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Niuē-fekai (or Savage) Island and its People

Houses, Utensils, Tools,-&c

Houses, Utensils, Tools,-&c.

The ancient Niuē house was about as indifferent a kind of edifice as is to be found amongst the Polynesians. Made of niu, or coco-nut leaves, it quickly decayed, and had to be replaced. Now-a-days the houses are substantially built of lath and plaster. But notwithstanding the inferiority of the Niuē house (fale) originally, the people have a complete set of names for every portion of a large house built in semi-European fashion at the present day.

Amongst the most useful articles of manufacture were their toki or axes, which were, as a rule, made of coral in default of better material. These are extremely rough and unpolished. The toki-uli, or black axe, was made of lava, but as no volcanic stone is found on the island, this must have been imported, and probably from Samoa, for it is exactly like the lava of those islands. Axes were also made of the gēegēe or Tridacna shell, and, being an easier material to work, the finished article is a much more workmanlike tool. Plate 7 shows both a toki-uli and a toki-geegēe. The toki were lashed on (făNlō) to bent handles, as is usual. A felling axe was called fututu, and a chisel (of stone) was tofi.

Drums were used called nafa and logo; the only one I saw was a log hollowed with an open split nearly its whole length. The common name for a nail is fao, which is common everywhere, and probably meant a chisel originally. Kofe is the name for the flute, played by the nose as is the usual Polynesian custom. They make very neat hair combs (hetu-ulu), some of which will be seen in Plate 7. One of these is curved and made of black kieto or ebony, the others of white wood (oluolu), bound together very neatly with braided human hair. The people make large numbers of shell necklaces (kafua) of the little yellow and dark landshells, which are very pretty. Pa is a shell fish hook, just like the Maori paua shell hook.

The Niuē folks made many kinds of baskets (kato), of which several are really beautifully made and ornamental—these are made of lau-fa or Pandanus leaf, whilst others are made of coco-nut leaf. Mats for sleeping on (pola, &c.) were common. Faga is a round basket-like trap for catching small fish, and kakikaki and kahikahi are names for fishing rods. I have already mentioned their fishing nets or kupega, made of the bark of the Fua-mamāla tree.

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