by Marau Taaroa & Henry Adams


Ariipaea, Tu's half brother, who, as guardian of Papara, sold his rights to Tu, died in 1796 or 1797. His widow, Teriitua, Aromaiterai's daughter, then chiefess of Hitiaa, was commonly known by the English as Inna Madua (Vahine metua), and continued for several years more to make a considerable figure in the family of Pomare. Apparently the Temarii Ariifaataia inherited the name of his guardian and relative, for the missionaries used indifferently the term Temarii or Ariipaea (Orepiah) in speaking of our Papara chief, whom we know in tradition only as Ariifaataia.

Ariifaataia, if the wish of his family had availed, should have married the chiefess of Vaiari, the Maheanuu i Farepua, who was not only socially the first of all Tahiti chiefs, and whose Maraes of Farepua and Tahiti were the oldest on the island, but who was also at that time the acknowledged beauty of Tahiti, whose fame remains a by word to this day. Maheanuu refused to marry Ariifaataia, brilliant as the match was, even for her. She thought him too ugly. Handsome women were then becoming more rare in the island, if Vancouver is to be believed; and Maheanuu was not disposed to throw her beauty away merely for power; yet the marriage was for a time supposed to be arranged, and the Papara people still preserve a song intended to celebrate the occasion:


Orie e pati i te pae tahatai
E mahuta mai te aaura i Taravao.
Ei tapihoo itei Terehemanu
Ia vai noa mai te moua iti ra Tearatauru
E Temarii e e oto oe i te moua ra moua Tamaiti.
Orie is a fish, or bait, which attracts the bird Aa-ur-a, the parrot with red feathers, of Taravao, meaning of course the Maheanuu, to change place with the bird Terehe, meaning of course Temarii, and share his mounts of Tearatauru and Tamaiti, his most precious possessions. To translate the song literally would be a hopeless task. Its interest is in its local allusions rather than in its poetry.

The Maheanuu having rejected Ariifaataia for his ugliness, her neighbor, the daughter of the chief of Mataiea, became his wife. This was a family connection. Mauaroa, chief of Mataiea, had married Teraiautia of the Aromaiterai family. Their daughter bore several names: Tetuaraenui o Teva; Pipiri; Fareahu; Teriitahi. The missionaries, in their census of the island, in July, 1797, called Temarii's wife Tayredhy and Tayreede, perhaps meaning Teriitahi, and said that the districts of Wyooreede and Attemono [Vaiari-iti and Attimaono], between Vaiari and Papara, belonged to her. Papara, Paea, and Punaauia were set down as belonging to Temarii, who controlled therefore the whole line of coast between Vaiari and Faaa. These districts contained more than one-fourth of the whole population then supposed to survive in Tahiti; forty-five hundred in the total of sixteen thousand.

Not only was Temarii the most powerful chief on the island, but Pomare had become, by his son's accession, a chief of the second order. He depended greatly on the favor of his son, the young Tu, who was, in 1797, supposed to be at least fifteen and perhaps seventeen years, old and who had been adopted by Temarii, his cousin, who was about ten years older than he. Adoption was rather stronger in the South Seas than the tie of natural parentage. Between his natural father, Pomare, and his adopted father, Temarii, the young Tu preferred the latter, and sooner or later everyone knew that Temarii would help Tu to emancipate himself and drive Pomare from the island. As the missionaries, following the English tradition, were Pomare's friends, they were in danger of sharing his fate.

Of this danger the missionaries had been warned before they had even landed. Old Manne Manne, as they called him, the high priest of Raiatea and Maraetaata, had tried to persuade them not to make common cause with Pomare, and brought the two Swedes to convince them that "Pomare never acted honorably by the English or any other after he had done with their services"; but the missionaries decided to follow the beaten path, assuming that Pomare and Tu were united in interest and could be courted and conciliated together. With this idea fixed in their minds, they landed at Matavai and put themselves in the hands of Pomare and his son.

