Cecilia Kapua Lindo: The Spirit of 'Ohana and the Polynesian Voyagers (1980)
Herb Kawainui Kāne: Children of the Long Canoe (1996)
Sam Low: Sea of Islands (2000)
Dennis Kawaharada: Voyaging Chiefs of Kāne‘ohe Bay (1999)
Polynesian Migration and Voyaging Stories, edited by Dennis Kawaharada
Introduction, Voyaging Chiefs of Havai'i, with a Bibliography (1994)
Ru and Hina – Tahiti
Hiro – Tahiti
Tafa‘i – Tahiti
Tangiia and Tutapu – Tahiti
Rata – Tuamotu
Aka – Marquesas Islands
Pepeiu – Marquesas Islands
Ru – Cook Islands
Te Erui Ariki – Cook Islands
Ruatapu – Cook Islands
Hawai‘iloa – Hawai‘i
Mo‘ikeha – Hawai‘i
Pa‘ao – Hawai‘i
Wahanui – Hawai‘i
Kupe – Aotearoa
Hotu Matua – Rapanui
Dennis Kawaharada: The Discovery and Settlement of Polynesia (1999)
Dr. Harold St. John and Kuaika Jendrusch: Plants Introduced to Hawai’i by the Ancestors of the Hawaiians (1980)

Ru and Hina

Teuira Henry, from Ancient Tahiti (Honolulu: Bishop Museum, 1928)

[Told by Pape-au, a Tahitian scholar, in 1824.]

Ru and Hina Explore the Earth
Ru (Transplanter), who raised the sky from the earth, prepared his canoe, Te-apori (The-hull), to circumnavigate the earth with his sister Hina-fa‘auru-va‘a (Hina-the-canoe-pilot).

As Ru prepared his canoe, he looked around and observed the appearance of the world, and he marked the boundaries in rotation as follows:

The east he called Te-hitia-o-te-ra (The-rising-of-the-sun);
The west Tetooa-o-te-ra (The-setting-of-the-sun);
The south Apato‘a;
The north Apato‘erau;
The southeast Hitia-i-to‘a;
The northeast Hitia-i-to‘erau;
The southwest he named Tooa-i-to‘a;
The northwest Tooa-i-to‘erau.

A strong mat for a sail was tied with cords to a mast at the center of the canoe Te-apori, and Ru and his sister embarked on their voyage. Ru sat astern with his great paddle for steering in sailing and a smaller paddle to use in calms or for playing against the tide in meeting with head winds; Hina sat in the bows of the canoe to watch for land and thus they sailed away.

Ru lay to at night and sailed on in the day time. They sailed east and arrived at Little-Tahiti, Mo‘orea struck by the wind, and at Great-Tahiti with Hiti-i-te-ara-piopio (Taiarapu). They sailed around those islands. Ru and his companion sailed on; the islands were all located by them; from south to north, from east to west, they were all located by Ru, the dear valiant one, Ru the great valiant one, Ru who explored the earth, and by Hina-fa‘auru-va‘a, his sister.

Sacred Canoe Song of Ru and Hina

O depths of the rivers!
O coldness of the rivers!
Little shrimps of the rivers,
Great shrimps of the rivers,
O prawns of the rivers,
O fullness of the rivers!
The waters inland reflecting flowers
That approach and recede!
Let the far-sighted who dwell on land
Arise and see!
Look inland to the settled mountains!
Let the farsighted who dwell on land
Arise and see!
Look over the sea of Te-fatu-moana (The-lord-of-the-ocean)!
Let the far-sighted who dwell on land
Arise and behold Atea above!
Let the far-sighted who dwell on land
Arise and see!
Look below in the presence of Te-tumu,
At the jungles and the rushing streams,
At the fountains of the deep,
At the fountains of the surface,
At the waves of the east,
At the waves of the west,
At the stable nooks, at the burning nooks,
At the great development extending over the eight directions.
Behind was Te-ao-tea-roa, before was the vast ocean!
Ru was astern, Hina was ahead!
And thus Ru sang:
"I am drawing, drawing [thee] to land,
Te-apori, O Te-apori!
I am drawing, drawing thee to land,
Now hold steadily on to Maurua [Maupiti]."

Then cried his sister, Hina,
Upon the foaming waves:
"O Ru! land is looming up,
What land is it ?"

"lt is Maurua: let its watchword be,
Great Maurua forever."

Ru sang again:
"I am drawing, drawing thee to land,
Te-apori, O Te-apori!
I am drawing, drawing thee to land,
Now hold steadily on to Porapora."

Then cried his sister, Hina,
Upon the foaming waves
"O Ru! land is looming up,
What land is it ?"

