by Marau Taaroa & Henry Adams


From the time of Opuhara's death. Tati became head-chief of the Tevas, and during the next forty years, till his own death, his influence was the strongest in the island. His great task was to keep the peace, and, with all his power and wisdom, his hands were always full. Between the Pomares, the rival districts, the English missionaries and the French fleets, he was seldom without care.

Neither the missionaries nor the natives had any idea of allowing Pomare to fall back into his old ways. They made him refrain from massacre or revenge after the battle of Fei-pi. Although the Papara people could never quite be friends with the man who had murdered their sisters and cousins, Tati succeeded where a weak or a bad man would have only made matters worse. He began by the usual island method of binding Pomare to him by the strongest possible ties. The rapid extinction of chiefly families in Tahiti had left the head-chief of Eimeo or Moorea heir to most of the great names and properties in both islands. Marama, head-chief of Moorea, had only one heir, Marama Arii manihinihi, a woman, and, as I have said, a cousin, or sister in the island mode, of Pomare. This great heiress, almost the last remnant of the three or four sacred families of the two islands, was given by Pomare in marriage to Tati's son, immediately after Tati himself was restored to his rights as head-chief of the Tevas.

Had Pomare possessed a son of his own, he would hardly have let so great a prize go to a rival; and nothing proves so well the new state of discipline to which he had been reduced by Terito, Pomare vahine, the Boraboran and Raiatean chiefs, the missionaries, and Tati himself, as this sacrifice made by a man who was best known for his greed, for the sake of recovering a part of what he had wasted. To secure himself as well as he could from the risk that the Papara family might again turn against him, he did what was usual in such cases; he claimed for his own the first child that Marama should have, and made a compact that the children from the marriage should marry Pomares. When I was born, I was the adopted child of Pomare, and both as Teva, Marama and Pomare, naturally a very great personage. I was not born till after Christianity was established and the Maraes had been abandoned; but my mother, Marama Arii manihinihi, who was born probably about 1800, was carried, after the old island custom, to all her family Maraes at birth -- thirteen of them -- in Moorea and Tahiti. She was Marama at Haapiti, in the island of Moorea; she was Terii vaetua at Faaa; she was Aromaiterai at Papara; she was Teriinui o Tahiti and Maheanuu i Farepua at Vaiari; she was Teriitua Teriiouru maona i Terai i Hitiaa; she was Tetuaraenui ahuri taua o te mauui i Fareroi in Haapape; and with each name she took the lands that belonged to it.

As I have told the story of the Papara family, I will tell that of the Maramas, from tradition, as it is handed down in Moorea. As usual, it begins with genealogy, for we have no history apart from genealogy. The story starts from Punaauia some thirty generations ago. The Punaauia family begins at that point with Nuu, and comes down ten generations to Terii mana, who took a wife from Eimeo, or Moorea, a girl named Piharii of Maraes Nuurua and Farehia. They had two children: a son named Punua teraitua who was chief at Nuurua or Varari, between the two bays on the north shore of the island; and a daughter, Tefeau, who married Tupuoroo, son of Marama, chief of the district of Haapiti on the southwest shore.

Four generations afterwards, the Nuurua chief was named Punua teraitua; the Haapiti chief was named Marama, or properly Terii o Marama i te tauo o te rai, and his Moua was Tahuara, his Outu was Eimeo, his Marae was Marae te fano.

In that generation a small sub-district of Punaauia was occupied by the Atiroos, whose Arii were cousins of Punua teraitua and Marama through Terii mana, four generations back. The degree of relationship never mattered provided the relationship was admitted. The Atiroos had the right to hospitality with their cousins of Nuurua and Haapiti, and some of them came over in six canoes from Punaauia to Nuurua, and were kindly received.

A visit of this sort was a serious matter, for such guests might stay for generations and the full rite of hospitality required that land should be given them to live upon if they chose to remain. The Atiroos did remain with Punua teraitua. But he did not give them land. Their other cousin, Marama, was more generous; he invited them to Haapiti, and set apart the southern and eastern half of his district for them as their residence. They settled there as guests of Marama, and in the course of the next four generations spread over Vaiere, on the east coast, so that they got possession of a number of districts scattered throughout the island.

Then their head-chief felt himself so strong that he declared his independence by setting up a Marae of his own, Te nuu Faatauira, and sending there the sacrifices which had before been sent to Marama's Marae tefano. This was not only as great an insult as they could offer to their host, but it was also a sort of declaration of war, for they took half his territory without tribute or recognition.

