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The Genealogy of the Kings of Rarotonga and Mangaia as illustrating the colonisation of that island and the Hervey Group


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Anything that can throw light upon the original colonisation of the South Pacific Islands must be of the deepest interest to scientists. In the absence of books and inscriptions, we can only look to the traditions of the islanders themselves. No surer ground can be found than the well-preserved genealogies of the reigning families.

In 1888 Great Britain annexed the Hervey Group, the principal island of which is Rarotonga. I propose to give the pedigree of the Makea and Tinomana regal families of Rarotonga. These families claim to be descended from the renowned Makea Karika, who, with Tangiia, centuries ago colonised Rarotonga.

Rarotonga was practically discovered by the late Rev. John Williams in 1823. On that occasion he landed native teachers, and thus introduced Christianity and civilisation.

Five years subsequently Mr. Williams, after paying a second and prolonged visit to the queenisland of the Hervey Group, sailed back to his own station at Raiatea, in the famous Messenger of Peace, accompanied by Makea Davida, principal king of Rarotonga at that date. Referring to this chief, Mr. Williams writes note:—" The present Makea is the twenty-ninth of that family." In a note he adds:—" When we were departing for Raiatea, the uncle of Makea, whom he had appointed Regent, delivered a most interesting address, in which he enumerated the ancestry of the king, commencing with Makea Karika, and for every one of whom he had a peculiar designation descriptive of his character, as was the case with the Pharaohs of Egypt. I much regret that I did not obtain a correct report of this address, as I listened to it with peculiar interest."

In 1869 I endeavoured to ascertain whether this account of the ancestry of the Makea kings was still extant. After many inquiries, Teaoa, at that period native pastor at Avarua, placed in my hands the greater part of the materials out of which the following list is composed. For the subsidiary genealogy of the kings of the split, or Puaikura, tribe I was indebted to Tinomana Samuela, or Rongo-oe the Second, the brother and predecessor of the present chieftainess.

All this information was imparted with a request for secrecy, as the following pedigree is the native title to the kingly office

"Missionary Enterprises," page 199.

page 628and ancestral lands. But so many years having elapsed, and the Hervey Group having been annexed there is no longer any reason to fear inter-tribal war and dispossession. So that I now feel justified in putting this genealogy on permanent record for scientific purposes. And for this special reason—it places beyond the shadow of doubt the number of generations during which Rarotonga has been inhabited by the present brown (Maori) race.

Now, in regard to this genealogy itself. The descent of these kings is from father to son, excepting in the eleventh generation, when "Makea teina," younger brother to the "Makea Rongo-oe" who, by his arrogance and cruelty, split up the island into hostile clans, was, "by the fiat of the gods," appointed king of the tribe at Avarua. When Mr. Williams discovered Rarotonga in 1823, Makea Pori and his cousin, Makea Karika the Second, reigned jointly at "Araitetonga" (the royal marae). The origin of this dual kingship of later times in the family of Makea was merely to make a suitable provision for the eldest sons of the two wives of "Makea-patua-kino." In consequence of this dual kingship, Makea Davida, in 1828, was not (as Mr. Williams thought) the 29th, but the 25th in direct succession from Makea Karika, the founder of the dynasty. If it were allowable, native fashion, to add the names of the four other* joint kings, Makea Davida would be the 29th descendant of the famous Makea Karika, who had reigned, representing, however, only 25 generations. Native etiquette made it imperative for the Regent to include the four joint kings referred to. The custom has always obtained in the "Tongan kingdom" ("te au o Tonga") that whilst both kings enjoyed regal honours, only one wielded authority, wielding it, however, in the name of both Makeas.

Coming on to my own time, it may suffice to remark that Makea Tevairua (who welcomed me in 1852) was sister to Makea Davida (Mr. Williams' friend in 1828); Makea Daniela and Makea Abela were their younger brothers. So that, strangely enough, four children of Makea Pori, who welcomed civilisation in 1823, came to the throne. The present queen, Makea Takau, is the only child of the Makea Davida who accompanied Mr. Williams to Raiatea in 1828.

Allowing to each Makea a reign of twenty-five years, we obtain a total of six hundred (or possibly 625) years from the landing of Makea Karika on Rarotonga down to the accession of Makea Pori and Makea Karika II., whom Mr. Williams found in possession of regal authority in 1823. Doubtless the first ten sovereigns reigned longest and most happily, before the pride and cruelty of "Rongo-oe" split up the island into hostile factions. The reader

* Makea Keu, Makea Tekao, Makea Karika II., one of reigning chiefs, who in 1823, welcomed Mr. Williams; Makea Pa, who, with Makea Davida, reigned in. 1828.

Or, with absolute correctness, the 24th, "Makea teina" being younger brother (or more probably cousin, "teina," meaning both) to "Makea Rongo-oe."

page 629will bear in mind that twenty-four English sovereigns, from the Norman Conquest to the death of Charles I., reigned less than. 600 years.

The Makeas were held in great veneration by their vassals. In 1858 I asked a serf why he looked aside when interrogated by Makea. The reply was—" Did not my father tell me never to look Makea in the face, lest the regal glance should devour me?" The angry glance of a high chief was believed to induce that frightful disease, lupus, or cancer of the nose and face. So, too, the thieving of food by the slaves who waited on them.

