by Marau Taaroa & Henry Adams


On the 13th April, 1769, about two years after Wallis's visit, and four months after the raid against Papara, Captain Cook entered Mata-ai Bay in H. M. bark, the "Endeavor," on his first voyage round the world. He found a chief, whose name he understood to be Tootahah, which would now be spelled Tutaha, exercising the powers of government in the district, and under Tootahah's protection he set up his tents on Point Venus. A staff of scientific gentlemen were with him; among them Joseph Banks, afterwards Sir Joseph, who kept a diary, and Dr. Solander, a Swedish naturalist. Another person seems to have been with them who also kept a diary, which was published anonymously in 1772 as "A Journal of a Voyage round the World."

On the 28th April, a fortnight after their arrival, Banks was at work in a tent on shore, with a number of natives seated about, and looking at his doings, when the ship's master entered.

"After breakfast", Banks wrote in his journal, "Jon Mollineux came ashore, and the moment he entered the tent, fixed his eyes upon a woman who was sitting there, and declared that she had been the queen when the 'Dolphin' was here. She also instantly acknowledged him as a person whom she had seen before. Our attention was now entirely diverted from every other object to the examination of a personage we had heard of so much in Europe; she appeared to be about forty, tall and very lusty, her skin white and her eyes full of meaning; she might have been handsome when young, but now few or no traces of it were left. As soon as her Majesty's quality was known to us, she was invited to go on board the ship, where no presents were spared that were thought to be agreeable to her in consideration of her services to the ' Dolphin'. Among other things a child's doll was given to her, of which she seemed very fond; on her landing she met Hercules (whom for the future I shall call by his real name Dootahah [Tutaha]), and showed him her presents He became uneasy, and was not satisfied till he also had got a doll, which he now seemed to prefer to a hatchet; after this, however, dolls were of no value."

Captain Cook also recorded in his Journal the reappearance of Wallis's queen:

"She first went to Mr Banks's tent at the fort, where she was not known till the master happening to go ashore, who knew her and brought her on board with two men and several women who seemed to be all of her family. I made them all some presents or other, but to Oberiea (for that is this woman's name), I gave several things, in return for which, as soon as I went on shore with her, she gave me a hog and several branches of plaintains These she caused to be carried from her canoes up to the fort in a kind of procession, she and I bringing up the rear. This woman is about forty years of age, and, like most of the other women, very masculine. She is head or chief of her own family or Tribe, but to all appearance hath no authority over the rest of the inhabitants, whatever she might have when the 'Dolphin' was here. Hercules, whose real name is Tootaha, is to all appearance the chief man of the island;... he was with us at this time, and did not appear very well pleased at the notice we took of Oberiea".

From these two Journals, Hawkesworth compiled the "Voyages", the first volume of which so much irritated Horace Walpole. For the sake of showing how much, or how little, was added or altered by Hawkesworth, I will give also the page which he devoted to Oberea's rediscovery.

"Canoes were constantly coming in all this forenoon, and the tents at the fort were crowded with people of both sexes from different parts of the island. I was myself busy on board the ship, but Mr. Mollineux, our master, who was one of those that made the last voyage in the 'Dolphin,' went on shore. As soon as he entered Mr. Banks's tent he fixed his eyes upon one of the women, who was sitting there with great composure among the rest, and immediately declared her to be the person who at that time was supposed to be Queen of the island, she also at the same time acknowledging him to be one of the strangers whom she had seen before. The attention of all present was now directed from every other object, and wholly engaged in considering a person who had made so distinguished a figure in the accounts that had been given of this island by its first discoverers; and we soon learnt that her name was Oberea. She seemed to be about forty years of age, and was not only tall but of a large make; her skin was white, and there was an uncommon intelligence and sensibility in her eyes; she appeared to have been handsome when she was young, but at this time little more than memorials of her beauty were left.

"As soon as her quality was known an offer was made to conduct her to the ship. Of this she readily accepted, and came on board with two men and several women, who seemed to be all of her family; I received her with such marks of distinction as I thought would gratify her most, and was not sparing of my presents, among which this august personage seemed particularly delighted with a child's doll. After some time spent on board I attended her back to the shore, and as soon as we landed she presented me with a hog and several bunches of plantains, which she caused to be carried from her canoes up to the fort in a kind of procession, of which she and myself brought up the rear. In our way to the fort we met Tootahah, who, though not king, appeared to be at this time invested with the sovereign authority; he seemed not to be well pleased with the distinction that was shewed to the lady, and became so jealous when she produced her doll that to propitiate him it was thought proper to compliment him with another. At this time he thought fit to prefer a doll to a hatchet; but this preference arose only from a childish jealousy which could not be soothed but by a gift of exactly the same kind with that which had been presented to Oberea."

