Volume 41 1932 > Volume 41, No. 164 > The social organization of Banaba or Ocean Island, Central Pacific, by H. C. & H. E. Maude, p 262-301
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BANABA or, to give it its European name, Ocean Island, is an elevated coral peak about three miles long by two and a half miles wide situated in latitude 0.53 south and longitude 169.35 east. The island is about six miles in circumference and is completely surrounded by a coral shelf, about 100 yards in width, from which it rises to a height, in the centre, of 270 feet.

Except for the occasional visits of whalers and a few trading schooners, there was but little contact with Europeans before the discovery of phosphate in 1900, 1 though a number of deserters from whaling ships lived as beach-combers among the natives. As far back as the 'seventies, however, five black-birding ships visited the island and, finding the islanders in the throes of a severe drought and consequent famine, transported between 1, 000 and 1, 500 of them to Honolulu and Tahiti. This terrible famine, resulting in an enormous reduction in the population of the island through deaths and migration, had the effect of severely dislocating the social organization of the Banabans and caused many customs to decay even before the coming of the Europeans employed in the phosphate industry.

Christianity was brought to the island in 1885 by a native of Tabiteuea in the Gilbert group and the islanders were gradually converted, though even to-day a few professing pagans may still be found among the older generation. As the discovery of phosphate made the island of great value to the Empire a Protectorate was proclaimed over it by Great Britain in November, 1900.

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FIG. 1.
Banaba from the south, showing the Tabiang, Toakira and Uma coast.

- ii Page is blank.

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The islanders, as will be seen later, are identical with the inhabitants of the neighbouring Gilbert group and are usually referred to as Micronesians, being an off-shoot of the Malayo-Polynesian race. They speak the Gilbertese language, but with a distinct local accent and with the addition of a considerable number of words not used in the Gilbert Islands. From a count of old village and dwelling sites, it is calculated that the population of the island before the famine was in the neighbourhood of 2, 500, an estimate which is agreed to by the Old Men. By 1914 the population had sunk to little over 400, but since that year there has been a steady increase, the 1931 Census giving a total of 729.

In the following pages an attempt is made to describe certain of the more important aspects of the Banaban social organization. Several subjects, among them being the system of relationship, have been omitted, although they fall logically within the scope of this article, as they are being dealt with elsewhere. For almost the whole of the material on which the Historical Reconstruction is based, and for his valuable help and advice throughout our stay on Banaba, we are indebted to Mr. A. F. Grimble, C.M.G., whose unrivalled knowledge of the Gilbertese, gained during seventeen years of work among them, enables him to speak with unquestioned authority on all phases of their life.


According to local myth the original inhabitants of Banaba were Melanesian in type. They are described as being small-bodied, squat, crinkly-haired, large-eared and black-skinned, and were skilful in sorcery. Their gods were the Spider (Na Areau) and the Turtle (Tabakea) and they were apparently associated with a fire-cult. They are reported to have been cannibals.

These autochthones appear to have been of the same race as the earliest inhabitants of the Gilbert group, for on nearly every island from Makin to Butaritari may be heard legends referring to the small, black, ugly folk who worshipped Na Areau and who were absorbed or killed off by the invaders. Christian records a similar tradition - 264 on Ponape, where the earlier inhabitants are described as being little dwarfish folk, dark-skinned and flat-nosed. 2

The next invaders of Banaba were tall, fair-skinned people who, according to the evidence shortly to be published by Mr. Grimble, came in a migrating swarm from Gilolo and its neighbouring islands in the East Indies and overran the Gilbert group. 3 A portion of this host, whose ancestor was Auriaria, landed on Banaba and succeeded in overcoming the inhabitants, “casting them into the sea,” though they had a wholesome fear of their sorcery. In the words of a local myth, “they overturned Banaba, and imprisoned Tabakea the Turtle under the land, where he lies to this day.”

However, it would appear from local tradition that not all of the black folk were killed, for a remnant appear to have been driven to the central plateau of the island, where they reappear later as the people of Tairua who fought with, and were beaten by, Na Kamta, 4 a chief of Tabwewa. Indeed there is evidence suggesting that they have, to some extent, kept their separate identity to this day and that they are none other than the people of Mangati—the fierce people—who form the division of Te Karieta or the Upland folk, one of the two sections into which the Tabwewa village district is divided. Until a few years ago the people of Mangati lived on the uplands above the present village of Tabwewa and in their territory may still be seen the cairns of rough stones which local tradition states to have been connected with the fire-worship of the autochthones. 5

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The invaders, who came without women of their own race, took their wives from among the earlier inhabitants and produced the hybrid Banaban type of to-day; however, the majority of them did not stay on Banaba long, but together with their relatives in the Gilberts they passed down the chain of atolls comprising the Gilbert and Ellice groups until they reached Samoa, where they formed part of the famous invasion of the Tonga-fiti folk. Another legend records how Samoa was first discovered by Banabans, who called it “Tamoa to Ingoa” or Samoa the Namesake, owing to its resemblance to the portion of Banaba lying below Tabwewa village, and known as Tamoa. 6

The remnant left on Banaba settled down in their new surroundings and at length came to connect themselves so intimately with their new homes that in their creation-myth they made Banaba “the first of all lands, the navel of the universe and the home of the first ancestors.” 7 However, intercourse was kept up with the Gilberts and especially with the island of Beru and a member of the chief's family tracing his descent from Auriaria sailed to Beru and married there a woman named Nei Angi-ni-maeao (Wind of the West) who, according to Banaban tradition was actually the descendant of a senior branch of the Auriaria family who had migrated to Samoa and had been driven back along the old track to the Gilberts, together with the rest of the Tonga-fiti host.

Whether this tradition is true or not, Nei Angi-ni-maeao came with her husband to Banaba, bringing with her a great many of her Beru relations led by Na Kouteba her brother, Na Mani-ni-mate, and Nei Te-borata. They apparently came at the invitation of the Banabans, who were few in number and anxious to increase the population of the island, but in any case the new-corners proceeded to partition the island in an arbitrary manner, and the older inhabitants, quite over-awed, returned to their settlement on the flat sea-coast land below Tabwewa.

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This partition of Banaba made by Nei Angi-ni-maeao is of great importance, as the boundaries of the five village districts thus fixed stand unaltered to this day. An account of the partition, as obtained by Mr. Grimble from Nei Beteua, a direct descendant of Nei Angi-ni-maeao, is given in Appendix 2.

The result of the partition of Nei Angi-ni-maeao was to divide up Banaba as follows:

  • 1. Na Kouteba and his followers took the north and east foreshores, forming the village district of Te Aonoanne.
  • 2. Na Mani-ni-mate and his followers took the southeast foreshores, forming the village district of Uma.
  • 3. Nei Te-borata and her followers took the south foreshores, forming the village district of Toakira. 8
  • 4. Nei Angi-ni-maeao and her followers took the southwest foreshores, forming the village district of Tabiang.
  • 5. The former inhabitants retained the west and northwest foreshores, forming the village district of Tabwewa.

The boundaries of each village district ran back from the measured foreshore toward the centre of the island until they met the boundaries coming in from the opposite coast. 9

The genealogies of the chiefs of Tabwewa and Toakira are given in Appendix 3 and 4. Comparing these with the genealogies of the chiefs of the other three districts shows that the migration from Beru to Banaba took place about eleven generations ago, and from that time until the coming of the Europeans the history of the island has - 267 been uneventful. 10 The Beruans brought but few women with them and were thus compelled to marry the woman of the Bu-n Anti (the breed of Spirits), as the descendants of Auriaria were called. Na Kouteba himself married one of the Tabwewans who, as will be seen later, retained many rights and privileges over the rest of the island. Continual intermarriage between the two divisions of Tabwewa and the people of the other four districts has long ago obliterated any differences which may once have existed in their physical characteristics. Intercourse too was kept up with the Gilbert group, though the island suffered from no subsequent invasion and, together with Makin and Butaritari in the Gilberts, escaped the domination of Tanentoa of Beru and the troubles caused by the wars of Kaitu and Uakeia, facts which add to the importance of the study of its system of social organization.


