Volume 34 1925 > Volume 34, No. 134 > Legends of Samoa, by O. F. Nelson, p 124-145
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- 124
(An address to the Samoa Research Society, delivered 30th November, 1923.)

THE great obstacle to the collection of data regarding Samoan genealogies, traditions, and folklore is the averseness of the Samoan to divulge to other than his own immediate successor or heir, the traditions handed down to him. All such knowledge is sacredly guarded, being considered private property, the publication of which would deprive the family of a large amount of prestige and honour. A chief (alii or tulafale) reputed to be in possession of a large store of traditional knowledge is looked up to as a sage or seer. This dignity he endeavours to reserve for himself during his life, and pass on to his successor intact. The prophets of old peered into the future, but the Samoan sage was a man who held the records of the past, and he invariably exercised a strong influence in his village and district.

Samoan traditions were and are subject to a large amount of local colouring; and genealogies were even revised to fit in with the ascendancy or decline of the leading families. For example, the landing-place of Tuitoga which resulted in the conquest of Samoa by the Tongans is claimed by some to have been in Savaii, by others in Tutuila, even though it is generally agreed to be in Manu'a. As a chief increases in dignity and honour his genealogical tree is somewhat revised, but such revision is quite justified by Samoan customs, insomuch that the leading chief is looked upon as the father of the whole clan or tribe; when, therefore, in the genealogy of a noted chief, his great grandmother is recorded as the daughter of the chief of a certain village, when she was really only a member of his clan, no great misrepresentation is considered to have been made. The custodian of these traditions, however, is well aware of these weaks points in the genealogy of the chief, and this knowledge is used by him, at times, almost to the extent of blackmail.

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I have already stated that traditions are sacredly guarded against publication, and a person is considered mischievous who refers to his genealogy in order to establish a claim on property or other rights. If he dies prematurely, his death is charged to the gods' rightful wrath having been visited on him for stirring up strife in the village or district.

The defining of property boundaries is also a very delicate matter. Take the instance of a matai, 1 or chief, who is well advanced in years being asked by his eldest son or heir to show him the boundary with the next-door-neighbour. The old man would sit in his house and say to his son: “Listen, my boy; you are well aware that anybody defining boundaries never lives long; but as my time is drawing to a close, it is my duty to acquaint you with these matters. As our neighbours may suspect something if I pointed to the boundary, I want you to note the third cocoanut tree by the seashore; that tree was planted by myself, and, though my neighbour has disputed the boundary all along, he cannot deny the fact that I planted that tree, so our property extends that far; then it runs along inland almost below the eaves of our neighbour's house, and cuts westward to the bread-fruit tree by the swamp, then in a straight line from there to the village wall behind the town.”

“Very well, father,” the boy would say; “but why then should our neighbour pick the fruit of the three cocoanut trees and two bread-fruit trees which are on our side of the line you have just indicated?” “That is a temporary arrangement, but you must stop it when I am gone.”

Now that was a most unkind, a worse than embarrassing legacy to leave to his son, and if he endeavoured to comply with it, serious difficulties would ensue. If, on the other hand, he left well alone, he and his descendants would be likely to lose all claim to the property, if ever they had any. A Samoan might often be heard to speak of how his ancestors owned the whole village, but that through some weak holder of the family name in the past allowing others to remain in possession for a long period, it would be very injudicious to claim it now. If it had been customary for neighbouring families or clans to adjust their boundaries - 126 amicably, it would also have been possible for them to exchange views on their traditions and genealogies, thus preventing the partial and local versions that are creeping in, making many of them unreliable, to say nothing of the traditions that are lost altogether through this evil custom.

I felt these opening remarks to be necessary, to show the difficulties confronting anyone wishing to collect and place on record the legends through which glimpses can be obtained of events and happenings in connection with the Samoan race and these islalnds as handed down to the present day by tradition.

I first became interested in the study of Samoan legends and folklore some 23 years ago; I trusted too much to memory and made notes only of odd names and places. Most of these notes have been mislaid, but when I hear these matters discussed I am generally able to recall what I had learnt of them in times past. I mention this to show how it is possible for a Samoan chief whose principal duty is to keep them ever in mind, to hold a fairly authentic record, and that the traditions as now held are as reliable as they can be expected to be under such a system.


I will relate a few of the legends as I remember them. The Bible tells us that in the beginning God made the heavens and the earth, the earth being without form and void, and that the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. The Samoan versions are many, but in most of them the spirit of Tagaloa-Lagi (the-Unrestricted-of-the-Skies) moved up and down planning and building as time went on. Taking it for granted that the Polynesians migrated to these islands from other parts, we must accept Samoan mythology as being based on theories formed or known by them before they came here. Unfortunately, the Samoans have lost practically all recollection of their first settlement in these parts, and even the accounts of their early voyages among the various groups of the South Pacific are given as having started out from Samoa. There can be but little doubt that Samoa was one of the first settlements of the Polynesians, and from here they spread out into the other - 127 islands. Even Percy Smith is inclined to agree with this, while Stair states that it must have been so.

The Maori speak of their ancestors coming to New Zealand in canoes, but the Samoans say that they came from the heavens. There is a Manu'a poem which recites the Origin of Things in this manner:—

When Tagaloa first sighted the earth, it was one wide expanse of water. He was very much interested in the way the waves played on the surface, and decided that some obstacle be made so that the waves might break upon it. This desire created land, and the first land was Manu'a. This became his headquarters, from which his spirit moved upon the waters, and a pebble carelessly thrown formed into an island, Tutuila, while a seed planted further west resulted in Upolu. As for Savai'i, that came about through a natural act of this creator; but seeing that dry land was good he set out to populate it, after which he made Tonga, and Fiji, and the rest of the world.

