Volume 32 1923 > Volume 32, No. 127 > Some notes and legends of a south sea island. Fakaofo of the Tokelau or Union Group. Chapter I, by William Burrows, p 143-173
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Introductory—Short Description of the Natives—Native Dancing.

DURING the latter part of 1921 I was a resident for about six weeks in the island of Fakaofo. This island (Lat. 9° 26′ S., Long. 170° 12′ W.) also has the name Bowditch Island, and forms one of the Tokelau or Union Group.

The Group was proclaimed a Protectorate of Great Britain in 1894, and was embraced in the newly formed Gilbert and Ellice Colony in the year 1916.

During my stay in the Island, and partly due to the fact that the work I had to do took only the first few days, I was enabled to gather a certain amount of information regarding the people.

My chief informant was a very old man whose actual age it was impossible to determine. An approximation could be arrived at from his statement to me that he was a youth, ‘not quite a young man,’ when the missionaries arrived at the island. This was in 1861, so he was probably in the neighbourhood of seventy-five. In spite of this his faculties were unimpaired and his memory wonderful. In addition, the old chap had a keen sense of humour.

With him I spent every evening for over a month and from him learnt about the people of the Tokelaus, their history and their legends.

In the chapters which follow I will attempt to keep separate the facts which I gleaned of present day conditions, the facts concerning historical events, and the tales of a legendary nature.


The natives of the Tokelau Group do not present uniform physical characteristics, and it is impossible to generalize either in the matter of colour or in the type of hair. The predominating colour is a very light chocolate, and the hair black and straight. Darker skins are not uncommon and ‘fluffy’ hair is seen frequently. They are a big people, but, unlike the Samoans, do not seem to run to fat. It is a rare thing to see either an old man or old woman who has become ungainly, and the women especially keep their figures to an advanced age. Their features are good, and the broad nose (so common in Tonga) is very rare.

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They appear to be a healthy race, but a large percentage are affected by a type of ringworm, not unknown in other groups where it goes by the name of Tokelau ringworm.

One factor in the lives of the people which tends to keep them fit is the fact that they are compelled to put out in their canoes almost daily to obtain fish.

All three islands are coral atolls with no entrance into the lagoons. Consequently the fishing canoes have to go over the reef to obtain the main food supply. This entails skilful and sometimes dangerous work.

They are probably the finest surf-boatmen in the world, this characteristic being shared by the natives of most of the Ellice Islands where conditions are similar.

The islands, being atolls, are very poor in soil and the plantations are maintained with much labour and preparation.

Apart from coconuts, which grow everywhere, breadfruit, bananas and talo are the extent of their agricultural successes.

The last named, talo, of which there are several varieties, is the root of a plant of the lily family and requires swampy land in which to grow. Chickens, ducks and pigs comprise the live stock. Coconuts do extremely well, and the islands are happily free from the more serious coconut pests. There is no rhinoceros beetle.

The one pest which has to be combated is the rat—a rather small, long-tailed and light-coloured variety—which nests in the coconut trees and destroys the young nuts.

The language used by these people is a dialect of Samoan, but they do not write it. For writing, Samoan is used, and the Church Services are also held in that language.

The constitution of each island consists of a Fa'amasino (Native Magistrate), Faipule Sili (Chief Councillor), several Faipule (Councillors), and a clerk, who also acts as Postmaster. There is also a Captain of Police and two or three policemen, a warder for the lock-up, and a hospital dresser.

A white official from the Ellice Group visits the group as opportunity offers.

The canoes built and used in the Tokelau Group present several novel features to those seen elsewhere. In length they vary from four to six fathoms, and are dug out from a kanava log.

The outrigger is short and the 'ama (or float) is of some light soft wood.

The wood of the kanava tree is a hard-wood with a handsome grain, and makes good furniture. It is, however, somewhat heavy for canoes. The canoes therefore are rather clumsy and very poor sailers.

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The peculiar feature about their construction is that when the log has been dug out it is cut into sections, usually six or seven, and these sections then sewn together with native-made twine.

The reason for this is that kanava wood is somewhat liable to split longitudinally, especially when the canoe bumps heavily on the reef when landing in a heavy surf. With the canoe in sections only one section becomes damaged and can be replaced.

The single sail used, formerly made of matting, now always sail-cloth, is the shape of a small-angled triangle with its apex at the foot of the mast. The larger canoes in present use will carry from eight to ten men.

In former times a much larger, and double, canoe was constructed for their ocean voyages. These consisted of two dug-outs lashed together with spars, which formed a platform and on which was built a shelter.

One of the dug-outs of the pair was about a fathom shorter than the other. For this I can see no reason, neither could my informant give me one.

These big canoes were sometimes from seventy to eighty feet in length, and carried fifty or even sixty men. In them voyages were made to Tonga, Samoa, Fiji and the Cook Islands, and they were used for frequent intercourse between the three islands of the group.

All travelling by canoe or boat between the islands and groups has long since been stopped by the Government, so that there are no large canoes now in existence.

I made enquiries in Fakaofo to see if I could find any portions of one of the old canoes, and was successful in seeing a portion of a mast and a steering paddle.

The latter I had hung up in the island Falefono (or meeting house), and gave instructions that it was never to be moved.


The national sport—if one may term it so—of the people is dancing, and the type of dancing is similar to that of the Ellice Group. Participated in by both sexes, a dance takes the form of gesture illustration of a song.

The rhythm is sustained by the ‘band’ situated in the rear of the dancers, and the only instrument is a wooden box covered over by a mat which is beaten with the open hand.

Men and women, mixed together, sit in rows at the start, but before long all will jump to their feet and join in with exactly similar movements of head, arm, hand, body and legs.

The singing, in which all take part, is always harmonious and sometimes really tuneful. The words of the songs are usually descriptive—snaring pigeons, a ship weighing anchor, fishing, etc.

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The costume whilst dancing consists of the native titi, worn by both sexes, but in the case of the women over their skirt. The women also wear a singlet, but the men nothing else. All are decorated with flowers and leaves, and scented coconut oil is rubbed over all bare skin.

The tunes used for the dances are generally borrowed from the Ellice Group, but the words written locally. The local ‘poet’ is a man of some importance, but in two cases at least his subjects were distinctly odd. One dance and song, which I heard, described the telephone, which was said to exist between New Zealand and England. Another, the arrival of a ship at Liverpool and the firing of a gun as she anchored!

All the present-day dancing is of recent importation, and I saw both Samoan dancing and a stick dance from Wea (Uvea, Wallis Island) practised. It appears that the original form of dancing of the Island was not at all times in accordance with the views of the missionaries who reached the Island in 1861. This led to the stopping of all dancing as sinful.

After some trouble, however, I succeeded in getting one or two of the old men to show me the style of the pre-mission dancing.

This dancing was evidently more in the Samoan style, that is to say, each person danced separately, than in the Ellice style, where the dancing is concerted. The time was kept by a man beating a board with two sticks, and the rhythm appeared to be three-four time in each dance that was shown me.

Some of the words of the songs were not understood by the old men who sang, much less by any of the present generation.

One song illustrated fishing, another paddling a canoe. In the latter, model paddles were used. There subjects seem harmless enough, but doubtless there were others.

On another occasion I managed to get some of the old women to show me a dance of former days. It seems that the men and women did not join in the same dance.

The style of the two or three done for my benefit was much the same in each, and the rhythm was three-four time.

These dances were unaccompanied by singing, and the time was maintained by the beating of a piece of wood with the open hand.

One such dance consisted of a line of women advancing in single file with short tripping steps, three steps then a pause, with swaying body movements and quick arm and hand action. The line gradually converged inwards making a smaller and smaller circle, then it unwound itself.

It was pretty and graceful, although performed by women anything but young.

To the modern dancing it was as the Minuet is to the Foxtrot!