In describing the Social Organization of the Banabans we have thought it advisable to proceed from the smaller units toward the larger, and the subject will be dealt with under the following four heads:

  • 1. The Household.
  • 2. The Hamlet or kawa.
  • 3. The Village District.
  • 4. The Overlordship of Tabwewa.

1. The Household—As a general rule each family in a hamlet would occupy a separate sleeping house or mwenga, the Banaban family consisting of a man, his wife or wives and their children. Besides a man's real children, he would often adopt someone else's child as nati (son or daughter). This child would live with his or her adoptive - 268 parent in exactly the same way as the natural issue of the family. We have dealt with the custom of Adoption more fully elsewhere, 11 but since writing that article it has become apparent that adoption as a tibu (or grandchild) is extremely rare on Banaba and is, in all probability, a recent importation from the Gilbert Islands. The family was patrilineal and usually patrilocal, though cases in which a man went to live in his wife's hamlet are not unknown. Although there was theoretically no limit to the number of wives a man could have, in actual practice it was unusual to have more than one.

A daughter would live with her parents until her marriage, which would normally take place soon after she reached puberty. A son would live in his parent's house until the time came for him to be initiated into manhood, which was soon after the appearance of his axillary and pectoral hairs. From this time onwards, until he became a roro-buaka (warrior) and could marry, he would spend a considerable portion of his time in the uma-n roronga (young men's house) or on the terraces of his village district, where the old men of his utu (kindred) would instruct him in the kouti magic and in his family traditions. He would, however, continue to regard his father's house as home until he married and set up a house of his own. 12 An elderly couple, after they had partitioned their lands, would usually live with each of their children in turn, who would look after them until their death.

The mwenga (sleeping-house) in its typical form was known as a bata and consisted of a rectangular roof of pandanus-thatch supported well above the ground on four posts and containing a loft entered by a trap-door. In this loft the family kept their valuables, more or less secure from the attacks of their enemies. Besides the bata a family would also possess a small, open-sided, thatched shed forming a roof over the umum or cooking oven and a storeroom - 269 room for miscellaneous objects which were not likely to be stolen. Most families would also have an uma-n teinako, a small house where the women of the family could be separated when menstruating. 13 The family would also own a canoe-shed on one of the terraces belonging to its village group.

2. The kawa (hamlet)—The Banaban hamlet was a cluster of four or five, sometimes more, homesteads, situated somewhere on the land bearing the same name as the hamlet itself. The male inhabitants of each hamlet were all, theoretically at any rate, descended from a common ancestor and were considered to all belong to the same utu (kindred). However, although the members called each other brother, sister, etc., the kawa were not exogamous groups and, provided that they were not te utu ae kan or near kindred, and thus within the prohibited degrees, members of the same hamlet could marry each other at will. 14 Each hamlet had a unimane (old man) who was the eldest descendant, in the male line, of the founder, and was consulted in all affairs affecting the hamlet as a whole. His also was the privilege of being spokesman for the group in ceremonial dealings with outsiders.

Our informants were clear on the point that formerly the inhabitants of a hamlet owned all the land around it, but through the marriage of the women of the kawa to outsiders much of the land has come, as the years have passed, to be owned by people who actually reside in other kawa and often in other village districts. For example, we doubt if more than half of the land block known as Aurakeia, and owned originally by the members of the kawa of Aurakeia, actually belongs to them to-day. The owners of the other half are, in all probability, scattered all over the island. This, of course, is counterbalanced by the fact - 270 that the people of Aurakeia own much land in other land blocks. If, however, a woman married and went to reside outside her kawa she would still consider herself a member of it and would be bound, if called upon, to assist the inhabitants in such matters as preparing food for a ceremonial feast. Her children, however, would definitely consider themselves as members of their father's hamlet.

In the ceremonies attendant upon births, marriages, and deaths, as well as in the important matter of ceremonial feasts, the hamlet acted as a unit. To give an example, should the hamlet of Aobike, as a whole, or any member of it, wish to give a feast in the uma-n anti, word would be sent round and those related to Aobike would come from all over the island to bring food and assist generally; conversely should a feast be given by any other group in honour of a kawa member all his kawa relations would assist in eating it. Ceremonial presents given to a hamlet were divided up amongst its members.

Each hamlet had its own boti or sitting-place in the uma-n anti and maneaba of its village district and the descendants of that hamlet had the right of sitting in their boti irrespective of where they were actually living at the time. In all the various ceremonies, feasts, and activities of the village district as a whole, such as the thatching of the uma-n anti or the welcoming of a stranger, each hamlet had its rights and privileges which were jealously guarded in the old days and are even valued to some extent by the present generation of mission trained youths. For example, in the ceremony mentioned above of te kairua or the welcoming of a stranger, which was last performed on the High Chief of Tarawa Island in the Gilberts, one hamlet (or perhaps two or more jointly) would have the duty of calling the man to the maneaba, one would tie on his wreath of flowers, one would anoint him with oil, one would see to his food, one would keep him engaged in conversation, and so forth.

Here then, in the hamlet, we see a striking difference between the social organization of the Banabans and that of the neighbouring Gilbertese. The hamlet is the central pivot of the Banaban social structure and a Banaban, when - 271 he tells one that he is kai-n Eta-ni Banaba or kai-ni Mangati 15 has told one the most important single factor regulating his social life, for on it depends the locality of his home and his lands, the maneaba in which he will have a right to sit and the uma-n anti in which he will make his food offerings to the gods, the terrace where his son will learn the mysteries of magic, his position in the dance and in all ceremonies, and numberless other things.

In the Gilberts, on the other hand, the hamlet is comparatively unimportant, the supreme factor in social organization being the clan. Now a comparison between the Gilbertese clan and the Banaban kawa will show them to be two similar but distinct social groupings. Both are patrilineal and both determine the sitting place in the maneaba, but here the resemblance ends, as the kawa is essentially a geographical unit and the Gilbertese clan is certainly not, members of the same clan being found scattered over all the sixteen islands of the group. Again, the Gilbertese clan is an exogamous unit while no evidence has ever been obtained suggesting that the kawa is, or was at any time, exogamous.

The only reason which we have found to account for this difference between the Gilbertese and Banaban social structures is as follows. The old inhabitants of the Tabwewa village district, with the possible exception of the people of Mangati, were all descended from a common ancestor, Auriaria, and were consequently all members of the same or allied clans; the later arrivals from Beru, again, are known to have been all, or nearly all, members of a clan claiming descent from Nei Tituaabine and having as their clan totem a sting-ray known as te kerentari or te baimanu. They also considered themselves to be, in some way, related to the Tabwewans. Consequently where all were members of one, or at the most two clans, the clan unit would rapidly cease to be of any importance whatever. When therefore Banaba was partitioned by Nei Angi-ni-maeao and her fellow voyagers, each family built their home on a suitable site within the boundaries of the land apportioned to them - 272 and their descendants would naturally tend to build their houses in the same place, thus forming the typical Banaban hamlet. In the maneaba and the uma-n anti members of the same kawa would sit in the place where their ancestor had sat and act as a unit in ceremonies and functions of all kinds, and thus the hamlet would take much the same place in their social organization that, in the Gilberts, had been occupied by the clan.

3. The Village District—We have seen above how the five village districts of Tabwewa, Tabiang, Toakira, Te Aonoanne, and Uma came to be formed as a result of Nei Angi-ni-maeao's partition. Each district formed a very definite group under a chief and, with unimportant exceptions, owned in common:

  • 1. A main maneaba in the interior;
  • 2. Subsidiary maneabas, for kouti devotees, on the terraces;
  • 3. An uma-n anti;
  • 4. Terraces and kouti sites;

and, through the hamlets of which it was composed, owning:

  • 1. Lands;
  • 2. Bangabonga, “water caves.”

As a unit or through its hamlets the village district was organized for war, work, games and feasting.

The village districts often, though not invariably, contained in addition an uma-n roronga (young men's house). These were club-houses for the unmarried men similar to the bai of the Carolines and elsewhere, but they had nothing like the same importance in the social structure, probably owing to the terraces usurping so many of their functions.

