—Dogs—Pigs—Conspiracy—Confessions—Revenue for the king and chiefs—Tatauing—Voyaging—Judges and magistrates—Regulations for judges, and trial by jury—Messengers or peace-officers—Manner of conducting public trials—Character of the Huahinean code—Reasons for dissuading from capital punishments—Omission of oaths—Remarks on the different enactments—Subsequent amendments and enactments relative to the fisheries—Land-marks—Land rendered freehold property—First Tahitian parliament—Regulations relating to seamen deserting their vessels—Publicity of trials—Beneficial effects of the laws.

The laws and regulations which had received the sanction of Teriiteria at Tahiti, were approved by the chiefs of Huahine, at a public national assembly held in the month of May, 1922. Mamae, a leading raatira, requesting that the laws might be enacted, his request was acceded to, and, after some slight modifications, they were promulgated in Huahine, and Sir Charles Sander's island, under page 176 the authority of the queen, governors, and chiefs. They were subsequently printed, and circulated in every part of the islands.

In a letter which Mr. Barff transmitted with a printed copy, speaking of the laws, he remarks, “You will find them, in every material point, the same as when you left the islands!” I insert a literal translation of this code, not because it was the last promulgated, nor that I consider it superior in every respect to those by which it was preceded, but because it was adopted by the people with whom I was most intimately connected, and received a greater degree of the attention of my colleague and myself, than any of the others. It might, perhaps, have been abridged, or a mere enumeration of the laws might have furnished all the information that is interesting; yet the first code of laws adopted, written, and printed among a people, who, but a few years before, were ignorant heathen, and lawless savages, is a document so important in the history of the people, as to justify its entire insertion. The title is E Ture na Huahine: “A Law, or Code of Laws, for Huahine, caused to grow in the government or reign of of Teriiteria, Hautia, and Mahine, subordinate (rulers)” and the Imprint is—“Huahine, printed at the Mission Press, 1823.”

∗There is no word in their language for law. The Hebrew word has been introduced, as according with the genius and idiom of Tahitian better than any other.

The following is the Introduction immediately after the names of the queen and two principal chiefs—

From the favour of God, we have our government. Peace to you (People) of Huahine.”