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)

Tangiia and Tutapu

Te Ariki-Tara-are, high priest of Rarotonga; trans. by S. Percy Smith; from the Journal of the Polynesian Society, Vol. 28: 1919 and Vol. 29: 1920

When Tangiia was born his grandfather, Ka‘u-kura, gave him the name of Rangi. When Tangiia’s uncle Pou-vananga-roa learned that his sister Ka‘u-ngaki had given birth to a son, he adopted the boy and renamed him Tangiia-nui. The uncle also adopted Tutapu, the son of his other sister Maonga.
Pou-vananga-roa appointed Maono, his eldest son, to be ariki, or head chief, of Tahiti; Tutapu was made an ariki of Iva (Hiva, or the Marquesas); Tangiia was made a tavana, or minor chief, of Tahiti.

Tangiia was unhappy with his appointment, so he seized the insignia of the ariki at the marae of Avarua and drove Maono away to the mountains. The village and its share of kuru (‘ulu, or breadfruit) now became his. Tangiia’s younger brothers waited for their share of land and power to be distributed to them, but nothing was given.

Dissension also arose between Tangiia and Tutapu over a stream, Vai-iria, a sacred stream of Tangiia’s. When Tutapu bathed in this stream, Tangiia attacked him. Tangiia’s teeth were broken and the plumes of the people of ‘Avaiki were trampled. The two cousins also fought over rights to two sea creatures, the raratea (white-finned shark) and the onu (turtle). Tutapu insisted that when a shark was killed the head belonged to him, while the tail was for Tangiia. Tangiia disagreed, and the two cousins separated-Tutapu returned to Iva, while Tangiia went to Ma‘uke [in the Cook Islands] to visit two sisters, Pua-tara and Moe-tuma, the daughters of Tata-uru-ariki and his wife Te Puaranga-uta.

Tangiia arrived in the district of Utaki, where a koutu (sacred meeting place) named Rangi-manuka is located. He looked for the two sisters and found them beating bark cloth. He composed a love song to them [and slept with them] before returning to Tahiti.

In Tahiti, Rakanui, his sister, asked him if he had taken the kuru (breadfruit tribute), not knowing that Tutapu had taken it to Iva. Tangiia got angry and snatched a portion of the turtle from the hand of his sister’s husband Maa. An ill-feeling arose between Tangiia and Maa. Rakanui took a canoe name Kai-oi and departed with Maa for the island of Huahine.

Tangiia now dwelt in Tahiti for some years, until he decided to outfit a canoe named Tuna-moe-vai, a name given by his grandfather Ka‘ukura. After the canoe was ready, Tangiia named it Taki-pu (later it was renamed Takitumu) and then visited ‘Avaiki (Savai‘i in Samoa) and many other islands. On his return to Tahiti, he sent Tino-rere to Ma‘uke to get his children [by the two sisters Pua-tara and Moe-tuma].

When Tangiia returned to Tahiti from his voyages, he found Tutapu had arrived from Iva to make war and to secure the celebrated weapon named Te Amio-enua from Pou-vananga-roa and the rara-roroa (a tribute of some kind; perhaps human sacrifice, which in Tahiti was called te avae roroa-“the long-legged fish”). But Tangiia refused to give up the weapon and the two “fish.” Tutapu then demanded the rara-kuru (breadfruit tribute) and this Tangiia conceded in order to pacify his brother.

But Tutapu was not satisfied and a war broke out. Tutapu and his army retired to Tautira [a district of east Tahiti], and Tangiia and his army went to Puna-auia [a district of west Tahiti]. Tutapu was winning the war, so Tangiia gathered his people, prepared a canoe, and launched it, placing on board all their property, including the gods Tonga-iti, Rongo-ma-Tane, Rua-nuku, Tu, and Tangaroa, along with the chief’s seat named Kai-au-unga. Two of the gods had been taken by Tutapu-Rongo-ma-Uenga and Marumamao.

Once his canoe was anchored offshore as a means of escape, Tangiia went to fight with Tutapu again. On a mountain, Tangiia’s two children, Pou-te-anuanua and Motoro, were trapped by a fire set by Tutapu’s men. Pou-te-anuanua was burned to death. The goddess Taa-kura descended on a southeast wind, placed a cloak over Motoro, and took him to Mangaia [Southern Cook Islands], where he was deified.