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The Calendar—Twelve-point Compass—Wars and Migrations—Tuitokelau— Marriage Customs—Tui o le Mu.


I must confess that my enquiries regarding this subject did not reach finality.

It seems that in former times periods were calculated entirely by lunar months, but that now they apply the same names to the calendar months.

The following modern calendar was given me by a native:—

(January) Uluaki Palolo No fish particularly.
(February) Toe Palolo No fish particularly.
(March) Mulifa No fish particularly. Westerly winds finish.
(April) Takaoga Gatala (Rock cod) come in.
(May) Uluaki Siliga  
(June) Toe Siliga Fapuku and Gatala breeding.
(July) Uluaki Utua  
(August) Toe Utua  
(September) Vai Iroa Fish called Laulaufao, Ufu, Laia, Alomea and Aseo come in.
(October) Fakaafu Hot month; trees wither; fish are breeding and turtles lay.
(November) Kaunonu Commencement of Westerly winds.
(December) Oloamanu Birds remain close to land. Bad winds.

At the same time there is a different name for each day of the lunar month, and movements of the different fish are foretold to a day or two. It seemed to me that the names of the days were only known to the older men, and I did not succeed in obtaining the complete list.


The natives of the Tokelau Group have the compass divided into twelve points, and have twelve names for the winds from these quarters.

The four cardinal points are as usual, but two points occur between each pair of cardinal points.

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Compared with the ordinary compass, the following shows the matter clearly:—

N. Tokelau
N.E. Luatu
E. Toga (Tonga)
S. Sema
W. Laki
N. Tokelau

Up to comparatively recent years, the three islands of the Tokelau Group were frequently fighting, until the island of Fakaofo succeeded in subduing the other two.

The last of the fighting between Fakaofo and Atafu, which was described as taking place ‘a long time before the missionaries arrived,’ was told me in the following words:—

On a certain occasion a visit was paid to Fakaofo by the people of Atafu, in eight large double canoes. Now it so happened that at this time nearly all the men of Fakaofo were away on voyages—some had gone to Samoa, some to Fiji and some to Tonga. The visitors, therefore, were most unwelcome, as they lived on the food of the island, and this had to be provided by the women of the place.

The Fakaofo women then tried several means of getting rid of their visitors. First they tried to starve them off, and to this end broke all the eating coconuts one night on a rock in the lagoon. This not proving immediately effective they tried to scare them away by pretending that their men were returning. For this purpose a large number went out at night in canoes, but only one in each. Then, at daylight, each put the sail up in her canoe so that the people of Atafu saw a great fleet of canoes approaching the island.

This had the desired effect and the unwelcome and now frightened guests made haste to escape. As they went out over the reef—which they did by the passage to the northward of the village—they took prisoner the daughter of the chief of Fakaofo. To show their contempt they tied a rope round her neck and towed her behind one of their canoes.

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In this way she was killed, and devoured by sharks. Some time after the men of Fakaofo returned, and, as soon as they heard of the insult, prepared for war.

In due course a large fleet of canoes sailed for Atafu, and arrived off the island just before dark one day. The Atafu people knew that they would be overpowered, so, the same night as the attacking party landed, as many as could do so escaped in their canoes.

Of those that were left the majority, including the women and children, were killed on the following day. One man was towed behind a canoe and thus killed to remind them of the death of their chief's daughter. A few only were spared and these they took back to Fakaofo with them.

Later on the chief of Fakaofo sent some colonists over to Atafu, and thus the island was populated again.

Some of the canoes which escaped from Atafu reached land. Some settled in Samoa, some in the island of Takopia, some reached the Carolines, and some settled in Pusikaiana.

The above would seem to account for one or two of the Polynesian colonies which are found in the Melanesian sphere.

Takopia is an island on the east coast of the Solomon Group, and Pusikaiana, I have little doubt, is Lord Howe Group which is known as Sikaiana in the Ellice Islands. Lord Howe, also called Ontong Java, lies to the north-east of Bougainville, the northernmost island of the Solomons.

I do not know to what extent, if any, the Polynesian strain is to be found in the Caroline Group, but between the Carolines and the north-east of New Guinea, but closer to the coast of New Guinea, lie the islands of Aua and Durour. The people of these islands are unmistakable Polynesians.

The island of Nukunonu was never completely captured by the people of Fakaofo, nor were all the people either killed or removed.

In the last fighting which took place between these two islands, the battle occurred in Nukunonu, and Fakaofo was entirely successful. They were pursuing the Nukunonu people, but checked on seeing a titi, of a pattern only made in their own island, hanging up in a conspicuous place. This titi they would not pass, and this spot now forms the boundary of the lands claimed by Fakaofo in the island of Nukunonu. The titi had been hung up by a woman of Fakaofo who had been stolen in a previous raid made by the Nukunonu people on Fakaofo, and had since married and settled down.

Marauding expeditions to Fiji were not uncommon, and one story told me of a success gained at a place they called ‘Atu Lau,’ where - 150 they say land is still kept for strangers to live upon, admitting the fact that it had been captured. I have not yet ascertained which island of the Lau Group this refers to.


Before the advent of the Mission to the group—which event, as mentioned elsewhere, took place in 1861—there was a stone column close to the landing place at Fakaofo. The name of this stone was Tuitokelau, meaning ‘head chief of the Tokelaus,’ or Unions as they are now more generally called. This stone column was rectangular in shape, and its dimensions, as far as I was able to find out, were about three feet by two feet by fifteen or twenty feet in height.

In spite of what others have said on the subject, I was assured by the old men that this stone was never worshipped and did not represent a ‘god.’ Be this as it may, the missionaries on their arrival destroyed the stone and had it broken up into small pieces. Perhaps this was a wise course at the time, as, although not actually an object of worship, yet possibly it fostered superstition.

At that time Fakaofo was the head island of those comprising the group, and Tuitokelau without doubt represented this overlordship. For example, once a year the people of Atafu and Nukunonu had to bring to Fakaofo a present of mats and titis, theoretically for Tuito-kelau, but practically for the people of Fakaofo.

Enquiries as to what had become of the pieces of this interesting relic elicited the fact that one fairly large piece was built into the wharf. At the risk of being accused of encouraging heathen practices I had this piece replaced by some ordinary stones, and set up in a corner of the island falefono (meeting house). This piece is very much worn and its dimensions are two and a-half feet by one and a-half feet by four feet in height. The Rev. George Turner in his description of Fakaofo on page 267 of his “Samoa,” gives a very different significance to Tuitokelau. He admits, however, that his information was gained through the native pastors, who are always biassed in these matters.


Before the arrival of the Mission, which took place in 1861, the marriage ceremony does not appear to have been made much of. As far as I could find out from the old men, it comprised little more than a feast in which both families took part. There was also an exchange of mats.

There was a ceremony, however, on the birth of the first child. This was held ten days after the birth, and consisted of the mother walking through the falefono (meeting house) where the people were all assembled. During her ‘showing’ the people sang. The mother - 151 was accompanied by a girl friend who led her, and was followed by several men armed with spears, who danced.

I was told that this custom was common to all three islands of the group, and that if a woman was in a strange island and had a child, she had to go through the ceremony there if it was the first she had given birth to in that island. This was irrespective of the number of children she had already had in her own island.


I include this story amongst the historical ones rather than amongst the legendary, for I feel sure that the explanation is simple.

The story, as told, was as follows:—Many years ago there was a stone called Tui o le Mu which had been brought from Samoa. It was not quite round and its surface was smooth and black. It was from nine inches to twelve inches in diameter.

A special house had been built for it (I was shown the spot where it stood), and in this house the stone was kept.

Its peculiarity was that whenever there was a shower of rain, the stone came out of its house for a bath. It slid along the ground and returned afterwards, unaided.

At one time there was a drought and no rain fell for a long time. Tui o le Mu, therefore, came out of its house looking for water and made for the well which was close by. Into this it fell and was not seen again.