The village districts varied in size and in the number of their component hamlets, a list of which is given in Appendix 5. According to the list, which as far as we could ascertain was complete, Tabwewa is seen to have eighteen kawa of which the Karia section had eight and the Karieta folk seven, three being mixed Karia and Karieta. - 273 Tabiang had twenty-three hamlets, Te Aonoanne thirteen, Toakira ten, and Uma twenty-three. A further basis of comparison, though inexact for the reasons mentioned above, is furnished by the number of lands owned by the inhabitants of each district, obtained by the Native Lands Commission which has recently sat on the island. This shows that 695 pieces of land are owned by people living in the Tabwewa village district, 291 by Tabiang, 650 by Uma, and 843 by the village of Buakonikai, formed by the recent fusion of Te Aonoanne and Toakira. We shall deal shortly with each of the main attributes of the village district, commencing with its head, the Chief.

(a) The Chief—The chief had definite but limited powers. For example, in any major communal activity, such as the building of a maneaba or the preparation for a season's communal games, the chief's opinion would have considerable weight in deciding what was to be done and when to start, but the people and not he would apportion the shares to be undertaken by each hamlet or individual. When the question to be decided affected one village group alone, such as the date for a feast or the punishment of a wrong-doer, the chief of that village would call, and preside over, a meeting of the inhabitants of the village group. The chief would outline the problem to the people, after which a general discussion would take place, and any final decision reached would be based on the opinion of the majority.

Should there be much sour-toddy drinking or other trouble affecting the island as a whole the chief of Tabwewa would call a meeting of all island chiefs and land-owners to decide on the steps which should be taken to stop it. The village chief had the right of speaking first in the maneaba.

Succession to the chiefship passes to the eldest child, either male or female, but should the eldest child be a female, the nearest male descendant or relative will perform the functions of the chiefship until the daughter has a son who can do the work. The daughter will be called chiefess until her death, when her son will take over the title as well as the duties of the office, the Banabans considering - 274 that these duties are such that they cannot be performed by a female. The following genealogy will illustrate this point:

Family Tree. Na Rere-n to maraki=Nei Tutangau (of Tarawa), Towa-n Uea, Tabo-n Aba, Kamaraia (Chief of Te Aonoanne), Nei Tiara-n Uea (Chiefess of Te Aonoanne), Nan Tabau (Chief of Te Aonoanne), Na Kaierua, Na Raobeia, Teaikoriri (no issue), Nei Tarabwebweniti, (female issue), Tokaibure, 2 daughters, Nangi-ni karawa, Na Bauro (acted as chief of Te Aonoanne until Nan Tabau's majority), Nei Teboaki, 3 sons

When Nei Tiara-n Uea was chiefess Na Bauro, the male grandchild of her great grandfather's eldest brother, performed the work until her son Nan Tabau came of age, when he took over the duties of office.

An adopted child could become chief in exactly the same manner as an individual's natural issue, as is shown in the genealogy below:

Family Tree. Na Buti-n toa=Kabuta, Nan Tetoku, (Chief of Uma), Te Aroua* (Chief of Uma), Marebu, Nei Kabuabai=Kamaraia (Chief of Te Aonoanne, Nei Tiara-n Uea (Chiefess of Te Aonoanne), Nan Tabau (Chief of Te Aonoanne), Na Kaierua, Na Raobeia* (Chief of Uma)

Here Na Raobeia, the youngest son of Nei Tiara-n Uea, was adopted as a nati by his great grandfather's grandson Te Aroua, the chief of Uma. On Te Aroua's death he - 275 succeeded to the chiefship and is the present holder of the office.

(b) Maneabas—The maneaba, or communal meetinghouse, was the focal centre of the secular life of the village district. Here were held the meetings of the old men and the discussions on all matters affecting the village group as a unit and here the neighbourhood would naturally gravitate at the end of the day's work, for games, dances and gossip. While the edifice was regarded with some degree of veneration, being forbidden to noisy bands of children, it had nothing like the degree of sanctity which attached itself to the uma-n anti. A maneaba is best described as a high rectangular roof of pandanus thatch supported on large stone pillars, the shingle floor being covered with coconut-leaf mats, on which the people sit. To those accustomed to the large maneabas of the Gilbert Islands the smallness of the Banaban counterparts comes as a surprise, but they are adequate for the needs of the small village units.

Besides the main maneaba, which was built away from the sea-coast, each village had its subsidiary maneabas situated on the terraces belonging to the group. These were used by people temporarily residing at the terraces for one or more of the purposes to be mentioned later. The following list comprises the, main maneabas of the various village districts:

  • 1. Tabwewa had formerly a maneaba which stood at Kaimatua (at the bottom of the present village and to the west of the railway). Later this was demolished and the present maneaba called Tawanang was built. These maneabas were used by both Te Karia and Te Karieta.
  • 2. The Uma maneaba was called Te Toka-ni Mane or Nariakaina.
  • 3. The Te Aonoanne maneaba was called Takamoi. This was recently removed from its old site in the hamlet of Te Maeka-n Anti, by the Wireless Station, and placed in Buakonikai village (see fig. 2).
  • 4. The Toakira maneaba called Te Toa. This no longer exists.
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  • 5. The Tabiang people, being few in number, had no proper maneaba, but used one or other of two large houses known as Te Nikora and Te Burabura. Recently, however, they have built a maneaba in the middle of their present village.

(c) Uma-n Anti—In structure the uma-n anti 16 were exactly the same as the maneabas but they held perhaps an even more important place in the life of the people, being used for magic and ceremonial purposes. They might be described as large communal eating-houses in which everyone had their boti or sitting-place. All ceremonial feasts took place inside the uma-n anti and here the food offerings were made to the various ancestral Gods. These offerings were collected from the kawa and put together in one place outside the building. The following is a short account of a typical function in the uma-n anti. The first-fruits of the coconut, pandanus and wild almond trees belonged, in Uma village, to the kawa directly descended from Na Mani-ni-mate. The first-fruits were collected by the members of these kawa and taken to the uma-n anti, where the hamlet of Te Tarine, 17 who were the head of the uma-n anti, offered them to Nei Tituaabine, from whom the trees were held to have been originally obtained. While the coconut and pandanus cult was, in actual practice, confined to the section of Uma village descended from Na Mani-ni-mate, no one on the island could eat of the fruit of the wild almond tree until they heard that the season had been commenced by the first-fruits being offered to Nei Tituaabine. 18

There were the following uma-n anti on the island:

  • 1. Tabwewa (a) The Te Karia building called Bu-n tiritiri. Both sections used this until the separate Karieta one was built.
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FIG. 2.
The Te Aonoanne maneaba, Takamoi.
FIG. 3.
A typical kai ni katiku for frigate-birds on the terrace of Ao-n to Tarine. (See page 281)
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FIG. 4.
The terrace of Ao-n to Tarine., (The size may be judged from the figure standing on the beach.)
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FIG. 5.
Part of the terrace of Ao-n Ni., Ao-n to Kabeo may be seen in the background.
FIG. 6.
The terrace of Ao-n Neina, showing the stone supports of the old Karieta moneaba Karia Marawa or Te toka ni Baurua. The houses at the back are the Karieta canoe-sheds.
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FIG. 7.
Dancing the karanga at Eta-ni Banaba.
FIG. 8.
Typical Banabans dressed for the karanga dance., (The feathers on the poles represent frigate-birds.)
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  • (b) The Te Karieta building called Te Karawa ititi built by Na Ning, 19 who was made a chief for his efforts. It was used, when first built, as an uma-n roronga for the young men of Te Karieta, but the people of Uma and Tabiang began bringing the stranded porpoises and other fish there 20 and so it became used as an uma-n anti.
  • 2. Tabiang, called Tieraki-n to bong.
  • 3. Uma, called Nei Karibaba. The timbers for this uma-n anti were brought by its builder, Na Mani-ni-mate, from Beru.
  • 4. Toakira had two uma-n anti called Tabera-n nerve and Tokia I-Matang.
  • 5. Te Aonoanne apparently had no uma-n anti but used one or other of those belonging to Toakira.