The Duff sailed for England August 4, 1797, leaving the missionaries to be plundered or murdered by the rival factions, and they soon found that Pomare and Tu were far from being united. If they chose one, they must lose the other. Pomare chose as a brother, -- Towwa, as they spelt it, or hoa, or taeae, -- one of the missionaries, named Cover. Temarii chose another, named Main. These two missionaries went to Papara August 15, at Manne Manne's suggestion, to remonstrate against a human sacrifice which was to be made at the Marae of Tooarai. They fell into a most alarming danger, for they found Pomare, Tu and Terii navahoroa of Taiarapu, Pomare's two sons, with Temarii, and a swarm of people, greatly excited because, the night before, some of the Papara men had killed a man from Taiarapu. The two missionaries escaped as quickly as possible; but when, in the following February, Pomare, Tu, Temarii, Manne-manne, and their wives and following, came to Pare and remained there, escape was no longer possible. The missionaries found themselves more and more uncomfortable, and their situation became alarming in the month of March, 1798, when the ship Nautilus appeared and two of her crew deserted. The men went to Pare and were sheltered there. The captain of the Nautilus threatened to recover them, cost what it might; and four of the missionaries walked over to Pare to see Tu, Pomare and Temarii, and tell them that a refusal to surrender the men would be regarded as showing an evil intention against the missionaries.

They found Tu and Temarii at Pare, but went on to get Pomare to join them, when they were suddenly beset and stripped by some thirty natives, who took their clothes and treated them rather roughly, but at last let them go. They went on to Pomare's house and were received with the utmost humanity. Pomare went back with them to Tu, and insisted on the punishment of the offenders and the delivery of the seamen. Of course the attack had been made by men belonging to the interests of Tu and Temarii, and a few days afterwards war broke out. Pomare undertook to punish the offenders; two were killed, and the district of Pare took arms to revenge them. Tu joined his father and suppressed the resistance, so that the missionaries' clothes cost the lives of fifteen natives.

Such an affair was not calculated to make the missionaries popular, but it made them more than ever dependent on Pomare and Iddeah, his wife, who took pretty nearly complete control of all that the missionaries possessed. The helpless band were plundered by friends and enemies alike. Temarii was the only chief whom they did not charge with robbing or begging from them everything they had, but the relations between Temarii and Pomare were always threatening them with trouble. On August 24, two whaling-vessels, the Cornwall and Sally, of London, anchored in the bay, and most of the principal chiefs went on board. On the 30th, while the missionaries were at dinner, Pomare came in, and told them that a person had been blown up with gunpowder at the great house in Pare, and they were to go instantly with medicine to lend assistance. Two of them hastened away in a canoe to Pare, and ran to the place. There they found that the injured man was Temarii.

"At our arrival we were led to the bed of Temaree, called also Orepiah, and beheld such a spectacle as we had never before seen. Brother Broomhall began immediately to apply what he had prepared with a carnel's-hair brush over most part of his body. He was apparently more passive under the operation than we could conceive a man in his situation could be capable of. The night drawing on, we took leave of him by saying we would return in the morning with a fresh preparation. On the following morning... we were struck with much surprise at the appearance of the patient; he was literally daubed with something like a thick white paste. Upon our enquiry we found it to be the scrapings of yams. Both the chief and his wife seemed highly offended at Brother Broomhall's application the preceding evening, and they denied his doing anything more for him, as he had felt so much pain from what he had already done. It was said there was a curse put into the medicine by our God."

The poor missionaries were scared beyond expression, for they saw the imminent danger that some native, in a moment of superstitious anger, might offer them as a sacrifice to the injured native gods; but they returned bravely to their duty, until Tu's appearance proved too much for their nerves.

"In less than an hour [we] returned to the patient. Otoo and his wife were then riding in their usual style about the house with a train, or, more properly, a gang of the greatest villains on the island. They confronted that part of the house where we were assembled. Brother Broomhall and myself were at the foot of Orepiah's bed. I asked him to go out, and we would speak to the king. We went out, and I, with one of the usual salutations, addressed him. It was returned with a fallen countenance, without a word, which always denotes his wrath and often precedes the word taparahye -- that is, kill him -- for he thinks no more of sacrificing a man than cutting off a dog's neck. I saw plainly his executioners well knew his thoughts, and their eyes were fixed in a peculiar manner on me and on him, watching his motions. Otoo laid his hand on my shoulders and called one of his men to come to him."