After the disappearance of his sons, Tangiia fled to his canoe and for some time gazed at the burning land and lamented his losses:

Great is my love for my land Tahiti,
That I am leaving,
Great is my love for my sacred meeting place at Pureora,
That I am leaving,
Great is my love for my drinking springs,
Vai-kura-a-mata and Marama-ata-kai,
That I am leaving,
My bathing places, Vai-iria and Vai-te-pai,
That I am leaving,
My own district, Puna-auia and Pape‘ete
That I am leaving,
For my mountains, Tikura-marumaru
And Aorangi, that I am leaving,
And for my dear children,
Pou-te-anuanua and Motoro now dead.
Alas! Alas! O my children!
My children O! Alas!
O Pou-te-anuanua! Alas!
O Motoro O! O Motoro!

Two of Tangiia’s men were sent back to get a wreath and some red berries and a certain white tapa used at the marae; they also stole the god Ronga-ma-Uenga from Tutapu. To get this god back, Tutapu pursued Tangiia relentlessly over the seas.


Tangiia sailed west to ‘Avaiki (the ancestral homeland), still lamenting the loss of his children and his home. His chief warrior and navigator was Pai, to whom he gave the name Tei-vao-ariki.

Tangiia arrived in ‘Avaiki during ceremonies for the appointment of a chief and the feast of takurua, or presentation of the first fruits to the gods. He told the gods that he left his homeland after the war with Tutapu “over the government, the position of ariki, the fish-tribute, the turtle-tribute, the shark-tribute, the human-tribute, and the weapon Te Amio-enua.” The gods promised to give him mana so that he would not be defeated in battle and to set aside for him a land named Tumu-te-varovaro (the ancient name of Rarotonga), where he would live until his death. Tangiia begged the gods to join his expedition and the following gods consented-Tangaroa and his company; Tu-te-rangi-marama and his company; Tu-tavake; Rua-i-te-kari, Kau-kura, Mumai-io; Rua-te-atonga; Ari; Tupua-nui; Taakura; Kura-akaipo; Tonga-iti; Rangi-puta-rua; Ai-mario; Maru-mamao. Tangiia then begged the gods for all the things connected with the takurua festival, including the musical instruments and the dance postures. They consented.

Tangiia then sailed east from ‘Avaiki, stopping at Uea (Wallis Island), Kuporu (‘Upolu in Samoa), and Iti (Tahiti). There he met Iro (Hiro) and asked for Iro’s son, who would be made chief (ariki) of Tangiia’s people since Tangiia’s two sons had been killed by Tutapu. Hiro agreed and revealed that his son was on Rapa (Easter Island).1

Tangiia sailed to Rapa-nui (Easter Island), which name was given to distinguish it from Rapa-iti, an island southeast of Rarotonga. When the canoe arrived at Rapa-nui, they found Iro’s son, Taputapuatea, diving for shellfish on the reef. The child was taken on board the canoe, which then proceeded to Mo‘orea, looking for Iro, but he was not there.

The canoe then sailed to Huahine. Tangiia met his brother-in-law Maa and his sister Rakanui, who at first threatened to cook him in an oven (imu); but the two were reconciled and Tangiia related to her the story of his war with Tutapu and his voyage to ‘Avaiki. Rakanui asked to see a ceremonial dance he brought back from ‘Avaiki and he consented.

After the dance was performed, Rakanui tried to persuade Tangiia to remain on Huahine-he on one side of the island, and she on the other side. But he replied, “No! I cannot remain. I must go to Tumu-te-varovaro (Rarotonga), which Tonga-iti has told me of. I am going there to live until I die.” Tangiia told his sister of his plan to make Iro’s son Taputapuatea ariki of his people. Rakanui was opposed at first, then approved, and new names were given to the boy-Te Ariki-upoko-tini (ruler of many people) and Ta-i-te-ariki. Then Rakanui gave her canoe to Tangiia, saying “Here is a second hull for your canoe.” When this canoe, named Kai-oi, was delivered to him, it was taken to the seashore and joined to Tangiia’s canoe to make a purua, or double-hulled canoe. The work was completed by the navigator Tamarua-pai. Then all of Rakanui’s property was taken on board, and Rakanui, her husband Maa, and their children joined Tangiia’s party. For his work in joining the two canoes, Pai received the name “Purua.”