My old friend, who told me the above, remembered seeing the stone as a boy, but said he had never seen it move. His wife, on the other hand, said she had seen the stone take its bath.

There can be no doubt that it was a tortoise (an animal quite unknown in the island), and this story is of interest as showing how a legend is likely to start. Why or how a tortoise should have been brought to the island it is impossible to say.

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Legends of Origin—Legends of Creation—How the Fish got their Colours—The Courting of Sina—The Manini—Nonu and Moa (or Sina)—Sina and Tui o le Mu—How Counting came to be as it is—Why the Lightning precedes the Thunder—How Fire was Introduced—How Fresh Water reached Fakaofo—The Faisua—Tuifiti and his daughter Tuifiti—The story of the Pearl-shell—A story of the Stars—Concerning Afā.


One of the several legends concerning the origin of the inhabitants of the island of Fakaofo runs as follows:—

A canoe, containing three men and three women, sailing from Rarotonga got driven to the westward. They eventually landed on a reef which had a sand bank on it but no trees. This was Fakaofo, and here one man and his wife elected to stay, the others setting sail again and eventually reaching their home. Some coconuts which were in the canoe were landed with the man and his wife, and some they planted.

By and by the woman died without children, so the man built himself a canoe and sailed to Nukunonu where he obtained another wife. The family of these two were the ancestors of the present inhabitants of Fakaofo.

If this is true, Nukunonu must have been inhabited before Fakaofo, but I could not learn where the Nukunonu natives were supposed to have come from.

The legend of the maggot forming in a fish and developing into a man is also known in Fakaofo. It was told me as follows:—

An ‘Ulua’—the local and also Samoan name for a particular fish, the Saqa of Fiji—got stranded on the beach and died. By and by a large sea-bird, the Tālaga, flew down, and with its beak pricked the carcass. A maggot then appeared out of the hole, and this maggot grew into a man. His name was Teilo.

It is unexplained where he obtained a wife, but in course of time he had two sons whose names were Kava and Sigano. The descendants of Kava and Sigano are the inhabitants of Fakaofo.

At one time, also, the people of Fakaofo built some large canoes and made a voyage to Samoa, where they procured some wives.

The fact that the word ‘Tokelau,’ the native name of the group, is the word that indicates north in the dialect of the people is worthy of notice. ‘To'elau’ is north-east in Samoan also.

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It is curious that I did not come across the legend of origin as quoted by the Rev. George Turner in his ‘Samoa,’ p. 267. He states that the first man of Fakaofo was called Vasefanua and that he developed from a stone.


The fishing story common to many other islands of the Pacific was told as follows:—

There were three brothers who lived in Tonga, and whose names were Mauimua, Mauiloto and Mauimuli (Maui the First, Maui the Middle, and Maui the Last). One day the three brothers went out fishing in their canoe far from land. Presently Mauimua's hook got caught in the roots of a coconut tree on the bottom, so he hauled up a portion of the bottom to clear his hook. Thus an island was formed which so surprised the brothers that they called it Fakaofo—Faka=in the nature of, ofo=surprise.

They then moved further on and continued fishing, when Maui-loto's hook got caught in the bottom, this time in the roots of a Nonu tree. He hauled up, and thus another island was formed. This they called Nukunonu—Nuku=island, nonu=the name of a tree.

Again they moved on, and on this occasion Mauimuli's hook got foul. By hauling up, the island of Atafu was formed. Mauimuli's hook had got foul of the roots of a Kanava tree.

The connection between the name Atafu and the Kanava tree I was unable to discover, neither could I find out another derivation of the name Atafu.

The latter stage of the Creation, at the period quoted in the legends of other groups when the sky was close to the earth, was told thus:—

When the world was first created, the sky was very close to the earth, in fact there was only about one yard of space between the two.

At this time there was a man named Iikiiki and his wife Tălaga who lived on the earth, and they had a son named Lu. Now Lu was a small boy and, as he lay on his back, could rest his feet against the sky. Lying thus one day, he began to sing:—

“Sapaipai ie, sapaipai ie
Te lagi o te Atua
E Lu tekena, e Lu tekena.”

[A translation of this, given me by a native interpreter, is:—

“Lift, lift
The sky of god
By Lu's pushing.”

I cannot trace the word sapaipai in the dictionary.]

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As Lu sang “E Lu tekena” he straightened out his legs and pushed the sky up a little! Then he stood up, and, still singing his song, pushed the sky up with his hands. Then he used a tree, and finally he climbed up one tree and used another to push with.

When he could reach no higher he changed his song and called the winds to his assistance, thus:—

“Te sulu sau ki ei. (E.S.E. wind, come here!)
Te toga sau ki ei. (E. wind, come here!)
Te luatu sau ki ei. (E.N.E. wind, come here!)
Te fakalua sau ki ei. (N.N.E. wind, come here!)
Te tokelau sau ki ei. (N. wind, come here!)
Te palapu sau ki ei. (N.N.W. wind, come here!)
Te fakatiu sau ki ei. (W.N.W. wind, come here!)
Te laki sau ki ei. (W. wind, come here!)
Te lakilua sau ki ei. (W.S.W. wind, come here!)
Te lafalafa sau ki ei. (S.S.W. wind, come here!)
Te sema sau ki ei. (S. wind, come here!)
Te tefa sau ki ei.” (S.S.E. wind, come here!)

All the twelve winds obeyed his calling and came to his assistance, and by their united efforts of blowing from all directions, blew the sky up to its present position!


There was a man named Tafitopua and his wife Ogapua who lived in Fakaofo, and they had two children, Sina and Te Lupe (The pigeon).

One day the old people had put all their mats out in the sun to air and had gone to their plantation to work, leaving the children behind to look after the mats. At this time a meeting was being held near by, by Asokino (Wet Day), Asomatagi (Windy Day), Asiosio (Waterspout), Faititili (Thunder clap), Tagulu (Distant thunder) and Asolelei (Fine, clear day). When they saw the mats put out they began to discuss how they should set about spoiling them, and Asokino made the first suggestion. He said, “Let me bring up a big cloud so that it will rain heavily,” but it was pointed out by one of the others that the children would see the cloud and take the mats in. Then Asiosio said, “Let me try,” but the same reason, that Sina would see its coming, prevented his attempt. Both Faititili and Tagulu offered to try, saying that rain would come after their noise. “Yes, but its noise will warn Sina,” said the others. Finally Asolelei stood up and said, “Leave it to me; I will clear all the clouds away from the sky so that Sina will not watch any more, then I will bring a strong wind which will blow the mats into the sea.” This plan was thereupon adopted, and Asolelei cleared up the sky.

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When Sina saw the perfectly clear heavens she thought of no trouble which might affect the mats, and she went to sleep. Then came up a strong wind which blew all the mats far over the reef and into the sea.

Te Lupe was awake, however, and at once flew out to sea and was successful in recovering one hundred of the mats, but most of them were lost. Then Te Lupe tried to wake up Sina by pricking her eyes with his bill, but in this he failed.

By and by Tafitopua and Ogapua returned from their plantation, and when they found their mats lost, and Sina asleep, they gave her a severe whipping. Sina was very sorrowful, and taking a bottle containing oil for tattooing and also a tattooing-bone from a shelf in the house, she went out to the edge of the reef where she stood and cried:—

“Tele, tele mai Sina, ika (Come quickly to Sina, fish,)
Eio! i tagia ko Sina.” (At the bidding of Sina!)

The first fish to answer her call was Te Pone. Sina asked him, “What kind of a fish are you? Can you swim straight or not?” Te Pone replied, “No, I cannot swim straight, but I came when I heard your sweet song.” “Come close and I will tattoo you,” said Sina, and she tattooed the fish all over its body and close down to its tail. (This fish was red before but now is that colour only close to its tail.)

Then she called again:—

“Tele, tele mai Sina, ika
Eio! i tagia ko Sina.”

