by Marau Taaroa & Henry Adams


I come now to the year 1788, when Lieutenant William Bligh was sent by the British Government in H. M. ship Bounty to bring breadfruit from Tahiti, to be domesticated as a fruit of peculiar usefulness in the various tropical colonies of Great Britain. The Voyage of the Bounty has become as classical as the Voyages of Cook and Bougainville. More books and essays have been written about the Bounty than about any other two-hundred-ton ship whose crew ever mutinied, before or since; but the part of its story which was most serious to us is the part which has been least noticed by the world. What Bligh said to Christian, and what Christian said to Bligh, and what Peter Heywood said to both, and how Thursday October Christian made his dramatic appearance at Pitcairn Island, and a thousand other details of the picturesque story, have been told a hundred times, and always to interested audiences; but no one has taken the trouble to tell how great an influence Bligh and his mutineers exercised over the destinies of Tahiti, and especially of its old chiefs.

Bligh had been the master of Cook's ship, the Resolution, on Cook's third and last voyage. He came back in 1788 with all the ideas which Cook had fixed on his mind in 1777. Had he been a Frenchman, he might perhaps have enjoyed discovering the mistakes of his predecessors, and trying to correct them by mistakes of his own, but when the English once saw what they took to be a fact, they saw nothing else forever. Bligh appeared at Matavai in the Bounty, October 26, 1788, without a doubt that his old acquaintance, Otoo, was King of all Tahiti, and a friend of King George III, to be upheld against every attack, aristocratic or democratic; and what with Cook had been chiefly a matter of convenience and policy became with Bligh a simple matter of course.

Yet the situation in which Bligh found Tu would have roused doubts in the mind of any one except a sailor or a soldier. Tu was almost at his last gasp when the Bounty arrived. Pare Arue had been thoroughly ravaged and plundered; everything that Cook gave to Tu had been carried away; a cow was at Faaa; the bull was at Hitiaa; a chest which had been made expressly for Tu, large enough for him and his wife to sleep on, was said to be in Eimeo. Apparently the whole body of Tu's neighbors had united to punish and impoverish him. Bligh remarked that although Tu went with him to Faaa, he did not land, but remained in the boat, and received no sign of respect, nor even a cocoanut or a breadfruit. He would not go with Bligh to Eimeo on any terms, "but said that, notwithstanding my protection, he was certain the Eimeo people would watch for an opportunity to kill him." He stood in fear even of his half-brother Ariipaea, who seemed to. be much the more respected of the two; and the chief of Matavai, Poeeno, told Bligh that Tu and his brother Ariipaea "were not on good terms together, and it was imagined that they would fight as soon as the ship was gone." Tu's position was so desperate that he begged Bligh to take him and his wife, Tetua, to England, and Bligh was at some loss for an excuse.

"To quiet his importunity, I was obliged to promise that I would ask the king's permission to carry them to England if I came again; that then I should be in a larger ship and could have accommodations properly fitted up. I was sorry to find that Tinah [Tu] was apprehensive he should be attacked by his enemies as soon as our ship left Otaheite, and that if they joined they would be too powerful for him. The illness of Teppahoo [Tepau of Ahurai], with whom he was on good terms, gave him much uneasiness -- Teppaho's wife being a sister of Otow's and aunt to Tinah. They have no children, ... and if Teppahoo were to die, he would be succeeded as Earee of the district of Tettaha [Ahurai] by his brother, who is an enemy of Tinah. I have on every occasion endeavored to make the principal people believe that we should return again to Otaheite, and that we should revenge any injury done in our absence to the people of Matavai and Oparre."

Another event had helped to diminish the dignity of Tu in the eyes of foreigners:

"I was surprised to find that instead of Otoo, the name by which he formerly went, he was now called Tinah. The name of Otoo, with the title of Earee rahie [Arii rahi], I was informed, had devolved to his eldest son, who was yet a minor, as is the custom of the country. I prepared a magnificent present for this youth, who was represented to me as the person of the greatest consequence or, rather, of the highest rank in the island."

Bligh was allowed to see the young Tu only across a river. The child appeared to be about six years old. He was therefore born about 1782, and this is our first glimpse of our first Christian king.

