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Ethnology of Tokelau Islands



At daybreak the men set out in their canoes to fish or to cross the lagoon to gather pandanus and coconuts. If there is cooked food in the storage baskets, they take a small piece of fish or a coconut before starting. Many of the fishermen return by the middle of the morning. Their catch is immediately taken to the cook house and prepared, and the first meal of the day is eaten. Workers in the plantations eat coconuts or pandanus during the day.

The second meal is eaten at sunset to make use of the last of the daylight for cooking. By this time everyone has finished work for the day and bathed in the lagoon, and is ready to relax and discuss the events of the day. Before page 151 Christian times this meal was completed before sunset, for it was tapu to have fires at night.

The men of the house are served their meals first, and the women take what is left for themselves and the younger children. The young boys are allowed to eat with their fathers. On Sundays groups of people eat together; the older men and women often sit with the pastor for the noonday or morning meal after the church service, and the young people meet together in the school house and bring their food in baskets from the home oven.

The labor of preparing meals follows the western Polynesian custom. The young men do the heavier work of making the large ovens and putting in the food; the women remove the food and serve it. The lighter meals are prepared by the women. At a large feast in which only the men participate the younger men of the village make all the preparations and serve the food.