Volume 8 1899 > Volume 8, No. 4, December 1899 > The war of Tonga and Samoa and origin of the name Malietoa, by Rev. S. Ella, p 231-234
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- 231

[The following account is supposed to describe the final expulsion of the Tongans from Samoa, which occurred twenty-five generations ago, or about the year 1250. For reference to this important event in Polynesian History, see this Journal, vol. viii, p. 6. Mr. Ella's translation is from a legend preserved by Mr. Stuebel, and published by him in the original Samoan. It agrees fairly well with the story we heard in Samoa in 1897.—Editors.]

[The translation given is a very literal one. The style may be improved, ad lib. The word “then” is repeated perhaps ad nauseam, but that is the correct rendering of “Ona…….ai lea,” the Samoan narrative form. Occasionally I departed from it.

A similar Tongan defeat is given by the Niué Islanders, accounting for their deliverance from Tongan domination, also effected by a stratagem which issued in the destruction of the Tongans.

In the Ellice and Gilbert Groups there are remarkable histories of Tongan tyranny endured by those simple people. Even in Fiji the Tongan power was felt and dreaded.

The name of Malietoa is generally ascribed to the issue of a war as here mentioned, and the name was given by the Tui-Tonga at the time of his defeat.—S.E.]

IN ancient times Samoa had its kings, and every division of the nation possessed its own king, but there was no single king to rule supremely over Samoa. In those days Samoa was subjected to the rule of the king of Tonga, called Tui-Tonga, who was also named Talaaifei'i.1 This chief Talaaifei'i came here to go round Samoa, and have his sovereignty proclaimed.2 He landed on Savai'i, at the district of Safotu, and all Samoa gathered (or came) together to build a stone platform for his palace at Safotu.3 On the promontory at the eastern side of Safotu—the name of the promontory is Matuea—there was a great stone which was used as an enclosure of the road.4 Talaafei'i told Tuna (an eel) and Fata (a platform) to turn over the stone, and if they were not able, or unable, they should both be killed. On account of this they came to Upolu that they might - 232 consult with their family, and they sent for the son of their sister from Falelatai; the name of this lad was Ulumāsui (obstinacy). Then they went off to Savai'i, and there carried out the scheme of Ulumāsui. They reached (or arrived at) Matautu, and there this lad went up to the marsh-land,5 which is inland of the village called Mana-sē, and he caught two eels there, which he brought down along with some mud of the marsh, and he placed them beneath the stone. Then he went down again to the reef and there caught an octopus (fe'e), which he carried up with some sea-water, and placed it also beneath the stone. Then he dug under the stone with some iron (u'amea). The stone then was loosened. They all laid hold and turned over the stone which was loosened. Then they sang this song: “Family of Eels, Family of Octopii! turn over the defeated stone!” Then it turned, and they were saved (lit, able to live). The stone still stands to this day in the chief's land. Then they came here to Upolu, their lives spared; but a large number of the people who returned from the review of the king and the proclamation of his sovereignty, arrived at A'ana, at Sanafili. Then Tuna and Fata and Ulumāsui went and pulled up the pile ('oa'oa) to which the king's canoe was fastened. The name of the wood of which the pile was made is the Toa.6 They fled to Falelatai, and there split up the wood; on that account that piece of land is called to this day 'Oa'oa-tofi (the split-up pile). When they had split the wood, and fashioned it into the semblance of clubs, they went down to a certain plot of land to test them. Therefore the name of that plot of land is 'Aso-avanoa (rods of a roof wide apart). They two then went up to their own house, and suspended the clubs in the house. There came a number of people and stood and looked at the clubs, which were forbidden;7 they did not remain standing, but sat down and gazed (in astonishment or dismay), therefore that place is called to this day Mata-nofo (view-sitting). All these things were done by these brethren because it was setiled in their hearts that the subjection of Samoa to Tonga was about to be raised, for they resolved to kill the king of Tonga. They then went forth to overtake the travelling party of the king of Tonga. They found them at Aleipata (east end of Upolu). They then buried their clubs in the marae. There was at Aleipata a certain warrior and spirit (tohunga) named Tapuloa (long-club). They deliberated together to slay the Tongans. To this they agreed. Then they held a siva (singing and dancing) to celebrate with marks of joy the tour of the king of Tonga. The words of the song were these: “Look on, and look on! wave the head, and lift up the heels. Let there be many blows for the Tongans.” There was a very large number of Tongans gathered together in the marae to witness the dance. The dance moved along up to the side of the marae in which - 233 the clubs were buried. Then they dug beneath with their feet and raised up the clubs and caught them in their hands, and sprang up like wild beasts and slew the Tongans, for they fought with great vigour. They then went in pursuit of the (other) Tongans; one party went down in pursuit on that side, another party of pursuers came up on this side. There were then two each pursuing on this side—Tuna and Tupuloa: on the other side, Fata and Ulu-māsui. But this was their arrangement: that they should meet at the Fatu-osofia8 (leaping rock). If one party should be the first to reach the the Muli-fanua (land's end), it should turn again to help the party delayed. The party of Tuna and Tapuloa was the first to reach Fatu-osofia, but Fata and Ulumāsui's was detained by the aitu (spirit or demon) at Faleaseela, for Fata and Ulumāsui were forbidden by the aitu who dwelt in the land of Saefu,9 who spake thus: “Stay here, you two, until the morrow, for the aitu who dwells on the top of the mountain is difficult to deal with. His name is Sema.” For this reason they were forbidden—that they should wait until their shadows went before them. In the morning they resumed the pursuit, and they entered the road in which their shadows were in front of them. Their shadows took them to the place in which stood the aitu. Then the aitu struck their shadows with a club, and the mountain was divided, then struck again at the back (or behind) and the mountain was split at the back. After these signs were done, then Ulumāsui stole up behind the aitu and cut off the aitu's head and cast it down the mountain, and it fell in a certain village of Falelatai, Then their pursuit went on to the Mulifanua, to the Fatu-osofia, and they drove all the Tongans into the sea. Then Tui-Tonga rose up and stood upon the sea-rock that is beyond the Fatu-osofia (the name of the rock is Tula-tala), and called out: “Malietoa! (beautiful warrior), splendid war! I will not come again with a war party; but should I come to Samoa with a travelling party, that will not be to raise a war against Samoa. This is our covenant (mavaega).1011 A favourable response was given to the covenant at Tulatala. Then Tuna and Fata quarrelled as to which of the two should be named Malietoa. They struck each other with their clubs, and both fell to the earth together. Then Savea, their brother, arose and prayed that Tuna might live, and prayed again that Fata might live. Out of this arose the proverb, “Pray for both Tuna and Fata.” Thereupon they both survived. Then the two agreed together to give the name to their brother Savea. Then Savea became “Malietoa.”