Every Englishman in those days took comfort, when wandering over the world, in the faith that kings and queens were a part of the divine system, and that no intelligent race could hold up its head without them. A king or a queen the English must have at Tahiti, and they had already settled that Oberea was a queen. What, then, was Tutaha? On going eastward into the district of Papenoo they were told by the natives that all the hogs and poultry belonged to Tutaha and could not be sold without his permission. "We now began to think that this man was indeed a great prince, for an influence so extensive and absolute could be acquired by no other. And we afterwards found that he administered the government of this part of the island, as sovereign, for a minor whom we never saw all the time that we were upon it." Yet they were again perplexed by the sudden appearance of another man, who was treated by the natives with royal honors, within the very district of Haapape where Tutaha seemed to rule.

Cook's Journal, on June 21, contained the following entry:

"This morning a chief whose name is Oamo, and one we had not seen before came to the Fort. There came with him a Boy about seven Years of Age and a Young Woman of about eighteen or twenty. At the Time of their coming, Obariea and several others were in the fort. They went out to meet them, having first uncovered their Heads and Bodies as low as their Waists; and the same thing was done by all those that were on the outside of the Fort. As we looked upon this as a ceremonial respect, and had not seen it paid to anyone before, we thought that this Oamo must be some extraordinary person, and wondered to see so little notice taken of him after the ceremony was over. The Young woman that came along with him could not be prevailed upon to come into the Fort and the Boy was carried upon a Man's back, altho' he was as able to walk as the Man who carried him. This Lead us to inquire who they were; and we was informed that the Boy was heir apparent to the Sovereignty of the Island, and the Young Woman was his Sister, and as such the respect was paid them which was due to no one else except the Arreedehi, which was not Tutaha, from what we could learn, but some other person who we had not seen, or like to do, for they say that he is no Friend of ours, and therefore will not come near us. The Young Boy above mentioned is son to Oamo by Obariea, but Oamo and Obariea do not at this time live together as Man and Wife, he not being able to endure with her troublesome disposition. I mention this because it shows that seperation in the Marriage state is not unknown to these people."

Thus Cook first made the acquaintance of Amo and Teriirere. Banks took no notice, in his Journal, of the incident; but when Hawkesworth came to compile the "Voyage", he added to the account, given in Cook's Journal, some details and made some changes which may have been derived from Banks or Cook, but which were not improvements, and tended to confuse the whole story. Especially he reduced the young woman's age to sixteen, and though continuing to represent her as Teriirere's sister, he said she was intended for his wife. The passage in Hawkesworth runs as follows:

"On the 21st [June] we were visited at the fort by a chief, called Oamo, whom we had never seen before, and who was treated by the natives with uncommon respect; he brought with him a boy about seven years old, and a young woman about sixteen: the boy was carried upon a man's back, which we considered as a piece of state, for he was as well able to walk as any present. As soon as they were in sight, Oberea and several other natives who were in the fort went out to meet them, having first uncovered their heads and bodies as low as the waist: as they came on, the same ceremony was performed by all the natives who were without the fort.... The chief came into the tent, but no entreaty could prevail upon the young woman to follow him, though she seemed to refuse contrary to her inclination: the natives without were indeed all very solicitous to prevent her; sometimes, when her resolution seemed to fail, almost using force: the boy also they restrained in the same manner; but Dr. Solander, happening to meet him at the gate, took him by the hand and led him in before the people were aware of it; as soon, however, as those that were within saw him they took care to have him sent out. These circumstances having strongly excited our curiosity, we enquired who they were, and were informed that Oamo was the husband of Oberea, though they had been a long time separated by mutual consent, and that the young woman and the boy were their children. We learnt also that the boy, whose name was Terridiri, was heir apparent to the sovereignty of the island, and that his sister was intended for his wife, the marriage being deferred only till he should arrive at a proper age. The sovereign at this time was a son of Whappai, whose name was Otou, and who, as before has been observed, was a minor. Whappai, Oamo, and Tootahah were brothers. Whappai was the eldest, and Oamo the second; so that Whappai having no child but Otou, Terridiri, the son of his next brother Oamo, was heir to the sovereignty."

