by Marau Taaroa & Henry Adams


Every great name had a sort of legend or title attached to it, to make known in formal oratory or poetry the eminence of the chief. The verses which told the dignity of Marama were these:
Terii o Marama i te tauo o te rai.
Lord Moon of the summit of the sky.
Eimeo and Nuurua bow down to you.
You surpass the heads of Taaroa and Tane.
You are the lord circled by the rainbow,
As you stand on Punaauia
You are the child of Raamaurire
Who was a lord and still a God.
You wear the golden Maro of Maraetefano.
As the land grew, You grew as lord of Eimeo.
Whatever might be meant in Tahiti by the word Arii rahi or Terii, and whether or no the idea of kingship ever existed there, as a complete one for the whole island, there is no kind of doubt that in the island of Moorea and in the case of Marama the idea of supremacy was as complete and exclusive as ever it was with Charlemagne. The districts under him were commanded by fighting chiefs, like Maheine whom Cook knew in 1777 as chief of Opunohu, and Hamau whom he knew as chief of Maatea, and Terii tapunui, chief of Vaiere; but neither Cook nor any of the other foreigners seems to have come in contact with Marama.

I have already said that the Marama of Cook's time, and the elder Otoo of Cook's acquaintance, married first cousins. The Terii vaetuas of Tefana i Ahurai made the bond that united or divided the three powers between which the district of Tefana stands. Purea, Teihotu and Auri, the three children of Terii vaetua, were the three channels along which the story has run (Table IV). Purea's quarrel with her own family caused the overthrow of Papara and the elevation of Pare Arue. Pomare-Vairatoa, born about 1743, married Teihotu's daughter; Marama, in the same generation, married Auri's daughter, both of them Purea's nieces, and all three of the Ahurai family. When the second Pomare, in 1808, was at last driven out of Tahiti, he took refuge in Moorea with his cousin, and even after he had been brought back in 1815, and was undisputed King of Tahiti, he always treated Marama as a social superior.

Tati yielded the same position to her, after she married his son. When I was born, about 1824, I naturally became a petted child, and sometimes treated my mother with as little respect as petted children are apt to show. Old Tati would then scold his granddaughter, and would tell me that no one had ever, even in fun, dared to speak to Marama in any tone but one of deep respect. Nevertheless Tati's whole authority as chief of Papara and head-chief of the Tevas could not prevent the atmosphere of Papara from being saturated with hostility to everything related to Purionuus and Pomares, or oblige the people to recognise all that he had conceded for himself. Indeed his daughter-in-law Marama could not even get possession of the lands she owned in Papara as Arornaiterai, and she did not venture to insist on their being given up to her. As one daughter after another came into the world, she grew more and more interested to secure their inheritance, but she did not know what lands belonged to Aromaiterai, and neither Tati nor anyone else would tell her. Not daring to fret her father-in-law further, she waited till I became old enough to understand what she wanted, and set me to the task. Every morning I was obliged to take my place by Tati's side, and pet him into good-humor. In those days the family lived in native fashion, in one large house, sleeping on the mats, under tapa sheets, the children with their parents; and in the early morning the children ran about as they pleased. Tati was then an elderly man, past fifty, big and rough in appearance to a young child, though kind and affectionate, as natives almost always are. He suspected that his grand-daughter had some motive in her attentions, and teased her to tell him, but she was afraid. The secret came out at last, and she won from the old man what her mother had not been able to win for herself; but she never forgot how little she liked the duty.

Papara was never my mother's favorite residence, and Papeete still less so. At that time Papeete had hardly grown to be even the European town it has since become. Papara was at least native, even though it was clannish and jealous of power; but Papeete was not even a chief's residence, for the Otoo or Pomare family lived on the point of Outuaiai, three or four miles from Papeete to the eastward, in Arue, and their Marae of Tarahoe was also in Arue. No native tradition or dignity was associated with Papeete, which grew into consequence only on account of its harbour; and, as a resort of foreign ships and seamen, was never held in favor by respectable chiefs, whose current of life flowed in native channels, as far from foreign Papeete as possible. Marama always preferred her own island to Tahiti, and there she lived by preference. In almost every portion of Moorea she was at home. In Haapiti, starting-point of the Maramas, she bore the name of Tupua i ura o te rai. In Maatea she was Teriimana i Ahurai; in Afareaitu she was Tepau arii i Umarea; in Teavaro she was Marama; in Moruu she was Aromaiterai; in Vaiere she was Tutapu; in Varari she was Narii i te rauaru. In all these places she was mistress in her own right and over Haapiti as a whole she was chiefess in her own right, and a much more important person than her husband, who was overshadowed by Tati's great authority. I think the women of our family have inherited this preference for the Moorea, and have felt themselves more at home there than elsewhere.