Old Tu, or Tinah, was very anxious that Bligh should redeem Cook's pledge and punish the Eimeo people, but succeeded only in persuading him at least not to encourage them by a friendly visit. Bligh seemed neither to see nor to act, except in the directions that Tu wished. He would not actually engage in war, but he showed not the slightest interest or curiosity in any one but the Tus, father and son, and their immediate connexion. Tu's half-brother, Ariipaia, son of old Teu by a second wife (see Table VII), attracted Bligh's attention chiefly because he was said to be Tu's enemy. Teppaho, or Tepau, the chief of Ahurai, received notice because he was Tu's friend. Further than this Bligh neither looked nor asked. He seems neither to have known nor cared who were the chiefs of Eimeo, Paea, or Hitiaa, who had destroyed Tu's power and seized his property. He scarcely mentioned the remoter and more powerful chiefs of Papara and Taiarapu. From his book we get no light except on the subject of Tu, and even for that we must be grateful.

Before leaving the island, April 3, 1789, Bligh did what he could to protect the man whose position was alternately made and destroyed by British patronage. If Tu's situation had not been tragical to the island, it would have been comical. As long as British ships were in Matavai Bay, he was rich and powerful; his house was filled with all that made wealth: axes, fish-hooks, cloth, nails, beads; and cattle, goats, or whatever the ships contained. No other chief received gifts except in trifling amounts. The instant the British ships disappeared, this wealth became an irresistible temptation to Tu's neighbors and a fatal danger to himself. Tu had been a sort of milch-cow to the chiefs of Eimeo, Faaa, and Hitiaa. He begged the gifts which they were to squeeze from him. Knowing Tu's situation and dangers, Bligh gave him arms:

"He had frequently expressed a wish that I would leave some firearms and ammunition with him, as he expected to be attacked after the ship sailed, and perhaps chiefly on account of our partiality to him: I therefore thought it but reasonable to accede to his request; and I was the more readily prevailed on, as he said his intentions were to act only on the defensive. This indeed seems most suited to his disposition, which is neither active nor enterprising. If Tinah had spirit in proportion to his size and strength, he would probably be the greatest warrior in Otaheite; but courage is not the most conspicuous of his virtues. When I proposed to leave with him a pair of pistols, which they prefer to muskets, the told me that Iddeah [Tefua, his wife] would fight with one and Oedidee [Itiiti] with the other. Iddeah has learnt to load and fire a musquet with great dexterity, and Oedidee is an excellent marksman. It is not common for women in this country to go to war, but Iddeah is a very resolute woman, of a large make, and has great bodily strength."

Having done what he could to protect Tu, Bligh sailed from the island April 4, and was passing the Friendly, or Tonga, group April 28, when the larger part of his officers and crew mutinied and set him and some eighteen others adrift in the ship's launch. The mutineers then put theship about and returned to Tahiti, where they arrived at Ma-tavai Bay June 6, 1789. There they took in all the live-stock they could get, and twenty-four Tahitians, and sailed again, June 16, for Tubuai, but appeared once more, September 22, and landed sixteen of the mutineers who were weary of their adventures. The rest sailed suddenly the next night, and vanished for twenty years from the sight of men.

The sixteen mutineers who had landed at Matavai scattered more or less over the island, but mostly stayed at Pare with Tu, their patron; and there they set to work November 12, 1789, to build a thirty-foot schooner, in order to escape. The schooner was launched August 5, 1790.

These dates are rather interesting because they fix a few points which would without them be very uncertain. The war which immediately followed, and which reestablished Tu for the moment in his fortunes, deserves to be called the War of the Mutineers of the Bounty. When Tu died, thirteen years later, the missionaries entered in their Journal many details about his life and character; and among other things they said:

"He was born in the district of Oparre, where his corpse now is, and was by birth chief of that, district, and none other. The notice of the English navigators laid the foundation for his future aggrandisement; and the runaway seamen that from time to time quitted their vessels to sojourn in the island (especially that part of his Majesty's ship Bounty's crew which resided here), were the instruments for gaining to Pomarre a greater extent of dominion and power than any man ever had before in Otaheite."

