by Marau Taaroa & Henry Adams


Even the origin and meaning of the Teva name is lost. The word is more or less known in many different places and languages. Fiji has a small tribe or clan of Tevas, but these are said to be not Polynesian at all. Our Tevas claim by tradition a descent from the Shark God. Many generations ago a chief of Punaauia, named Te manutunuu, married a chiefess of Vaiari, named Hototu, and had a son, Terii te moanarau. At the birth of the child, the father, Te manutunuu, set out in his boat for the Paumotu islands to obtain red feathers (Ura) to make the royal Maro for the young prince.

So the story begins by taking for granted that before the first Teva existed, Punaauia and Vaiari had already their own chiefs and Maraes. The legend is clear in adding that the Marae of Punaauia was founded for this same young prince, Terii te moanarau, by his father, Te manutunuu, in order that he might wear in his own Marae the Maro-ura which was made of the feathers collected in this voyage to the Pau-motus. The name Punaauia is said to have come from the killing of a relation whose body had been rolled up as fish were rolled. The legend starts by assuming that Vaiari was the oldest family, with its Maraes, and that Punaauia was later in seniority and rank.

While Te manutunuu was absent on his long voyage to the Pau-motus, which required several months, a visitor appeared at Vaiari and of course had to be entertained by the chiefess. This visitor, our first ancestor, was what Europeans call a demi-god; he was only half human; the other half was fish, or shark-god; and he swam from the ocean, through the reef, into the Vaihiria river, where he came ashore, and introduced himself as Vari mataauhoe. The chiefess received him with the hospitality which was common to the legends of most oriental races, and Vari mataauhoe took up his residence with Hototu; but after their intimacy had lasted some time, one day, when they were together, Hototu's dog came into the house and showed his affection for his mistress by licking her face, or, as we should now say, kissing her, although in those days the word was unknown, for Polynesians never kissed each other, but only touched noses as an affectionate greeting. At this, the man-shark fell into a mood of reflection, and, after turning the subject in his mind, decided that the fault was so grave as to require him, as a person of refinement, to abandon Hototu: "You have been untrue to your husband with me," he told her; "you may be untrue to me with the dog."

Men have in all times been ingenious in their reasons for deserting women when tired of them, but, even in the South Seas and at that early day, this pretext must have been thought at least unusual, since it was preserved in legend. Unusual or not, it was enough for the man-shark, who walked off to the river, and turning into a fish again, swam out to sea. As he went on his way, or wherever he belonged, he met the canoe of the husband, Te manutunuu, returning from the Pau-motus, and stopped for a conversation with him. Te manutunuu, regretting to have lost the pleasure of a visit from so distinguished a guest, and obeying the rules of the somewhat excessive generosity which marked the island manners, invited Vari mataauhoe to return, but the man-shark civilly declined, giving as his excuse the reason that Hototu was too fond of dogs.

Perhaps this legend is as old as India and belongs to the common stock of world-myths; but, whatever its origin, its form seems to show that the natives looked on Vaiari as the source of their aristocracy. Not only did the Marae and Maro-ura of Punaauia claim descent from Vaiari, but Papara also followed closely, for when Vari mataauhoe was about leaving Hototu, he said to her: "You will bear me a child; if a girl, she will belong to you and take your name; but if a boy, you are to call him Teva; rain and wind will accompany his birth, and to whatever spot he goes, rain and wind will always foretell his coming. He is of the race of Arii rahi, and you are to build him a Marae which you are to call Mataoa (the two eyes of Tahiti), and there he is to wear the Marotea, and he must be known as the child of Ahurei (the wind that blows from Taiarapu.)"

A boy was born, and, as foretold, in rain and wind. The name of Teva was given to him; and Mataoa was built; and there Teva wore the Marotea. The Teva name came from this boy; but when or how it was given to the clan is unknown. Only we know that it must have been given by the Arii of Papara or Vaiari. To this day the Tevas seldom travel without rain and wind, so that they use the term Teva rarirari -- Teva wet always and everywhere.