(d) Boti places in the maneabas and uma-n anti—As in the Gilbert Islands the interior of the Maneabas were divided, either by the oka (roof-beams) of the inaki (rows of pandanus thatch), into boti or group sitting-places. But, whereas in the Gilberts a man's boti depends not on the locality of his dwelling-place and lands but on the sib of which he is a member, on Banaba the boti divisions were essentially hamlet divisions and an individual would sit in the boti of the kawa of which he or she was a member.

The uma-n anti were also divided into boti and, although the old men were not explicit on this point, it would appear that the sitting-places in the maneaba were more or less exactly duplicated in those of the corresponding uma-n anti. But while in the maneaba the people seldom sat in their correct boti except on ceremonial occasions, in the uma-n anti they invariably did, and as a consequence, with the early disappearance of the uma-n anti under Mission influence, the position of the boti places, and even their names, were soon forgotten, and it was only with the greatest difficulty that we were able to reconstruct a fairly comprehensive list of the sitting-places in the old Tabwewa maneaba at Kaimatua and in Bu-n tiritiri, the Karia uma-n anti.

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The boti in the old Tabwewa maneaba were as follows:

  • 1. Kabwara
  • 2. Te Bakoa
  • 3. Karongoa
  • 4. Bukiniwae
  • 5. Nei Tebaobao
  • 6. Baraua
  • 7. Nukuao

In Bu-n tiritiri there were the following sitting-places:

  • 1. Buariki
  • 2. Tanneang
  • 3. Te Koturu
  • 4. Bukiniwae
  • 5. Ria-n I-Matang
  • 6. Te Inaki-ni mane
  • 7. Te Rieta
  • 8. Nukuao
  • 9. Abero
  • 10. Te Inaki-n to Maneaba

Very few of the sitting-places in the other maneabas and uma-n anti were remembered, and in only four cases were we able to establish the exact position of the boti in the building. These four positions are shown on the plan below, as it is possible that further research may reveal more.


Each of the boti places given above belonged to a single kawa or to a group of neighbouring kawa; for example Bukiniwae was the boti of Mangati, and Inaki-n - 279 te Maneaba belonged to the group of hamlets known as Te Maneaba. Many of them—Karongoa, te Bakoa, Buariki, Tanneang—bear the names of well-known Gilbertese clans and one—Bukiniwae—refers to privileges which the hamlet had in the functions centered round the building. 21 The meanings of the others are unknown.

Within the maneaba or uma-n anti each important boti and therefore the principal kawa had their duties and their privileges. For example the main duties connected with the Tabiang uma-n anti, Tieraka-n te Bong, were allocated as follows:

  • 1. The atu (head) was the kawa of Tabiang, which was Nei Angi-ni-maeao's own kawa. Its duties were to decide when all work connected with the uma-n anti was to be done and the date on which the various feasts were to be held.
  • 2. The “dividers of the food” were the kawa group of Te Itiatia and Eta-ni Banaba.
  • 3. The “Cutters of the Eaves” were Te Itiatia, and the fallen ends of thatch were collected and thrown away by Aba-uareke. Te Itiatia also had the duty of holding down the ridge capping during high winds.
  • 4. The “Thatchers of the Roof” were Te Itiatia, Eta-ni Banaba, the kawa group of Nakieba and Aba-uareke.
  • 5. The “Plaiters of the Floor Mats” were Te Itiatia and Eta-ni Banaba.

The speaking, distribution of food, etc., was in order of boti as in a Gilbertese Maneaba.

(e) The Terraces—As has been mentioned before each village group owned a series of terraces situated on the cliffs overlooking the sea-coast of the district. The method of construction was first to build walls of uncemented stones along the edge of the coral bedrock to the required height and then to fill in the space behind with stones and earth. When the filling was brought flush with the tops of the walls, it was levelled and covered with a few inches of white coral shingle, thus resulting in a large, smooth, level platform.

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The terraces varied in size, Ao-n te Tarine, 22 (see fig. 4) shown in Appendix 7, being slightly above the normal. This terrace is kept in good repair by the old men of Buakonikai, in remembrance of their youth when they used to live there for several months at a time. The feature which marks it out from the other terraces is a line of seven stone monuments lying about ten feet back from the edge of the sea-wall. The centre monument consists of two flat, table-like slabs supported by a group of five smaller vertical stones. On either side of this table there are three groups of stones, each consisting of a large upright block in the centre having its base surrounded by four flat slabs. The ruins of other table-like structures can be seen lying further away from the sea-wall. Repeated questioning of the old men has elicited nothing further than that in their youth the monuments having central vertical slabs were used as seats and the table-like stones for food-offerings.

At the back of the terraces there used to stand a line of open-sided houses and on the more important ones a maneaba in addition. A complete list of the terraces on the island is given in Appendix 6. Some of these no longer exist, those belonging to Uma having been destroyed in the process of building a Government cemetery and three belonging to Tabwewa being utilized for the old Pacific Phosphate Company's harbour works, but the majority still remain in a state of fairly good preservation and, although usually situated on somewhat inaccessible cliffs, more than repay a visit of inspection. The authors have examined, at one time or another, every one of the seventeen terraces or terrace-sites and they have never failed to be impressed with the immensity of the task involved in the construction. Somewhat similar but far larger structures are found in the Carolines 23 as well as elsewhere in the Pacific, but nothing like them are found in the Gilberts, no doubt owing to the rarity of suitable stone.

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Perched among the rocky pinnacles on the east coast and in the neighbourhood of the terraces facing that direction are numerous platforms of rock and shingle, miniature counterparts of the terraces themselves but often so small as to be made of a single flat stone. These were the platforms where the men perched in the early morning to do the magic called kouti in order to ensure their success and prowess. It is impossible to enter into any detail here as to the nature of kouti magic but it was essentially performed at sunrise, facing east, and consisted of a ritual washing with salt water from a special coconut-shell followed by a massaging of the arms with smooth pebbles from the beach. The main consideration was that the rising sun must be faced, as from the sun came the essential principles of health and strength.

As the people of Tabwewa and the western coast were not able to see the rising sun from the normal kouti platforms they built large altar-like structures known as teiabakana from the top of which they could view the sun sooner than would be otherwise possible. These teiabakana, of which several exist in a good state of preservation, are rectangular in shape and about ten feet by six, the sides, which are vertical, being made of stone slabs and the interior filled and levelled as in a terrace. On the top of each is a stone slab lying on the shingle with an upright stone on its western side, thus forming an L. On this the kouti performer sat and rested his back, waiting for the rising sun to appear in the eastern sky. 24

According to all our informants the terraces were primarily made not as a rendezvous for kouti devotees but usually for the catching and taming of the frigate-birds, which took up a large part of the leisure hours of the Banabans. Catching the frigate-bird was far more than a mere pastime with the Banabans, as an elaborate ritual was attached to it and to attain skill involved a lifetime of - 282 study and practice. 25 There were large kai ni katiku (fig. 3) or platforms for the tame birds built on the terraces and here they were tendered and cared for daily by their owners. When twenty or more frigate-birds had been tamed they were set free and served to decoy other birds, which were brought down by the ao ni kabane, a bolas, formed by a stone, te atau, attached to the end of a string. The thrill in the game was in the skilful throwing of the ao ni kabane so that it fell over the bird's wings and body and brought it to the ground. There is an elaborate native terminology describing the various games and special movements to secure a bird, whether it be soaring, descending, wheeling, or flying level, the game mentioned above being known as te kabaneitei. It would, however, be wandering outside our subject to describe the sport further here. 26

As it was absolutely forbidden for a woman to have any contact with a frigate-bird, a line of coconut-string was stretched across the boundary of each terrace where birds were being kept, beyond which no female could pass. Hence, as it was also important in the proper performance of the kouti magic to be sure that one did not sleep on the same mat as a woman, or even go near one, the kouti platforms were built close to the terraces and the performers and learners used to live on the terraces for the nights previous to their ablutions. 27 A few men who were performing the kouti exceptionally seriously with a specific object in view, such as to become a champion fighter, might stay on the terraces for long periods until they felt themselves to be in a fit state, bodily and mentally, to return. In some of the more arduous types of the kouti magic, for - 283 those who were endeavouring to become champions at any pursuit involving intense physical strain, it was necessary to abstain from sexual intercourse for a year at a time, and such individuals would become more or less permanent inmates of the houses on the terraces.

