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Ethnology of Tokelau Islands



A man fishes for squid from a canoe. He drops a lure, which is attached to the end of a stick 3 or 4 feet long, over a hole and sings to entice the squid out.

Tuolo mai feke te pilipili kavei valu e tuolo,
Mai tuolo mai.
Ko nohonoho i lo kaoa
Fakalongona ake pule kua, hoa, hoa, hoa.

Crawl out, little squid, with eight legs,
Crawl out, crawl out.
You stay in your hole
When you hear the sound, hoa, hoa, hoa, of the crab, crawling.

page 94

When the squid reaches for the lure, the fisherman draws it up slowly until the squid seizes it. Then he jerks it into the canoe and turns the squid inside out or bites out its eyes to render it helpless.

Squid lures (pule taki feke) are made of shell (Cypraea tigris) and strips of leaf to represent crabs. They resemble the “rat” lures of Samoa (28, p. 434) and are derived from a now forgotten legend of a crab and a squid.

The lure is composed of a brown spotted shell lashed over the lower section of a second shell. A piece of sennit knotted at the end runs from the top surface of the upper shell through a hole above the distal end of the mouth, makes a half hitch around the middle of the under shell section and comes up through a hole at the proximal end of the upper shell, where it is knotted. The lure is dangled by the extension of this lashing. A stick 6 to 8 feet long is lashed longitudinally beneath the under shell with a piece of sennit secured at the ends by encircling the rim of the upper shell. Strips of coconut leaf are wrapped around the stick and secured by the end of the lashing that holds the stick. Strips of leaf are also wrapped around the lashing on the sides of the upper shell, the projecting leaf ends resembling legs. The upper shell is partly filled with small pebbles which rattle when the lure is jerked about imitating the “hoa, hoa” sound made by the ula crab when it is crawling along the bottom.