Another version is that Tuli, the son of Tagaloa-Lagi, visited the earth, and, finding no place to rest upon, called on his father for help. Tagaloa threw down a stone from the heavens and that turned into a reef, which was uncovered during low tide, but was submerged at high tide, so on a second application by Tuli for assistance, Tagaloa threw down a line and fished up large boulders from the bowels of the earth, thus forming land sufficient for occupation by Tuli.

One version of the origin of man is as follows:—Mala-magaga'e, or Dawn-of-the-East, came in contact with Mala-magagaifo, or Light-of-the-West, from whence came Lupe, or Spirit-of-the-Dove. This Dove sat on Papatu, the rock which was brought up from the bottom of the ocean by Tagaloa, and thence sprang A'alua, or firm-root. Firm-root evolved to solid rock, and then came Papaele, or soft rock. This soft rock evolved to Papasosolo, or spreading rock, and formed the grass. Grass was covered by the fue (convolvulus) and begat two grubs—male and female—from which sprang the human race.

Only the taula-aitu, or high priest, had access to Tagaloa, and as his assistance had to be invoked continually, the priesthood exercised great influence over the people. Like the prophet Joshua, a chief of old once stayed the sun in his course, and Nu'utolola of Safune claims descent from the - 128 first Nu'utolola who ordered the sun to remain fixed until his army had routed the foe. Tolola means to stop the sun's motion, and before the incident related the chief's name was simply Nu'u.

Tagaloa, finding man degenerating fast, took one of his daughters to wife and thus founded the Tagaloa family, of which there are many representatives at present; the earlier descendants were great chiefs. Tupua (the name used to signify a god, or idol), is also the name assumed by the great family from whom the high chiefs such as Mataafa and others trace their descent.


There are many legends which relate the voyages of the early Samoans or Polynesians. These undoubtedly are records of their travels even before they finally settled in the groups now inhabited by them. Stair describes the Rarotongans as having sprung from the Samoans—yet Percy Smith gives 115 generations of Rarotongan genealogy while the Samoans have record of only 40 generations.

The single record the Samoans have of coming to these islands is the one which Turner describes of the four men who came over from Pulotu and landed in Papatea, Manu'a. They found the place inhabited and a conflict ensued. Elo, the King of Pulotu, hearing of the ill-treatment of his subjects by the Papateeans, sent an army down who exterminated the whole of the earlier arrivals with the exception of four couples, one of which settled in Savai'i, one in Upolu, one in Tutuila, and one in Manu'a; these repopulated the group.

I am told that an old man, Fraser, who died here some years ago, had Samoan records of the first inhabitants arriving here in boats, but I have searched everywhere from Savai'i to Manu'a for similar records without success—a further proof of how fast these traditional records are being forgotten.


Besides their mythology, the origin of all Samoan villages, places, and titles is described in some legend or other. After the first war in Manu'a, when Elo avenged the four brothers from Pulotu, the couples which escaped were Sa and Vaii whose combined names were given to the island now known as Savai'i; U and Polu who repopulated - 129 Upolu; Tutu and Ila who repopulated Tutuila. Manu'a, however, means “wounded,” and the name was given because the son of the first chief of Manu'a is said to have been born with a wound on his head. Ta'u, the largest island in Manu'a was called by that name after a daughter of Tagaloa who was said to be dumb and could only utter U. Ta'u means “repeating U.” Sega was the first chief of Olosega, he took Olo, a daughter of the chief of Ta'u to wife, and their combined names were given to that island. Ofu, the third island in the Manu'a group, was named after another daughter of Tagaloa who was wrapped up or clothed in tapa cloth, and Ofu means “clothed.”

Tui Manu'a, the chief of Ta'u, claims descent from Tagaloa-Lagi, and to be the first and real king of Samoa. The family name of the Tui Manu'a is Moa from which it is claimed that the name Samoa originated. Sa denotes the possessive case, so Samoa can be interpreted to mean “Moa family.” Sa also means “sacred” or “prohibited,” so the version held by the people of Western Samoa is that the moa was once a sacred bird, and it was protected, or prohibited, hence the name of Samoa. The Manu'a version seems the more probable.

Tui means “lord” or “king” so the Tui Manu'a is lord or king of Manu'a, who claims, as I have said before, to be the first king of Samoa. Tui-Ofu, now represented by the chief Misa, is the chief of Ofu, and so of Tui-Olosega in Olosega.

Tutuila is divided into two political districts, east and west. Another name for Tutuila is Motu o Salaia or the islands of Salaia. It is claimed that this name was given it by the daughter of Tutu and Ila who was named Salaia. There is also an Upolu version that this name was given by a chief of Upolu who claimed the whole of Tutuila. The chiefs of Upolu always exercised a great inflôence in Tutuila, and there are legends confirming the rights of the Upolu chiefs over Tutuila, but it would only create controversy to recount them.

Upolu is divided into three large districts, Atua, Aana and Tuamasaga. These districts found their names from Tua, Ana, and Saga, the descendants of Pili and Sinaletava'e, daughter of Tuiaana Tavaetele.

The Tuiaana of Aana, Tuiatua of Atua, Natoaitele and Tamasoalii of Tuamasaga, are titles conferred on the - 130 leading chiefs by the capital towns; Malietoa is also a title conferred by Tuamasaga.