The next fish to answer the call was Te Manini, and she asked, “What kind of a fish are you? Can you swim straight or not?” He replied in the same words as Te Pone, so she tattooed him. (This fish was white before; now it has black rings round its body).

Then she called again in the same manner as before, and Te Mago (the Shark) came up in answer to her. Instead of tattooing him, however, she poured some evil-smelling water over him! (That is why the shark smells now.)

Once again she called, “Tele, tele mai,” etc., and the Turtle came along, and in reply to her question said, “Yes, I can swim straight, and I have come in answer to your sweet song.”

Sina replied, “Very well, carry me,” and she jumped on to his back. So the turtle swam away straight from the land with Sina on his back. Presently Sina made a kissing sound with her mouth, and the turtle asked her why she made that noise. She replied that she was thirsty and wanted a coconut to drink. The turtle said, “All right, take the nut which is under my flipper.” Sina did so, but had no means of opening it. The turtle, therefore, pointed out the spike on - 156 his elbow which Sina then made use of. When she had finished drinking she said that she wanted to eat the nut, so the turtle told her she could break the nut on the corner of his shell. These instructions she misunderstood and hit the turtle on the head with the nut! He promptly dived and left Sina swimming. She soon started crying and telling the turtle how sorry she was, and this brought him back. The nut was then successfully broken up and eaten, and the journey continued as before.

By and by the turtle said, “If we meet a wild fish, you hold on tight and I will dive down, and if I am staying under the water too long for you, throw away your bottle of tattooing oil. The fish will then chase that and we will come up and escape.” Presently they met a Tanifa (wild or man-eating shark) and they successfully carried out their programme.

Now the cork in the bottle was not quite tight and the oil oozing out made the bottle slippery, and it kept slipping away from the shark whenever he tried to bite it. Thus it went down and down to where the Palu live. Here the cork came out altogether and the Palu drank the oil, the cork itself being swallowed by a fish called Tafauli. (This is why the Palu is so full of oil, and also why the Tafauli is an oily fish.)

So Sina and the turtle escaped and continued on their way, and by this time they were nearing Fiji. Sina was tired and she wanted to go ashore, but first she asked the turtle who was the chief of this land. The turtle told her Tuifiti (Head chief of Fiji), and she at once said, “Don't go to that Island, I don't like that name.”

They continued their journey and by and by came to some more land when Sina asked who the chief was of that. The turtle replied, “Tuitoga” (Head chief of Tonga), and Sina said, “Don't go there, I don't like the name of that man.”

They proceeded once more and in due course reached Vavau, and on Sina being told that the chief's name was Tinilau said, “All right, this is where I will go ashore.” When they landed, both Sina and the turtle cried as the latter was to return home, and they had become very fond of each other.

Said the turtle, “Before I go, get one young coconut and the tip of a coconut-leaf and throw them over me for luck.” When this had been done, the turtle swam away home, and Sina went to Tinilau's house where they were married. In course of time Sina gave birth to a daughter.

In the meantime Sina's brother, Te Lupe, had been searching everywhere for her, and had visited many islands in his search. One day he chanced upon Vavau and there he saw his sister sitting on the ground making a mat, and her child playing round close by. The child saw the bird first and drew Sina's attention to him. Sina was - 157 delighted to see her brother who told her he had been looking everywhere for her, and now that he had found her, intended to take her home. Sina was in doubt as to how this was to be done, but Te Lupe said, “Come and sit on my shoulder and I can carry the child in my bill.” In this manner did Sina and her child return to Fakaofo.

Now while this was happening Tinilau was out fishing, and Te Lupe flew over his canoe with Sina and the child on their way to Fakaofo. Seeing this, Tinilau at once followed and reached the island at the same time. Since then Tinilau and his family lived in that island.


Sina lived in Fiji with her parents, Sepeka her father, and Sepeka her mother. She was very beautiful, and when she grew up three high chiefs came to seek her hand. These were Tuifiti (High chief of Fiji), Tuitoga (High chief of Tonga), and Tinilau (chief of Vavau).

First came Tuifiti and he brought presents consisting of a sulu (skirt or dress), one hundred fathoms in length, made of siapo (native cloth), and a necklace made of shells. He also explained that his wife would live in a house supported on men, and would have plenty of men to eat. Sina did not approve.

Then came Tuitoga, and his presents were similar to those of Tuifiti, but Sina was no more attracted by him than by her previous suitor.

Lastly came Tinilau who brought a similar dress, but his necklace was made from the beaks of Bos'n birds. He promised, also, to feed her on fish and gogo (a sea-bird.) This Sina approved of, and she accepted him. So they were married and went to live in Vavau where, in course of time, her son was born. Him she named Kalokalo o le La.

One day Sina was lying down in her house with the child, and some of Tinilau's relations were sitting round about the house. They thought she was asleep and began talking and abusing her; their complaint being that when their chief, Tinilau, married her they had received no presents, neither had any been given now that her son was born. Now Sina was not asleep and she heard all that was said, which made her so angry that she jumped up, seized the child, and ran away to a house near by where her husband was working.

Tinilau asked her what the matter was and she replied that she intended to return to her parents in Fiji. When pressed for the reasons, she told Tinilau she did not love him any more. Tinilau said, “Is that because I often go out fishing? You know that I always prepare a bonito specially for you to eat raw when I return.” Nothing would appease her, however, or alter her decision to return to Fiji, so finally Tinilau agreed and said he would accompany her.

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So they went down to the beach to see about a canoe, and there they saw one not far off with two people in it. These were Mu and Sausau (the names of two fish), and as they sat facing each other in the canoe while they paddled, the canoe remained always in one place! Tinilau called out to them and explained what was wrong, so one of them turned round and the canoe was brought ashore. In this canoe Tinilau and Sina set out for Fiji with Mu and Sausau as their crew.

As they passed along the coast the people of the villages came down to the beach and called out to know who they were and where were they going, Sina replied, however, by giving false names, and did not say that they were running away to Fiji. The trip was successful, and in time they reached the home of Sina's parents in safety.

When the two Sepekas heard what the trouble had been they were very sorry, so they filled up the canoe with a present of Te Toga (a type of mat, very finely plaited) and sent Mu and Sausau back with it to Vavau. Sina and Tinilau never went back to Vavau, but from that time on lived in Fiji.


Sina was living in Fakaofo with her husband Tinilau when one day she caught a tiny fish in a pool on the reef. This fish she put into a coconut shell and fed it, and it started growing very fast. It was soon too big for the coconut shell, so she put it into a wooden trough. When it out grew this she kept it in a pool on the reef. The fish still grew, so it was turned out into the lagoon, but Sina continued to feed it. Finally it became of such a size that it was put into the sea, and here it would come up to the reef to be fed whenever it was called by either Sina or Tinilau. Its name was ‘Namu-taimoa.’ Tinilau had the habit of calling to it when he returned from bonito fishing, and giving it some of his catch to eat.

Now at this time there were some people belonging to the island of Lagituasefulu visiting Fakaofo, and they planned how they could kill and steal Namutaimoa. They did not know its name, however, as this had been kept a secret by Sina and Tinilau so that no one else could call it up.

By hiding on the reef one day when Tinilau was returning from his fishing they heard and saw what Tinilau did to bring the fish up, and on the next occasion of his being away they imitated him so successfully that Namutaimoa came up and was speared. All haste was then made to run away with the body, and in due course they reached their island of Lagituasefulu safely. When Tinilau got home and learned what had taken place, he at once set off in pursuit.

Now there are ten islands close together whose names are Lagituatasi, Lagitualua, Lagituatolu, Lagituafa … and Lagituasefulu. - 159 On reaching the first of these he was told that the fugitives had reached the second. On reaching this he found they were at the third, and so on, until he ran them down in their own island of Lagituasefulu.