The Marama at that time was a woman, Tetupuaiura o terai, and, though neither she nor her people liked to be insulted in this way, she did not care to take up the quarrel with so strong a neighbor. She waited to retaliate, and the Atiroos felt themselves very well able to afford her a chance. They already had half of Haapiti, and they wanted the other half. Their next insult made a blood-feud.

I have already said that kite-flying was one of the favorite native amusements. The young men made huge kites which they raced in rivalry, and the strong southeast trade-wind carried them long distances before they fell. The Atiroos were to have a great feast, with flying of kites, and, in a spirit of mischief, four boys of Marama's people, sons of a woman called Te aropoanaa, planned to take part in the race of kites, though they were not invited. They belonged to the part of the district which the Atiroos had taken, and had suffered under their domineering treatment, until, like boys in other countries, they wanted to pick a quarrel, especially as they knew their superiority at kite-flying. When the feast-day arrived, the Atiroos flew their kites, and while they were watching eagerly to see which flew best, from a neighboring hill four kites started up, more beautiful than theirs, and much faster. These flew over the Atiroos' kites, catching them up and passing them so quickly that the crowd of gazers were struck with awe, not knowing where the strange kites could come from.

The awe quickly gave way to anger. The Atiroos were furious at the insult, and eager to know who had been guilty of it. The elders gave orders to their young men to follow the kites till they fell, to lie in wait for the owners, and to kill them when they appeared. The kites flew high and far; the young men followed them across the mountains into the territory of Taaua itata nuurua, the descendant of Punua teraitua; and at last the kites fell near the Marae of Nuurua. The Atiroos were first on the ground, and when the four boys, following their kites, reached the spot, they were all murdered with the cruelty which was intended in these native feuds to show the utmost expression of contempt, hatred and defiance. The Atiroos had thus committed every possible outrage, including sacrilege.

The boy's mother, Tearopoanaa, waited their return until she knew that they must be in trouble, and then she followed. Of course, such an affair was instantly known to everyone in the neighbourhood. The mother soon found the mutilated bodies of her sons; and probably in presence of crowds of people, with the forms of the most sacred custom, she bathed herself with their blood, and swore revenge.

She was herself not a chief, and could do nothing unless some chief would take up her quarrel. The nearest Arii was the one in whose district, near whose Marae, the sacrilege had been committed, -- Taau-aitatanuurua. To him she went first, and in the due forms claimed his aid. He refused. She then went to Tauraatua, chief of Faatoai, and was refused again. She then went to Tuutini, chief of Mooruu, and was refused a third time. The fourth Arii was Tepau arii umarea chief of Afareaitu, and he too refused.

Moorea or Eimeo is a small island, not quite thirty miles in circuit, and with paths across, at a few points, through mountains which are not so high as those of Tahiti, but more striking in their outlines. The place where the boys were killed, the great central valley of the island, with its two wide and mountain-set bays, has often been called the most beautiful valley in all the South Seas. Remote and solitary now, rarely visited except by professional travellers, like Herman Melville or Captain Cook, it once swarmed with thousands of inhabitants, and was the district against which an army and fleet of ten thousand men were seen by Cook to be collected at Faaa, The chiefs of the island were powerful and numerous. When the Atiroo wars occurred, possibly two hundred and fifty years ago, no chief had any great superiority over the others. Te aro poanaa went to four in succession, and none dared take up her quarrel. At each place she cut her head with the shark's tooth, and appealed to relationship, telling her story, which was already notorious, yet she got only refusal.

In such a society, where everything was public, the scandal must have been immense; and when Te aro poanaa returned home at night, the whole island must have known that no chief had dared to quarrel with the Atiroos. All the more, everyone must have looked to Marama of Haapiti to see whether she would dare to do what the other chiefs had refused. As soon as Te aro poanaa reached home, her husband asked her whether she had succeeded, and she answered no. He then asked whether she had yet called on Tetupua iura o te rai, -- Marama -- and she said that, absorbed in her grief, she had passed by. Her husband told her to go at once.

She went, and the same scene was acted for the fifth time. She cut her head, told her story, and asked for aid. Marama replied:

"Why have you passed by here, and repassed, and why did you not call for me then ? You have been to the other chiefs before coming here. Still I will take up your cause".

Then Marama called her people to take the woman to the stream of Vaipiura, sacred to Marama and therefore tabu to every one else, and there to wash oif the blood. The drums were beaten at the Marae te-fano and all the people assembled. Marama was seated on the stone seat Pourotonatoofa, "the centre pillar of Notoofa", the Hiva district, and spoke:

"Now the time has come, long waited for. Today has come Te aro poanaa, one of our people, asking revenge for the murder of her sons. I have taken up her quarrel, for I have had the blood washed away in my sacred bath of Vaipiura. Now I call you to be my arms to revenge the death of the four sons of Tearopoanaa, and the insult to my Marae, Maraetefano."