Manono and Apolima, the two islands between Upolu and Savai'i, are said to have been named by Tupuivao, son of Taufau the first queen of Samoa, after Nono and Sauma from Fiji, sons of Tuifiti. Manono means “given to Nono,” while Sauma is still the official style of Apolima. The name Apolima means “almost within grasp of the hand,” and this name is given by travellers between the islands, who note that whereas Apolima seems within hand-grasp, it takes a good time to pass.

Savai'i is also known as Salafai from Lafai, son of Vaasiliifiti. The sons of Lealali some 21 generations ago were Tupainatuna, Tupailelei, and Tupaisiva.

Tuitonga took to wife a daughter of the Tuifiti and had issue one Laufafa-e-toga, a girl. This Laufafa, hearing of the wonderful beauty of Tupailelei, came to Samoa to seek his hand. On arrival here she found Tupailelei was not the handsome man he was reputed to be, so she accepted his brother Tupainatuna. When she was ripe to give birth to her first child she asked to be taken to Tonga for her confinement. On the way to Tonga they met with a heavy storm, and their boat passed Tonga and landed in Fiji. A boy was born who was named Vaasilifiti which means “the boat over-reached herself to Fiji.” In the fulness of time again, she agreed to let Tupainatuna bring her back to Samoa, but just as Samoa was sighted, she gave birth to a girl, who was named Samoa-ua-fotu, or “Samoa is sighted.” For short, she was known as “Fotu,” hence the village of Safotu on the north coast of Savai'i. Vaasilifiti lived in Taoa, now known as Safune, two miles below Safotu. Vaasilifiti took to wife two women of Upolu—Feenaga of Sagaga and Feeata of Faleata. These women, according to Samoan custom, came home for their fanauga (confinement), and both had issue of a son; and after a while Vaasilifiti came up to take his wives and sons to Savai'i. On the way down they passed a fune (core of a bread-fruit) being nibbled at by fish, so Feenaga named her son Fune. Further on, they caught a fai (stingray or skate) and with the skin of it they made a sail for their boat, so the other boy was named Lafai (sail made of fai). Fune waxed strong, and founded the four Safune villages in Savai'i, while Lafai had many children who populated the - 131 rest of Savai'i, and that is how Savai'i became known as Salafai. Three took up the east coast of Savai'i and divided the districts so equally that they were known as the fair three. No disputes were allowed, hence the name Faasaleleaga, meaning “strife is barred.” Faasaleleaga is one of the three large districts of Savai'i, the other two known as Le-itu-o-tane (male branch) and Le-itu-o-fafine (female branch) are said to have found their names by the children of Laufafa-e-tonga by one Lautala who took her to wife after the death of Tupainatuna. There were two sons Utu and Taua who stayed on the north coast and founded the villages Matautu and Sataua, while their sister Lega lived on the south coast now known as Salega, hence the male branch and the female branch.

There are various origins assigned to the names of the different villages. The following is one version of the origin of the name of the town of Apia.

Before the advent of the white man, the Samoans lived mostly some little distance from the sea, and not along the coast as they do now. They came to the sea only to fish and to fetch sea-water for food purposes. The chief from Solo-solo came to this bay with a party of his fishermen, and finding it a good fishing place at that time (it is so no longer), they built huts by the seashore and stayed a few days. A daughter of one of the leading chiefs of the place came down with her retinue of girls to take sea-water back to the village, and found these huts and the fishing party. She went back to the village and reported that the bay was inhabited; or in Samoan Ua apia le faga. Api is the word used in many Polynesian dialects to signify “habitation” or “homestead” and in Samoan it conveys the meaning “temporary abode.” The version given by von Bulow is that Apia was derived from apilitia or apitia, when that term was used to describe the plight of the Manono people in a war which took place here. There were many Manono killed, who were buried near where the ice-works stand now, hence the name Tanugamanono (the burial place of Manono). Apilitia means “hemmed in” or “surrounded,” and for short apitia is sometimes used, and according to von Bulow it was further abbreviated to apia.

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I will relate this as it was given to me, even though it differs somewhat from that given by Turner in his book Samoa a Hundred Years Ago and Long Before. 3

Two well known and important families of these parts had a feud which lasted for generations. Fights were common, and it became so bad that only one couple of each family remained, so they both decided to leave the district, one couple going to the south coast of Savai'i, and the other to Fiji. The couple who went to Savai'i were able to bring up unmolested a pretty little daughter named Sina, while the pair who migrated to Fiji had a male child, who was more of an eel than a human being, and was more at home in the sea than on dry land. He had a human head well shaped and handsome, but the rest of his body was that of an eel; so they decided to send him to Samoa to try to effect a settlement with their enemy. They charged this monstrous being to swim to Samoa, call at a village on the south coast, and to see a girl who was reported to make it a practice to stand on a certain rock in Asuisui and sing a particular love-song. This eel-man found the girl as described, and courted her. She fell in love with him and would have eloped with him, had it not been that her parents learnt of the clandestine meetings and decided to remove the girl and return to their original home. They also discovered that this eel-being was the offspring of their hereditary enemy, and took it for granted that the object was only to win the girl's love and hold her as hostage until their enemy could dictate his own terms of settlement. They thereupon left the village and travelled right round Savai'i, thence to Upolu, but the loathsome creature, who really loved the girl and knew that his love was returned, followed them. While the couple walked along the road by the coast, the eel followed them a little way inland, the foam of his mouth forming all the swampy land around the two islands. As they could not shake the creature off, the father sent the girl on ahead with her mother while he built mountains and obstacles to prevent the eel following. The latter overcame - 133 all these difficulties, and the couple ultimately gave themselves up to the creature in the hope that while he was devouring them, the girl would be able to escape. The eel, however, threw them aside and followed the girl, until they reached somewhere about Moata'a, when her relations turned up in a body and killed the eel. As he was dying, he crawled up to where the girl sat and expressed his last farewell, which in Samoan is as follows:—

Sina e, ai ni ou alofa
Ou tufaaga o'u fofoga
Ia e toina i se pa toga
A tupu ae ola
Ai iai ni ona fua
Tai tautasi tai tau lua
Ae o ni ona lau
Tou laga ni tapaau
Ma ni ili-tea tali toelau
E tali ai aloga pe a sau.