Apart from these facts in regard to Teva's father and mother, little is known about him, but he must have been a very distinguished person, if the Vaiari people are to be believed, for they still point out the place where he lived as a child, his first bathing-place, and the different waters he fished as he came on his way toward Papara, and would feel insulted if any one should express a doubt of Teva's being a Vaiarian. In our family, we all admit not only that Teva was a branch of the Vaiari family, but that he wore the Maro-tea by right of that descent, and set up his Marae at Mataoa by transferring his stone seat or throne from the Marae of Farepua.

For the better understanding of any stranger who should read these memoirs, I should say here that every Arii or chief, great or small, had four properties belonging to his rank. None but those who have been mentioned could wear the Maro-ura, and only head-chiefs could order human sacrifices; but all equally possessed a Moua, or mount; an Outu, or point; a Tahua, or gathering-place, and a Marae, or temple. Arii, great and small, were too numerous to be told, and their Mouas, Outus, Tahuas, and Maraes were to be found at every mile of the coast, but the old and most important Maraes, from which the rest were mostly branches, numbered only about a dozen, and these must always be remembered, for they were the record of rank and the title of property throughout the island. Every one who has read Captain Cook's Voyages or any of the missionary books about Tahiti or Hawaii or the other Polynesian islands, knows that a Marae is a walled enclosure with an altar sacred to some God; but none of the books explain the social importance of the Marae, or that it represents, more than all else, the family. The God was a secondary affair, and even the right to human sacrifices had little to do with the Marae's rank. To natives, the family and the antiquity were alone seriously interesting. An aristocratic society, their religious arrangements were rigorously aristocratic, and a man's social position depended on his having a stone to sit upon within the Marae enclosure. Cook himself was greatly embarrassed when, on his departure from Raiatea in June, 1774, Oreo the chief asked him the name of his Marae. A man who had no Marae could be no chief, and Cook was regarded as a very great chief. His only resource was to give the name of his London parish. Forster, in answer to the same question entirely missed the point:

"Oreo's last request was for me to return; when he saw he could not obtain that promise, he asked the name of my Marai (burying-place). As strange a question as this was, I hesitated not a moment to tell him Stepney; the parish in which I live when in London. I was made to repeat it several times over till they could pronounce it; then Stepney Marai no Tote was echoed through an hundred mouths at once. I afterwards found the same question had been put to Mr Forster by a man on shore; but he gave a different and indeed more proper answer by saying no man who used the sea could say where he should be buried".

Vaiari, to begin with, had two very old and famous Maraes. One was called Farepua, and enjoyed the curious distinction of being the only Marae whose decorations were of Ura, or red feathers. The head-chief of Vaiari, as one of his titles, bore the name Maheanuu of Farepua. His other title of Teriinui belonged with the Marae called Tahiti. The name of Marae Tahiti has puzzled us all. Whether the Marae was named after the island, or the island after the Marae, or what the name meant in either case, no one knows. If the iti is a diminutive, as in the mysterious Hawaiiki, from which the New Zealanders came, perhaps the original name might be Taha-iti; or, if the terminal is hiti, it might mean only eastern, and point backward to some western Taa. In either case the word must have been taken at a very early time by Vaiari as a sort of property; Tahiti must have been an original Vaiari name, for, after other great chiefs had grown up as equals, no Vaiari chief, however proud his family might be, could, in the courtesy which marked the old social relations, have asserted himself to be the one great nobleman of the whole island -- Teriinui o Tahiti.

