Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

Niuē-fekai (or Savage) Island and its People

The Fauna of Niue (Animals, manu)

The Fauna of Niue (Animals, manu)

There were no animals (manu, general name for all animals), on Niuē when the first intercourse with white people commenced, except the rat. Unlike most of the other branches of the Polynesian Race, they possessed neither pigs nor dogs, though it is clear they once page 22 knew of the former, for the common Polynesian name for pig (puaka) is retained in the names of places. Pigs are numerous enough now, but were introduced in the middle of the nineteenth century. The first dog the Niuē people became acquainted with was one that came ashore from a ship; probably the vessel that was wrecked on the East Coast, which was laden with Oregan pine, of which large quantities are still to be seen, having been used by the natives for doors, windows, furniture, floors, &c. This dog received the name of Taafu; but he did not live long as a settler on Niuē, for he was discovered eating the dead bodies in the burial caves, and consequently came to an untimely end. The natives have plenty of dogs now, and call them kuli, which seems to imply that they were introduced from either Tonga or New Zealand.

The rat, common on almost all Polynesian Islands, has always been an inhabitant of Niuē, and, from descriptian, it is the same species as in other islands. Its name in Niuē is kumā (Samoa, ‘imoa, ‘iole, isumu: Tonga, kuma: Futuna, kimoa: Rarotonga, kiore; Tahiti, ‘iore: Mangareva, kiore; Paumotu, kiore; Marquesas, kio'e; Hawaii; ‘iole; Maori, kiore: Nukuoro, kimoa). It is plentiful still on the island—its great enemy the Norway rat having not yet made its appearance there. As elsewhere, it formed in old times an article of diet, and being a vegetable feeder, it would be as good as rabbit. An amusing story about the rat and the flying fox will be found later on.