Tu began by asking the mutineers to go with him to Eimeo and fight Mahine. They refused, but cleaned his guns, which enabled him, by aid of Itiiti, to win a success. Mahine then came over to Faaa and united with Towha of Faaa, and Potatow of Paea to resist Tu's next attack.

This War of the Mutineers of the Bounty, which occurred soon after the schooner was launched, August, 5, 1790, brings Papara again into notice, for this time the chief of Papara joined Tu against Faaa, Paea and Eimeo. The mutineers brought their schooner and their guns, with Tu's canoes, from Pare round to Paea, and fought a battle which was decided by the death of Mahine, killed by Tu's brother-in-law, Terii Vaetua. The chiefs of Paea and Ahurai, defeated in battle, unable to face the guns of the mutineers and of Tu's men; hemmed in on the north by Tu and the mutineers; on the south by Temarii and more Englishmen from Papara, fled at last to the hills and submitted to the conqueror.

This was about September, 1790. Tu's English arms and English seamen had at last enabled him to effect a part of his ambitious purpose, and to crush Eimeo, Ahurai and Paea; but one of our family reads with astonishment that Papara helped him. Who was, then, the Temarii who ruled at Papara in 1790? To answer this question I shall need a whole chapter by itself. The English, who were conscious, whenever their interest required it, that a chief of Papara still existed, never cared to ask who he was. They had never heard of any chiefs of Papara except Amo, Purea and Teriirere, and in their accounts, whenever a chief of Papara was mentioned, he was invariably translated as Amo, or as Teriirere, the son of Amo and Purea. Yet, beyond doubt, when the war of 1790 occurred, Amo, Purea and Teriirere were all dead. Even the brief notices of Papara, which were called out by the visit of the frigate Pandora, show that a new chief must have ruled at Papara.

The Pandora frigate belongs also to the tale of the mutineers rather than to the history of the island. When Lieutenant Bligh reached home and reported the mutiny, the British government sent the frigate Pandora in search of the Bounty. The Pandora never found the Bounty, which had long since been burned by the mutineers at Pitcairn island; but she did find such of the mutineers as had returned to Tahiti, who were actively engaged in establishing Tu as a Tahitian despot when the Pandora, in March, 1791, appeared in Matavai Bay. Those of the mutineers who were at Pare, under Tu's direct power, were easily recovered, but Captain Edwards, of the Pandora, found that some of the others had "claimed protection of Tamatrah, a great chief in Papara, who was the proper king of Otaheite, the present family of Otoo being usurpers, and who intended, had we not arrived, with the assistance of the Bounty's people, to have disputed the point with Otoo". "Captain Edwards had taken every possible means of gaining the friendship of Tamarah, the great prince of the upper district, by sending him very liberal presents, which effectually brought him over to our interest."

Captain Edwards made an official report of his own, dated from Batavia, Nov. 25, 1791, in which he said much about Tu and Temarii. The mutineers, it seems, unable to keep at sea in their schooner, landed at Papara, March 26, and took refuge in the mountains. Captain Edwards immediately sent two boats, with a number of men, to Papara. His report continued:

"I found the Otoo ready to furnish me with guides and to give me any other assistance in his power, but he has very little authority or influence in that part of the island where the pirates had taken refuge and even his right to the sovereignty of the eastern part of the island had been recently disputed by Tamarie, one of the royal family. Under these circumstances I conceived the taking Otoo and the other chiefs attached to his interest into custody would alarm the faithful part of his subjects and operate to our disadvantage. I therefore satisfied myself with the assistance he offered and had in his power to give me and I found means at different times to convey presents to Tamarie (and invited him to come on board which he promised to do but never fulfilled his promise), and convinced him I had it in my power to lay his country waste, which I imagined would be sufficient at least to make him withhold that support he hitherto through policy had occasionally given to the pirates in order to draw them to his interest and strengthen his own party against the Otoo. I probably might have had it in my power to have taken and secured the person of Tamarie, but I was apprehensive that such an attempt might irritate the natives attached to his interest and induce them to act hostilely against our party at a time the ship was at too great a distance to afford them timely and necessary assistance."