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Translation of the Song—Pese Saafiafi.

Composed by the Queen of Tonga on hearing of the supposed death of her son at the hands of the Samoans.

Oh, alas, my heart! oh, my heart! the sore grief!
Oh, alas, the thought! Mine is this great sorrow.
The subject of a deceptive dream; that I slept with my son.
A flock of wild ducks from Avalua; a bird12 was among the flock.
My compassion for the Tui-Tonga! he saw no perch.13
Oi aue lo'u loto! e, lo'u loto! le vau ane!
Oi aue le manatu! e lota le vau ane,
Se mea o miti ina oleole, ua moemoe 'ita ma si ata tama,
Se ta'aga a toloa nai Avalua, se manu na filo i le ta'aga
Si o'u talofa i te Tui-Toga, ua pe iloa i tulaga.
1  —Talaaifei'i: Probably a Tongan name. In Samoan it would mean a usurper; lit, one who has been proclaimed after a quarrel with his brother.
2  Upon this proclamation of a king in Samoa, it was customary for the king and his principal chiefs to make a tour throughout the districts of the several islands, and receive the homage of his subjects.
3  —The houses (maota) of high chiefs, also the temples (malumalu) of the gods were erected on a high platform of large stones.
4  —In Samoa, each village was generally enclosed by stone parapet walls; and such enclosure was carried across the roads by barriers of stones or trunks of trees.
5  —Taufusi: marsh or swamp land used as a taro garden.
6  —Toa: a tree of the ironwood genus (Casuarina equisetefolia), from which wood clubs were made.
7  —Like the tabu put upon the Israelites by the Philistines in the days of the prophet Samuel.—I. Sam. xiii, 19–21.
8  —Fatu-osofia: the legendary rock at the western end of Upolu, Le Muli-fanua, from which the spirits of the dead sprang into the sea on their way to the Fafā, the Samoan Hades.
9  Land of Saefu: The lower regions.
10  Mavaega: a parting agreement or covenant, which was generally held sacred and adhered to very strictly. (See Vol. vi., Sept. 1897, p. 155.)
11  —This origin of the name of Malietoa is in accordance with many similar records.
12  A bird of prey or wild animal is meant. Avalua is a plain in the east of Atua, Upolu.
13  Standing-place, or refuge, probably meant.