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Niuē-fekai (or Savage) Island and its People

Subsequent History of Niue

page 76

Subsequent History of Niue

The first notice of Niuē Island from an outside source is contained in the Rarotongan traditions. Here we come, for the first time, on something a little more reliable as to dates than anything the Niuē people can furnish. The following brief notice will be found in the Rev. J. B. Stair's “Early Voyages of the Samoans.”* I quote this account because it is in print, rather than the MS one in my possession, which has not yet been translated. But though Mr. Stair refers to the large number of voyages described in his paper as Samoan, they were only so in the sense that many of them were made from Samoa, but by the Maori-Rarotongan ancestors, who at that date were leaving Samoa for the Eastern Pacific. Mr. Stair says, “Sixth voyage, (under) Tangiia. After this they left that side of the heavens (i.e. that part of the Pacific), and sailed eastward to Niuē and Niua-taputapu (Keppel Island), to Niu-lii, Niu-tala and Iva (Marquesas), and then they sailed to Tahiti, where Tangiia made a settlement at a place called Puna-auia.”

It is easy to prove by a number of genealogies that Tangiia flourished about the year 1250. If the tradition is to be relied on, and I know of no reason to doubt it, the name Niuē preserved in Tangiia's voyage, and not one of the ancient names of the island shows that the voyage of Levei-matagi and Levei-fualoto had already been made to Tutuila, and the coco-nut introduced to Niuē, as related previously. It is possible the East Polynesian name fatu-kalā, for a black stone axe, is due to this voyage.

The next incident in Niuē history was the visit of Veu and Veu from Manu‘a in eastern Samoa, as related in the Samoan traditions collected by the Rev. T. Powell and translated by the Rev. G. Pratt and edited by Dr. J. Fraser. This tradition refers to the visit to Niuē of Veu and Veu, two people of Manu‘a, who were expelled for breaking the local laws. Although the tradition is full of the marvellous, as is common to these old legends, it no doubt relates an historical fact. After recounting the birth of their son, Fiti-au-mua, and the fact of his being brought up by a Niuē woman whose own son was named Laufoli “who was a true Niuēan; he was a warrior,” the story relates the return of Fiti-au-mua to Manu‘a in Samoa, where he engaged in a war to punish those who had exiled his parents, and his subsequent warlike visits to Fiji, Tonga, Savai‘i, &c., and his death at the hands of Le Fanonga, at Mata-utu. The story then goes on: “Laufoli, wondering why Fiti-au-mua did not return (to Niuē), came in search of him; fought with Manu‘a: Manu‘a was overcome; went page 77 to Tutuila: Tutuila was overcome; came to Upolu; Upolu was overcome; then he arrived at Savai‘i. After that he went back to Niuē, and was not seen again in Samoa.”

From the above brief story, it is evident that Laufoli was a warrior. We will now see what the Niuē traditions say about him. One of the stories will be found in the original later on; from that and another account I have, the following is produced:

* Journal Of Polynesian Society, vol. iv, p. 104.

See This Journal, vol ix., p. 125.