The reasons of all naval officers, as far as the history of Tahiti is concerned, have been very much alike, no matter what their nationality or their object; so I need not dwell on those which led Captain Edwards to spare the lives and property of Tahitians, whether Tevas or Purionuu, who had given him no kind of offence. The end of it was that the mutineers were brought in, one by one, until only six remained out. Captain Edwards sent two parties to find them. One party went by sea to Papara, under Lieut. Hayward. "The old Otoo and several of the Chiefs, etc., went with him." The other party crossed through the mountains. "Oripaia, the Otoo's brother, went with him." The mutineers were found near the sea-shore, and surrendered.

From these extracts, it appears that the Chief of Papara, in March and April, 1791, was as powerful, as independent, and as hostile to the ambition of Tu, as any previous Temarii had been, and that neither Tu nor Tu's half brother Ariipaea then ventured to exercise, or even to have exercised within a year past any authority or influence at Papara.

Down to April, 1791, we may conclude that no change had taken place in the relative position of the Chief of Papara towards the Chief of Pare Arue. Such changes as had taken place regarded Eimeo and Taiarapu, but these were very serious, and must have been very alarming to the Inner Tevas. What we know of them comes chiefly from the Voyage of Vancouver who arrived at the island at the close of the same year.

The Pandora sailed, with her prisoners, from Tahiti in May, 1791; and in the following December Vancouver arrived, in the sloop-of-war Discovery, on a search for the Northwest Passage. Stopping for refreshment at Tahiti, December 28, Vancouver, who had been with Cook in 1777, enquired for his old friends:

"I had the mortification of finding, on inquiry, that most of the friends I had left here in the year 1777, both male and female, were dead, Otoo, with his father [Teu], brothers, and sisters; Potatow and his family, were the only chiefs of my old acquaintance that were now living. Otoo was not here [at Pare]; nor did it appear that Otaheite was now the place of his residence, having retired to his newly acquired possession, Eimeo, or, as the natives more commonly call that island, Morea, leaving his eldest son the supreme authority over this and all the neighboring islands. The young king had taken the name of Otoo and my old friend that of Pomurrey, having given up his name with his sovereign jurisdiction, though he still seemed to retain his authority as regent."

This is the first record of the name Pomare, by which the family has been since known. After the birth of the young Tu, about 1782, the first of his children who was allowed to live, the father seems to have taken the name of Tinah, perhaps Taino, which he bore in 1788. He took the name of Po-mare (night-cough) from his younger son, Terii navahoroa, a very young child in 1791, who coughed at night. Subsequently he took the name of Vatratoa, as I shall notice in its place, and as Vairatoa he is still known in the family.

Vancouver sent a boat to Eimeo for Pomare, who came over January 2, 1792, bringing with him his brother-in-law Motuaria, or Metuaro, who was supposed by Vancouver to be the same Terii tapunui that was known to Cook and Forster as chief of Varari in Eimeo. He was called commonly Metuaro Mahau. According to our records, he was Taaro-arii, a younger brother of Cook's Terii tapunui, who was dead without issue, and left his name and property to Taaro-arii, who also had no male children.

"With Pomurrey,"said Vancouver, came Matuara Mahau, "the reigning prince, under Otoo, of Morea. There was, however, little probability of his long enjoying this honorable station, as he appeared to be in the last stage of a deep and rapid decline."

In fact Motuaria died ten days afterwards, and, according to Vancouver, left his chieferies in Eimeo to a daughter, Pomare's niece; "to this young princess Pomurrey became regent, and in course the inhabitants of Morea were entirely at his command." Thus Tu had accomplished his first great object, the extending of his power over Eimeo, or at least one-half of it.

The next step, the acquisition of Taiarapu, had followed the victory at Attahuru, and Vancouver was able to record it. His account, probably given him by Pomare's own people, began with the war of 1790, in which Mahine perished and the chiefs of Faaa and Paea were conquered.

