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A Dictionary of Mangareva (Or Gambier Islands)


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The Gambier or Mangareva Islands consist of a small group situated within the Paumotu Archipelago, in the Eastern Pacific. They are generally known as Mangareva, that being the native name of the principal island (Peard Island); but on their discovery by Captain Wilson of the “Duff,” on the 25th May, 1797, he named them after Admiral Lord Gambier.

Mangareva Island is about four miles in length, and rises in two peaks in the form of wedges, the greatest height being 1,315 ft. The large village on the east side of Mangareva is in lat. 23° 7′ 34″ S., long. 135° 0′ 20″ W. The other chief islands are Akamaru, Aukena, and Taravai. The inhabitants of the group number about a thousand. The whole of the islands are within an encircling coral reef. They form part of the French possessions in Oceania.

The interesting matter to the linguist and anthropologist in the following dictionary is that the language is pure Polynesian. Generally the inhabitants of the Paumotu Archipelago speak a dialect containing some element foreign to the Polynesian tongue; but in Mangareva the speech is nearly identical with the Maori of New Zealand, thousands of miles distant to the westward.

I trust that many a riddle of Maori scholars may be solved by this dictionary of Mangareva.

Edward Tregear.
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