Papara, as has been told, took its Marae of Mataoa from Vaiari, and the chief of Papara was Teriirere or Temarii or Tauraatua i Mataoa by right of this descent; but the original Marae in the territory now known as Papara was on the small subdistrict called Amo, a mile from the sea and close under the mountains. The Marae of Amo was called Taputuarai; from this Marae a stone was taken to found the Marae of Tooarai near the shore; and close to the Marae of Tooarai, almost within the same enclosure, Purea and Amo built for their son Teriirere the great stone pyramid at which, as I shall tell in the course of my story, Captain Cook and Sir Joseph Banks wondered, on the point of Mahaiatea. Some of the principal names or titles of the chief of Papara, with their Maraes, were: Teriirere i Mahaiatea; Aromaiterai i Outuraumatooarai; Tuiterai i Taputuarai; but the chosen head, of the family had the right to all the Maraes. With each of these names and seats in the Marae went the lands attached to the title and the rights attached to the whole.

Paea or Attahuru was the next district to Papara, and belonged not to the Tevas, but to Teoropaa. Paea had two chief Maraes: Maraetaata and Teraiapiti. The next district, Punaauia, had a Marae of the same name, as I have already told. Faaa or Tefana had the Marae Ahurai. Pare Arue or the Purionuu had the Marae Tarahoi, in Arue, to which the Pomares belonged. The next district, Haapape, had the Marae Fararoi; and Hitiaa had the Marae Hitiaa.

These twelve Maraes of Tahiti-nui, or great Tahiti, were of course quite independent of those in the peninsula of Taiarapu -- Tahiti-iti, or little Tahiti. In Taiarapu the old districts were much changed by war, and the names have not kept their old meanings. Formerly the southern end of the peninsula, consisting of two districts, Taiarapu and Hui, formed one chiefery, called Teahupoo, whose head-chief bore the title Vehiatua, and whose Marae was Tapuanini or Matahihae. The northern part, Vairao and Afaahiti, had no common head, but the chief-ess of Vairao, Tetuau meretini, had the Marae Nuutere. The eastern part formerly contained a large and very powerful chiefery called Tautira, which was conquered and its chief's line. extinguished by Vehiatua. The great Marae of Tautira was supposed to be peculiarly sacred to the God Oro, a sort of Tahitian Osiris, to whom the human sacrifices were made.

Thanks to the Maraes, the social rank of chiefs in the South Seas was so well known or so easily learned that few serious mistakes could be possible. On this foundation genealogy grew into a science, and was the only science in the islands which could fairly claim rank with the intellectual work of Europe and Asia. Genealogy swallowed up history and made law a field of its own. Chiefs might wander off to far distant islands and be lost for generations, but if their descendant came back, and if he could prove his right to the seat in a family Marae, he was admitted to all the privileges and property which belonged to him by inheritance. On the other hand, if he failed in his proof, and turned out to be an impostor, he was put to death without mercy. Relationships were asserted and contested with the seriousness of legal titles, and were often matters of life and death. Every family kept its genealogy secret to protect itself from impostors, and every member of the family united to keep it pure. The most powerful chiefess in the island, like Purea or Marama or Tetuanui reiaiterai, was as free from her husband's control as any independent princess of Europe; she had as many lovers as she liked and no one made an objection; but she could not rear a child that was known to be not of chiefly origin. Every child born of such a connection was put to death the instant of its birth; and as Tahitians were little accustomed to secrecy in such matters, the lines of descent were probably purer than in Europe, where society was less simple in its methods.

All these bits of island custom are told only to show that our Papara family was probably, as the tradition says, a younger branch of the Vaiari family, and junior even to Punaauia. Yet Wallis found the Papara chief politically superior to both the families who wore the Maro-ura, and he had been so for many generations. At some time in the past a revolution had overthrown Vaiari and put Papara in its place, but while Papara took the political headship, it could not take the social superiority, for, as long as society should last, the Marae of Farepua must remain the older and superior over all the Maraes of Papara and the Tevas.

Here again tradition comes in to tell how Papara won the headship, but as usual tradition is indifferent to dates and details, joins together what was far apart, and cares only for what amuses it. As the story is told by the people to each other, the affair must have happened some twenty generations ago, when the head-chief over Vaiari and Mataiea was Huurimaavehi, and Papara was tributary to him. The chief of Papara was called Oro; not the God, to whom genealogies commonly ascend as the origin of human beings, but the chief of the small district of Amo, which I have already mentioned as having the original Marae of Taputuarai. Amo is now a forest of bread-fruit and cocoanut trees, but in those days it must have had a force of several hundred fighting men, and as it stood on the edge of Mataiea, guarding against attack, its chief was a great fighter.