Tu allowed them to go, and they started at once for Matavai, expecting never to reach it. "I thought the scene of March 26 was again about to be acted, only in a more tragic manner, inasmuch as the natives' suspicions then were small when compared with the present. At that time they suspected we had prevented Captains Bishop and Simpson, of the Nautilus, from bartering with them for musquets, but now they believed we had cursed the medicine that it might kill the patient, and that the greatest man on the island, he being closely allied with Otoo against his father and mother."

The suspicion that the missionaries were sent by Pomare to curse Temarii and cause his death was not only a natural but a reasonable one to the natives. Pomare was quite capable of it, and as far as the natives knew, the missionaries were Pomare's men. The accident itself was due to the English gunpowder, which had been as great a curse as every other English thing or thought had been; and perhaps it was fortunate for the missionaries that they had nothing to do with furnishing the powder. Temarii was well known to set great store on his armory. "His grand object was gunpowder; musquets he had a number of." The accident was due to his anxiety about the quality of some powder which he got from the whalers Cornwall and Sally on the 25th of August.

"Orepiah received his powder, to the amount of some pounds weight, out of one of the ships last here (Otoo, Pomere, &c., received a considerable quantity each, we hear, at the same time), and suspecting by the uncommon largeness of the grain that the Englishmen had put a deceit upon them by not giving them real powder, or having given them bad powder, Orepiah proposed to his attendants making an experiment. Accordingly a pistol was loaded and unthinkingly fired over the whole quantity of powder received, in the midst of a number of people. A spark of fire dropped from the pistol upon the powder that lay on the ground, and in a moment it blew up. The natives did not feel themselves hurt at first, but when the smoke was somewhat dispersed, observing their skin fouled with the powder, they began to rub their arms, &c., and found the skin to peel off under their fingers. Terrified at this, they instantly ran to a river near at hand and plunged themselves in. A despatch was immediately sent off to Pomare, who was at Matavai, acquainting him with the matter, and he made application to Brother Broomhall to go and give his assistance."

Under the stimulus of personal danger, the missionaries, in the course of a few days, learned much about island politics. Temarii lingered in great suffering till September 8, but the missionaries did not venture to visit him again, in spite of a message from Pomare asking them to administer something that would cure him without giving pain. The whole body of chiefs looked on, in consternation, while Temarii died.

"September 10th. The king [Tu], queen [Tetua], Pomere, Edea, Manne-manne, are to the westward, anxiously waiting the issue of the late calamitous visitation. We have reason to believe Orepiah's death would be the cause of great secret rejoicing to Pomere, Edea, and others, who seem to stand in much dread from the close union subsisting between Otoo and Orepiah; the latter being the uncle of the former, has acted as a kind of guardian to him during his youthful days. Though the wheels of political government are not so many in this as in our native island, yet they are more in number than any would conceive from the rude and barbarous state the nation is in. They have their plots and court intrigues, their parties and partisans, as well here as in England, and they are as important in their way as in the most refined court of Europe."

With better reasoning the natives looked at the missionaries as a kind of children, or idiots, incapable of understanding the simplest facts of island politics or society, and serving only as the unconscious tools of the Tu family. Day by day, the anxious party, studying their grammars at Matavai, learned more of the dangers which had menaced, and still threatened them, from Pare. The vital importance of Temarii's death to their interests gradually opened itself to their understandings.

"September 12.... The dead body, we hear, is to be carried in procession round the island, and much ceremony used on the occasion. This awful visitation is evidently to us a singular interposition of providence. What may be the consequences of it, time will unfold. There seemed to be such a rooted jealousy subsisting between Pomere, Edea, and the deceased, that we were every day in expectation of an open rupture. Orepiah seldom visited us; when he did. he always treated us civilly; though we have some ground to suppose he and Otoo were the principal agents in causing the four brethren to be stripped at Opare".