The best English translation I can summon is this:—

Sina, let us part in love (peace)
When I am killed,
Ask for my head as your portion.
Take and plant it in a Tongan (or stone) wall.
Its fruit you will drink,
And use as water carriers, single and double.
With its leaves you will plait mats and roofing,
Also a fan to fan yourself
When meditating on your love for me.
In the nuts you will see my face,
Which every time you drink will be kissed by you.

Sina did as she was bid, and the place where the head was buried by her is called Tanuga-le-ia to the present day, just about 20 yards to the west of the overseer's house at Vaivase. There was a fairly well-preserved hedge and stone wall around the place up to some 25 years ago when I lived in Vaivase plantation.

A cocoanut tree sprang up there shortly afterwards, no doubt from an overmatured nut such as there are thousands of at the present time, and the natives connected this with the eel's head and his last words. Water-holders made from the cocoanut shell are in singles and doubles, 4 a when - 134 drinking the milk from a cocoanut you cannot fail to notice the eyes and mouth which you kiss when drinking. The leaves of the cocoanut tree are still used as roofing, and for weaving mats and fans. I have mislaid my notes on this legend, so cannot give the names of many places all along the line, which owe their origin to the pursuit of Sina by the eel.


The legend of the Turtle of Saumani has never yet been recorded in print. I have tried hard to make up a library of works on Samoa, but have never been successful in securing more than three or four, so I know very little about what has been published of Samoan legends and folklore.

A tribe of fisher folk known as Sa Saumani or the “Saumani family” lived in Puna (Gaegaemalae), south-west coast of Savai'i, just below the mission house where Mr. Sherlock now resides. A miscarriage took place in the family of the leading Saumani, and the wife hid the embryo on the reef, but the surf gave it life and it developed into a boy of great wisdom. He played with the other boys, but at dusk when his playmates hied to their homes, he returned to the reef.

One fine day the men of the fisher tribe planned an expedition to Manu'a where it was reported that a turtle of great dimensions had been seen. Just as they were ready to start they discovered that a stranger had jumped into the boat, so they ordered him off. This stranger was no other than the son of the surf, who knew that he was the offspring of the last leader of the tribe. He asked to be allowed to go along, and when he was asked to give the pass word he replied: “If you are a Saumani and you a Saumani,” pointing to the different men, “then I am the main wing of the Saumani tribe.” After some persuasion the party took him along, and the trip was without adventure until they arrived half-way between Tutuila and Manu'a. There they sighted a huge rock right in the middle of the ocean, but when they came nearer they found it to the great turtle they were out to find. The turtle was so large that it could hardly move. The fisher folk tried the usual native way of turning it upside down to render it helpless, but they had no success. Every time they came to the surface the young outsider said to them: “What's the - 135 matter, can't you manage him?” They scorned him when he said: “Why not lift the forepart, drag the hind part, then dig your feet in and hoist him. I would the task were given to me!” Every time they came up the same remarks were made, when at last, in despair, they said to Saumani Afa'ese: “You go down and hoist him now, and look to yourself if you don't.” He jumped on the gunwale of the canoe and asked: “Shall I run him up or run him along?” “What do you mean?” “Shall I run him up or run him along?” “Run him as you wish, but hoist him, or be prepared for the worst.” “Then I shall run him along.” He jumped off and in no time the turtle was moving along. Saumani Afa'ese, as he called himself, carried the turtle along past Tutuila and Upolu and round the south coast of Savai'i, intending to circle Savai'i before landing him. Passing the reef now known as Sagone he spied a man sliding on the surf in the usual Samoan way. The man's name was Tumatilotilo which means “stand and watch.” Tumatilotilo called out: “Hello there, devilfish, come and have a slide.” He took no notice of him, but moved on with the turtle—though shortly after passing him he determined to go back. I may note that all expressions coined on this expedition are used to-day, as also is the reference Tasi ae talatala, which means “one word worries the mind,” made to Saumani Afa'ese when he ignored the call of Tumatilotilo. The island is mostly ironbound along the side being coasted, and he took the first opportunity to land the turtle. When he reached Falelima he saw a chance, and immediately went ashore, dragging the turtle along with him. That is still known to-day as Tosoga I'a, or landing-place-of-the-fish. (The Samoans call every living thing in the sea a fish.) When he landed safely he discovered that, whereas it was easy enough to ride along the water on the turtle's back (though it is said he carried the turtle on his back), it was more difficult to lead the monster along on land. He felt that it would be advisable for him to cover the turtle in the event of anyone passing who was more powerful than himself and snatching the prize from him after all his trouble. He thereupon wrapped it up in laumapapa leaves and tied it so that it was difficult to see what it was. As he was meditating on his next move, two brothers Tefua and Telima passed by, and he requested them to give him a hand in carrying along what - 136 he termed his mother. They refused, and would have passed on but for his remark Malaga ma alii lua te aai ai, meaning “travelling with a chief produces plenty of food.” I may say that Malaga-ma-alii is the surname of one of the leading chiefs (tulefale) on that coast to the present day. The boys thereupon agreed to help carry the package along, but they were very curious to know what it really was as they were not deceived by the reference to his mother. The road is fairly rough from Falelima southward, but they dragged this thing over it until they reached the top of the big hill, when Saumani Afa'ese noticed that it ceased to struggle, and he knew that it was dead. He named the place Matega, or The Death, by which it is still known. They continued their journey until they reached a spot which Saumani Afa'ese thought would be about where his friend of the surf was, when he halted and asked the boys to stand by his mother while he visited a friend by the seashore. When he was absent the two boys, still curious, sagole (parted the leaves), and when they saw Saumani returning they hurriedly fetoloai (re-arranged the wrapper); but they were seen doing these things, so the village was named Sagone, and the village square Fetoloai. Those names stand to-day for the village where the turtle was ultimately cooked, about four miles north of Salailua and Gaegaemalae from where the fishing party originally started. Tumatilotilo and his village felt greatly honoured at this, and Saumani Afa'ese became a great man in Sagone. Pieces of turtle, particularly of the shell, were preserved for many years, and were said to have wrought miracles in curing the sick. Tuifiti came over from Fiji and secured a piece of shell after much ceremony and the bestowal of honours and titles to the whole district. There were many interesting incidents connected with the visit of Tuifiti. Saumani Afa'ese saw the shell dwindling away, as he could not resist the Samoan custom of giving, so he took a piece and planted it in a cave, but the gloss was such that it threw a reflection on the sky, which from Upolu looked like a rainbow hanging over Savai'i every afternoon.

