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Ethnology of Tokelau Islands

Songs for Dances Performed Without Paddles

Songs for Dances Performed Without Paddles


This song refers to a turtle hunt in which Tinilau, a mischievous character of Polynesian mythology, allows the turtle to escape.

Song of Catching the Turtle
Honu a levaleva,
E hala honu a levaleva.
Tulituli atu tamafanau.
Kai amutia ko Tinilau
Oi avalau ma lualau.
Kae Tinilau e voliao.

The turtle of the deep sea,
The turtle of the deep sea is hunted.
Chase away the young children.
Who congratulates Tinilau
Alas! there is nothing.
Tinilau continues to dance.


The following song tells of two lovers who exchange their garlands of Tahitian gardenia (tiale) blossoms, which they wear in their hair, signifying their engagement to be married. The last line refers to a second suitor who enters the house and is told to retire.