Another purpose for which the terraces were used was in the training and education of the village youths. When the boy's time came for undergoing his haircutting ceremonies and trial by fire, 28 i.e., when his hair began to grow on his chest and under his arms, he would be sent to the terrace of his district to undergo instruction in the arts of life and the kouti magic from his grandfather or other elder relative. Here he would stay at intervals, with the other village youths of his age, until he passed into the ranks of the roro-buaka (warriors).

A second series of terraces, those on the west side of the island belonging to the Tabwewa and Tabiang village districts, were built and used primarily as large platforms for the erection of the village bareaka (canoe sheds) and, in later years, for trading with the visiting schooners in search of palm-oil.

(f) Totemism—The evidence we were able to obtain concerning totemism suggests that the village districts founded by Nei Angi-ni-maeao and her fellow voyagers from Beru all had as their totem the kerentari or baimanu, a species of sting-ray. This fish was considered to be the rabata (body) of Nei Tituaabine, who was the bakatibu (ancestress) of the immigrants and their anti, “ancestral Goddess.” To this day the villagers, should they meet a sting-ray when out fishing, will throw it morsels of anything in the way of food, tobacco, etc., that happens to be in their canoes, and formerly a portion of each meal was set aside as an offering to the totem-fish. It is said that if a member of the totem-group causes any harm to Nei Tituaabine as personified in the sting-ray he will inevitably suffer misfortune and nothing can be done to help him.

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The group of clans in the Gilberts claiming descent from Nei Tituaabine and having as their totem one or other of the sting-ray family retain their veneration for their totem in a more marked form than any of the other clan-groups. This is especially interesting since Christian in his book on the Caroline Islands states that Metalinim was destroyed by an invading host belonging to a clan known as Tip-en-uai (Tituaabine?), coming from a land in the south known as Panamai and having as their totem the sting-ray. 29 It would seem probable therefore that, as Christian himself suggests, the cyclopean buildings on Ponape were destroyed by an invasion from either the Gilbert Islands or even Banaba itself, which may possibly be the Panamai of Ponapean tradition. This would also account for the recorded similarity between Gilbertese and Ponapean root-words. 30

The totems of the Tabwewa community were two large stones standing in a bangota (sacred enclosure), close to the present village. These were the rabata of Tabuariki “the Thunder,” and Bakatau, the two anti of the village.

4. The Overlordship of Tabwewa—As has been mentioned before, the Tabwewans retained many of their rights and privileges after the coming of the Beru settlers. These rights, excellently summed up by Nei Beteua in her account of the settlement of Beru given in Appendix 2, are as follows:

  • 1. The right to board strange canoes or vessels—wa-n n tieke;
  • 2. The right of taking the peace offering of food—kana-n te amarake;
  • 3. The right of anointing with oil—kabira-n te ba;
  • 4. The right of garlanding the stranger—mwae-n te kaue;
  • 5. The right to take the stranded turtle or porpoise—kana-n te ika, te on ke te kua;
  • 6. The right to the stranded urua fish—kana-n te ika te urua.
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  • 7. The right to ordain the ruoia—ruoi-n;
  • 8. The right to the governance of the land—taeka-n ao-n, te aba;
  • 9. The right to draw the measuring cord across the land—katika-ni kora-n ao-n te aba.

The first four privileges fall into one group since they all refer to the treatment of strangers to the island. The chief of Tabwewa had the right of visiting all canoes or ships before anyone else, as well as to take possession of anything that arrived on the canoe or vessel. Should he think fit he could issue an edict that no one except himself could visit a particular canoe or ship, but once he had sent out word that it could be boarded anyone on the island could launch his own canoe and go out. 31 With this privilege went a corresponding duty, that of entertaining all canoe crews and other visitors. The crew would be brought to the Tabwewa maneaba and divided out among the various kawa, who would provide them with food, lodging, and entertainment until their departure. The owner of the canoe would invariably stay with the chief himself. The right of taking the peace offering of food, the right of anointing with oil, and the right of garlanding, all refer to the procedure of welcoming the visitors in the maneaba.

The right to take the porpoise, turtle or urua fish when stranded on the foreshores of the island is the most jealously guarded privilege of the Tabwewans and around it has gathered a mass of interesting custom as to the duties of the various kawa and boti. If the fish was stranded on the foreshores of Te Aonoanne or Toakira it was brought by the people of those districts to the uma-n anti of the Te Karia folk; if it was found on the Tabiang or Uma coasts it was brought to the Te Karieta uma-n anti. In either case the people of the moiety would take the fish and divide it up amongst the various hamlets, but before doing so they would have to give the village group who brought it a present of food in return. All this custom has importance, since it furnishes an illustration of how all the economic activities of the Banabans necessitating - 286 co-operation worked through an elaborate system of kawa duties and rights, dependent for their sanction on the force of custom and tradition. We give below an account of how a stranded turtle would be brought from the foreshore of the Uma district to the uma-n anti at Tabwewa.

When the turtle was found it was brought to a house by Uma village called Rawa-ni bong, where the kawa of Te Tarine bound up its head and front ready for carrying, its back being bound by the hamlet of Rariki-n te kawai. Rariki-n te kawai also provided the carrying stick. The turtle was then carried to the uma-n anti of the Te Karieta folk, Te Karawa ititi, Bwibwi-n toora bearing the carrying stick in front and Nang Kouea behind. They were received inside the uma-n anti by the head kawa of the Te Karieta folk, Aurakeia. Two moimoto or drinking-nuts were broken ceremonially and eaten by the Tabwewans and visitors. At the same time a basket of flowers was brought and wreaths placed around the necks of the people of Bwibwi-n toora. A return present was then given and, after much gossip had been exchanged, the visitors returned to their own uma-n anti, Nei Karibaba, where the food was partitioned into three shares by the people of Te Tarine, the first share belonging to the old men of the district, 32 the second to Rariki-n te kawai and Nang Kouea, and the third, known as Te Bukiniwae, 33 to Te Tarine, Bwibwi-n toora and Te Rineaba. These were the five important kawa in Uma, since Bwibwi-n toora was the site of Na Mani-nimate's first landing and the first uma-n anti, which was later removed to Nang Kouea. Te Tarine was the head of the uma-n anti and the other two were composed of the direct descendants of Na Mani-ni-mate himself. The rest got what shares they could from the leading hamlets.

The turtle was not killed directly it reached Tabwewa, but a meeting was held at which the date for the killing was decided on. The first blow was given by a representative of Aurakeia, the head of Te Karieta and the hamlet - 287 of the Chief of Tabwewa, and the second by Te Maiu, the head of Te Karia. The hamlet of Tekerau had the duty of burning the shell, and the flesh was cooked by North Tekerau and Te I-Namoriki. When cooked, the food was divided by A n to Bonobono into two shares, the head and half the body going to Te Karieta, the bones and the other half to Te Karia.

This elaborate partition of the work involved in any economic enterprise and the sharing out of the results is common to the Banabans and Gilbertese, but with the Gilbertese the patrilineal clan takes the place of the hamlet as the unit for each division of the work. This theme will be elaborated later in articles dealing with the Gilbertese social organization.

“The right to ordain the ruoia” refers to the custom by which Tabwewa had the sole right to fix the season for the performance of the amusements and games listed below:

  • 1. Te itau—Boxing
  • 2. Te kare-motu—A stick game
  • 3. Te kakuri—A game
  • 4. Te tirere—A dance
  • 5. Te kabure—A dance
  • 6. Te oreano—A ball-game
  • 7. Te katua—A game
  • 8. Te kati—bow and arrow shooting
  • 9. Te karanga—An exclusively Banaban dance
  • 10. Te buka—A dance
  • 11. Te tie—swinging
  • 12. Te kabane—A game with frigate-birds

These games comprise all the popular adult pastimes of the island. While many of the games themselves, notably the bow and arrow shooting and the karanga dance (see figs. 7 and 8), are extremely interesting, they must be held over for a subsequent article. All that we need describe here is their connection with the rights of the Tabwewans over the rest of the island. The chief of Tabwewa and his kawa of Aurakeia would meet in the maneaba and decide to practice a certain game. This game could then be performed by the other village groups. When any village felt themselves to be sufficiently proficient the news would gradually filter through and a date would be fixed for a match with Tabwewa. Once this match had taken place the various village districts were free to compete with - 288 each other. The visiting teams would be feasted during the course of the contests but they would be expected to bring presents of food with them.