The people rose with the cry: "Your will shall be done. Death to the Atiroos, those in Moorea and those in Tahiti, not one shall live!"

On the hills which divided Marama's people from the Atiroos dwelt two of Marama's warriors -- twins -- Tapuhote and Tetunania, noted for their success in sports. One of them was at the gathering, and returning home arranged with his brother to lead the attack.

They began by cutting in the woods several hundred sticks which they decorated with autis -- leaves of the ti, -- and in the night planted these sticks down the hill bordering the Atiroos' district, to look like warriors. They took down the two main posts of their house, and made them into fighting-spears (omare). This meant that they gave themselves up to the fight, and would never return to their homes.

The Atiroos knew what was coming. Their murder of the boys was a challenge; the mother had gone openly up and down the whole island, bathed in blood, crying for revenge; the drums of Maraetefano had called to arms. By way of further defiance, in the early morning the Atiroos gathered on the shore, at the edge of their district, and while waiting, went into the water, fishing, within Marama's fishing-ground, and, as they killed their fish, called to each other. "Matatuia -- string your fish for the Marae Tenuu Faatauira;" meaning that, for every fish killed, they would kill one of Marama's men for their Marae.

Then the twin Aitos, or warriors, came down the hill, among the sticks which looked like an army of men, and standing out in full view cried: "You make a mistake! String your fish for the Marae of Marae Tefano!" The Atiroo chief called back: "Who dares order sacrifice for Marae Tefano?" "I" called back Tapuhote; "I, with my spear Havivorai! the Sky-swinger! I will swing your head, who call yourself chief of the Atiroos, and I will take you before Marama, and you shall be taken as a sacrifice for Marae Marae Tefano."

With that, throwing his spear, he killed the chief of the Atiroos, and the warriors of Marama, getting among the Atiroos in the confusion that followed their chief's death, led by Tetunania, destroyed them. The bodies of all the chief's family were strung together, and sent to Marama for the Marae of Marae Tefano. The bodies of the common people were also strung together, and sent as an insult to the Marae of Nuurua, for its chief who had first refused to take up the quarrel. The chief of Nuurua sent messengers to say that he would not accept common fish -- pahoros -- as a sacrifice; that at his Marae only the best fish -- uruas -- could be offered. The twins returned word that the Uruas were only for Marae Tefano; and that if pahoros did not satisfy him, he should have a sight of Havivorai. The chief of Nuurua did not venture to take up the challenge, and had to accept the pahoros.

Then the twins gathered their warriors and, crossing the mountains to Opunohu, on the north shore, killed every Atiroo, and took possession of the district for Marama, making of it two new districts called Tupa Ururu and Amehiti.

Then they crossed to Paopao, on the next bay. But some of their warriors had gone ahead of them, and they found on their road the bodies of twins whom the warriors had killed and mutilated. Ashamed to pass them, the Aitos turned off over the mountains to Afare aitu, which they found deserted. One woman named Poivai, a noted beauty came out to meet them, and asked them what they wanted. "We came to kill the Atiroos", they said: "a race we mean to exterminate; but we came not to fight women". So they left Afa-reaitu without taking possession, and went on to Aroa of Vaiere. There they fought and took possession, calling it Teavaro. Thus Mara-ma became master of two thirds of Moorea.

The Atiroos were then all killed or in hiding, and their name was never afterwards heard of in the island: but the twins, collecting their war-canoes, crossed to Tahiti, landing at Faaa, and attacked the Atiroo headquarters in Punaauia, where they were again victorious and went on, across the isthmus of Taravao, to Taiarapu where they killed enough Atiroos to build a Marae with the skulls. And the district is called to this day Teahupoo; that is, Teahu -- a pile, -- and Upoo -- of heads.

This legend of Marama's conquests is singular in being the story of a war which was not for the possession of a woman; but Samson among the Philistines must always have had his Dalilah, and the twin Samsons of Moorea lived among the Philistines of Taiarapu. Yet the variation on the stock legend is curious. The people of Taiarapu, unable to beat the twins in fight, sent a beautiful woman to live with them. They fell in love with her -- both with the same woman, and by her arts were gradually separated from each other, becoming so jealous that they lived apart. She gave them a feast, and got them to drink kava till they were stupified. Then, when she should have called in her people to kill them, she hesitated. As she looked at their magnificent figures at her feet, she found herself in love with them. She kept her oath; perhaps she could not help herself; but when the twins had been put to death, she killed herself with the same spear.

