by Marau Taaroa & Henry Adams


Wallis left the island in July, 1767. Bougainville visited it in April, 1768, but touched only at Hitiaa, on the eastern side. Amo and Purea were probably then at Papara, preparing for the great feast at which Teriirere i Tooarai was to wear the Maro for the first time in his great new Marae at Mahaiatea.

This feast was the last display of Purea's pride. The contest she had challenged began by a disturbance which broke up the Ahu raa reva -- the donning of the Maro ura -- which was the equivalent of coronation among a people who never wore a crown. The unfortunate Teriirere, for whose sake the feast and the Rahui and the Marae were made, found his cousins uniting to pull him down. The Tevas of Papara have preserved a song made in memory of this tragedy, and almost as lyric and lurid as the tragedy itself; but so genuine a piece of native literature that I have done my best to write it down correctly, and get explanations of its obscure allusions.

The words, with their literal translation, run thus:


Ahu raa reva i Tooarai
Patiri ite pae ote rai
Tu'ua tetapii ite avatea
Haati ite reva ate arii
Te arii ite rai tauatini
Hapuni ite reva ate arii
Te arii ite rai tauamano
E faatia raa reva tei Matahihae
Ite aro o Vehiatua
Na taata i ofati ite reva ate arii
O Teieie raua o Tetumanua
Ahiri toe hara i hope i reira
I ati te Oropaa
Na hia faifai roa te pohe ote fenua
Na hara ,oe ete Purahi
Ite reva ura ate arii
Tei fati hia e Taiarapu
A pohe ai tatou e
The feast of flags was held at Tooarai
(The drums) like crash of thunder along the sky
(The splendor) like the rays of noonday sun
Surrounded the standard of the arii
The arii of countless skies
Enveloped the standard of the arii
The arii of a thousand skies.
A feast was also held at Matahihae
In the presence of Vehiatua
The two men who broke up the feast of the arii
Were Teieie and Tetumanua
Had the sin ceased there
It brought misery to the Oropaa
And the whole land was laid prostrate
Oh, thou hast sinned, Purahi,
Against the reva ura of thine Arii
That was broken up by Taiarapu
Which brought on our ruin.

E tatari oe ite nuu nui ite patu ofai
Ite marae i Mahaiatea
Pohuatea tei Punaauia
Tepauarii tei Ahurai
Teriimaroura tei Tarahoi
Te fenua i hara atu ai te maau e
Eimeo ite raravaru
Te fenua i tai hia e Mahine
Na oti ite pure, tootoo ia ite iho na
O Puni i Farerua, o Raa i Tupai
E tahua o Teae afano i Tahiti
E oroa tei Tahiti
Ahu raa reva na Teriirere i Tooarai
Tatou e no ho ai e
Na hara oe ete Purahi
Ite reva ura ate arii
Tei fati hia e Taiarapu
A pohe ai tatou e
Assembles the great host at the cairn
At the marae of Mahaietea.
Pohuatea at Punaauia.
Tepauarii at Ahurai.
Terii maro ura at Tarahoi
The land where the idiot was punished.
Eimeo, the eight branched,
The land dear to Mahine.
The prayers were said, the call was given
To Puni of Farerua, to Raa of Tupai
The high priest Teae is gone to Tahiti
There is a feast at Tahiti
The Ahuraareva for Teriirere of Tooarai
To whom we all bow down.
Oh, thou hast sinned, Purahi,
Against the reva ura of thine Arii
That was broken up by Taiarapu
Which brought on our ruin.

Faaara viriaro tei Pafaarava
E rima tahivai e rima tahivai
Eha ei roto e ha ei rapae
Ahiri ite tao a Amo e
E te Oropaa e
E hopoipoi tia tatou
Ite aro na tai ote vaa
Nauta tatou hoe ona a ino
Tei mua ite Malataupe
E aau paapaa tei Vaitoata
E pau tatou ite pau o Pairituaipo
Ite rahi tauraa Temahuru nia nei
Pahupua ma nei
Hia orero tina Papara
Na hia te moua
Ite vaa nui o Hui ma Taiarapu
Hoe noa tia ei te pae tahatai
Tau mate o no iaia e
Na hara oe ete Purahi
Ite reva ura ate arii
Tei fati hia e Taiarapu
A pohe ai tatou e
The scouts at Pafaarava are wakened
One hand is stretched out, and then another.
The four (districts) within, and the four without
Ah, had the advice of Amo been followed
By you of the Oropaa
To lead us all
The van of the army by canoes on the sea
By the mountain-road we had one evil
Ahead of us at the Matataupe
The dry reef of Vaitoata
There we might have died the death of Pairituaipo
At the meeting-ground of Temahuru
And of Pahupua.
Papara is laid prostrate
The Mount (the Arii) is laid low
By the great army of Hui and Taiarapu
Only one now stands on the shore, the Marae,
Thou the cause of our downfall.
Oh, thou hast sinned,Purahi,
Against the reva ura of thine Arii
That was broken up by Taiarapu
Which brought on our ruin.