I was the eldest child of Tapua taaroa and Marama, born probably in 1824, at Vaiari. From my father I received the name Teriirere i Tooarai; from my mother the name of Ariioehau; and as I had been claimed by Pomare, I received from his side the name Taaroa, although he was dead before I was born. In old days the eldest child of a head-chief was always carried at its birth to the family Maraes as sacred, with offerings to the Gods. In the island society any person who could say that one of his parents had been carried to the Marae asserted his high birth; any one who could say that both parents had been carried stood at the head of society; but anyone who could say that all four of her parents, by birth and adoption, had been carried, enjoyed a rare social distinction, and therefore even the Pomares, far from showing jealousy, regarded and treated me as one of themselves.

Marama had little to do with her daughter. Mothers were not much consulted in regard to their eldest child, or indeed in regard to any child, if the family claimed it. Children in this communistic society were as much the objects of exchange or gift, as any other article of property, and were begged quite as commonly. Although I was born at Vaiari, the Papara people at once claimed me, and built for me a special house, the fareoa, usually built for the children of Arii, and sacred even to the parents. They placed it on a small point where two branches of a stream join to empty into the sea, a stone's throw from Tati's house. The fareoa was peculiar in having but one roof-post, and in being sacred. The attendants were also sacred; the child was fed by servants who were sacred, and who had charge of her to the exclusion of the mother.

This arrangement was broken up by Terito, Pomare's widow, who carried out the idea of her husband by claiming me, and by coming to Papara to take me away; which she actually did, and carried me to Papaoa, the Pomares' residence in Arue. Terito's own daughter Aimata was ten or twelve years older than I, born probably in 1812 or 1813, but the two girls were brought up together, under the care of Uata, a man who for a number of years exercised the powers of government, such as they were; and always had the respect and confidence of natives and foreigners. The story of these times is written in a number of heavy books which any one can read, and which have lost the interest they had fifty years ago, when France and England were quarrelling over poor little Tahiti. I am not going to tell the tale over again. I am not even going to tell what Tati did, in the forty years during which he was struggling to prevent the islands from falling back into chronic wars and disturbances. I am concerned only with what is not printed, and what has a connection with our family.

Uata was an interesting man. He was a friend of the second Pomare, and was made feeding-father or guardian of the boy, the third Pomare, who was born in 1820. Pomare II died December 7, 1821, leaving the daughter Aimata, a girl not yet nine years old, and the boy, Pomare III, a child in arms. Aimata was never regarded with favor by Pomare, her father, who was very frank in saying that she was not his child; so the boy was made king. Moerenhout says that Pomare, on his death-bed, wished Tati to take the government, but that the missionaries and other chiefs were afraid to trust Tati, and preferred to take the charge of the boy on themselves. This is likely enough, although I doubt whether Tati asked such a responsibility, and those that knew Tati best would suspect that he was greatly relieved at escaping it.

So Uata became in effect the head of the Pomare family and the chief adviser in all difficult questions. The missionaries in due time went through the formal ceremony of crowning the infant, April 22,1824, at Papaoa, and then took him to their school, the South Sea Academy which was established in March, 1824, in the island of Moorea at Papetoai. There he was taught to write, and educated in English which became his language, until he was seven years old, when he fell ill, and was taken over to his mother at Pare, where he died, Jan. 11, 1827. In his last illness he called constantly for water, using the English word, for he had never learned the native language. His feeding-father, who did not understand English, brought him every sort of food he could think of, but still the child cried for water. This is said to have been the cause of the name Uata, which his feeding father took after his death, on becoming the guardian of Aimata, as the queen, Pomare IV, was always called by natives.

Aimata when a girl of about nine years, in December, 1822, was married or betrothed to Tapoa of Huahine and Borabora. As I grew up, I became her most intimate friend, and Uata was our constant adviser. The unfortunate Aimata had troubles of every sort, domestic, political, private and public, until at last the missionaries, English and French, fought so violently for control of her and the island that she was fairly driven away. Among other laws which the English missionaries were supposed to have obtained to prevent strangers from obtaining influence in the island, was one of March 1,1835, forbidding strangers under any pretext, from marrying in Tahiti or Moorea. I did not choose to marry any native then to be found in the island. Terito, the queen mother, tried to get up a match between me and one of the Raiatea chiefs, but my mother, Marama, did not think the marriage good enough. Finally I decided to marry Mr Salmon, an Englishman who had general esteem and consideration in the island; and Aimata suspended the law in order to enable her friend to be married.

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Tahiti - Marau Taaroa & Henry Adams