Temarii's body was carried, in the usual state, round the island to all his districts and duly mourned; and in the regular course prescribed by the island ceremonial, his head was secretly hidden in the cave at Papara, where, I believe, it still exists, marked by the gunpowder which caused Temarii's death. To the Papara people the disaster was hard to exaggerate, for the danger of their falling under the direct control of the Tu family, as Opunohu, Faaa, and Taiarapu had already done, was made imminent by the loss of their chief, who left no children and whose successor had no such connections or authority as the Temarii Ariifaataia had managed to acquire. To the rest of the island Temarii's death might be a blessing or a disaster, but could not escape being a crisis.

Before the mourning ceremonies were fully over the crisis began. For several days rumors came to the missionaries that Tu and his only remaining ally, Manne-manne, were sacrificing human victims, always the sign of some great emergency. Then the missionaries were told, on the night of November 16, that Tu was coming at daylight to attack the district. The trouble was caused by the funeral ceremony of Temarii. Pomare's orator or spokesman at Matavai, expressing the old hostility of Purionuu to Teva, sharpened by Temarii's notorious enmity, had said that Tu should not bring the body of Temarii to Matavai to be mourned, but should throw it into the sea. This was only the pretence for war. The true reason was that, after the death of Temarii, Tu and Manne-manne were obliged either to drive Pomare out of the island or submit to him. They had lost their support, and Pomare was too dangerous an intriguer for them to trust. Meanwhile Pomare had fled to the Paumotus, leaving Iddeah, his wife, to face the storm.

"Pomere's orator, who is a priest and also a rateera, or under-chief in a neighboring subdivision of the district, and who has been peculiarly familiar at brothers Eyre and Jefferson's, brought part of his property and put it under the care of brother Jefferson; from him we learnt this war would not affect us, it being against the natives of the district. He further told us that, as he and his countrymen were not able to make head against the king, they were constrained to fly for their lives and secrete themselves till the rage of Otoo shall be allayed.... Pomare is at the [Pau]-motoo, ignorant of the transactions of the day. We have more than once had occasion to notice a disunion between Otoo and his father, and a strong attachment between the former and the deceased chief Orepiah. The providential destruction of Orepiah, though it has deprived Otoo of a powerful ally, may have nothing lessened his disaffection to his father; indeed the occurrences of this day seem to be a proof it has not, or he would never have treated his father's friends as he has done for the imprudent speech of one or more persons. Edea is in Opare indisposed with the rheumatism; how far she approves of her son's conduct we know not. The chief of Taiaraboo (Otoo's younger brother) threatened some time ago to make war upon Otoo, and we have some reason to apprehend there is a league formed between him and his father, Pomere, and his uncle Vitua [Vae-tua], against Otoo."

The next day, November 18, brought a new budget of news to the missionaries at Matavai, where Tu and his followers were parading about their church, with occasional visits to ask for gifts.

"A little after morning service we heard that Otoo and Manne-manne had usurped the power over all the larger peninsula, and turned Pomere out from exercising authority in any part of the same. The districts of Opare, Tataha, Attahooroo, Papara, &c. (all the lands to the westward, and running round to the isthmus on the south), have declared for Otoo. The land of this district [Matavai], from the river before us to the eastern boundary, Otoo has given to Manne-manne, reserving the westernmost part for himself. If the districts on this side of the island [Teaharoa] to the isthmus shall refuse to acknowledge the authority of Otoo, we are informed war will be declared against them, and their submission extorted by force of arms. Something like this we expected, but did not imagine it would be put in execution so soon, since Temaree, who appeared to be at the head of the faction, was so suddenly cut off. Pomare's absence proved a favorable opportunity, and the indiscreet expressions of some of the inhabitants of this district respecting the corpse of Temaree, the cause of embracing it. Not long after our settling on the island we were told of there being two parties that were meditating the destruction of each other; hence arose the great eagerness of the chiefs to get muskets and ammunition into their hands from every vessel that has touched here; as also the desire of encouraging seamen to quit their ships and reside among them; knowing, by former experience, one musqueteer is sufficient to terrify many natives armed with clubs and spears. The Swedes and seamen are on Otoo and Manne-manne's side; so that, judging after the manner of men, and forming our conjectures from human reason and probability, we suppose the king and his party will carry all before them."