The Tabwewan right to draw the measuring-cord across the land, or in other words to adjudicate on land disputes, was a part of their more general right to settle questions likely to cause trouble on the island. This privilege was only vaguely recognized, and a good deal of tact had to be exercised in its maintenance. The other village-groups considered themselves to be free communities and would not permit themselves to be dictated to by Tabwewa. In questions affecting the whole island, however, they were prepared to attend meetings organized by the chief of Tabwewa and, as a general rule, the decisions of the Tabwewan chief would be accepted by the rest.


Both sexes were treated equally as regards the inheritance of land. The eldest son was usually given the largest share of land, but there was no fixed rule, as the parents had far more power than in the Gilbert Islands to leave larger portions of their land to favourite children. The land was generally divided up among the children when they became old enough to fend for themselves, the parents reserving sufficient land for their own maintenance during their old age under the name of te aba ni kara (land for the aged). This aba ni kara was divided up after the death of the parents. The formality of apportioning land among children, known as te ketantau, involved the collecting of the various heirs and walking with them around the parental lands, pointing out to them the boundaries of their respective allotments. Usually each child got his share of both the paternal and maternal lands but often it was arranged between the parents that the children should be divided into two groups, one to receive their land from the father and the other from the mother.

Should a child be adopted as nati (son or daughter) he would receive the same share as the natural issue under the title of te aba-n-nati (land of the son) but, unless he was the only child of his real parents, he would receive - 289 none of their land. 34 In the absence of children, real or adopted, an individual's land would be partitioned among his (or her) brothers and sisters or their children, should they be dead. Outside the normal system of inheritance by which it was transmitted to the next-of-kin, land could only pass, in times of peace, by means of one of the customary conveyances mentioned below. Some of these customary conveyances, as will be seen, are in payment for services rendered, while others are in the nature of sanctions by means of which offenders against the community were punished by their fellows.

On an individual being killed by another two lands would normally pass from the murderer to the family of the murdered man under the general title of te nenebo (the blood payment). These lands were called as follows:

  • 1. Kie-na or the mat for the murdered man to lie on.
  • 2. Rabuna-na or the murdered man's shroud.

The largest land that the murderer possessed would be taken as kie-na and the next largest as rabuna-na. Should the murderer also possess a canoe it would be taken as:

  • 3. Bao-na or the murdered man's coffin.

Land would be claimed by a husband from a man who committed adultery with his wife under the title of te aba n rau (the land of peacemaking). The adulterer would usually flee, because if caught he would have been killed. In his absence his land was taken and his house broken up by the wronged individual, whereupon he was at liberty to reappear, as it was considered that his offence had been expiated by the conveyance of land.

On a famine occurring, those who were destitute would go and live with those who had food or were skilful fishermen. These people would look after them throughout the famine and when it was over were entitled to take all their lands under the title of te aba ni kamaiu (the land of life giving). The destitute might continue to use the - 290 products of their old land sufficient to maintain them, but in any case the land passed irrevocably on their death.

Should a betrothed boy break off his engagement to a girl after having commenced sexual relations with her, four or five lands would normally pass from his family to hers under the title of te aba n iein (the land of marriage). One or two lands would often pass on a boy terminating his engagement even though no sexual intercourse had taken place. Should the girl break off her engagement no land would pass. On Banaba it was customary for betrothals to take place at a very early age, often as soon as the child was born.

Should it be generally considered that certain lands had got into the wrong hands resort could be had to a custom known as te aba ni butirake (land of the asking). A girl would bind wreaths on the old man or woman who had obtained the land in question and he (or she) was then compelled by this custom to give the girl a piece or pieces of land. Should there be no good reason for the binding of the wreaths the old man might satisfy the island by presenting a minute plot of land, but should it be the general opinion that the girl or her family were the righful owners of certain lands in his possession he would be expected to give them up with a good grace.

Public opinion would compel a thief, on being caught, to convey land to the owner of the property stolen under the title of te aba n ira (the land for theft). The amount of land which passed under this title would depend on the nature and quantity of the stolen articles.

Should an individual kill any tame frigate of other bird belonging to another, one piece of land would be conveyed by the killer to the owner of the bird under the title of nenebo-n te man (the blood-payment for animals).

Under the title of te aba n tara (the land for looking after), land would be given in return for nursing during sickness or old age. The amount of land given would naturally depend on the circumstances of the nursing.

Should an individual be on terms of great affection with someone outside his kindred group he would leave him or her a portion of his lands under the title of te - 291 aba ni karaure (the land of farewell). It was not considered right to leave more than one or two pieces of land under this title as a token of friendship and should more be devised it would be usually opposed by the next-of-kin.

Finally, should an individual dislocate his or her arm or leg one piece of land would be conveyed to the bone-setter under the title of te aba n riring (the land for bone-setting).

This exhausts the conveyances of land customary on Banaba. These conveyances were the chief means by which justice and peace were maintained on the island. Should an individual offend against any social convention for which a transfer of land was considered a fitting penalty, a meeting of his hamlet would be held and the offender ordered to forfeit certain of his lands to the person injured. If the affair was serious and beyond the control of the hamlet a meeting of the village district, or even of the whole island, would be held at which the trouble could be ventilated and appropriate measures for restoring the status quo discussed.


To the Banabans the bangabanga or subterreanean caves of fresh water, of which there were about fifty on the island, were even more valuable than their lands. Should the food supply run out in a famine they could always catch fish, but if the water supply dried up, as it did in one terrible year in the ‘seventies, they were reduced to such desperate expediencies as the sucking of the eyes of flying fishes to obtain a few drops of moisture.

Unlike the lands, the bangabanga were never owned by individuals but always by hamlets. The actual committee who fixed the usage of the water-cave were the utu-n te to maniba (kindred of the well), the descendants of the discoverer. These were frequently as many as forty or fifty in number. The work of keeping the passage to the well in repair and fixing the large stone that blocked the entrance to each cave in position was delegated to two or three individuals known as tani kauka te maniba (the openers of the well). This work was hereditary provided it was satisfactorily performed, failing which a new set - 292 of workers would be chosen. The entire hamlet of the discoverer was entitled to draw water from the cave and was known as te, moi n te atibu (drinkers at the stone).

The procedure of drawing water was, and still is, as follows. The hamlet would approach the utu-n te maniba requesting permission to draw water. The utu in turn would, if they agreed, instruct the tani kauka to roll away the stone sealing the passage. When all had filled their containers, the well would be resealed by the tani kauka.


Many of the customs described in the preceding pages are no longer, or are fast ceasing to exist. The hamlets have disappeared and all islanders now live in the four villages of Tabwewa, Tabiang, Uma, and Buakonikai. Owing to the policy of the government the chiefs have been divested of such powers as they formerly possessed, although their personal influence is still considerable. The islanders are now ruled by a Native Government consisting of a Magistrate, Chief of Kaubure, Chief of Police and Scribe, aided by four village police. The rights of Tabwewa have been rendered largely obsolete with the changing of conditions on the island and are seldom now exercised. The sitting-places in the maneabas have long since been forgotten except by the very oldest men and women and the uma-n anti have disappeared, only their sites being remembered. The kouti magic is still, however, performed surreptitiously on the eastern shores, and an enthusiastic revival of the traditional games took place in December, 1931, during our stay on the island.

The interests of the younger generation are fast becoming centered around the Mission Church and the British Phosphate Commissioner's Trade Store, and their lands are of little importance to them except as a source of income, when sold to the Phosphate industry. But in spite of the drastic re-orientation of their lives which has been crowded into the last thirty years the Banabans retain a courtesy and independence of thought which makes them one of the pleasantest races to live with and augurs well for their future in the difficult times of adjustment ahead.