The mythical account of the origin of the regal name Makea is this: "Ātea* married Papa. To them were born Rongo and Tane; also Ruenuku, Tu-the Great (Tu-nui), Tangaroa, Teuira (= the lightning), and Aa (= cyclone). The sign of royalty being the (bowl of) intoxicating pepper, shouts ever following (the king)."

"Now Rongo and Tane said, Let us name our son The Saliva (kea) of our mouths and the aching of our heads. Hence the name Makea."

"Ma" is a mere prefix, so that this regal title may be rendered The Saliva and Headache of the gods !

Many have asked me whether I have discovered in the Hervey Group any trace of a prior Negrillo people. My answer is, None whatever. Indeed, I believe the idea of a black race formerly overrunning the Eastern Pacific to be a pure fiction. When Karika landed on Rarotonga he found a few Maori, or brown, people from Iva (= Nukuiva), originally from Avaiki. Their chief was named Ata. These Maories were all—or nearly§ all— slain by Karika. A black aboriginal race was never heard of in the Hervey Group. Some accounts assert that Ou and Ruariki were the chiefs of these brown people from Iva, and that not one was spared by Karika. It is well known that the Rarotongans from time immemorial were addicted to killing and eating women; at Mangaia the rule was to spare women.

On the west of Rarotonga is now settled the smaller and, but for Christianity, doomed tribe of Puaikura. In 1823 Mr. Williams found Tinomana, the eighteenth in direct succession from Karika, swaying its destinies. Allowing, as with the Makeas, 25 years to the reign of each of that line of chiefs, we get only 450 years. My own impression is that one or two links in this genealogy are irrecoverably lost, owing to the perpetual slaughter of their leading men—a slaughter which ceased only on the acceptance of Christianity by the rulers of Rarotonga in 1823.

I infer, then, that Rarotonga was colonised by Karika and Tangiia 600 years before the discovery of the island by Mr.

* Vātea or Avatea, i.e., Noon.

The Ruanuka of Mangaian mythology.

Primary male gods of Polynesia.

§ The young women were spared a slave wives for the victors.

This same Tinonmana was living in 1852, when I first visited Rarotoga He was a most interesting chief, and of commanding presence.

page 630Williams, i.e., about a.d. 1223, or possibly a.d. 1198. This conclusion was arrived at many years before I found that M. Quatrefages, in his admirable book, entitled "The Human Species" (page 194), places it in a.d, 1207. For the story of Tangiia's voyage to Rarotonga I must refer the student to my "Myths and Songs" (pp. 23-4), and Williams' "Enterprises" (pp. 195-6). In their inter-tribal wars the numerous descendants, of Tangiia defeated the less numerous descendants of Karika in many a conflict; but the regal supremacy was allowed to remain with the Makea Karika family.

In passing, I may mention the (to the European mind) singular circumstance that in 1823 Makea Tinirau and Makea Tekao were both alive, but had voluntarily devolved the regal authority and title upon their sons, Makea Pori and Makea Karika II. This, however, is no uncommon occurrence amongst, chiefs, greater and lesser, of the Polynesian race.

But Karika found on the island a few brown people, ruled by Ata, representing a single canoe-load from Iva. Allowing to these prior Maori settlers on Rarotonga a residence of 50 or 75 years (a period far too long, judging from what I have myself seen of stray canoes in the South Pacific), we may safely conclude that Rarotonga has been inhabited somewhat less than 700 years prior to its discovery by Williams in. 1823.

In my "Life in the Southern Isles" (pp. 23-5) and "Historical Sketches of Savage life in Polynesia" (pp. 227-9), I have given historical data for my belief that the rest of the islands of the Hervey Group have been inhabited only about six centuries. I would especially commend to the student the unquestionably correct list of the three great orders of priests and the "rulers of food" on the island of Mangaia, given in "Historical Sketches of Savage Life" (pp. 227-8). Only twelve generations of the "rulers of food" have obtained on Mangaia, and fewer still of the priests proper.

All the traditions of Eastern Polynesia point to a western origin—Avaiki (= Savai'i), Tonga, Rotumah, Upolu, Tutuila, and Manu'a. Amid wonderful diversity of detail there is a unity of tradition in regard to the western origin of their race.

After giving the genealogy of the kings of Rarotonga, I will add the succession of the kings of Mangaia, to enable the reader to judge for himself. I think it is evident from these lists that Rarotonga was the first island of the Hervey Group that was colonised. The island of Rarotonga, which towers 3000 feet above the level of the ocean, is, of course, visible at a great distance, and yet, strangely enough, escaped the eye of the renowned Cook.

In passing, I may observe that the knowledge of the calendar belonged exclusively to the kings proper of each island of the Hervey Group, as they alone fixed the date of the various feasts page 631in honour of the gods. This was done by them as mouth-pieces of the tutelar divinities. For others to keep the calendar was a sin against the gods, to be punished with hydrocele. It was even thus of old in the Tahitian and Society Groups. Very appropriately, the calendar printed in Ellis' book is said to have been derived from Pomare, the sovereign of that day. Of course, this fact is a guarantee for its correctness.