News was received that Tutapu was near; so the expedition left Huahine for Porapora. When it arrived there, the expedition began a ceremony to consecrate Iro’s son as ariki, but before the scarlet-feathered belt was girded on, Tutapu arrived.

The expedition left Borabora and sailed for Rangi-atea (Ra‘iatea), where Tangiia’s canoe and Tutapu’s canoe coasted along together. Those on Tutapu’s canoe shouted “Give up my god! Give up my god!” [The god Rongo-ma-Uenga, taken from Tutapu in Tahiti.] Then night fell, and a gust of wind arose; the canoes were hidden from each other and went their separate ways.

Tangiia now returned to Iti (Tahiti). On arrival all hands were ordered ashore the better to count the crew and passengers; 200 men were assigned to the katea (the main hull) and the women and children were assigned to the ama (the other hull). Then the expedition visited many islands, even those island toward the rising sun, exulting the fame of the canoe now called Takipu [and later renamed Takitumu]. At an island called Maketu [Ma‘uke in the southern Cook Islands; or one of the Tuamotus; or Me‘etia in the Society Islands], they met the chief Karika, who hailed from Manu‘a Island in Samoa. On sighting a canoe, two of Tangiia men climbed the mast to identify it. They reported, “It is Te Tai-tonga! [another name for Karika], and you will be killed by him!”

“How many men does he have?” asked Tangiia.

“A great many!”

“What should we do?”

“You must give up the rangi-ei (the red feathers) you are wearing on your head” [that is, acknowledge Karika’s supremacy].

Soon Karika’s vessel drew up to Tangiia’s and Karika boarded Tangiia’s canoe. Tangiia had already sent below all the able-bodied men, leaving none but slaves, children, and the decrepit on the deck of the vessel, so that Karika might not see how many men he had. Tu-iti and Nukua-ki-roto now urged, “Give up your rangi!” So Tangiia took the red plume from his head and was about to hand it to Karika, when Pou-te-are, who opposed giving the chieftainship to Karika, rushed up and knocked it out of Karika’s hand, and climbed up the mast and placed it on his own head. Then the navigator Pai rushed after Pou-te-are and knocked red plume off his head. When it fell down, Pai seized it, and the fighting began. It was like a north wind and a south wind fighting for supremacy. Tangiia’s men gained the upper hand, and his canoe began to tow Karika’s canoe from Maketu to Maiao. So Karika decided to make peace with Tangiia and gave him his daughter Mokoroa-ki-aitu in marriage. Then the canoes separated.

Tangiia asked Karika, “Where is Rarotonga?”

Pointing, Karika said, “There,” and described the course downwind, toward the south (raro-tonga). The vessels now separated, Karika going his way and Tangiia his way. But Tangiia missed his mark and reached the southern ocean where he encountered great waves and currents. Tangiia thought, “This is the ‘tai-rua-koko’ [place of monstrous waves].” From there, the vessel turned north and came upon Rarotonga, which was named after Karika’s direction to the island. The island remained Tangiia’s home until he died.2

Tangiia landed on the east side of the island and after entering the channel through the reef, the crew took the rope named Te Kaa-ki-‘avaiki to fasten the canoe to the kaoa, or coral reef, and hence the name of that place is Te Kaoa. He then named the sandy point Te One-poto and going inland, constructed the marae named Te Miromiro to sanctify the land. The marae was dedicated to Tonga-iti; Parau-a-Toi was appointed the purapura, or guardian priest. Tangiia named the channel in the reef Ava-rau or Ava-tapu, being the way to ‘Avaiki.

The anchor was then pulled up and the vessel hauled on shore. Here another marae was built; it was named Iti-akaraua and was dedicated to the god Marumamao. After securing the vessel, the expedition went inland and built the marae named Itianga-te-ra; Kainuku was appointed the priest. On the completion of this marae, the expedition came down to the shore and built a house which was named Mata-enua (Looking for Land); Nukua-ki-roto was appointed guardian. This camp was at Tauna-a-rangi before the party built permanent houses.3

Tane-korea, who was descended from one of the original settlers of Rarotonga , was found inland at Roka with his two daughters named Vai-te-nui and Ata-te-poroa. Tangiia asked Tane, “Are those girls your daughters?”