A generation passed away and Saumani was no more, but his son Matila was the chief of the village. Meanwhile a large tree grew up at the mouth of this cave and ultimately covered it, so that the shell ceased to make the rainbow reflection, and Malietoa of that time, missing the - 137 phenomenon, decided to find out the cause. He went down with a large retinue to Sagone, and he was received with full honours at Puna, the original home of the Saumani family. On the way overland to Sagone he expressed a desire for a Se'i-ma-i'i, or Pull-and-squeak. This puzzled the people very much, but a young lad, full of tona (ulcers) standing by, said to them: “Why not give him a young baked taro?—when you pull a young taro up it squeaks doesn't it?” When they arrived in Sagone there was more ceremony and kava drinking, after which the visitors were allowed to rest while the villagers went out to prepare more food; but as they were leaving, the king again expressed a desire, this time for a freckled old woman. The chiefs held a consultation to find out what Malietoa wanted. The same ulcerous lad was sitting outside but crawled up to Matila, his father, and asked what the matter was. Matila ordered him out. The chiefs could not guess what Malietoa wanted, until someone remarked that the king had been satisfied regarding the “Pull-and-squeak” by a suggestion from young Pule, the son of Matila. Matila said that Pule had enquired what was amiss, but he had ordered him home. Pule was sent for, but he refused to come, when at last Matila himself went along and found Pule on the broad of his back in the house, which attitude is called in Samoan luagalau. Matila remonstrated with the boy, whose feelings were hurt by his father's curt dismissal of him, and at last said to Pule: “I plead with you and hope that you will unravel these mysterious requests of the king.” In saying “hope” he used the Samoan word tapuai. Pule then sat up and said: “As you tapuai on me you shall henceforth assume the title Tapuai. You found me luagalau on the broad of my back, your brother shall be styled Luagalau and become the second chief in rank.” The first Tapuai and Luagalau lived 15 generations ago, so that will give an idea of the time this event took place—about 400 years ago. Tapuai and Luagalau are the two leading chiefs in Sagone to-day.

Pule then interpreted the king's wish, and asked his people to give him a bunch of bananas of the pata species, which is full of freckles, and has thin edges. Malietoa was surprised, and expressed wish after wish in the same manner, but in every instance he received what he had in mind. He sent for this young man and asked his name. - 138 When he was told it was Pule he said: “It is a very appropriate name; you shall now be called Pule-le-iite, or Pule-the-Teller-of-Secrets. He also invited Pule to visit him in Upolu, but before Malietoa left he told the people of Sagone that the real object of his visit was to find a toe o Sagone or Remnant of Sagone. Pule again interpreted this to mean that he wanted a piece of the famous turtle shell. They told him there was none left; in fact, none was known to their generation. The king stated that it was only a short while since the reflection disappeared from over Sagone, so they must know of a piece. Pule-le-iite led them to the cave, and asked his people to cut the big tree standing at the mouth, when the rainbow again appeared in the sky and the famous shell came to view. Malietoa returned home satisfied to wait the arrival of his young friend Pule-le-iite.

In due course Pule arrived off Faleula just at the break of day, when the beach for a mile around was taboo for an hour during the king's convenience. Pule landed at the sacred hour and said: “I hear thunder, the sure sign of the great king who lives on the best.” Malietoa was greatly incensed at the disturbance, but when he saw it was Pule-le-ii-te the decree which was issued to kill the whole of the sea scouts 5 was withheld.

The usual kava ceremony and speeches took place, after which Malietoa asked Pule to express a desire for anything up to half the kingdom. Pule replied that he was just a simple nobody and could not appreciate kingly tribute; all he wanted was a Tula o si a'u lupe, or Stand-for-my-dove.