When he landed it was night and very dark, and the first thing he saw was a large fire ready to be lit, and an old woman attending it in order to cook the fish. Presently the people called to her to light the fire, but Tinilau said, “No, wait a little,” and she obeyed him. Each time a man called out, “Light the fire,” he crept up and killed that man; and this went on until he had killed them all. This he was able to do because it was so dark, and he kept very quiet. Tinilau then proceeded to cut Numutaimoa into small pieces, and these pieces he scattered in the sea, where they at once became fish.

This fish, which is now extremely common round Fakaofo, is known by the name of Manini.


There was once a man named Nonu who spent most of his time out in the surf, which he used to “ride” on a plank. He lived with his mother, by name Kai.

There was also living close by, a family consisting of three sisters and their mother. Their names were Tauluga, Taulalo and Moa, their mother's name was Kui. The two elder of these sisters were only half human, but the younger sister, Moa, was entirely human.

One day Tauluga came to Nonu's house but he was, as usual, out surf-bathing. On his mother calling out to him he asked who it was had come to see him, and when he heard the name Tauluga, called out, “Send her away, I don't like her.” On another occasion Taulalo came to see him, but when Kai called to him he replied as before, “Send her away, I don't like her.” Yet again, Moa came to the house to see him, and as soon as he heard this he hurried in from his bathing, and back to the house to meet her. Moa at this time was quite a young girl, and she came to live with Nonu and his mother, and she treated Nonu as her father.

By and by she grew up, and one day Nonu asked her whether she looked upon him as her father or as her husband. So they were married, and a big feast prepared for the occasion, also a dance. To this feast came Moa's two sisters, and during the evening sent a message to Nonu saying that they wanted some necklaces made of flowers. Nonu replied that all the necklaces belonged to Moa, his - 160 wife, and they could have none. This so enraged them that they stole his soul and made off with it!

Nonu then appeared to be dead, but Moa said he was only asleep, and had him carried to his house where she covered him over with mats, and gave orders that no one was to disturb him.

She then started off in pursuit of her sisters who had returned to the house of their mother Kui, and on arriving there she found that they had gone on to their plantation. So she asked Kui to call them home, and this she did by crying out that she was “nearly dead.” Tauluga and Taulalo came hurrying home, and when they discovered that it was only Moa who had come, they were angry. Their mother, however, told them to wait and find out what she wanted, and Moa explained that she had come for the soul of her husband. Kui then told them to give it up.

Now there was a basket full of souls hanging up in the house, so the sisters took out one and threw it across to Moa. Moa said, “That is not Nonu's for I see his moving in the bottom of the basket.” Tauluga then threw another to Moa, but this was returned also as not being the right one. Finally they gave her Nonu's, which she wrapped up carefully and with which she started for home.

On the way she held a conversation with it. The soul asked why the road was so muddy—it knew this because Sina slipped once or twice—and Sina replied that there had been some heavy rain recently. Presently the soul said that it smelt a Maile tree, and Sina replied, “Yes; someone has been making a titi from its leaves.” After this it smelt blood, so Sina explained that they were passing a place where a turtle had recently been cut up.

So Sina reached home and found that her orders had been respected, and that Nonu's body had not been touched. She thereupon replaced the soul in it, and Nonu lived again. Then Nonu and Sina lived happily.


There once lived a “being” who was sometimes man and sometimes devil, named Tui o le Mu.

One day, whilst up in the sky, he saw on the earth Sina at work cleaning up the rubbish round her house. She looked so beautiful that he determined to go down to the earth and talk to her, and in order to descend, he called on some rain to come. In this rain he reached the earth, and after a talk with Sina, they agreed to get married. They then started off for his house, which was at some distance.

As they passed along the road Sina noticed some sugar-cane - 161 growing near by, and she said she would like some. Tui o le Mu said, “All right, you can help yourself,” and this she did. Presently she saw a Togatoga tree, from the leaves of which one kind of titi is made, and she said she wanted to make a titi. Again Tui o le Mu told her, “All right, help yourself,” so she made herself a titi. Further on they came to a Pua tree, the flowers of which are made into necklaces, and she said she wanted a necklace. Tui o le Mu's answer being the same, she sat down and made a necklace. After this, on passing a coconut tree, Sina said she wanted to make a hat, and this she did on obtaining Tui o le Mu's permission. Lastly they came to a well, the water of which was red, and Sina said she wanted a bath. When this wish had been gratified they continued on their journey and reached Tui o le Mu's house without any further delays.

As Sina entered the house she looked overhead and was horrified to find that all round inside there was a row of skulls. Tui o le Mu did not notice her fright, and went up overhead inside the house and took his own head off! Sina thereupon fainted, but was quickly restored by Tui o le Mu with his head duly replaced. So they settled down to live there.

After a while Sina said she would like to go and pay a visit to her parents and to this Tui o le Mu agreed, but he warned her that it would be dangerous to accept any invitations to go into houses to rest on the way. Sina promised to be very careful and started off. As she passed through the first village, people called out to her and asked her to come into their houses for a rest and to drink a coconut. Remembering what Tui o le Mu had said, however, she would not stop. Presently she came to another village—that in which Tinilau lived—and both he and others called to her to come and rest a while. As she did not stop Tinilau became angry and called upon some of the young men to go and catch Sina and bring her to his house. This they did and Sina, though frightened, could do nothing but stay in Tinilau's house.

Tui o le Mu, however, had been watching her, so during the night when all were asleep, reached into the house, lifted her out and carried her home. Shortly afterwards she woke up but thought she was still in Tinilau's house, and Tui o le Mu asked her to tell him something by which she would know where she was. Just at that moment some cocks started crowing outside, and Sina said, “The cocks at Tui o le Mu's home crow like those I have just heard.” So she slept again. In the morning she looked up, and seeing the skulls round the house, she knew she was at home again. Tui o le Mu was angry and said, “I told you not to go into any house on the way to your parents' home, but you disobeyed me,” but when he heard Sina's explanation he forgave her.

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Later on he gave her permission to start on her journey again, but this time he insisted on her travelling by canoe. By this means she reached her parents' home safely.


Sina, who lived in Fakaofo, had one daughter also named Sina, and ten sons. The names of these sons were Ulu, Iva, Valu, Fitu, Ono, Lima, Fa, Tolu, Lua and Tasi.

Now Sina, the younger, had been taken away to Fiji as a child, and as years went by her mother grieved for her. Accordingly her ten sons said they would build canoes and go in search of her. So each one went off into the bush to cut timber and to build his canoe, and as Ulu went along he came across two persons fighting. These were Sinota and Te Gata (the snake). Te Gata had, at this moment, got Sinota by the throat, and the latter called to Ulu to come and help him. Te Gata at the same time warned Ulu not to interfere, and Ulu was frightened and went on his way. Presently Iva came to this spot and Sinota called to him for help, but Iva also was scared of Te Gata. Each brother in turn was appealed to for help, but all passed by until Tasi came along.

By this time Sinota was nearly dead and, he could barely make Tasi hear his call for help as he passed. Tasi, without waiting to hear what Te Gata had to say, at once ran up and cut off his head. When Sinota had recovered he thanked Tasi for saving his life, and then helped him to build his canoe. First he showed him where the best log was, then he called to the insects to come and help cut it out. He called to the bees, also, and told them to make the sail.

By the time Tasi's canoe was finished all his brothers had started, and their canoes were nearly out of sight. He thereupon called on Lua's canoe to stop, and this it did, so he passed it. Then he called to each of the other canoes and so passed them all.

Thus he arrived first at his sister's home in Fiji. He told her that he and his brothers had come to take her home to see her mother who was very sick, but Sina became frightened because she was married to a very fierce and terrible cannibal named Saipuniana, and knew she would not be allowed to go away. So Tasi thought of a plan and said, “I know a trick. In the middle of the night you must tell your husband that you are very hot and want to go outside to get cool. If he is suspicious offer to tie a piece of twine to your wrist and leave the end with him.” This plan succeeded, and as soon as Sina was outside the house, she tied her end of the twine to the branch of a tree, and ran off with Tasi.