Beautiful women were always a lively interest in the island society, and were beauties by profession. On great occasions they swam in the surf and were admired; before their houses their fathers made a sort of platform or terrace, called paepae, paved with flat stones, where the girl sat, and strangers stopped to look at her and discuss the whiteness of her skin or the roundness of her figure. Such a beauty was at that time the daughter of Panee of Amo, an intimate friend of Oro's father, Tiaau. Her reputation for beauty reached the ears of Hurimaavehi at Vaiari, as was to be expected, seeing that the places are only ten or fifteen miles apart, and the people, besides fighting, fishing, climbing the hills for Fei or wild plantains, and singing and dancing at all times, had little to do except to talk about each other. Hurimaavehi, like most Tahitian chiefs, had a fancy for handsome women, and he carried the girl away by stealth to Vaiari. Panee, the father, not knowing what had become of his daughter, sought her in every direction, and, stationing himself on the Mataiea boundary, questioned every one who passed, until one day two men came along, and he asked them where they were from:

"From Vaiari," they replied.

"How is Hurimaavehi and those who surround him?"

From question to question he came at last to his point:

"What new beauty have you in Vaiari?"

"Talk of beauties," the strangers answered; "a wonderful beauty has just appeared there, and belongs to Hurimaavehi."

"Is she well treated?"

"No; he has turned her over to the servants and the dogs and the pigs and the fish of the sea."

At this news Panee burst into a frenzy of rage, and rushing into Mataeia attacked every one he met, until he had killed five of Hurimaavehi's people; and to make the quarrel still more violent, he charged the two travelers with a message of insult for the Vaiari chief such as could be atoned for only by death. Then, having made an instant war certain, he hurried back to his friend Tiaau and told him what had happened. Both hastened to Oro to warn him that Hurimaavehi with his warriors was coming.

Oro was asleep, drowsy with kava, which, as every one knows, was the kind of intoxication Tahitian chiefs most loved, and when they most resented being disturbed. Only a great war-chief could throw off the influence of kava suddenly, to go into a fight; which shows how great a fighter Oro was, for he gave his orders at once. To one he said: "Climb the cocoanut tree and watch!" for the tallest palm was the watch-tower of the Tahiti village. To the other he said: "Hide yourself and your men in the Marae! When you see Hurimaavehi, beat him!" The wall of the Marae is still to be seen close by the foundations of the chief's house, covered with trees and lost in forest, and must have been not only a convenient hiding-place, but the only place in the nature of a fort in the neighborhood.

Oro's arrangements were quickly made. Among such close neighbors war was a sudden affair. A secret march by night along the beach, or in canoes along the shore, would bring a hostile force before morning the whole length of the island, from Taravao to Faaa. Many a district has been suddenly attacked and its people massacred, every house burned and every pig carried away, in a raid of a few hours. Generally an alarm of a few minutes was enough to call the warriors to arms, and to hurry the women and children away to the hills. The small chiefery of Amo, where this affair occurred, is close to the hills, and probably its warriors were collected in the Marae, and its women and children were in safety in the woods before Panee called from the top of his cocoanut tree that he could see the spears of the approaching warriors from Vaiari.