One of the chief sports among the Samoans was the faalele-lupe, or Flying-the-pigeon. Pigeons were caught in snares, and the best were tamed by the chiefs for this game. When not flying, the pigeon was tied on to a small wooden stand which was stuck into the thatch inside the house, and on which the pigeon perched. These little stands were very artistically made at times. Malietoa ordered the whole district to bring in the best stands that could be found, the most valuable hardwood in the sacred bush to be cut down for the purpose. Tula of every hue and colour, size and weight, were brought in, until the house was full, and Pule asked what they were for. When he was told that they - 139 were to satisfy his craving for a stand for his dove, he laughed aloud and said: “Surely His Highness does not think that a commoner like me would dare go in for such kingly sport? Cannot even he guess my one simple wish, made at his command? I want a wife, not a piece of wood.” His desire was gratified, but not in the same numbers as the tula.

Pule-le-iite is often quoted in Samoan speeches, and most of the expressions used by him are often quoted by many who have not taken the trouble to ascertain their origin.


Futi of Fiji took Sao a Samoan to wife, and had issue one Sina, a girl. Sina accepted Lauifia of Safotu, and bore him Mausautele, who became chief of Paia, an inland village behind Safotu. Mausautele took Sina-alalotava, daughter of Sooalo of Samauga to wife, and had issue Taumatamu. Taumatamu to Muolepuso 6 of Sili, and had issue a son. Taumatamu existed just 19 generations back, or about 550 years ago. Taumatamu was on a malaga (expedition) to Upolu from Savai'i, and having had a rough passage across the strait, called at a spot near Mulifanua for a rest and refreshments. Muolepuso, the wife of Taumatamu, left her child under a tree while she served her lord and master with food. A party of Tongans, who were preparing to sail for Tonga from about the same place, thinking Taumatamu an enemy, rushed him and his party, who made hurriedly for their boats and pulled off. When they were well away they discovered that the little fellow had been left behind, but it was too late for them to return, the Tongans occupying the place where the child was. The large banyan tree about two miles west of Mulifanua marks the spot where this event happened, and received its present name Fatuosofia from the same occasion. Fatu means a “seed” or “rock” and osofia means “to be rushed at.” On that rock Taumatamu's party were rushed at. Shortly after the Savai'i party left, rain began to fall in torrents, and delayed the Tongan party from sailing.

When the little fellow was awakened by the rain he saw the strangers, so he crawled quietly away toward the east - 140 and built himself a cover from the rain. Having no other material he used flat coral, and that place is called Falepuga, or House-of-coral, to-day.

The Tongans ultimately found the boy, and called him Samoanagalo, or The-forgotten-Samoan. They took him along to Tonga and handed him over to Tuitoga, the king, or high chief of Tonga. Samoanagalo was a well-favoured lad, and Tuitoga became very fond of him, and released him from bondage, when he became one of the family. The daughter of Tuitoga, Fitimaupologa, fell in love with Samoanagalo, and this compelled the Samoan to hurry away from the palace. He found a cave and hid there. The day after he took up his residence in the cave he discovered that he was not alone. There was another refugee there whose name was Lesa, who had been there since childhood. He had had no contact with other human beings for so long that he had almost forgotten how to speak, and was hairy as an ape. The boy, however, told him his trouble, only to learn that Lesa was in hiding for a similar offence. The old fellow took to the boy and became like a father to him. They were not together many months when the news reached them that Fitimaupologa had given birth to a son, and Samoanagalo knew he was the father. He thereupon decided to steal the girl and her child and take them with him to Samoa. He sought the assistance of his old friend, who reluctantly agreed, as he had become very fond of the young man and did not want to part with him. At that time some pigs had found their way to Tonga from Fiji and were doing very well. Tuitoga had issued a decree that visitors from overseas were to be given all the pork they could eat, but on no account might they be allowed to carry any live pigs away from Tonga to other parts.

Now though Lesa was in hiding from the wrath of Tuitoga, his misdemeanour had long since been forgotten, and he was looked upon as a man of some supernatural powers. He insisted on living in seclusion in the cave, and as he hardly ever spoke to anyone, he was known as Lesanalala, or Lesa-the-Silent.

Lesa called the young man to him and said: “We shall prepare a suitable vessel to carry you to Samoa. It must be decked to prevent the seas from breaking in, and must have compartments to hold the different things which I shall want you to take along. When all is ready and the - 141 merchandise and stores placed on board, I shall bring Fitimaupologa and her child. You will then set sail at once. You will be pursued, but I shall send a few of my trusty retainers along with you to help you. When you meet heavy weather heave to, never mind how near your pursuers may be; do not run any risk of capsizing. You will kill two pigs and many fowls and load them in one of the compartments. Take one live boar and two sows and put them into another compartment, but do not cover that with an airtight lid but with lavai leaves so the pigs may not succumb to suffocation. As soon as you are well out to sea you will remove the lavai leaves and let the pigs run on deck. See that sufficient water is carried and comfortable quarters are provided for your wife and son, to prove that you are well enough bred even for the daughter of Tuitoga. Your son you will call Lesanalala after me.”