Presently Saipuniana pulled the string and called to his wife to come back. There was no answer, but as he heard the noise in the tree when he pulled he thought Sina was there safe. At last he - 163 pulled so hard that he broke off the branch of the tree, and then discovered he had been tricked. When daylight came he saw a canoe far off and sailing from the land, so he guessed this was Sina running away.

He then called on the Mist to come and help him, as by its help he was able to run over the sea. Tasi, however, saw him coming and called down heavy rain in order to chill him. This proved successful, and when Saipuniana came up with the canoe he was so cold he could do nothing but crawl into the bottom of the canoe where Tasi rolled him up in a mat. Then, whilst Saipuniana rested, Tasi sewed up the mat and tied a large stone to it. Presently he said, “Let me move you, the canoe is leaking in the place where you are lying.” So he lifted him up, but instead of putting him down in the canoe again, he dropped him overboard. Thus Saipuniana was drowned.

These matters had delayed Tasi, so his brothers' canoes had all passed him and reached Fakaofo before him. Their mother was waiting on the reef for them, and as each came ashore she asked if her daughter was in his canoe. When each one down to Lua had given her the same reply, “No,” she determined to drown herself. Just as she was about to do this she saw Tasi's canoe coming, and decided to wait for his answer. Then she found that her daughter was after all safe and in Tasi's canoe, so she ordered a feast to be prepared, with much rejoicing, and she said to Tasi, “Now I know which is the first of all my sons. In future you will be number one, and all the others come after you.”

And so counting became reversed and the numerals now run Tasi, Lua, Tolu, Fa, Lima, Ono, Fitu, Valu, Iva and Sefulu.


A long time ago there was living a giant bird whose name was Veka. This bird used to destroy and eat men.

There was also living at this time a woman named Mea, whose husband was dead, but whose three sons lived with her. These three sons were Faititili (Thunder Clap), Tagulu (Distant Thunder) and Te Uila (The Lightning). One day when her sons were out fishing, each in his own canoe, Veka appeared at Mea's house and asked where her sons were. She told him they had gone out fishing so Veka said he would return later when they were at home, and eat them all.

By and by Faititili came ashore and on reaching his mother's house found her crying. She told him what the trouble was, but he said, “All right, give me my titi, my shell necklace and my club and I will go and kill Veka.”

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When prepared he set out to find the bird, and as soon as he found him, attacked him with his club.

Veka, however, merely spread one wing over him, which so frightened him that he lay down as if dead. Later on Tagulu arrived home, and when he heard the trouble said he would go and kill Veka. Precisely the same thing happened to him as to Faititili, and Veka covered him up with his other wing.

Then Te Uila reached his mother's house and at once armed himself and sallied forth. He had no fear when he encountered Veka, and as the bird spread out his wing to smother him struck a quick blow which broke the wing. Veka then tried to do the same thing with his other wing but Te Uila broke this in like manner. Then Te Uila struck the bird in the throat and so killed him.

When Veka was dead he ran home to his mother and told her everything was quite safe now, after which he returned and dragged his two brothers to the house where presently they recovered.

Mea then told Faititili and Tagulu to go and pluck the bird and build a fire to cook him. This they proceeded to do, but at each job they were so slow that Te Uila had to go and hurry them up. Everything that Te Uila did was done quickly.

So the family had a feast, and when it was finished Mea called her three sons before her and said, “You, Faititili, my eldest son, and you Tagulu, my second son, have shown that you wanted your brother's help to kill Veka, to pluck him and to cook him. In future, therefore, he will come first in my family and you will come after.”

That is the reason why the lightning always precedes the thunder now, although this was not the case previously!


Lu, the son of Iikiiki, wanted to introduce fire into the world but did not know how it was made. One day he came across an old “devil” named Mafuike who was sitting on the ground asleep, and leaning against a log from which smoke was coming out.

Lu decided to steal the log—and so the fire—and he snatched it up and ran off. Mafuike, however, chased him and caught him and they then had a fight. At first Lu allowed himself to be thrown this way and that, until Mafuike, who was old, was tired out. Then Lu suddenly exerted his strength, and seizing Mafuike by the throat held him thus until he promised to give him the secret of fire.

So Lu released his hold, and Mafuike instructed him in the art of obtaining fire by rubbing two pieces of wood together.

Thus did the knowledge of how to make fire reach the world.

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At one time there was no fresh water in Fakaofo, so the the local “devil,” by name Semoana, went over to steal some from the island of Nukunonu. As he was leaving with it he was chased by the “devil” of Nukunonu, who tipped up the earth he was carrying it in, and so spilt some on the islets of the eastern fringe of Nukunonu.

What was left, however, reached Fakaofo safely, and Semoana put it on the islet which is now inhabited.

NOTE:—The best fresh water of these two islands is found on the eastern edge of Nukunonu and the islet where the village is built in Fakaofo, on the western side of the atoll.


Close to the mouth of a certain river in Vavau, and in the channel used by canoes on their way out fishing, there lived a large Faisua (Bear's-paw Clam). Normally it remained closed when the canoes were passing, but whenever Tinilau's canoe came along, it would open out and swallow the back-wash water from Tinilau's paddle. As the Faisua was a female, this had the effect of giving her a child, and in due course a girl was born whom she named Sina.

Years passed by and Sina grew into a beautiful girl, and she became curious to know who her father was. When she learned from her mother the circumstances of her birth, and that Tinilau was her father, she decided to go and see him. So she went off ashore, and coming to Tinilau's house went inside and sat down by him. Tinilau wanted to know who she was and who her parents were, and Sina told him that he himself was her father and that her mother was the Faisua who lived in the canoe passage. Still Tinilau did not understand until Sina explained the whole matter to him.

Now Tinilau had a lot of relatives whose names were “Old Tree,” “Old Basket,” “Old Mat,” etc., etc., and these were sitting round about his house, and saw the beautiful girl Sina sitting inside with Tinilau. Scenting a scandal they thought of a trick to play, and this consisted of arranging with the people to give out an order that on the morrow all mothers had to be shewn!

When Sina heard this she was ashamed and cried, and told Tinilau she would have to go and tell her mother about it. On hearing what was to happen, however, the Faisua was not a bit upset and told Sina to go and make a basket and bring it to her. This done, she loosened herself off one side of her shell and this fell off; then she worked off the other half, and climbed into the basket.

She then gave Sina careful instructions as to what she should do. First, she was to be very careful to keep the basket closed the whole time; she was to carry it ashore, go up the river some distance above - 166 the village, then dive into the current and still holding the basket in her hand, allow it to drift down to the sea. This was to be repeated, and the second time, on reaching the river's mouth, she could open the basket.

Sina was very careful to obey these orders, and on opening the basket found her mother transformed into a beautiful woman!

So they went ashore together and dried their hair in the sun. Then they made themselves titis and necklaces, and rubbed their bodies with sweet-scented oil.

It was now the time of the “showing of mothers,” and Sina and her mother proceeded to the village where a dance was in progress. Here they found Tinilau keeping time for the dancing by beating a wooden board with two sticks, but as soon as he saw Sina's mother he at once fell in love with her, and dropping his two sticks, started up to catch her.

Sina and her mother thereupon ran away, and before Tinilau could catch up with them Sina's mother had reached her shell. She immediately transformed herself into her previous form, slipped inside and closed the shell.

At this Tinilau became very angry and seizing a piece of Puapua (soft wood) tried to force open the shell with it. The piece of wood broke so he went and fetched a piece of Kanava (hard wood), but had no better luck with this. Finally he got a piece of Toa (very hard wood) and with this he succeeded in gouging out the fish, which he then carried ashore.