"Maheine having fallen in this conflict [at Attahuru] and Towha [of Ahurai] being dead, little was necessary to complete the conquest [of Mahine's district, Opunohu in Eimeo], which was finally accomplished by the excursion of the Bounty's people in a vessel they had constructed from the timber of the breadfruit tree; and as good or bad fortune is generally attended with corroborating events, other circumstances intervened to foster and indulge the ambition of Pomurrey. At this time Whyeadooa [Vehiatua], the king of Taiarabou, died leaving only a very distant relation to assume his name and government; who was by Pomurrey and his adherents obliged to relinquish all pretensions to such honors, and with the people of Taiarabou to acknowledge Pomurrey's youngest son as their chief, under the authority of his eldest son, Otoo, which, on their assenting to, the youth assumed the name of Whyeadooa as a necessary appendage to the government. By this acquisition, it should appear, they have more effectually established a firm and lasting peace among themselves than has been enjoyed for a long series of years; and to insure this inestimable blessing to their dominions, the royal brothers have so disposed themselves as completely to watch over and protect the two young princes during their minority. Urripiah [Ariipaea], the next brother [half-brother] to Pomurrey, having acquired the reputation of a great warrior, has taken up his residence on the borders of Taiarabou to watch the conduct of those people in their allegiance to his nephew Whyeadooa, and on the least appearance of disaffection or revolt, to be at hand for pursuing such measures as may be required to bring them back to their obedience. Whytooa [Vaetua], the next brother [brother-in-law], resides for the like reason at Oparre, near the young monarch; and Pomurrey with his wives has retired to Morea, where the inhabitants are in all respects perfectly reconciled, firmly attached to his interest, and ready to afford him and his children every support and assistance they may require."

From this account it is clear that, by means of the English and their firearms, Pomare had succeeded in destroying the rival chiefs of Opunohu, Faaa, and Taiarapu, but he still kept an ominous silence about the most serious rival of all, the chief of Papara, whose fate was to come last. What sort of peace Pomare wanted was clear to Vancouver, for, as the irresistible power of the English guns became more and more evident, Pomare's views became more extensive, until they embraced all the islands within reach, including Borabora.

"Pomurrey and his brothers, having procured from the vessels which had lately visited Otaheite several muskets and pistols, they considered themselves invincible; and the acquiring new possessions for Otoo now seemed to occupy the whole of their study and attention. They were extremely solicitous that I should contribute to their success by augmenting their number of fire-arms, and adding to their stock of ammunition. Of the latter I gave Pomurrey a small quantity; but of the former I had none to dispose of, even if I had seen no impropriety in complying with his request. Finding there was no prospect of increasing their armory, they requested that I would have the goodness to conquer the territories on which they meditated a descent, and, having so done, to deliver them up to Otoo; and as an excuse for their subjugation insisted that it was highly essential to the comfort and happiness of the people at large that over the whole group of these islands there should be only one sovereign. On satisfying them that the islands in question were quite out of my route, and that I had no leisure for such an enterprise, Pomurrey in the most earnest manner requested that on my return to England I would in his name solicit His Majesty to order a ship, with proper force, to be immediately sent out, with directions that if all those islands were not subjected to his power before her arrival she was to conquer them for Otoo, who, he observed, I well knew would ever be a steady friend to King George and the English. This request was frequently repeated, and he did not fail to urge it in the most pressing manner at our parting."

In all this account nothing shows that the people of Tahiti were more reconciled than they had previously been to the supremacy of Tu. That he was still afraid of the Tevas of Taiarapu and Papara was plain; but he had secured one advantage that gave him a distinction he had never enjoyed before. Besides the Ura or red feathers, which were the exclusive signs of the Arii rahi, a curious form of the Maro ura had been made the symbol of supreme authority by Purea. This was the British pennant left flying at Matavai by Captain Wallis at his departure. Purea took it to her Marae of Mahaiatea, and seems to have converted it into the Maro ura with which her son was to be invested. On her overthrow Tutaha took it to his own Marae of Maraetaata as the symbol of his supremacy. There Cook saw it, ornamented with red, yellow, and black feathers. There it remained from 1768 to 1790, when Pomare, having conquered Paea, at last gained possession of the Maro ura, and carried it away to his own Marae i Tarahoi in Pare. Whether he could keep it, depended on the English guns.

Table VII: Ariipaea and Ariifaataia

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Tahiti - Marau Taaroa & Henry Adams