To establish himself in his new territory, Marama came over from Haapiti to Amehiti, and built a Marae there; and there the next Marama, who was a man, was living, when he got his next accession of power. This story is the most Polynesian of all, with no suggestion of myth. The object of the tradition was to explain how Marama, after acquiring nearly all the island except Nuurua and Afareaitu, succeeded in getting those two districts also; and did it in spite of himself.

Two under-chiefs of Afareaitu, called Tuhei and Matafaahira, built a Marae which was to bear the name Horora. They wished to dignify their Marae, and give it the rank of the Maraes of high chiefs, and they selected the chief of Nuuruaas the one whose supremacy they preferred; for, whoever he might be, the chief who mounted their Marae made it and them sacred to himself, -- became in fact the head of their family and the master of their power, much as a feudal lord became master of one who sought vassalage, except that the Tahitian head-chief was both spiritual, temporal and patriarchal head at once; and the chief of Nuurua seemed to be looked upon as the mildest and least aggressive of head-chiefs

Tuhei and Matafaahira went to Nuurua to see the chief, whose official name always remained Punua Teraitua, as it had been when his ancestor received the Atiroos without giving them land, and received Te aro poanaa without taking up her revenge, and received the paho-ros without taking up the challenge of Marama's twin warriors. Teraitua seems to have been the butt of Moorean satire, for the story says that when he heard that Tuhei and Matafaahira were coming, he hid himself that he might not be obliged to see them. The visitors were not to be got rid of in that manner, and as they insisted on seeing him, he had to receive them, which he did at last in the presence of the high-priest Te mooiapitia; but, instead of treating them with respect, he showed complete indifference to their request, declined to give a decided answer, and told them he would consider the matter.

The least civility he could offer was to give them the usual guest-pig, and the pig was ordered to be killed and cooked, but while the feast was preparing, the messengers arrived who had been sent by Tuhei and Matafaahira in advance, and had tarried on the road. To the astonishment of Temoo, the high priest, the messengers were received with more courtesy than had been shown to their masters, and to his still greater astonishment, at the feast the best part of the pig was given to the messengers while the intestines were passed to the masters. Temoo then said to the two under-chiefs: "You see how Teraitua has ridiculed your request and has shown his contempt by giving you the intestines of the pig. What more do you want? Return home, and mount your Marae of Horora yourselves". They said: "No! our people wait; all is ready; and our minds are made up, and declared to the people, that our Marae of Horora shall be mounted by one higher than ourselves". "Then why not ask Marama?" said the high-priest; "He will receive you with more courtesy and treat you with less contempt."

So Tuhei and Matafaahira went on from Nuurua to Amehiti, and arrived there after Marama had gone to sleep under the effects of his kava. The natives still show the cave where Marama drank kava and where no sound was permitted; not even the crowing of a cock, that his repose should not be disturbed. The chief's person was sacred when under the influence of kava, and the man who dared to disturb him did so at the risk of his life. The two under-chiefs, who were in haste to get their ceremony at the Marae performed, could not wait, and went to the priest for advice. He told them to take the sleeping Marama on their backs, and risk the consequences of carrying him off. They followed the advice, and each taking one of Marama's legs, were carrying him off, when Marama awoke and asked who they were and what they wanted.

"We are Tuhei and Matafaahira", they answered.

"Welcome, then, to Amehiti", said Marama.

"We need welcome, for we come to beg a favor. Come with us to Afareaitu, and mount our Marae of Horora."

"Your request must wait till I can call my districts. Atituhaui and Fanauaraa; Atitanei and Tefanaautaitahi; Rotu and Tefarerii; Porotona-toofa, Amehiti and Tupaururu. Marama cannot go alone without his two Vaa (canoes; i.e. districts.)"

"We will be your Vaa", they replied: "We pray you to be satisfied with Amehiti and Tupaururu who are at hand."

Marama at last consented, and was carried over the mountains to Afareaitu, where he mounted the Marae of Horora. The third chief of Afareaitu,Tepauarii, who had not taken part in the proceeding, heard the drums, and asked what they meant. When he was told, he said: "Be it so! Marama is worthy, and I too bow my head to him."

Thus Marama was chosen chief of Afareaitu, and became head of that district as well as of those he had inherited and those he had conquered. In the meanwhile Terai tua of Nuurua becoming conscious of his mistake, had called his people to carry him to Afareaitu, but on the way learned that his place had been taken, and he too bowed his head to the choice.

The last step in Marama's supremacy was the marriage of his son to Terai tua's daughter, which brought Nuurua into the family, and gave the Maramas nearly the whole island.

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Tahiti - Marau Taaroa & Henry Adams