Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

Ethnology of Tokelau Islands

Kindred Relationships

Kindred Relationships

The functional social group based on blood relationship is the kindred or persons reckoning descent and inheriting property from a common ancestor. Theoretically kinship is reckoned with all those who can trace descent from the earliest common ancestor, but for the requirements of exogamic marriage, the social obligations of blood relatives, and the practical division of land the kindreds trace their origin from a later ancestor.

The kindred is directed by the eldest living male. When he dies the position passes to his younger brothers, and when they die, to the eldest son of the first head. In this succession system the Tokelau custom of giving the leadership of a group to the eldest man is combined with the usual Polynesian custom of inheriting chieftainship directly from father to eldest son. Formerly the kindred head (matai) received an hereditary title, but due to the modern tendency of society towards a greater independence of the family and household and private ownership of land, this, and the use of the term matai, have been dropped. The kindred head superintends the care and use of kindred lands and directs the affairs and councils of the kindred. However, his residence is in his wife's house, and the land he works is the property of his wife's kindred. Because of his absence from the daily life of his own kindred and his residence away from the land, his eldest sister assumes a position of great importance. She resides on her kindred's property, page break
Table 4. Kinship Terms*
Collateral—Male SideLinealCollateral—Female Side
father's brotherfather's sisterfathermothermother's brothermother's sister
tamanamatua sa, matua tauaitu or matuatamanamatuatuatinamatua
father's brother'sfather's sister'sbrotherselfsistermother's brother'smother's sister's
sondaughterson and daughtertaina m. s.tuafafine m. s.son and daughtersondaughter
taina m. s.tuafafine m. s.ilamutu or fakatau tuatinatuangane w. s.taina w. s.tuatinataina m. s.tuafafine m. s.
oldestoldesttuangane w. s.taina w. s.
kimua or fakamuakimua
father's brother's children'sfather's sister's children'sbrother's sondaughter's sonsondaughtersister's sondaughter's sonmother's brother'smother's sister's
sondaughterson and daughtertama m. s.tama fafine m. s.tama or atalikitama fafine or afafineilamutu m. s. or fakatauilamutu m. s. or fakatauchildren'schildren's
tamatama fafineilamututamasa w. s.tama sa w. s.son and daughtersondaughter
fakatau tuatinatuatinatamatama fafine
tama w. s.tama fafine w. s.
page 47 and the men of her household and her sisters' husbands use the kindred plantations which she controls. Because of her residence in the chief household of the kindred, she is termed the fatupaepae (rock of the house foundation). She is the head of the female side of the kindred and directs particularly the work of the women. Due to matrilocal marriage, she also adopts the eldest son of the male head of the kindred, to rear him within the chief household of his own kindred, of which he is representative of the male line and heir to the headship.

The kindred is not a stable institution but increases with each generation. When it becomes too large to function as a unit, it gradually regroups itself into new kindreds. The common ownership of land is, however, the determining factor in the formation of the kindred, for when the land of a kindred is divided, new groups form in the succeeding generations, each based on the ownership and inheritance of one of the new land divisions.