Tahitian genealogy at best was hard to understand, but Captain Cook's struggles with it, aided by English rules, were almost pathetic. On one point he was right. Oamo was Oberea's husband and our great-great-granduncle. Whappai or Hapai is commonly known as Teu, and his son, then called Otoo, was afterward known as Pomare and Vairatoa. As for the relationship of Hapai, Amo and Tutaha, as I have shown, it was not that of brothers. All foreign visitors to Tahiti were misled at first by the Tahitian expressions which meant indifferently brothers and cousins to an indefinite degree. Purea and Otoo were closely connected, as I mean to explain presently, and that Cook should have been confused about the relative rank of Teriirere and Otoo was natural, because at that instant the natives themselves had not decided the question.

The Englishmen soon learned more about the story of Amo and Purea for they set out, only five days after this visit, on a tour round the island, and on June 29th, arrived at Papara, after having made the circuit of Taiarapu. Both Cook and Banks, in their Journals, gave accounts of what they saw there, and from these Hawkesworth made up the description which is published in the "Voyage."

"We were now [June 29] not far from the district called PAPARRA, which belonged to our friends Oamo and Oberea, where we proposed to sleep. We went on shore about an hour before night, and found that they were both absent, having left their habitations to pay us a visit at Matavai: this however, did not alter our purpose; we took up our quarters at the house of Oberea, which, though small, was very neat, and at this time had no inhabitant but her father, who received us with looks that bid us welcome. Having taken possession we were willing to improve the little daylight that was left us, and therefore walked out to a point upon which we had seen, at a distance, trees that are here called Etoa, which generally distinguish the places where these people bury the bones of their dead; their name for such burying grounds, which are also places of worship, is Morai. We were soon struck with the sight of an enormous pile, which we were told was the Morai of Oamo and Oberea, and the principal piece of Indian architecture in the island. It was a pile of stone-work raised pyramidically upon an oblong base or square two hundred and sixty-seven feet long and eighty-seven wide. It was built like the small pyramidal mounds upon which we sometimes fix the pillar of a sun-dial, where each side is a flight of steps; the steps, however, at the sides were broader than those at the ends, so that it terminated not in a square of the same figure with the base, but in a ridge like the roof of a house; there were eleven of these steps, each of which was four feet high, so that the height of the pile was forty-four feet: each step was formed of one course of white coral stone which was neatly squared and polished; the rest of the mass, for there was no hollow within, consisted of round pebbles, which, from the regularity of their figure, seemed to have been wrought. Some of the coral stones were very large; we measured one of them and found it three feet and an half by two feet and an half. The foundation was of rock stones, which were also squared, and one of them measured four feet seven inches by two feet four. Such a structure, raised without the assistance of iron tools to shape the stones or mortar to join them, struck us with atonishment; it seemed to be as compact and firm as it could have been made by any workman in Europe, except that the steps, which range along its greatest length, are not perfectly straight, but sink in a kind of hollow in the middle, so that the whole surface, from end to end, is not a right line but a curve. The quarry stones, as we saw no quarry in the neighborhood, must have been brought from a considerable distance, and there is no method of conveyance here but by hand; the coral must also have been fished from under the water, where, though it may be found in plenty, it lies at a considerable depth, never less than three feet. Both the rock stone and the coral could be squared only by tools made of the same substance, which must have been a work of incredible labor; but the polishing was more easily effected by means of the sharp coral sand which is found everywhere upon the seashore in great abundance. In the middle of the top stood the image of a bird carved in wood, and near it lay the broken one of a fish carved in stone. The whole of this pyramid made part of one side of a spacious area or square, nearly of equal sides, being three hundred and sixty feet by three hundred and fifty-four, which was walled in with stone, and paved with flat stones in its whole extent."

In this instance Hakesworth did not exaggerate the language used by his authorities. Banks used even stronger expressions. "A most enormous pile," he called the Marae; "its size and workmanship almost exceed belief." His measurement differed from that of Cook in regard to breadth. Cook made the base 267 by 87 feet. Banks made it 267 by 71 feet. Cook added that "at the top it is 250 feet by 8 feet." They agreed as to the number of steps but not precisely about their height. "Each step", said Cook, "is about 4 feet in height, and the breadth 4 feet 7 inches, but they decreased both in height and breadth from the bottom to the top."