Now at this time all the shells of the sea had no fishes in them, so Tinilau broke up the Faisua into small bits, and to each, beginning with the Pearl Shell, he gave one bit. Thus did all the shells of the sea become alive, with fishes in them.


Tuifiti lived in the sky and his daughter lived with him. At one time food became very scarce up there, and the people were nearly starving. On this account the girl Tuifiti decided to come down to the earth to see if she could obtain help.

When she reached land, however, she was so exhausted and thin that she fell into a rubbish heap, and as people continued to throw rubbish on the heap she was soon covered up and buried in it.

There lived close by a family consisting of two brothers Moenī and Tafaki, and two sisters Papua and Sigano.

One day when Papua was throwing some rubbish away she heard someone crying underneath the pile, so she dug into the heap and discovered the girl Tuifiti. By this time the girl was very small, weak and thin, so Papua carried her home where the two sisters nursed her back to health.

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In time she grew quite strong and developed into a very beautiful woman, whereupon both brothers fell in love with her. By this time her father, Tuifiti, was searching everywhere for her. His method of search was to lower down to each island in turn a rope with a wooden seat attached to the end of it. Eventually the seat was lowered on to Fakaofo, and landed close to where the girl was sitting. The two brothers, who had been fishing, were asleep near by.

Now the girl did not want to miss this chance of getting home, on the other hand she wanted to speak to the two brothers and tell them where she was going before she started. She also intended to give them one each of her porpoise teeth, and to let them divide up her pearl shell between them. She therefore jumped on to the seat to show that she was there, then jumped off again before her father could pull up. Then she called to Moenī and Tafaki, but they were so tired that they did not hear her. Trying the same trick again she was too late in jumping off the seat and so got hauled up to the skies.

As she went up and up she started crying for three things—to be able to give her porpoise teeth away, to be able to divide up her pearl shell, and to let the brothers know where she was going.

By and by the brothers woke up and found that the girl had vanished. They searched the whole island, but to no purpose, so decided that she must have left Fakaofo. Accordingly they determined to follow and find her wherever she might be.

Tafaki set off to the west, and when he reached the horizon, was eaten by a shark—as indeed the sun is eaten every evening when it sets there!

Moenī, on the other hand, made for the east, and was able to climb up into the sky by this route. On his arrival in the sky he became frightened, especially when he saw that the chief, Tuifiti, was holding a court.

Tuifiti sat at one end of his house and with him sat his daughter. Along one side of the house sat the Faipule (councillors), and at the further end were some large dry coconuts, split but not broken up. In order to avoid being detected Moenī slipped inside one of these nuts.

Presently one of the Faipule picked up this particular nut and rolled it along the floor to another Faipule. He in turn rolled it along to another, and so on until it reached Tuifiti. The girl Tuifiti, however, had detected Moenī inside, so she picked up the nut and took care of it.

That evening Moenī and the girl had a long talk and tried to make plans for the future, but they could decide on nothing. Before they parted, however, he cut off a lock of his hair which he gave her to keep.

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On the next day her father happened to notice this lock of hair and demanded to be told whose it was. His daughter refused to tell him, so he called all the men of the place before him and compared the hair with that of each. It did not match any one's, so he asked the Faipule if they were quite sure that all the men of the place had been brought to the court.

One of them then remembered having seen a stranger about, so Moenī was caught and brought up. When it was seen that his hair matched the lock, Tuifiti became very angry but was at length pacified by his daughter, who said she would marry no other man. So Tuifiti gave his consent to the marriage, but where Moenī took his wife to live is not known.


There was a woman named Magamagai Matua who was in the habit of going down to the beach each morning and evening as the sun was rising and setting, and standing naked in the sun's rays. By this means she had a son who was called “Kalokalo o le La,” as the sun was his father.

By and by the boy grew up, and when he became of marriageable age it was decided that he should marry the daughter of Tuifiti, the Head chief of Fiji, so he set off on his journey thither for this purpose.

First, however, he decided to visit his father and inform him where he was going. Accordingly he went to a very high tree in order to climb up it and speak with him. When he reached the foot of the tree he found an old blind woman sitting there, who had with her one large talo with eight small ones attached to it.

Kalokalo was hungry, so he crept up quietly, and as soon as the old woman broke one of the small talos off to eat it, he did the same. This went on until they were all finished, but during the eating the old woman kept counting them, and each time she found one short she got very excited.

Kalokalo, whose conscience then pricked him, suddenly clapped his hands and this so surprised the old lady that she opened her eyes! They then became friends and the old woman addressed Kalokalo as her grandson. He told her what he intended to do, and she warned him of the dangers of climbing this tree.

She told him that first he would come to a place where there were many insects, but that he was to hold tight to the tree and take no notice of them when they bit him. Then he would come to a part where there were numbers of crabs which would pinch him, but still he must take no notice. After that he would reach a place where the wind would be blowing very hard, and here he would have to hold on to the tree very tight to prevent being blown off. After thanking the - 169 old woman Kalokalo started his climb, and having successfully combated the different perils, reached a peaceful part of the tree after a hard struggle. He was then so tired that he lay down on a branch and went to sleep.

When he awoke he saw that the sun was about to set so he called out and asked him to wait a little. The sun stopped and said, “Who are you and what do you want?” Kalokalo replied, “I am your son and the son of Magamagai.”

The sun said, “Very well, where are you going?” and Kalokalo told him he was on his way to Fiji to marry the daughter of Tuifiti. Then the sun said, “I will give you a present, but on no account must you look at it until after you are married.” He then instructed Kalokalo to go down from the tree and go to a certain place where he would find a house spinning round; it would also cant up to one side every now and again. when it did this he was to slip inside, and in order to come out again he was to seize a similar opportunity. By carefully obeying these instructions, Kalokalo obtained from the house a small bundle which was well tied up.

In course of time he reached Fiji, and as he landed on the reef his curiosity got the better of him and he decided to see what the bundle contained. He therefore undid the wrapping and discovered a beautiful pearl-shell which reflected the sunlight so intensely that the sun himself complained of being dazzled!

Then the sun became angry, and because he had been disobeyed, ordered the sharks to come up and eat Kalokalo.

This was done; Kalokalo was eaten, and the pearl-shell fell into the sea.

Thereupon the bonito attacked the shell and ate off all the very bright part, leaving only one piece which was too thick for them. This one piece sank to the bottom and by chance landed on top of Tuifiti's fish-trap.

When Tuifiti came along and lifted his trap he found this piece stuck in the top, and recognizing it as a portion of the wedding present for his daughter's marriage, he took it home and shaped it into a spoon-bait for fishing.

By and by Tuifiti's daughter, Sina, married a local chief by name Lakulu, and to him was lent the pearl-shell bait to be tried. It proved so successful that Lakulu decided to steal it, and run away with his wife and several others. The plan of escape came to the ears of Tuifiti, however, who thereupon warned Lakulu that if he carried out his scheme and ran away on account of the pearl-shell he and all his party would be drowned, with the sole exception of Sina. This warning was not heeded by Lakulu, and he and his party set sail in canoes, taking the shell with them.

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They had not been long at sea before a storm arose and one after another the canoes were broken up and sunk, leaving the whole party swimming. One carried the precious shell.

After a while this man became tired, and calling to one of the others, he handed him the shell, and sank.

Presently this man became tired also and so in turn each member of the party, until only Sina was left.

Sina just managed to crawl out onto the reef with the shell in her possession, and there, shortly afterwards, she gave birth to a son. Him she called Tautunu, and she took him home to her father.

As the boy began to play with things his mother gave him the pearl shell as a toy. Unfortunately, but not fatally, he swallowed it. In due course it was recovered and Sina put it away for a while.

When Tautunu became old enough, the shell was formally handed to him to make use of as a fisherman. He, however, did not know how to secure it to his line and put it on the wrong side up.