The same day Tetuani (Iddeah) arrived at Matavai, and a new scene began. Tetuanui was thirty years older than when she had succeeded in overthrowing Purea; and she, more than her husband Pomare, was the real intellect and energy of the party opposed to Papara. She and her brother Vaetua won all Pomare's victories, and upon them fell the task of resisting the Teva influence which controlled Tu. Pomare himself was not likely to return while the danger lasted; "It is said he is personally a great coward, and as Otoo and Manne-manne have the three Europeans with musquets (the very sight of which strikes terror in every breast) on their side, it is likely he will quietly submit to what is done till a more favorable opportunity occurs."

Tetuanui was not idle. On the 29th November she had made some bargain with Tu, ceding to him the authority he wanted, and obtaining from him the guaranty she needed for future good behavior. This guaranty was the life of old Manne-manne, Tu's last friend, the high-priest of Attahuru. He was murdered by Tetuanui's people, on his way from Matavai to Pare, and his body was carried to Tu's neighboring Marae of Taputapuatea. Tetuanui was in the missionaries' house when the news arrived, and at once "came to brother Eyre's door (she had a cartouch-box buckled round her waist; a musquet she had been seen with in her hand a little before was now laid aside) with a settled air of triumph on her brow; she shook hands in a friendly manner with the Swede, saying unto him: 'It is all over,' meaning the war, and retired immediately to the Point."

By this time the missionaries had learned more than any of their predecessors ever had known about island politics, and their final judgment on this affair, with their recapitulation of the whole story, was more rational than anything they had yet written.

"The conduct of Otoo, in consenting to the death of Manne-manne, at the time he was in close alliance with him, opens the character of the man in a conspicuous manner; and confirms us in a suspicion we have long entertained, but knew not how to account for, concerning the stripping of brothers Broomhall, Jefferson, Main, and W. Puckey, at Opare. When that circumstance took place we seemed assured it was done by the king's [Tu's] authority, but when Otoo afterwards joined his father in punishing the poor people for the same, we could not readily reconcile his authorizing the action, and then destroying those that did it. But we have seen so much of him since, that we believe he is capable of comitting any wickedness the devil, his carnal mind, and bloodthirsty followers may excite him to, if God did not restrain him; we therefore think the true cause of that event was this: Tema-ree, the foster-father of Tu, was in close connection with him, and clearly appeared to be meditating some great blow by which they would exclude every other person from having authority on the island but themselves and followers. To effect this they were extremely desirous to get into their hand musquets and ammunition. When the bark Nautilus arrived, finding that she had a large quantity of these articles on board, but that they were deterred from obtaining them through our interference, they were offended, and determined to be revenged. Accordingly, when the Nautilus arrived the second time, and the two seamen escaped from her and took refuge with Otoo, and the four brethren were despatched with an endeavor to recover them, the king, thinking it a favorable opportunity to execute his revenge upon the society, secretly gave orders for their being plundered. Otoo and Temaree, though powerful, were not sufficiently strong at the time to oppose Pomare, who showed displeasure at what was done; and though no doubt he was acquainted with the true authors of the action yet from prudent motives, it may be, he vented his anger upon the instruments, rather than the movers of them; while Otoo and Temaree, to hide their crime, joined Pomare in so doing. "

The missionaries escaped marvelously, at the cost of a stripping and a little terror. The unfortunate natives who stripped them paid with their lives for the offence. Temarii lost his life also, and his scheme for restoring the supremacy of Papara failed. Papara, as every one might foresee, must be the sacrifice once more to the ambition of the Purionuu chiefs. Manne-manne was another victim. Pomare gained nothing, for he had nothing to gain, but had to sacrifice a part of his possessions. The only winner in this tragic game was the worst and most bloodthirsty of all -- Tu, the first Christian king.

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Tahiti - Marau Taaroa & Henry Adams