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This was the manner of the land in former days: it was not divided up among the people. It only began to be divided up when the canoes came from Beru, bearing Nei Angi-ni-maeao and her brother Na Kouteba, with Nei Te-Borata and Na Mani-ni-mate.

Nei Angi-ni-maeao and Na Kouteba were the dividers of the land. They stood on the foreshore; they separated; Na Kouteba paced the shoal water eastward, to fetch a circle round the land; and Nei Angi-ni-maeao paced the shoals westward.

So Nei Angi-ni-maeao measured the foreshore to westward, from the place called Na bitaki ni kainnano to the place called Te Rua-rua. This was the first portion, and she gave it to Na Mani-ni-mate. She said to him,

“Tiku i ao-n te ora aei n amarake i maai-u.”

Remain on this foreshore to feed before me.

(i.e., Continue to use all edible things cast up on this foreshore until I claim them back from you.)

Again Nei Angi-ni-maeao measured the foreshore from the place called Te Rua-rua to the place called Te Mata bou. That portion she gave to Nei Te-Borata saying, “Take this foreshore and use the food of it until I claim it back from you.”

And for herself Nei Angi-ni-maeao measured off the foreshore from Te Mata bou to the place called Ao-n te maiango: that was her own portion. And behold, she returned to her houseplace at Tabiang, and remained there. She had two children, Na Borau and Nei Angi-ni-maeao the younger.

Nei Angi-ni-maeao the younger had a child, Na Kataburi.

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Na Kataburi had a child, Na Borau the younger.

Na Borau the younger had a child, Nei Angi-ni-maeao, and she had five brothers.

Na Borau the younger arose to pace out his foreshore. He came to the northern boundary, at a place called Ao-n to maiango. Thence he went forward until he met a man, who invited him to go home with him; but he refused and went forward again along the shore, until he came to a place called Ai-bong. There he met another man, whose name was Nan Teraro. This man invited him to go and live awhile in his house.

So Na Borau the younger followed Nan Teraro home, to live with him. But when they came to Nan Teraro's house, it was not ready to be lived in, for it was being floored; so Nan Teraro took the remnants of the material of the house of his brother, Na Ning, and began to finish his floor with that. But while he was at work, his brother Na Ning called to him, saying, “Sir, send thy guest to me, for my house is ready for him to live in.” So Na Borau the younger left Nan Teraro, and went to live with his brother Na Ning. There he remained, until the advent of his daughter Nei Angi-ni-maeao, who had come out in search of him.

When Nei Angi-ni-maeao found her father Na Borau with the man Na Ning, she approached him, and asked him to return home again. But he said to her,

“Tai kuri moa ni kair-ai ba N na iangoa aro-u nkai I mena I rou-n teuaei.”

Do not be in haste first to lead me away for I shall consider my attitude now that I am domiciled with this man.

(i.e., Do not hastily call me away before I have repaid the courtesy of this man in entertaining me thus.)

And his daughter said to him, “I know nothing about it; the matter is in thy hand.”

And Na Borau considered, and after a while he said to his daughter, “Woman, these things shalt thou give this man:

Wa-m n tieke,

Thy prior right to board strange vessels or canoes,

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ao kana-m te amarake, ao kabira-m te ba, ao mwe-m te kaue, ao kana-m te ika te on ke te kua,

and thy right to take the peace offering of food, and thy right of anointing with oil, and thy right of garlanding the stranger who arrives, and thy right to take the turtle or the porpoise stranded

ke kana-m te ika te urua, Ba aro-m ni bane aikai a bon tiku i rou-n teuaei, ba e uot-ia ba te māne. Ao ruoia-m,

on the foreshore, or thy right to the stranded urua fish. For all these thy customary rights indeed remain with this man, for he assumes them, being a male. And thy right to ordain the

rouia, ao taeka-n ao-n te aba, ao katika-ni kora-n ao-n te aba, ao boni buki-ia arei i rou-m.”

and governance of the land, and drawing the measuring cord across the land, indeed such matters are in thy hands.

And as Na Borau told her, so did Nei Angi-ni-maeao, for these things, which Na Borau gave away to Na Ning, were not given away in very truth. For when Na Borau spoke to Na Ning, and apportioned him his foreshore, he said to him,

“ Tiku, amarake i ao-n te ora anne i maai-u.”

Remain, feed upon this foreshore before me.

(i.e., Remain with thy foreshore rights until I claim them back from thee.) Therefore the foreshore rights were not given away in very truth.

So Nei Angi-ni-maeao returned to Tabiang, and she appointed to each of her five brothers a portion of the foreshore of the island.

Then the brothers of Nei Angi-ni-maeao arose in battle against the people of Tabwewa, for they disputed the kingship of the people of Tabwewa. And behold, they won the kingship; and the decision was that the brothers of Nei Angi-ni-maeao should rule over the land. This they did, and they upheld all the judgments of their father Na Borau concerning the foreshore rights.

Nei Angi-ni-maeao had a child, Nang Konim;

Nang Konim had a child, Nan Tetae; and Nan Tetae's brothers were Borirai and Boi-n te Iti.

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And these were the deeds of Nan Tetae. The man Kamtea came to him one day, and told him that the people of Tairua had taken his land. The people of Tairua lived on the north side of Banaba, and they were eaters of men. So Nan Tetae told Kamtea that he must not give way before them. Kamtea went back to his land, and he saw that his boundaries had been pushed back to the place called Te I-Namoriki. So he told his people to move them again to their former place. They did so, but afterwards the people of Tairua came and seized the land again.

So this was the judgment of Nan Tetae: he said to Kamtea, “Prepare thy torches of dried leaf, for we will fight with them from the sea.” And he also told the people of Uma and Buakonikai that there would be a fight at sea.

And when night came, they fought with the people of Tairua from the sea. But there was no decision in that battle.

And so the judgment went out again that there should be a battle on the summit of Banaba. First came Nan Tetae with his brothers; then came three or four of the people of Uma; then came the people of Buakonikai and also the people of Tabwewa, to fight the people of Tairua.

Na Karobeing was the leader of the people of Tairua, and it was said of him that he was skilled in the wawi (death magic).

The fight was fought. Nan Tetae and his people were victorious, and only two of their side were killed.

This then was the word of the people of Tairua to Nan Tetae about the land of Kamtea: “We have no share in it, for it is in thy hands.” So Nan Tetae took the land, together with the water-cave called Te Ba.

Then Nan Tetae returned to Tabiang. There he had a child, whose name was Nam Baia.

(Then follows the genealogy of the Chiefs of Tabiang.)

- 297
Family Tree. Na Auriaria the elder, Na Auriaria the younger=Nei Te Kanawa n Anti (the ghostly kanawa tree), Brood of ghosts, Brood of birdlike men of the kanawa tree, Brood of real men, Na Kamta, Na Kurairai, Nam Boiaki, Na Ibea te Bure, Nan Tabuki-ni Banaba, Nam Bakaua, Nan Temauna, Nei Te Ie-ni Makin, Nei Ntarie, Nei Kaaieaa, Na Ribena (present chief), Beniamina, Nan Teraro I, Nan Teraro II, Nan Teraro III, Descendants living, Na Ning, Na Kurairai, Na Utiango, Na Burennanang, Na Bua, Nang Tekewekewe=Nei Teraua, Nang Tekewekewe=Nei Kaburatoa, Nan Takabea=Nei Raraitake, Nan Takabea=Nei Tauantabo, Nei Te Oti-n Taake, Nam Maiawa, Amota, Tekeaua, Nei Tenamoiti=Naiti-n te buaka, Descendants living, Na Batiaua, Descendants living, Nan Tabora, Descendants living
- 298
Family Tree. Nei Te-Borata=Te Bu-n Anti 36, Nei Kaongoa I=Te Bu-n Anti *, Na Baraerae I, Nan Teieati I, Na Baraerae II, Nei Kaongoa II, Nan Teieati II, Tauakitari, Nang Kaotia I, Nang Kaotia II, Teiaokabu, Nan Taramarawa, Nei Biriata (present Chiefess)=Na Kureta, (Native Magistrate), Nei Teneboieta, Nan Tenukai, Nang Kobunga, Nan Tebaitera, Nan Tenukai, Nei Tabotu=Na Raobeia 37 (Chief of Uma), Nei Rote=Na Raobeia (Chief of Uma), Na Iete, Nei Tearia
- 299