A lizard was watching, and at once passed the word that Tautunu's hook was tied on in the wrong way, to a certain square-shaped fish which lives close to the reef. This fish passed the word on to the Tautau, a fish living a little further out, and he in turn told the bonito. The result was that when Tautunu went out to catch bonito, he caught none.

On reaching home he asked his mother what was the matter, and his hook was quickly put right. This was again observed by the lizard who thereupon passed the word out to the bonito that all was correct this time. Consequently, on his next fishing trip, Tautunu caught many fish.

One day, when out fishing, Tautunu became disgusted by some decaying matter which drifted close to his canoe. Thereupon he took his line off the rod, and throwing the rod overboard, went ashore. When he landed he put the line and pearl-shell hook on the beach while he went in for a swim, and on coming ashore again, forgot all about them. On reaching home he remembered and hurried back, but he never found them again.

The fact was that they had been stolen, the line and shell itself by the crab (he has them now), the lobster took the feathers off the shell (he wears them now), and the Ali (a flat-fish) took the point of the hook (he wears it under his chin now).

In the days when Tautunu was fishing the bonito were to be found at no great distance from the shore, but nowadays they are always at a much greater distance. The reason of this is that Tau-tunu's rod drifted away out to sea when he threw it away, and the bonito followed it.

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There were once two brothers Kupega and Kakau, of whom Kupega was the elder.

Each had a family of two sons, but, whereas Kupega's sons were weak, Kakau's were strong. Kakau had also had a daughter by name Sina, but she had been stolen. The names of Kakau's sons were Filo and Mea.

Because of this, Kupega became very jealous and planned to get his nephews killed. So he pretended he was sick, and when his brother Kakau came to see him, told him that the only thing which would do him any good was a certain wild fish called Sumu. Kakau, therefore, called up his two sons and told them to catch this fish.

The plan of the two boys was to feed up the fish with coconuts and rubbish until it became sluggish, then to call upon a large wave to land it on the reef. This was entirely successful, so Kupega had the fish to eat, without harm to the boys.

Some time after Kupega again pretended to be sick and on this occasion declared that nothing else would do him any good but a certain wild bird which lived in the bush, by name Matuku. By their father's instructions Filo and Mea went out to kill this bird, and first they went to his house. What was their surprise when they got there but to find their long lost sister Sina in the house, and that she had married Matuku!

The bird was away at this time but presently they heard him coming home. Sina said, “Hide,” but Filo said, “First we must make a plan: What is the first thing he asks for when he gets home?” Sina said he always asked for a drink. “Don't fill the coconut shell quite full then,” said Filo, “so that when he drinks he will have to throw his head right back.”

Sina agreed and the two brothers hid—Filo climbing up into the roof and Mea getting under a half-made mat which was on the floor.

On Matuku's arrival, with two dead men whom he had caught for food, he as usual asked for a drink which Sina handed him in a coconut shell only half-full. As he threw his head right back to drink this, Filo struck him from above with his club. At the same time Mea jumped up and struck him from below. In this manner was Matuku killed.

The two brothers and Sina then discussed the question as to how they should go home, and it was agreed that Filo should carry the bird and that Mea should carry Sina. So they started and in due course reached the reef near their father's home.

Now on this reef was a very dangerous fissure which had to be crossed, and in which the water swirled this way and that. Filo went in first with the body of Matuku, but the weight was too much - 172 and he was dragged down and drowned. Mea, who tried to rescue Filo, was drowned as well, but before he jumped in he told Sina that if they lost their lives she would always be able to see them in the sky as stars. Thus Sina was the only one of the three to reach home.

What her brother had told her proved to be correct, and ever afterwards on looking into the sky in the direction of Samoa she could see, not only her brothers, but Sumu and Matuku as well.

If one looks in the sky now, in the direction of Samoa, one will see certain stars which rise in the following order. They are Sumu, Matuku, Filo and Mea and by them one can find one's way to Samoa from Fakaofo.


Apparently Afā was a supernatural being who was more than half “devil,” and although he does not always seem to have been evil, the tales about him would lead one to believe him quite “devil.” Another name he sometimes went by was Toikia, and I was told that he was more generally known by this name in Fakaofo. On another occasion I was told that he was known only by the name Toikia when he was not doing evil. The general word for a spirit or devil is Aitu, and the priests or sorcerers are called Taulāitu.

One story about Afā was told me thus:—

“Afā was an Aitu and lived in the sea, but he also visited the land occasionally. He was in the habit of stealing the “spirits” out of the bodies of men and eating them.

When the people saw a house floating on the waters of the lagoon they knew it to be a sign that Afā was out after food. So the people complained to the Taulāitus, who then held a meeting to decide how they could catch Afā. Having made their plans all the Taulāitus, except one, swam out into the lagoon and formed a circle, holding hands like a net.

At this time Afā was in his canoe shed. The one Taulāitu still left on shore then went to Afā, and by a trick persuaded him to come out for a swim. He guided Afā to where the others were and managed to push him into the circle when they all set upon him and proceeded to drown him. As they pushed him under they sang, ‘E puse, e puse.’

When Afā was dead they brought the body ashore and carried it to the open space in the middle of the village. This place was called ‘Malai o fakafotu,’ and is where the Falefono now stands. On reaching this spot they threw the body down and this made so much noise that all the people of the island heard it.

They then cut the body open and so recovered all the ‘spirits’ of the men whom Afā had eaten. These ‘spirits’ were handed to one particular Taulāitu who returned them to the relatives, and so to the people to whom they belonged.

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The Taulāitu then informed the people that the reason all these spirits had been taken by Afā was because they had been fishing with rods at a certain place.

Afterwards, however, these spirits all got lost again, but the Taulāitus said, ‘never mind, let us all go and have a swim!’ This was not the end of Afā, who came to life again and returned to the sea.”

The above was told as one tells a fairy tale, and there was much merriment during the telling. There was no question of taking the story seriously, although the old man did add that his mother had told him that she herself heard the noise of Afā being bumped in the Malai! He laughed when he told me this.

[The foregoing paper by Mr. Burrows is one that reflects much credit on the writer. The acquisition of so much interesting data in so brief a period of time shows not only interest in the work, as displayed by the collector, but also the industry and application that are necessary in order to gather such information.

This paper records local versions of certain interesting and widely known Polynesian myths. The stories of Sina, the Hina of New Zealand, connect her with Tinirau, as in the Maori version, and her connection with the moon is here shown in her giving birth to the ten lunar months. Here we have an allusion to the old ten months' year of the Whare-patari legend. The names of the months seem to point to Samoan influence, or the reverse. The Maui brothers also appear.

In Iikiiki one is tempted to recognise Tikitiki alias Maui, he who procured fire from Mahuika, and the latter also seems to appear. Mafuike is one of the Polynesian variants of this name, and Tregear gives it as the Fakaofo form.

The name of Mangamangai matua is evidently the Mangamangai atua of Maori myth, while Kupenga and Kakau are both Maori star names, and Humu is a constellation at Hawaii.

The notes on canoes and on the old time voyages to the Samoan, Tongan, Cook and Fiji Groups are of special interest. It is to be hoped that the writer will continue his good work in collecting information concerning the isles and peoples of the Great Ocean of Kiva.

Takopia (p. 149) may be Tikopia Isle, north of the New Hebrides. Sikaiana is Stewart Island. Nukunonu is usually written as Nuku-nono. Te Lupe recalls Rupe of Maori myth, and his search for his sister Hina. Truly these are Maori stories. Observe the act so often credited to taniwha in Maori myth, the tying of a string to a suspected wife (p. 162). In the story of Moeni, Tawhaki (Tafaki) seems to be connected with the sun, whereas in Maori myth he represents lightning.—ELSDON BEST.]

1   This story was told me as originally coming from Fiji, although it does not appear to have any connection therewith. Also Moa seems to change into Sina half way through.
2   This story was said to have come from Samoa.