Tane replied, “They are.”

“I will take them as wives for myself.” He brought his family to Tau-vae, and dwelt there.

Some time after Tangiia’s arrival at Rarotonga, the Samoan chief Karika landed at the reef-opening named E. He built a fort of coral named Are-au and settled there. The food eaten on board Karika’s canoe was human flesh, as the following song suggests:

The human-oven of Rua-koroa and Rua-ta

Wherein were cooked the eye-balls,

The dried up eye-balls,

In Karika’s oven, rei-iri e!

After he had settled on Rarotonga, Karika went to look for Tangiia and the daughter he had given to Tangiia in marriage. He followed the coast to Avarua, where he heard the sound of conch shells and drums, so he turned inland to Tau-vae, where he found his daughter. He remained there for some time in conversation, then returned seaward, and settled at a place which he named Enua-kura. Before he left, Tangiia gave him a conch shell and a drum. The conch shell was the pu-ura.

Some time after the arrival of Karika at Rarotonga, Tutapu landed at Avarua. He killed Parau. Two uncles of Tangiia, Ue and Tautenga, came to Tau-vae to tell Tangiia of Tutapu’s arrival and of the killing of Parau. Tangiia ordered some food cooked, but the two men refused it, saying they planned to return at once to Tutapu’s camp.

“Why are you in such a hurry?”

“For fear we should be seen here.”

Tangiia lamented their departure, but they told him, “Don’t regret our departure; we shall do our part. You won’t be defeated.”

Later, these two uncles deceived some of Tutapu’s forces into returning to Iva by telling them Tutapu’s warriors had all been killed.

Before the fighting began, Tangiia sent his brother Keu and his sister Rakanui to Tahiti to get a prophecy from their father, Pou-vananga-roa, about the outcome of the imminent war. The old blind man instructed them to set up one cluster of pandanus leaves at the bow of their canoe and one at the stern, the one on the bow to stand for Tangiia and the one on the stern to stand for Tutapu; the cluster that fell would foretell the defeat of the man it represented.

On the voyage back to Rarotonga, the pandanus leaves at the stern fell-a sign that Tutapu would be defeated.

The fighting continued until Tangiia’s forces (Ngati-Tangiia, Tangiia’s tribe, lit., “the offspring of Tangiia”) gained the upper hand and drove Tutapu’s forces from Avarua to the east end of the island. Many died. Because Karika assisted Tangiia and helped defeat Tutapu, certain functions of government were eventually turned over to him.

At Oro-iti, Tangiia overtook Tutapu and called out to Rongo-ma-Tane: “Let our fishing be successful!” Tutapu struck at Tangiia and cut off the little finger of the left hand. Tangiia sucked the blood into his mouth and blew it out into Tutapu’s face, blinding him. Then he struck Tutapu with his toko-toki (a battle axe) and wounded him in the leg, the blow shattering the rock beneath Tutapu’s feet. This blow caused the putiki (head ornament?) to fall from Tutapu. Tutapu now fled with two daughters of Tangiia, Te Raiti-ariki and Puanga-te-rangi, as hostages. After a short distance, his breathe failed, so the place is known as “Oro-iti.”

Tangiia pursued Tutapu up a stream. Tutapu’s ei, or necklet, named Kaa-tu, fell off. As Tutapu climbed up the course of the stream, he was dripping blood. The place where a spur comes down from a ridge into the main stream is called Ara-eke-toto (“Path of falling blood”).

Tutapu called back, “O Tangiia! Let me live!”

“Why should I spare you? Didn’t I abandoned my home in Tahiti to you, my relentless pursuer?”

Tutapu now laid down in the water to hide his face from Tangiia’s tokotoko (spear or club). Tangiia followed him and seizing his head, turned his face up and scooped out his eyeballs and swallowed them. The gods of the sky called down, “O Tangiia, you are an ariki who eats in haste.”

“O my gods, I am indeed a hasty eater! Why did he relentlessly pursue me? My patience is exhausted. I abandoned my home in Tahiti to him and departed without protest over the great ocean. Why should I spare him now?”

Tangiia’s daughter Te Raiti-ariki asked for the left eyeball, the light colored one, for Tutapu had one dark and one light-colored eye. The place where this event occurred is about four miles inland from the coast.