"It is Porapora; let its watchword be,
Porapora the great, the firstborn,
Porapora of the fleet that consumes two ways,
Porapora of the muffled paddle,
Porapora of the pink leaf,
Porapora, the destroyer of fleets."

Ru sang again:
"I am drawing, drawing thee to land,
Te-apori, O Te-apori!
I am drawing, drawing [thee] to land,
Now hold steadily on to Taha‘a."

Then cried his sister, Hina
Upon on the foaming waves,
"O Ru! land is looming up,
What land is it ?"
"It is Taha‘a, let its watchword be,
Great Taha‘a of the peaceful sky."

Ru continued to sing:
"I am drawing, drawing to land,
Te-apori, O Te-apori!
I am drawing [thee] to land,
Now hold steadily on to Havai‘i [Ra‘iatea]."

Then cried his sister Hina,
Upon the foaming waves:
"O Ru! land is looming up.
What land is it?"

"It is Havai‘i, let its watchword be,
Havai‘i that towers exceeding in glory,
Great Havai‘i when enraged in its beauty!"

The thrush looks seaward into the sky;
Riding upon the surf of ‘Arei [in Huahine],
The dear albatross will be left behind!
Ma-uru (Changing-season) the husband, Ma-uru the wife,
Will come indeed forever, O Ru!
Draw it to run, that my sailing canoe may run!
Draw it to the shore, draw it to sea,
Draw it to run, that my sailing canoe may run!
Draw it behind, draw it before,
Draw it to run,
That my sailing canoe may run!"

[This chant tells of a return voyage from Aotearoa (New Zealand) to Havai‘i, or Ra‘iatea. It was recited in 1886 by Tu-pa-ia, a schoolmaster who learned it from his aged grandfather Ta-taura, a ra‘atira (chieftain) of Motu-tapu, Ra‘iatea.]

Traditions of Hina

A peninsula called Motu-tapu (Sacred Island), in Ra‘iatea, from which Motu-tapu of the mainland derives its name, was the canoe station of Ru and Hina; a passage from there is called Te-ava-o-Hina (The-passage-of-Hina), by which they went to sea.

Not far inland from Motu-tapu is a place called Tuturaa-haa-a-Hina (Hina’s-place-for-beating-bark cloth), where she is said to have made and spread out her tapa. There is the site where once stood her breadfruit tree, the bark of which she used for making ahu pu‘upu‘u (white tapa); and upon the ground lies a long stone, called Te-hune-‘uru-a-Hina (The-heart-of-Hina’s-breadfruit) because of its resemblance to that object in giant form. After exploring the earth Hina’s love of discovery did not cease. So one evening when the full moon was shining invitingly, being large and half visible at the horizon, she set off in her canoe to make the moon a visit.

On arriving there, she was so pleased with it, that she stepped into it, leaving to the mercy of the sea her canoe, which was never seen again.1

Thus Hina-i-fa‘auru-va‘a became Hina-i-aa-i-te-marama (Hina-who-stepped-into-the-moon), as in the moon she ever afterwards remained, though she did not cease to be in sympathy with her brother in his travels on earth and to do good to man. She watched over travelers at night, an office that caused her to be called Hina-nui-te-araara (Great-Hina-the watchwoman). Hina-i-aa-i-te-marama appears in Polynesian folklore generally.

The shadows in the moon were believed to be an ora (banyan) tree from the numerous branches of which Hina obtained bark and made cloth for the gods. In this capacity she was named Hina-tutu-ha‘a (Hina-the-cloth-beater), and she presided over sacred cloth beaters on earth, who emulated her artistic skill in that work. On one occasion when Hina was up in the banyan tree, she broke off with her foot a branch for its bark; and as she did so with great force, it fell out into space and ultimately arrived at Opoa, Ra‘iatea, where it struck root and was the first tree of its kind ever seen in this world. It is a magnificent tree with a table-shaped trunk forming a pavilion beneath and a plateau above, which are so spacious that from time immemorial people have been wont to spread their mats in those pleasant recesses and assemble to talk and rest.

The clear space in the moon is where the branch once was, and beneath the tree in that locality is where Hina had her home. Her companion there was an u‘upa (green wild pigeon), which dwelt in the tree and lived upon its little figs. Some of these it brought to the earth, propagating the seeds in the following manner: The u‘upa had a bunch of the figs in its mouth as it came, and high up in the air it met a great otaha (man-of-war-bird), which strove to seize the figs and claim the credit of bringing the seeds down to the earth; but the u‘upa, directed by Hina, held on to its burden and escaped from its pursuer. It then scattered figs upon the earth below, and it was from them that the first ora trees in other lands in Polynesia sprang. Then people finding the bark good for cloth propagated the tree everywhere. But the terrestial ora fig does not produce seeds; it is propagated by branches.