Oro's plan of battle succeeded. Hurimaavehi came, was attacked and beaten; but, from this point of the story, even we victors must allow that our tradition needs some little gloss. That Oro should have pursued the flying enemy was perhaps only what an energetic chief must have done in the case of so desperate a quarrel; but, in view of the force which Oro must have had with him to effect a conquest and the very considerable conquests he effected, a candid listener would like to know the Vaiari side of the story. Even a Papara school-girl, if she reads in her history-book the story of Appius Claudius or of Tarquin, would be a little surprised to find that she knew all about it, and that Papara had a Brutus and Virginius of its own quite as good as the Roman. The fight about a woman is the starting-point of all early popular revolutions and poetry; but as all of us, in our family, are descended from Vaiari as well as from Papara, we do ourselves no wrong by doubting whether, after all, the woman was not a pretext or even an invention to account for the outbreak of a plot. Oro behaved as though his plans were arranged beforehand, for he chased the Vaiari chief straight through his country, over several miles of hills not easy to cross if the people were hostile, until Hurimaavehi took refuge in the neighboring district of Hitiaa, thirty miles from the battle-field, while Oro seized each district as he passed through, and declared it subject to Papara.

Primitive people seem to have kept certain stock-stories, as one keeps pincushions to stick with pins, which represent the sharp points of their history and the names of their heroes; but the pins serve their purpose in the want of writing. Perhaps Vaiari and Hurimaavehi may have had a different story to tell, and may have thought that, when Papara had grown to be stronger than Vaiari, its chief challenged a quarrel, on any pretext that served his purpose, in order to make Papara the ruling district. If this was the true story, Vaiari was afterward revenged; but in either case this was what Oro did. The younger branch conquered the elder branch, and from that day the chiefs of Papara issued their summons to all the Tevas, and took the political headship of the clan.

According to the legend, Oro pushed his conquests even into Hitiaa, or into lands claimed by Teriitua, chief of Hitiaa; and when Teriitua interposed and stopped his advance, a dispute followed, Oro insisting on one boundary; Teriitua on another. They agreed to refer the decision to their Gods; but Oro took the precaution to hide his friend Aia in a hole near the line which he claimed, while Teriitua neglected to provide a voice for his Hitiaa oracle. When Teriitua called, his God did not answer; but when Oro called: "Is it here ?" his friend underground answered like an echo: "Here!" and the boundary was fixed and still remains at that point, securing to the Tevas entire control of the isthmus of Taravao.

This is the story of the rise of Papara as it is still told among the people. Something of the kind certainly did occur, and I know no reason why the tradition may not be true precisely as it stands.

Ahuahu . . . Papara.
Ahurai . . . Tefana.
Amaama . . . Papara.
Ativavau (Maraetaata) . . . Paea in Teoropaa.
Fanautaitahi . . . Eimeo.
Fareia . . . Eimeo.
Farepua . . . Vaiari.
Fareroi . . . Haapape.
Hitiaa . . . Hitiaa.
Mahaiatea . . . Papara.
Manunu . . . Papara.
Maraetaata . . . Ativavau in Paea.
Maruia . . . Papara.
Matahihae . . . Teahupoo.
Matairea . . . Afareaitu in Eimeo.
Mataoa . . . Papara.
Matarehn . . . Papara.
Natoofa . . . Afareaitu in Eimeo.
Nuurua . . . Varari in Eimeo.
Nuutere . . . Vairao.
Outuraumatooarai. (Tooarai).
. . . (?) Punaauia.
Punaauia . . . Punaauia.
Punuatoofa . . . Toura? Eimeo.
Puteaio Tepuoteaio . . . Atitara in Paea
Raianaunau . . . Pare Arue.
Ravea . . . Tautira and Teahupoo.
Tahiti . . . Vaiari.
Tapuanini . . . Teahupoo.
Taputapuatea . . . Pare Arue, from Raiatea.
Taputuarai . . . Amo in Papara.
Tarahoi . . . Arue.
Tefano. Maraetefano . . . Haapiti in Eimeo.
Tepuote. (Puteaio).
. . . Paea.
Tooari. Outuraumatooarai . . . Papara.
Tuturuarii . . . Punaauia.
Umarea . . . Afareaitu in Eimeo.
Vahitutautua . . . Vaiari.
Vaiotaha . . . Haapiti in Eimeo.

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Tahiti - Marau Taaroa & Henry Adams