Only a great heap of shapeless coral stones now remains of the Marae of Mahaiatea, which has been used as a quarry for nearly a century, so that we cannot tell how exact Cook's report was, but both he and Banks were as a rule so accurate and so matter-of-fact that one feels safe in accepting all they said. Nearly thirty years afterward, when the missionaries came in the ship "Duff," they not only took measurements but made a sketch which is engraved in their narrative, and shows the pyramid still almost perfect. They found its length to be two hundred and seventy feet, or three feet more than Cook made it, and its width ninety-four feet, which is seven feet in excess of Cook's measurement. According to their account and the sketch, the pyramid had not eleven but ten steps, the lowest six feet and the other nine about five feet high, which gives a total height of about fifty feet, instead of forty-four. Even in Egypt such a pile would have taken a respectable, place among the small pyramids, but in the South Seas, where continuous labor was hardly possible to obtain or to enforce, and where stone architecture was uncommon, such a monument excited as much astonishment as the famous stone figures of Easter Island or the ruins in Central America would have done.

The Marae of Mahaiatea, which the books so often mention as the Marae of Amo and Purae, not only cost our family a crown, but also very nearly its existence. Banks's narrative grows in interest as it goes on, and the next paragraph comes painfully near us.

"About a hundred yards to the west of this building was another court or paved area, in which were several Ewhattas, a kind of altar raised on wooden pillars about seven feet high; on these they offer meat of all kinds to the gods. We have thus seen large hogs offered; and here were the skulls of about fifty of them, besides those of dogs which the priest who accompanied us assured us were only a small fraction of what had been here sacrificed. This Marai [Tooarai] and apparatus for sacrifice belonged, we were told, to Oborea and Oamo. The greatest pride of an inhabitant of Otaheite is to have a grand Marai; in this particular our friends far exceed any one in the island, and in the Dolphin's time the first of them exceeded everyone else in riches and respect. The reason of the difference of her present appearance I found by an accident which I now relate. Our road to the Marai lay by the seaside, and everywhere under our feet were numberless human bones, chiefly ribs and vertebrae. So singular a sight surprised me much, and I inquired the reason. I was told that in the month called by them Owaraheu last, which answers to our December, 1768, the people of Tiarreboo made a descent here and killed a large number of people whose bones we now saw; that upon this occasion Oborea and Oamo were obliged to flee for shelter to the mountains; that the conquerors burnt all the houses, which were very large, and took away all the hogs, etc; that the turkey and goose which we had seen [in Taiarapu] were part of the spoils, as were the jaw-bones which we had also seen."

Thanks to Banks's exactness, we know, then, that the authority of Amo and Purea, or al least their military domination, was broken down by a sudden attack from Tiarapu in December, 1768, eighteen months after Wallis saw Purea in the pride of her queenship, at Matavai Bay. This gives one of the two certain dates in our family history. The destruction of Papara by the Tiarapu people in December, 1768, was the first of a long series of disasters and miseries which ended with the death of our granduncle Opuhara, at the battle of the Fei-pi, November 12, 1815.

Besides this light thrown on our personal affairs, Cook's first voyage gives another gleam. When Wallis visited the island he found a certain man named Tupia, or Tupaia of Raiatea, high in power and a chief adviser of Purea. When Cook arrived, Tupaia was still there:

"Among the natives who were almost constantly with us was Tupia, whose name has been often mentioned in this narrative. He had been, as I have before observed, the first minister of Oberea when she was in the height of her power; he was also the chief Tahowa or priest of the island; consequently well acquainted with the religion of the country as well with respect to its ceremonies as principles. This man had often expressed a desire to go with us, and on the 12th [July], in the morning, having with the other natives left us the day before, he came on board with a boy about thirteen years of age, his servant, and urged us to let him proceed with us on our voyage."

Cook consented, and Tupaia left the island with him. They arrived at Raiatea, called Ulietea by Cook, on the 20th July, and there, according to the anonymous "Journal," Tupaia gave them some account of himself, which interests us more than it did Cook. He said that he was a native of Raiatea, and had been driven out of it by an invasion and conquest of the island from the little neighboring island of Bora-bora. Having fled to Tahiti he was taken into favor by Purea, and roused the enmity of Tutaha, "uncle to the young king, her son, and a man of great courage, and highly esteemed by the people," but who meditated a change in the regency:

"The better to effect it he began to create divisions between the inhabitants of Otahitee-eta (Taiarapu) and of Otahitee-nua [little Tahiti and big Tahiti], which finally produced hostilities between them. At that time Tobia [Tupaia], who had great sagacity and judgment, having discovered Tutahau's designs, advised the queen to procure his death privately, as the only expedient to restore peace and preserve her authority; but she, thinking his advice too cruel, refused, for the first time, to comply with it; and he, foreseeing the consequences, retired to the mountains, alleging that this retreat was necessary for the preservation of his life. Soon after, the inhabitants of Lesser Otahitee making frequent incursions into the greater division, and their numerous depredations having thrown the inhabitants of the latter into confusion, which Tutahaw artfully improving to his advantage, they at length offered him the regency, thinking their affairs too much embarrassed for the administration of a female; an agreement was therefore made between Oberea and Tutahaw, in which it was conditioned that she should preserve the title and state of queen, with a certain number of attendants, &c., and that the regency should devolve to Tutahaw; who, respecting Tobia's understanding and sacerdotal character, afterward permitted him to return from the mountains in safety; but he was so much displeased with this revolution that he embraced the opportunity of our departure to leave the island."

This account was accepted by George Forster, who accompanied Cook as naturalist in attendance on his father, John Reinold Forster, in 1774, when Cook made his second visit to the island. Forster heard the same story from Otoo's people at Pare Arue. Amo and Purea, in December, 1768, had been driven from Papara into the mountains. "At last the conqueror [Vehiatua] consented to a peace on condition that Amo should entirely resign the government, and that the succession should be taken from his son and conferred upon Otoo, the eldest son of his [Amo's] brother Happai. This was agreed to, and Tootahah, the youngest brother of Amo, was appointed regent." The whole story was bodily adopted thirty years afterward into the Missionary Narrative, but the missionaries added some interesting details not given in the "Journal."

"Waheadooa [Vehiatua of Taiarapu], stimulated by the desire of becoming wholly independent of the larger peninsula, passed the isthmus with his army, and defeated that which Oammo had collected to oppose him. Tootaha, at the same time, with the forces of Attahooroo and Tettaha, attacked from the westward the district of Pappara, Oammo's residence, and carried off from the great morae at that place, to another in Attahooroo, the peculiar ensigns of the regal and sacerdotal offices. The grand ceremonies which are attended with human sacrifices were therefore performed at the morae of Attahooroo for thirteen years after that event. "

These stories seem to show that in December, 1768, the peninsula of Taiarapu in the south, Pare Arue in the north, and the Oro-paa or Paea on the west, combined to attack Papara from both sides and succeeded in crushing it. Vehiatua and the Taiarapu army came from the south and ravaged Papara, after defeating Amo and massacring the people. The human bones still covering the beach in June, 1769, proved the severity of the disaster, and the Taiarapu people showed Cook as trophies, in a single village far down at the extreme corner of their peninsula, fifteen human jaw-bones, perfectly fresh and none of them wanting a single tooth. At the same village Cook saw a goose and a turkey-cock which had been given to Purea by Wallis in 1767, and had become a part of the plunder of Papara. While the Taiarapu people carried off the heads and the property of the victims, Tutaha and the northwestern districts carried away the symbol of supremacy, the standard and feathered girdle, from the Marae of Tooarai and Mahaiatea, and placed it in the Marae of Maraetaata in the district of Paea in the Oropaa, or, as it was usually called by the English, Attahuru. Amo and Purea were forced to make what terms they could with Tutaha, and to recognize Otoo, as having a right to the dignity of the Maro-ura at Maraetata. Papara lost her political supremacy. The coalition of Ahu-rai and Pare Arue with Taiarapu made a new centre of power; but Teriirere remained chief of the Teva districts, retained his social position and the Maro-tea, and was still the most powerful single chief in the island. No one seems to have tried to drive the Papara family out, as Vehiatua drove out Tavi and as Pomare was driven out in 1808. The quarrel was with Purea rather than with Amo or Teriirere.

Tradition further says that Otoo was not allowed to wear the Maro without a protest. In order to receive full recognition, he was obliged to take a seat and wear the Maro-ura in the great Marae of Maraetaata in Paea. This Marae had three heads: (1) Pouira, the Tevahitua i Patea; (2) Tetooha, the Taura atua i Patea; and (3) Punuaaitua. Tevahitua protested, and refused to allow Otoo to take his seat and wear the Maroura on his part of the Marae. The other two made no objection, and the reason was characteristic of Tahitian society. Otoo's great-grandmother, Te-fete-fete-ui, was the daughter of Tevarua hoiatua, a chiefess of Ahurai and Punaauia, and as such had the right to a seat in Marae Maraetaata.

Table IV: Ahurai-Punaauia

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Tahiti - Marau Taaroa & Henry Adams