They took the body of Tutapu and carried it down to the shore to the district of Aroko, onto the bare rocks at Vai-tangi and Ioi, that is, at Ara-kuo. Here they proceeded to cook the body, but found that it would not cook in that place. It was then taken to Avarua, where they were joined by Karika and his army, who were carrying the god Maru-mamao and some dead bodies. This was the occassion when Karika took possession of this god Maru-mamao, and Tangiia and his forces plundered the rest of Tutapu’s property.

When they got to Kiikii, the god Maru-mamao was uncovered and displayed, and the kiikii, or wreath, was thrown away (hence the name of the place). From that place they went to Avarua again; then to Tauae; then to Kau-ariki-rangi. Here Anu, who was the god Tongaiti, asked Tangiia, “Why doesn’t Tutapu’s body cook? Have you lifted the kapu on your child and your elder, Tupa, on account of the one he slew?”

Tangiia replied, “I have not.”

“Life the kapu on your child and your elder; then you will be able to cook the body.”

Now Taivananga (a priest) took a rau-kava (kava leaf) and struck the body of Tutapu, uttering the proper karakia (incantation) at the same time. Then he struck Tangiia with the rau-kava and put it in Tangiia’s month, reciting the karakia. On completion of these proceedings, all was noa, or free from tapu, so men were ordered to collect firewood, which consisted of popo-kuru, popo-ngatae, katiara, and kakava-atua. So these were brought and the body cooked successfully this time, and hence the place was named Taana. The body was taken to the marae named Kura-angi, and there eaten.

After the feast had been consumed, Tangiia assembled all Ngati-Tangiia (his tribe) and addressed the tribe on that same day. This is what was decreed to the priests and all the tribe: “Man is sacred; no man is to be slain; the whole of the land is to be divided up from one side of the island to the other; the people must increase greatly in numbers, so the land might be filled.”4

Then he said, “If a large fleet comes here in peace, let them land; a fleet that comes armed for war, let their heads be cut off with the tokotoko.”

Death and Apotheosis

Tangiia eventually died in his house at Pure-ora. After his death his spirit flew up above to the tuputupu (wandering spirits) and there bewailed his body lying below near the sea. When the god Tonga-iti saw the spirit of Tangiia flaming amid the wandering spirits, he told him “Be calm. You will never be able to return to your body, for it is rotten by this time.”

The god Tangaroa and Tonga-iti conducted a kava ceremony in which Tangiia’s spirit was the ono (tasty food to go with the kava). After Tangaroa prepared the kava and drank it, he seized Tangiia and swallowed him, then spat him out. Tonga-iti did the same, and then Tangiia did the same to both Tangaroa and Tonga-iti.

After this ceremony, the two gods told Tangiia, “Now you possess the mana (power) of a god.” The two gods ascended to the sky to convey Tangiia to the presence of Rongo-ma-Tane.

The atua-tini (many gods) asked, “Who is this ariki?”

Tangiia replied, “It is Tangiia-ariki.”

Again they asked, “Is this the ariki who worships the gods?”

The answer was “Truly, it is so!”

After this acknowledgment, the atua-tini felt a desire to taste Tangiia and after the straining and drinking of the kava, they all swallowed Tangiia’s spirit as ono to the kava. Then he did the same to all of them. After this meal Rongo-ma-Tane said to Tonga-iti and Tangaroa, “Take him away and appoint a purapura (a medium) for Tangiia’s spirit, then return.” The gods came along and found Ruru, who was engaged in clearing land, and made him a medium for Tangiia’s spirit.

Here ends the history of Tangiia, a man who played an important part in Polynesian history and ended by becoming a god. [The narrative traces Tangiia’s 27 generations of descendants down to the time when this story was recorded.]