From this song we can make out that Purahi was the woman who caused the disaster at last. Purahi was an Aromaiterai; the daughter of the Aromaiterai who married Amo's sister Tetuaunurau somewhere about 1750 (See Table I). She was therefore first cousin of the young Teriirere, and belonged to the elder branch of the family, while Teriirere was a Tuiterai, and by his mother, Purea, not a Teva at all. According to island law, I suppose Purahi had a perfect right to take the power from Teriirere if she could.

Purahi was supported by Vehiatua; and the army that devastated Papara came from Taiarapu and Hui. It was led by the great warriors, Teieie and Tetumanua, who were, and are still, so famous that even today you may hear the Taiarapu sing of them. Teieie was a cousin of Vehiatua, and is our ancestor, which is not the case with Amo. My father Tati was, as Table II shows, the son of Teuraiterai and Telau of Ravea. Tetau was a granddaughter of Teieie.

Only the other day I heard the Tautira people again sing the last verses of the song which told how Vehiatua remonstrated with Teieie for troubling his authority. The first part is forgotten. The verses I heard were these:


Teieie, e eiaha ei faainoino ite hau
Teieie, why, oh! why will you make trouble with the government!
Tena ta oe ite ra e hiti
You have the sun-rise (the Pari)
I Tirimiro i Manuataha.
The Tirimiro and Manuataha (sub-districts).


Te mata toana te mata toanei
You have eyes, eyes have I!
Te huru toa nei te huru toa nei
You are a warrior, warrior am I!
Haapiti te matai e nauta mai i Tahuarera
Haapite the wind that blows over Tahuarera
Ite rua o matai taua Fatutira ite tai paaina
Brings me the sound of the surf of Fatutira.
O Murihau a nae ra o tau e tai.
Murihau is all I ask and cry for.
Needless to say that Murihau was another village beauty, like the Maraeura of Tauraatua, whose rank was too low for marriage with an Arii.

Teieie and Tetumanua were called the Ohiteitei -- the two serpents. In honor of them all Taiarapu was called Upoeeha. These two great warriors broke up the Feast of Tooarai, and laid low the Moua, the Arii Teriirere, "in whose presence we all go on our knees".

The various great chiefs who were summoned to the Feast show the extent of Teriirere's influence. Besides Pohuatea at Punaauia, Tepau at Ahurai, and Terii maro ura at Tarahoi, the island of Eimeo was summoned and Puni of Farerua in Borabora, and Raa of Tupai and Maupiti, two islands dependent on Borabora; and finally Teae of Baiatea. A curious bit of old history and manners is preserved in the two lines:

Terii maroura tei Tarahoi Maraianaunau
Te fenua i hara atu ai te maau e.
Idiots were objects of respect in most of the ancient societies, and it seems that a certain Teva idiot must have been an object of great interest, for when he was killed, in the district of Pare, for some offence such as implied that he was considered sane and responsible, the Tevas took up arms and revenged his death by ravaging Pare, and retained the event as a sort of epithet in song against the Porionuu and the Arii of Raianaunau.

The Papara people who made the song seem to have been angry because Amo's advice was not followed in the manner of meeting the invasion. If Captain Cook understood them rightly, they laid their disaster on their neighbor, the Arii of Paea, or Attahuru. Certain it is that, when the blow came, Purea, Amo and Teriirere made their escape across the mountains to Haapape, whose chief was a cousin or uncle of Amo. Purea did not take refuge with her own family. But possibly other reasons controlled their movements, for the song says that the whole Oropaa suffered; and Purea's family district of Ahurai may not have escaped, for Ahurai is but a narrow strip of coast, seven kilometers in length, lying directly next to the Oropaa.

On all these intricate points of island politics, Captain Cook was suddenly thrown, with the effect of confusing and irritating him and all the chiefs he had to deal with. He never quite succeeded in understanding their position or his own. His story is the liveliest picture of our misfortunes.

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Tahiti - Marau Taaroa & Henry Adams