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Niuē-fekai (or Savage) Island and its People


page 35


The terms for male and female are as follows: a man is tāne, a woman fifine, which names differ little from those used by the race everywhere, tāne being universal, whilst fifine varies as wahine, rahine, raine, fafine, &c. Tāne is also a husband, but a wife is hoana, which differs from the term used everywhere else except in Tonga, where it is ohoana.* A popular form of alluding to either husband or wife is tokoua, which we may translate as “double,” or, as we say, our “other self.” A father is a matua-tāne, a mother a matua-fifine, words common to the race. With regard to the words denoting the interrelationship of brothers and sisters, we find some peculiar differences from other branches. For instance, a man's sister is a mahakitaga, a term which is peculiar to Niuē and not found elsewhere, the word in general use being tuahine, or some form of it. It would be interesting to ascertain the origin of this change, but I cannot suggest any reason for it, unless the word tuahine may at some time have become tapu through forming part of a great chief's name, and so gone out of use. Mahaki in Niuē means very great, excessive, and taga is of course the present participle of a verb—the English termination “ing,” or the abstract noun ending in “ness.” This, however, throws no light on the subject, for apparently mahaki in the word for a sister has no connection with “excessive.” Matakainaga, again, is a man's brother, or a woman's sister; it does not appear to be known in Tonga or Samoa, but is an Eastern Polynesian word. In Rarotonga, matakeinanga means “the people”; in Tahiti, mata‘eina'a is “the subjects of a chief, a certain tribe, clan, or subdivision of the people.” In Hawaii, maka‘ainana is the common people in distinction from chiefs. Again, taokete is an elder brother of a brother, or elder sister of a sister, the same as in Tonga. In Maori, taokete is a man's brother-in-law, or woman's sister-in-law, as in Rarotonga. The word is not known in Samoan apparently. Tehina is a younger brother of a brother (and I think also) a younger sister of a sister as it is in Tonga. This is the Maori and Tahitian teina or taina with the same meaning, whilst in Samoa it is tei, and in Hawaii kaina, (Maori, taina). Tugane is a woman's brother, as in Maori, tuagane in Samoa, tua‘ane in Tahiti. Tama is a child, both male and female, distinguished by tama-tane for a boy, tamā-fifine for a girl—whereas tama in Maori is a son, tamā-hine being a daughter. In Tonga, tama is “a boy, a child,” but whether the child here is explanatory of “boy,” or includes both male and female, is not clear. In Samoa, tama is a woman's child of either sex; in Tahiti, a child; in Rarotonga, a son; in Hawaii, a child. An infant is muke, or mukemuke, or tama-muke, and a grandchild a pulupulu-ola page 36 or moko-puna as in Maori. A grandfather is tupuna, which means also an ancestor of any degree, which is common to the race. Twins are called mahaga and tugi when girls, la-tugi being the first born of the two. The first of these words is common everywhere, but tugi does not appear to be known outside Niuē. A widow is takape, a Niuē word not known elsewhere. Maā, is a brother-in-law, and femaāki is marriage between the children of brothers- and sisters-in-law, i.e. first cousins, to which objection was sometimes taken as the degree of consanguinity was considered too near, it was considered incest (tiki).

Tiki is the term for incest, of which the people had great horror. They deduce this word from their story of Māui, of whom there were three—some say five—Māui-matua, Māui-tama and Māui-tamā-tifine. The two latter, who were brother and sister, married, and the child of this union was named Tikitiki, hence the word for incest. Another story is very similar to the Maori story of the creation of the first man by Tiki. It is very brief, as follows: “Mankind are unu,” (i.e. ‘drawn out,’ as a fish from its shell, the meaning being that the first woman was ‘drawn out’ from a man, or from a god, not by natural birth. In fact, the explanation given me was that the first woman was made in the same manner as Eve was from Adam), “and the parent committed incest with the child,” (This is the Maori story of Tiki and Hine-ti-tama) “one of them was called Tiki-matua, the other Tiki-tama, and Tiki-matua made Tiki-tama. And the child was ashamed, and cried, after this manner, “Tiki-matua, mo Tiki-talaga, tikitiki, tiki e, tiki e.” It will be noticed here the confusion between the two stories of Māui and Tiki, which are quite distinct in Maori, i.e. Māui-tikitiki-a-Taranga, becomes in Niuē Tiki-talaga.

The adoption of children (hiki-tama), especially those of relatives, was common as it is everywhere with the race, and such adopted children had all the rights of those born to the parents adopting them.

An old man is euphemistically termed penupenu-fonua or mutumutu-fonna, but the ordinary word for on old man or woman is fuakau: a young man is fuata.

* Of course the first part of this word—hoa—is a common term for husband or wife in Maori, originally meaning friend.