This version of the story of Tangiia is from “The History and Traditions of Rarotonga,” told in Rarotongan by Te Ariki-Tara-are, the last high priest of Rarotonga; it was translated by S. Percy Smith (Part VI and VII, Journal of the Polynesian Society, Vol. 28: 1919, pp. 134-144, 183-197; Parts VIII-XI, Vol. 29: 1920, pp. 1-16, 45-51; 60-65). A shorter version of the history of Tangiia is found in “Genealogies and Historical Notes from Rarotonga,” Part I, Journal of the Polynesian Society, Vol. 1: 1892, pp. 20-29. A third version of the Tangiia story is given in “Floatsam and Jetsam from the Great Ocean: or, Summary of Early Samoan Voyages and Settlement” written by “a native of Rarotonga” in 1842 and translated by the Rev. John B. Stair, Journal of the Polynesian Society, Vol. 4: 1895, pp. 95-131.

“The History and Traditions of Rarotonga,” by Te Ariki-tara-are. begins with the origins of the Polynesian race, somewhere in Indonesia. The original lands are given the names Atia, ‘Avaiki-te-varinga, Iti-nui, Papua, Enuakura, ‘Avaiki, and Kuporu. The parents are named Te Tumu (“The Source”) and Papa. The first story is about Maui, a child of Tangaroa and a descendant of Papa. (Journal of the Polynesian Society, Vol. 8: 1899, pp. 61-75).

S. Percy Smith speculates that 20 generations from Te Tumu, Vaitakere was living in Java or Sumatra; and that 35 generations from Te Tumu, Te Irapanga led a migration to the Hawaiian Islands, from Tawhiti-nui (Borneo?), and later settled in either the Lau islands of the Fiji Group, or in Savai‘i of the Samoan Group. Ui-te-rangiora, one of the great voyagers, appears 43 generations from Te Tumu. The following events are set in ‘Avaiki (Samoa), on the threshold of expansion into the Pacific.

Ui-te-rangiora and the Dispersion of the People of ‘Avaiki

Ui-te-rangiora built a celebrated pa‘i (sea-going canoe); the timbers of the canoe were human bones. The keel of the canoe was called “Te Ivi-o-Åtea.”

Because no bones were long enough for kiato (‘iako, or crossbeams connecting the two hulls), a tree named Te Tamoko-o-te-rangi was cut down for the purpose. This tree was kapu to Taa-kura and Ari. When they found out that Ui-te-rangiora had cut down their tree, they waged war against him and many men were killed. But the tree was taken and cut into eight portions and made into drums, tutunga (tapa-beating logs), and boards. One drum was named Taka-enua and was used in the ceremonies at Avarua (in the Samoan or Lau Group) to install a high chief. The tutunga was named Tangi-varovaro.

Ui-te-rangiora completed his vessel and launched it. This was the first pa‘i (a canoe made of planks rather than dug out from a single log) and the beginning of the dispersions of the people of ‘Avaiki to various islands in the Pacific.

Because of the wars in ‘Avaiki, starting with Kuru down to Taa-kura and Ari, people migrated to the following lands:

‘Avaiki-runga (‘Avaiki upwind-Tahiti-nui, the Tuamotus, etc.);

Iti-nui, Iti-rai, Iti-anaunau, Iti-takai-kere (Fijian Group, Lau islands);

Tonga-nui, Tonga-ake, Tonga-piritea, Tonga-manga, Tonga-rara, Tonga-anue (Tongan Group);

‘Avaiki-raro (‘Avaiki-downwind, or Savai‘i, the main island of Samoa); Kuporu (‘Upolu), Manuka (Manu‘a);

Vavau (North Tongan Group);

Niva-ou (Niuafou) and Niu-taputapu (Keppel’s island), both north of the Tongan Group.

Ui-te-rangiora’s descendants were Makua-ki-te-rangi, Te Rangi, Ata-o-te-rangi, Tara-o-te-rangi, Te Paku-o-te-rangi, Te Uka-o-te-rangi, Uu, Ane, Taipu, Tuna-ariki.

Tuna-ariki battled Tu-ei-puka over Avarua since both claimed it. Tuna-ariki killed Tu-ei-puka, and won the chieftainship. Tuna-ariki was then killed by a pig, which ate him.

After his death, Tu-ei-puka’s son Kati-ongia ruled. His descendants were Kapua, Atonga, and Te Aru-tanga-nuku.

The Canoe of Te Aru-tanga-nuku

Te Aru-tanga-nuku wanted a canoe because there was not enough food on ‘Upolu (Samoa). His uncles Oro-keu, Oro-i-nano, Oro-taere told him to build one, so they might leave the island.