In due time, the vessel was complete, and with Fitimaupologa, her son, and full equipment, they set sail leaving old Lesa a broken-hearted man; for he missed Samoanagalo very much. Samoanagalo himself became known as Lesanalala, and his escape with the princess and live pigs was soon discovered. Tuitoga sent his son Latuivai after the runaway party, and the chase became very hot. Lesanalala closely followed his old friend's counsel, and when the wind became gusty he hove to while Latuivai, determined to catch the pursued, took no caution, and son his boat turned over. From this chase originated three quotations often used by Samoan orators in their speeches even now. They are: Ua uli to le vaa o Latuivai, meaning “Latuivai steered straight and came to grief,” now used in reference to a head-strong person; and Uli ma sao le va'a o Lesanalala, meaning “Lesanalala hove to in deference to the wind,” now compared with a person who will listen to reason. The third is the one that refers to the live pigs, Natiai fatualavai ae lafoia i fogavaa lelei, meaning “that which was hidden under lavai leaves is now allowed to run free on open deck,”and is used when effecting a reconciliation, the parties being asked in these words to bring all their hidden grievances to the open deck, so that matters may be arranged, and their minds may be free to recognise the better points of each other.

Lesanalala landed near Safata on the south coast of this island, and while having their first bowl ofkava followed by - 142 a meal of pork, a Safata chief named Fuga fell in with them. They hailed him with the word mauava, meaning “just in time to sharekava or food with us, welcome.” The second and third day Fuga visited them just at the psychological moment, and the same greetings were exchanged. Lesanalala ultimately settled in Safata, and that remains the surname of one of the leading families there to-day. Fuga gave his son the name of Mauava, derived from the greeting used to him when he fell in with the visitors; Fuga and Mauava are two of the leading tulafale names of Safata to-day. The term mauava is used to anyone arriving in a place where kava is being served, and such newcomer is served with his bowl immediately regardless of his rank or standing. The boar and two sows were landed and founded the first breed of pigs raised in Samoa.

[Inserted for comparison with the version in the foregoing paper.]

In Matafagatele lived a married couple whose names were Pai and Pai. Their child was a girl named Sina. Sina found a tiny young eel, which she placed in a cocoanut shell and there brought it up. When the eel grew, she took a kava-bowl and fed it in that. When the kava-bowl was full, owing to the eel growing bigger, she put it in a spring inland from Moata'a (a neighbouring village to Matafagatele). When the well was full owing to the continued growth of the fish, Sina placed it in another spring in the neighbourhood. That spring was filled, and Sina placed the fish in yet another. When this spring was full Sina placed the fish in a spring called Puna tele (the big spring). As the fish was big, so also the spring was big. On the bank grew a beautiful tree. The fruit of the tree was called pua. Sina plucked the fruit from the tree and threw it into the water. Then Sina went and swam in the water below the tree and gathered the floating fruit together. The eel struck Sina and pierced her with its caudal fin. Sina - 143 was very angry with her fish, and in displeasure went to Savaii. However, the fish followed Sina. Sina made the round of the various districts of Savaii, the fish continually following her. Sina fled to her family in Upolu, and to Upolu also came the eel. He reached the part in from the coast as the sun was in the west. He threw his shadow toward the east, and the part lying seawards of Magiagi was, therefore, called Laloata (under the shadow), since it was under the shadow of the eel that was cast toward the east.

Then the people of Fuata (the collective name of the chiefs of the district of which Matafagatele village forms part) arranged a fono for the purpose of killing the eel. Some were sent to gather the poisonous leaves of the lalago tree. The leaves were broken and bruised in a kava-bowl and mixed with water. When the fish saw that it was intended to give him a poisonous drink in order that he might die, he expressed to Sina his last wish as follows:— “I know that they intend to bring me poisoned drink, therefore, O Sina, if you love me, ask my head as your share (on the cutting up of the dead eel with the object of eating it) plant it by a Tonga stone wall, and it will become a cocoanut palm for you. O Sina, you will have leaves for the weaving of mats and fans, with which to ensnare the trade wind and therewith repay my love.” Thereon the fish drank the poisoned drink and died. But of Sina, because she had been pierced by the fish, the following song was sung:—

Girl Sina, daughter of Pai,
Pua-fruit has thou plucked and cast it in the water,
Swimming thou hast gathered it
And with the tail of the eel art ravished.

O le tupuga o niu o Samoa uma. O le ulagalii o Pai ma Pai i Matafagatele o lo la tama o le teine o lona igoa o Sina ua maua o Sina o se tama'i tuga laitiiti lava ona avane lea e ia o le tuga ma ua fafaga i totonu o le ipu ua tele le tuga ona avane lea e ia ua fafaga i le tanoa ina ua tele o le i'a ona avanae lea e ia i le tasi puga vai e i gauta o Moataa (tuaoi i Matafagatele) ua tumu lea puna i le i'a ina ua tele ona ave lea e Sina i le tasi puga la te tuaoi ua tumu lea puna ua toe ave le ia e Sina i le tasi puna ua tumu lea puna ona ave ai lea e Sina o le i'a le tasi puna o lona igoa o - 144 Punatele ina ua tele lava o le i'a o lena vai foi o Punatele ua tu ai i ona luga le tasi laau matagofie o ona fua o lona igoa o le Pua ona alu atu lea o Sina ma toli mai fua o le laau ma togi i le vai ona alu ifo lea o Sina ua aau i le vai ma tufi mai ana pua ona ta ane lea o le apeoai o le tuga ona faiaiga ai lea o Sina e le apeoai ona ita ai lea o Sina i lana i'a ona teva ai lea o Sina i Savaii ona mulimuli atu lea o le i'a ia Sina ua faataamilo Sina i isi itu o Savaii a ua mulimuli atu pea lana i'a ia te ia ona toe sola mai lea o Sina i Upolu i lona aiga ona toe sau foi lea o le i'a i Upolu e oo mai i gauta ua tau gagaifo le la ona lafoia atu lea o le ata o le i'a i gaga'e ona igoa ai lea o le tasi fasi eleele i gatai o Magiagi o Laloata aua o lalo o te ata o le i'a ina ua lafoia atu i gaga'e ona fai ai lea o le fono a Fuata (o le igoa lea o alii ma faipule o Matafagatele uma) e fasi ia o le i'a ona o ai lea o tagata e ao mai le lau laau o lona igoa o le Lalago o le laau lea e oona ona aumai lea o le laau ua tu'i i malu ona palu ai lea i le tanoa ua vaai atu le i'a o le a aumai le mea oona na te inuina e pe ai ona fai ai lea o mavaegaa le i'a ia Sina ua faapea atu: ua ou iloa o le a aumai le mea oona ou te inu ai o lenei, Sina e, a ai sou alofa lou tufaaga o lo'u fofoga e te totoina i se pa toga e tutupu ai ni niu moona lau e lalaga a'i o ni tapa'au ma ni ilitea tali toelau e tali a'i alofa ia te a'u ona inu lea o le i'a o le vai ona mate ai lea o ia ona fai ai lea o le pese a Sina ina ua faiaiga o ia e lana i'a e faapea