(a) Tabwewa District

  • Te Karia—Taekarau
  • Kabi-ni marata
  • Tabongea
  • Namanai
  • Tekerau
  • Aobike
  • Te Maiu
  • Ao-n te marae
  • Te Karieta—Mangati
  • Uma na kainnako
  • Karongoa
  • Te Kainga
  • Ao-n te bonobono
  • Tabo-n te marae
  • Karibariki
  • Mixed Karia and Karieta—Aurakeia Marakei Te I-Namoriki

(b) Tabiang District

  • Nokuao
  • Te aba uareke
  • Te aba ni mate
  • Oraka
  • Eta-ni Banaba
  • Bare bongawa
  • Ata-ni Banaba
  • Nakieba
  • Tarakabu
  • Tabo-n te marae
  • Tabo-ni buota
  • Tabo Matang
  • Buki
  • Bare buairake
  • Neingkambo
  • Nanimanomano
  • Tabiang
  • Nei Rao
  • Buariki
  • Taiki
  • Tangi-n te ba
  • Te Aba-n aine
  • Te Kammamma

(c) Te Aonoanne District

  • Te Mara-ni kaomoti
  • Te Katuru
  • Te Maeka-n anti
  • Ao-n natiabouri
  • Terike
  • Te Ababa
  • Toka mauea
  • Bakatere
  • Ao-n te katoutou
  • Norauea
  • Te Aka
  • Taborake
  • Te Angaba

(d) Toakira District

  • Toakira maeao
  • Toakira mainiku
  • Niniki
  • Te Roko-ni borau
  • Te Bubunnai
  • Te Kamaruarua
  • Nei Tang
  • Nakieba
  • Tangi-n te ba
  • Te Uma reburebu

(e) Uma District

  • Nang Kouea
  • Rariki-n te kawai
  • Naruku
  • Te Reineaba
  • Te Toka
  • Te Rawa i-eta
  • Nuka
  • Te Banga-ni U
  • Te Maneaba
  • Te Mangaua
  • Te Tarine
  • Tonga i-eta
  • Te Wae
  • Bare tarawa
  • Aoniman
  • Taboiaki
  • Naria kaina
  • Bwibwi-n toora
  • Ata-n te Maneaba
  • Tabo-n te ba
  • Te Uma-ni mane
  • Te Rawa i-nano
  • Ao-n te marae
- 300

(a) Tabwewa District

  • Karia Makin 39
  • Nei Koun1
  • Te Ngea bakeke1
  • Tawanang 40
  • Nei Arei 41
  • Neina2 (see fig. 6)

(b) Tabiang District

  • Te Kabeo (see fig. 5)
  • Ni (see fig. 5)
  • Nakatabuki
  • Tabo-n te rengerenge 42
  • Nam Natea4.

(c) Te Aonoanne District

  • Bareimwin
  • Te Tarine (see fig. 4)

(d) Toakira District

  • Te Ngea manganga 43

(e) Uma District

  • Te Maeai
  • Karia te ang
  • Te Mwemweneitei
- 301
Scrub and Coral Pinnacles, PLAN OF AO-N TE TARINE.
1   For a very interesting account of a landing on Banaba in 1851 see John Webster, The Last Cruise of the Wanderer, pp. 39-50.
2   Christian, The Caroline Islands, pp. 111 and 112.
3   Cf. Grimble, “From Birth to Death in the Gilbert Islands,” J.R.A.I., 1921, pp. 53 and 54, for a discussion of the identity of the Ancestral Lands.
4   N a, Nam, Nan or Nang is placed before names of males on Banaba and Nei before names of females.
5   Another myth runs as follows: “Nei Aro-Mangati and Nei Nou Mangati were known to be man-eaters. They lived at Banaba and tried to eat Auriaria (i.e., the invaders) when he visited there.” This lends support to our identification of the people of Mangati with the earlier inhabitants. Many of the attributes of the autochthones, such as fierceness and skill in sorcery, are also considered by the Banabans to be characteristics of the present day Mangati folk.
6   Grimble, ibid., page 52.
7   Ibid., page 52.
8   The districts of Te Aonoanne and Toakira have been in recent years joined together by the Government, forming the single village district of Buakonikai.
9   For the boundaries of the divisions see the Map of Banaba given in Appendix 1.
10   Cf. Grimble, ibid., page 52. The statement that Banaba is inhabited by people who did not take part in the migration to Samoa is true only of the Tabwewa village district. The other districts were peopled by the immigrants from Beru and there is no reason to suppose that they were not descendants of the returned Tonga-fiti swarm. No doubt the newcomers adopted the creation myth of the original inhabitants, as has been the case elsewhere in the Pacific.
11   See H. C. and H. E. Maude, “Adoption in the Gilbert Islands,” J.P.S., December, 1931.
12   Cf. Grimble, ibid., page 32, for an account of one of the marriage customs in vogue on Banaba.
13   These “houses of separation” were also found on Hawaii. Handy, Polynesian Religion, page 47.
14   The utu (kindred group) was, on Banaba, the only regulator of marriage, the kawa having no such function. A Banaban was prohibited from marrying his direct ascendants, or the issue of his direct ascendants, up to and including his (or her) great-grandparents.
15   Kai-n=inhabitant of. The -i before Mangati is euphonic.
16   Uma=house, anti=ancestral Gods, or literally “The house of the ancestral Gods.”
17   The name Te Tarine itself means the wild almond tree.
18   See Grimble, “Canoe Crests of the Gilbert Islands,” Man, June, 1921, page 83, for a discussion on the goddess Nei Tituaabine.
19   See Tabwewa Genealogy, Appendix 3.
20   See infra, page 285.
21   See infra, page 286.
22   We are indebted to Mr. Grimble for allowing us to utilize his notes on the terrace of Ao-n te Tarine, which he was the first to discover.
23  Cf. Christian, ibid.
24  Cf. Grimble, “Gilbertese Astronomy and Astronomical Observances,” J.P.S., December, 1931, note to page 205, where the similar but smaller structures of the Gilbert Islands, there called buatarawa, are described.
25   Webster, ibid., pp. 39-50, frequently alludes to the importance which the Banabans attached to their frigate-birds.
26   Cf. Woodford, Geographical Journal, 1895, page 347, for a description of the sport as practised on Abemama in the Gilbert Islands; also Kennedy “Field Notes on the Culture of Vaitupu, Ellice Islands,” J.P.S., December, 1931, page 294, where the weight for a similar bolas is also called te atau.
27   The reason why no woman should come near was for fear lest they might be menstruating, a menstruating woman having a lethal effect on magic. Cf. Handy, Polynesian Religion, page 47.
28   See Grimble, “From Birth to Death, etc.,” pages 40 and 41, for an account of these ceremonies.
29   Christian, The Caroline Islands, pp. 83-84, 108 and 324.
30   Christian, ibid., page 85.
31   Cf. also Webster, ibid., pp. 39-41, 46 and 49.
32   This was an unusual feature, which we did not find in other ceremonial partitions.
33  The “end of the foot” or heel. So called as it was supposed to be the remnants after the others had got their share.
34   Cf. H. C. and H. E. Maude, “Adoption in the Gilbert Islands,” J.P.S., vol. 40, page 231. The Banaban custom of te aba-n-nati is similar to the Gilbertese one there described.
35   This account of the partition of Banaba was obtained by Mr. Grimble from Nei Beteua, a direct descendant of Nei Angi-ni-maeao.
36   “The Breed of Spirits,” or one of the Tabwewan community.
37   Na Raobeia married his mother-in-law on the death of his wife.
38   In conversation, the word ao-n, meaning “on” or “situated upon,” is used before the names of terraces. Thus one speaks of Ao-n tabo-n te rengerenge and Ao-n Nei Arei.
39   Used by Te Karia.
40   Used by Te Karia and Te Karieta.
41   Used by Te Karieta.
42   Situated on Toakira land but used by Tabiang.
43   Situated on Te Aonoanne land but used by Toakira.