They prepared their adzes, held a ceremonial feast, and went to cut a tree for a keel. In the mountains, they met a white heron (ruru) and a snake (aa, replaced by an eel in some traditions) fighting.

Oro-keu appeared on the scene. The heron said to him, “O chief! Separate us and end the fight!” The snake said, “O chief! Leave us alone to continue the fight!” Oro-keu went on his way.

Oro-i-nano appeared on the scene. The heron said to him, “O chief! Separate us and end the fight!” The snake said, “O chief! Leave us alone to continue the fight!” Oro-i-nano went on his way.

Oro-taere appeared on the scene. The heron said to him, “O chief! Separate us and end the fight!” The snake said, “O chief! Leave us alone to continue the fight!” Oro-taere felt sorry for the heron because the heron was his elder brother. He killed the snake with his adze and wept over and healed the wound of the heron.

The heron then asked him, “What is your purpose here?”

“I am going to cut down a tree to make a canoe for the ariki Te Aru-tanga-nuku.”

“Go and cut down my tree at Ara-Punga-verevere. I did not tell Oro-keu and Oro-i-nano about the tree because they did not help me against the snake. Those two are probably dead by now.”

Oro-taere went and found the tree, a maota-mea. He rough cut it into the shape of a keel and tied the hauling ropes (kaka) to it. Then he left.

Along came Tangaroa-iu-mata. He found the fallen tree. He asked the guardian of the place Rata-i-te-vao (Rata of the forest), “Who has cut down my tree?”

Rata replied, “I don’t know.” Tangaroa went around asking who had cut down his tree, but no one knew. So he returned to the tree and re-erected it with a chant: “Stand up you maota-mea, be erect, gird on your bark again. Stand there, O you top of the tree! the large and small branches of the tree! Chips and leaves return to your places! Bark, adhere back onto the tree!” When the tree was restored Tangaroa returned home.

When Oro-taere and his crew returned, the tree was standing there, the hauling ropes dangling from it. The only thing missing was a piece of bark, which he had taken down to the sea to remove the kapu from the tree. Oro-taere returned to shore to consecrate his adze again; the kapu on the adze had been destroyed when he had killed the snake. Then he went back to the mountain with his crew and felled the tree again, stripped the bark from it, tied on the hauling ropes, and dragged the log down to where the priest Atonga lived.

Food was given to the priest. When he was satisfied, he told Te Aru-tanga-nuku’s wife Pori-o-kare, “Return and tell the ariki he must build a house. Tomorrow the canoe will be shaped. When the house is finished, let all of ‘Upolu be seated there so they may see the log being dragged along by birds.”

Aronga then summoned Tupua-ki-Amoa and told him to go to the white heron. “Tell him to tell Pirake-akaruirui-rangi [Pirake: a seabird noted for its soaring] to assemble all the birds and to drag the canoe of the ariki to the house prepared for it.” Tupua-ki-Amoa gathered the many birds. At daylight, with the moamoa (a kind of bird) on one side, the Kakia, the Ngoiro, and Katikatika (kinds of birds) on the other side, and the Kati-rori bird reciting a song, the canoe was lifted down to the house.

The canoe had been built at night by Atonga-vaerua (Atonga, the spirit), and his workmen. Iu-mata, Aa-ngu, Na-ora, and Na-oti built one side of the canoe while Tupa, Tupa-ake, Tupa-aki, and Uri-reka built the other side; there were eight builders, Atonga being the ninth. Atonga named the canoe “Taraipo” (“Built in the night”); the birds called it “Te Manu-ka-tere.”

When the canoe reached the house of the ariki, the birds returned inland, but Atonga stopped the heron and asked, “Where is there a tree suitable as a rakau-tukava (a weapon) for the ariki?” The heron replied, “At Te Po-amio.” Atonga sent Tupua-ki-Amoa to cut down the tree. After a long search, he cut down the tree called Ipi-rere and brought it down to the village. He shaped it and named it “Te Amio-enua” and delivered it to the ariki, who placed it on the canoe. [This is the weapon over which Tangiia and Tutapu fought.] The canoe was named “Te-Pore-o-kare.”

[The episode of a tree cut down for a canoe, re-erected by a forest god, then cut down again is also told as part of the tradition of Rata.]