Soufuna Sina le tama a Pai
Toli au pua ma lafo i le vai
Sa e tufi auau ai
Faiaiga e le apeoai.

The foregoing is the Samoan version as given by Stuebel; the following revision is by O. F. Nelson.


Ole ulugalii sa i Matafagatele o Pai ma Pai. Ona fanau lea o si a la tama ole teine, ua faaigoa ia Sina. Ua maua e Sina o si tama'i tuna laitiiti lava, ona ave ane lea e ia ua fafaga ile ipu; ua tele le tuna ona ave ane lea ua fafaga ile tanoa. Ua atili tele le i'a ona ave ane lea ua tuu ile tasi puna-vai e i gauta o Moataa (tuaoi ma Matafagatele). Ua tumu le puna-vai ile i'a ina ua tele ona si's atu lea ua tuu - 145 ile isi puna; tumu lena puna, toe sii atu ile isi puna. Ua tumu le puna lena ona ave atu lea e Sina ole i'a ua tuu ile puna ua igoa ole Punatele ina lapo'a lava ole i'a. O lena vai ole Punatele sa tu ai i lona autafa ole tasi laau e matagofie ona fua; ole igoa o le la'au ole pua. Ona alu atu lea o Sina ua toli mai fua ole la'au ua togi i le vai. Ona alu ifo lea o Sina ua aau ile vai ma tufi mai ana pua, ona ta ane lea ole apeoai ole tuna ona faiaiga lea o Sina ele apeoai, ona ita ai lea o Sina i lana i'a. Ua teva Sina i Savaii ae mulimuli atu le i'a ia Sina. Ua faataamilo Sina i isi itu o Savaii ae ua mulimuli atu pea lava le i'a ia te ia, ona toe sola mai lea o Sina i Upolu i lona aiga, ona toe sau foi lea ole i'a i Upolu. Ua oo mai i gauta ua tau gagaifo le la, ona lafoia atu lea ole ata ole i'a i gaga'e, ona igoa ai lea ole fasi eleele i gatai o Magiagi o Laloata, aua o lalo ole ata ole i'a ina ua lafoia atu i gaga'e. Ona fai ai lea ole fono a Fuata (o le igoa lea o alii ma faipule o Matafagatele), ole i'uga o le fono ole a fasi le i'a. Ona o ai lea o tagata ua ao mai le lau laau o lona igoa o le Lalago, ole laau o'ona. Ona aumai lea o lau ole laau ua tu'i malu ona palu ai lea ile tanoa, ae vaai atu le i'a ole a aumai le mea o'ona nate inuina ina ia pe ai, ona fai lea o mavaega a le i'a ia Sina ua faapea:—“Sina e, a iai ni ou alofa, lou tufaaga lo'u fofoga, ia e toina i se pa toga, e tutupu ai ni niu, ma ona lau e lalaga ai o ni tapaau ma ni ili tea tali toelau e tali a'i alofa ia te a'u.” Ona inu lea ole i'a ole vai ona mate ai lea o ia.

Ole pese a Sina na fai ina ua faiaiga o ia e lana i'a e faapea:—

Sau funa Sina le tama a Pai,
Toli au pua ma lafo ile vai,
Sa e tufi auau ai,
Faiaiga ele apeoai.
1   A matai is the head of a family, and the term includes both alii (ariki) and tuafala, commonly styled chiefs,
2   See the fine chants, Journal of the Polynesian Society, Vol. 1, p. 39, and Vol. 3, p. 91.
3   See also Gill, Myths and Songs from the South Pacific, p. 77; Journal of the Polynesian Society, Vol. 21, p. 127, and Vol. 24, p. 155; Best, The Maori, Vol. 1, pp. 140-141. See also Samoan text and translation from Stuebel, Samoanische Texte, 1896, appended hereto.
4   Singles and doubles—tautasi and taulua—refers to the two types of vessels used for holding fresh water. The shell of a single very large cocoanut is used especially by one of rank; those of lesser rank use a pair of smaller nuts tied together—a double.
5   The special guards who held the beach during the king's convenience were referred to as the sea-scouts
6   “Taumatamu to Muolepuso” is the customary contraction of “Taumatamu took Muolepuso to wife.”