Invocations in song, without sacrifices, were offered to Hina under the above attributes, and as a relic of the past she is still invoked by Tahitian firewalkers as Hina-te-araara, as is shown in the ceremony of te-umu-ti (the-ti-oven). The belief by the native people up to the present day that she was really an immortalized woman in the moon is considered well founded for the above reasons.

Hina had as contemporary and bosom friend in this world a great chieftainess named Vahine-nui-tahu-ra‘i (Great-woman-who-set-fire-to-the-sky), also invoked in the umi-ti ceremony. She was of a benevolent nature and protected her fellow creatures in times of restriction and trouble from the oppression of authoritative men. She had at her command the lightning, which would come at her bidding-a power from which she derived her name. [These traditions of Hina were received in 1824 from Tamera, a priest, and in 1886 from Tupaia of Motu-tapu.]
Tahitian Circuit of Navigation

After Ru and Hina had located lands, Maui and his flotilla sailed again over the ocean, for his king Ama-tai-atea (Outrigger-of-the-expansive-ocean). As he and his people arrived at lands, they built temples conveniently and assigned them to priests.They went to the borders. They went to the east, to the Tuamotus and to Mangareva. They went south, to Tubuai, to Rurutu, to the Parrakeet Islands, Rimatara and Mangaia and on to Rarotonga, to Rimitera, and to Teao-tea-roa (The-long-white-land) of the Maoris [New Zealand]. They went everywhere in these directions. They went west, to Tutuila, ‘Upolu, Savai‘i (Samoa); and to Vavau [in Tonga], Atiu, Ahuahu, and Ma‘atea (or Makatea, formerly called Papatea). They went north, to the distant Marquesas and to burning ‘Aihi (Hawai‘i). [Recited in 1854 by Paearu, a Tahitian scholar].
Comparative Folklore-Ru

In the groups near Tahiti the legend of Ru resembles the Tahitian; but farther away only fragments of it appear to exists and in some instances Ru is confounded with other characters.

In New Zealand, Ru was the earthquake god, son of Rangi (Sky) and Papa (Rock). He was never born, but remained in his mother in the center of the earth, and from him came the earthquakes. Another character named Rupe is represented as Maui mua (First Maui), brother of Hina and the other Maui’s, and he was the progenitor of the pigeon, which they call rupe, the green mountain pigeon in Tahiti, and double or shadow of Ru. These versions evidently spring from one source.

In confirmation of the statement in the foregoing legend that Ru was a great navigator and discoverer of lands is the tradition of Aitutaki claiming that Ru was the first discoverer and chief of that land. He landed there from Avaiki, Havai‘i or Ra‘iatea, probably, on an exploring expedition with about 200 emigrants, including men, women and children, and named the island Araura, signifying that the wind drove them there. His great double canoe was named G‘na-pua-riki (Tahitian, Na-pua-ru, Those-small-flowers), and the beams, three in number, which united the vessels, beginning with the foremost one, were named Tane-mai-tai (Tane-from-the-seaward), Te-pou-o-Tangaroa (The-post-of-Taaroa), and Rima-auru (Final-hand).

Finding the island beautiful, with its verdant landscape of hills and plains and its spacious lagoon of coral reef studded with lovely islets forming a safe haven for the landing of canoes, they settled upon it. Ru built near the sea a marae, which is called ma in Aitutaki, and named it Pua-riki (Little-flowers) after his canoe. He also built another inland, which he named Vaikuriri (Water-of-angry-Ku, god of stability), Ku-riri being the name of his tutelar god. He established seven elders (koromatua, Tahitian orometua) as lords of the realm under him.

These emigrants increased to a large number and are called in the Aitutaki genealogy Ati-Ru (Tribe of Ru). There the hero is called Rute-toko-rangi (equivalent to Ru-te-too-rai, Ru-the-raiser-of-the-sky, in the Tahitian story), and teve plants, as in the Tahitian version, are mentioned as those that first supported the sky when it was low down. At a later date more people came to Aitutaki from Avaiki-i-raro (West Havai‘i, or Samoa), in the opposite direction from the Society Islands.


This tradition of Ru and Hina is from Teuira Henry’s Ancient Tahiti, 459-465.

In Hawaiian tradition, Hina travels to the moon not for exploration, but in order to escape the excrement of her children: "The children’s excrement has to be carried to the north side of the water hole at Ulaino [in Hana, Maui], and Hina wearies of their constant messing and the tapu involved in the disposition of the excrement. Hence on the night of Hoku (Full moon) she leaps to the moon from a place called Wanaikulani. Her husband leaps to catch her, her leg breaks off in his hand (hence she is called Lono-muku), and there she hangs in the moon to this day" (Beckwith 242; the full story is found in Thrum, More Hawaiian Folk-tales 69-71).