The Voyages of Te Aru-tanga-nuku

Te Aru-tanga-nuku launched his canoe and sailed to Iva (Marquesas). At Iva, the canoe was renamed “Te Orauroa-ki-Iva” (“The Long Voyage to Iva”). From there it went to Rapa-nui (Easter Island) and on to Rapa-iti (Oparo, southeast of Rarotonga), where Irei was left on account of his bad navigation. From there they sailed to ‘Avaiki-runga (Tahiti) and all the islands near there. At ‘Avaiki-runga the canoe was named “Te Ara-ki-‘Avaiki” (“The Way to Tahiti”).

The great desire of Te Aru-tanga-nuku was to see all the wonderful things on the ocean which had been discovered and reported by his ancestor Ui-te-rangiora. He saw the rocks growing out of the sea beyond Rapa; the monstrous waves; the female dwelling in those waves, with her hair waving and floating on the surface of the ocean; the frozen sea (tai-uka-a-pia); the deceitful animal on the sea, which dived below the surface (walrus or sea-lion?); a gloomy, dark place, where the sun is not seen; a rock whose summit pierces the sky with steep, bare cliffs, where vegetation does not grow.

Te Ara-tanga-nuku had the following descendants: Te Amaru-ariki; Te Amaru-enua; Te Uenga-ariki; Te Uenga-enua; Kau-tea; Kau-mango; Vai-iti; Ka‘u-kura; Pou-vananga-roa-ki-Iva and Ka‘u-ngaki. Ka‘u-ngaki was Tangiia’s mother.

1. Iro, or Hiro as he is known in Tahitian, is a distant relative to Tangiia; they share a common ancestor named Tu-tarangi, who is said to have conquered Fiji. (See “Genealogies and Historical Notes from Rarotonga,” Part I, p. 25; and “History and Traditions of Rarotonga,” Part VI, pp. 135-143.) See the Tahitian version of the story of Hiro in this collection.

2. Karika was a great navigator born on Manu‘a, the easternmost of the Samoa Islands, where he is known a ‘Ali‘a (the Samoans do not pronounce the k’s in his name.)

Another version of the story of Karika is told in “Genealogies and Historical Notes from Rarotonga,” Part II, Journal of the Polynesian Society, Vol. 1: 1892, pp. 65-75.

A third version of the meeting between Tangiia and Karika is found in “Floatsam and Jetsam from the Great Ocean: or, Summary of Early Samoan Voyages and Settlement,” written by “a native of Rarotonga” in 1842 and translated by the Rev. John B. Stair, Journal of the Polynesian Society, Vol. 4: 1895, pp. 106-107.

3. Tangiia built numerous other marae, houses, and koutu (meeting places) on Rarotonga. For a list of these, see pages 11- 15, Journal of the Polynesian Society, Vol. 29: 1920.

4. Compare the reverence for life expressed in Kamehameha’s “Law of the Splintered Paddle”: On one occasion when Kamehameha 1st was building a heiau (temple) and needed human sacrifices, sometimes as many as ten persons were made victims; for the greater the number sacrificed the greater the power conferred upon the temple.

To secure fresh victims, he started along the coast in a canoe with his retainers. At one place they saw two fishermen walking on the shore. Bidding his retainers remain at a distance, Kamehameha endeavored to capture the men. When they saw they were being pursued both fled. Just as Kamehameha was about to grasp the hindermost, the chief’s foot got caught in a fissure of lava and he fell. The man he was after instantly struck him over the head with a paddle. The blow was so hard, the paddle splintered.

“Why don’t you kill him?” said his companion.

“Life is sacred to Kane,” replied the man, quoting the old saying “Ua kapu ke ola na Kane.”

Kamehameha had regained consciousness after the blow and heard what the two men were saying. He knew the man could easily have killed him by running a fish-spear through his body and that neither of the two had recognized him as their chief. The chief was so impressed with the reverence for life shown by the two men that he put an end to human sacrifice and promulgated the famous “Law of the splintered paddle,” – the “Kanawai mamala-hoe,” – which runs, “Let the old men, the old women, and the children travel and sleep by the roadside [in safety],” “E hele ka ‘elemakule, a me na luahine, a me na keiki, a moe i ka ala.” (Told by Kaluhiokalani; in Green, Folk-tales from Hawaii 119.)