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Niuē-fekai (or Savage) Island and its People

Lizards (Moko) and Insects

Lizards (Moko) and Insects

Lizards are very common indeed, and are seen everywhere. A little brown one about 4 to 5 inches long is the most common. The moko-lauulu is larger, about 8 inches long, and somewhat hairy; hence the name lauulu, hair. There are, I believe, several species, such as the mokolā, moko-maga, moko-mogamoga, and moko-taliga, but I did not page 27 see them. The Niuē natives do not appear to have the same intense dread of the lizard as the Maoris have.

Of the insects, there are some pretty varieties of butterflies—about four kinds that I noticed—the native name is pepe. The moko-va is a large green mantis about 8 inches in length. The cockroach—said to be introduced—is called mogamoga: it is very common and very objectionable. The mosquito is very rarely seen; its native name is namu. The dragon fly is kitekite-rai, the spider (numerous and some handsomely colored), kufani and kalerelere,* the ant atare; the common fly is lago, but Niuē is happily almost free from this, the greatest pest of tropical Polynesia, for they died off a few years since, apparently having been affected with some epidemic. Lago-fufu is the mason wasp, and lago-meli the bee, both the latter introduced. Mokotafatafa is the black beetle, the same as the Maori kekerengu. Kilikili-mutu is a worm, and kutu a flea or louse; whilst tuma is the clothes louse. The grasshopper is he.

Niuē is particularly free from insect pests—more so than any other island I have visited. I am not aware of any poisonous insect on the island, or of one that stings sufficiently to cause pain The rango-patia, or big wasp of Rarotonga, Tahiti, and Hawaii, has not found its way there yet.

* This name probably illustrates a change in syllables (metathesis) well known to philologists. The Maori name for a spider is pu-nga-werewere. If we take the last part of this word and the last in the Niuē word, ka-leveleve, we shall see that in the latter the “l” has changed places with the “v,” or in the Maori word the “w” has changed places with the “r.” Of course, “w” and “v,” “l” and “r” are identical.