Volume 71 1962 > Volume 71, No. 2 > An account of the Mamaia or Visionary Heresy of Tahiti, 1826-1841, by Niel Gunson, p 208-243
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Traditional Tahitian Prophet of the Eighteenth Century
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AN ACCOUNT OF THE MAMAIA OR VISIONARY HERESY OF TAHITI, 1826-1841

This paper by Dr. Gunson, Lecturer in History at the University of Queensland, is based upon work undertaken for his Ph.D. in Pacific History at the Australian National University. The paper was presented at the Tenth Pacific Science Congress of the Pacific Science Association at Honolulu, August-September, 1961.

THE Mamaia or Visionary Heresy was almost certainly the first millenarian movement to occur amongst the peoples of the Pacific. It was not an isolated movement. The Siovili Cult, which in part derived from it, began in Samoa about 1830, four years after the movement began in Tahiti. In Hawaii, a sect appeared about 1833, usually referred to as the Hulumanu or Hapu religion. In New Zealand, the people of the Hokianga district turned to a kind of parody of Christianity known as the Papahurihia, which flourished in the late 1830s. Throughout the nineteenth century similar movements occurred in Polynesia and Melanesia. They are still occurring in Melanesia and Micronesia.

The Mamaia centred around several men who styled themselves Peropheta or prophets. They appear to have been called Mamaia by way of derision. The Tahitians were obviously fond of figurative and parabolic language. The missionaries encouraged this, and their sermons were often rich with similes and metaphors. A Tahitian, clasping his Bible, would say that he had obtained a great pearl from a deep cavern, brought by the Scarlet Birds which flew from a foreign land aross the vast sea. 1 Speakers at missionary meetings vied with one another in the use of similes. The missionaries were not slow in making use of such language, and Henry Bicknell once referred to the young people who refused to accept Christian standards as tutae 'auri 2 or “the rust of iron”. This term was afterwards used to designate all the young and lawless in the Society and Cook Islands. The first mention of the term Mamaia in written records occurs in a tract prepared by J. M. Orsmond, to which he refers in November, 1828. This tract was in answer, or refutation, to the “tenets circulated by those called Mamaia”, and it was being stitched with another tract which he had - 210 written on the “history, doctrines and influences of Jesuitism”. 3 The definitions of the term are all substantially the same. Davies gave its meaning as “abortive fruit that falls from the trees”; 4 Orsmond said it meant “fallings” of unripe fruit”; 5 and Darling gave the following:

“Unripe fruit, or fruit that falls from the tree before it is properly ripe and is considered by the natives good for nothing or not good for anything either for man or beast.” 6

In other words, it was simply a label given to the movement, and possibly derived from a figurative analogy in a missionary's sermon.

To understand the movement fully, it is necessary to take into account the considerable social change which had taken place in the Society Islands from the discovery of Tahiti in 1767 to the beginning of the movement in 1826. So many new material goods and processes of thought were introduced, that the Polynesians found it difficult to account for these things in terms of their previous beliefs, and it was difficult for them to grasp, let alone conceive, the explanations given by Europeans, whether traders, missionaries or travellers.

Between the arrival of the first Protestant missionaries in 1797 and the establishment of Christianity as the “national religion” in 1815, the principal doctrines of Calvinistic Christianity were widely disseminated amongst the people. Even if the people still professed attachment to Oro and Tane, they came to hear the missionaries preach, and even followed them from place to place, whilst many young people attended the mission school, learning to read and write, and committing large sections of catechisms and scripture extracts to memory.

However, after the conversion of Pomare II in 1812, Oro and Tane and their like began to feel the power of Jehovah. Even if many of the Tahitians could not accept the new teachings and beliefs in their own hearts, their belief in the power of the old gods must have been greatly shaken. Pomare II began a campaign against the old religion which was dramatically effective. He encouraged his followers to intoxicate themselves, and when they were sufficiently drunk, they were sent out to wreck the maraes and destroy the images. Great fires were lit, and the principal images were thrown in. The image of Oro, the most powerful of the Society Islands deities, had musket balls fired through it before it was burned. Food, which had previously been held sacred, was publicly eaten by the reforming chiefs. Many of the priests, such as Patii of Moorea, high priest of Oro, joined the new Christian party; others were publicly discredited. Not only did some confess to “deceiving the people”, but the missionaries sought every means to expose them as charlatans and conjurers. As in Hawaii and other Polynesian groups, there was more than one class of priests. The principal priests, like the chiefs, were usually hereditary. On the other hand, those usually referred to as “prophets” or taura were mostly “inoffensive and highly respected people, who gave way to their inspira- - 211 tion from time to time to make unexpected and unasked for predictions”. 7 These prophets or “spirit mediums” were not confined to one class. Like the prophets of all ages, they were even privileged to cross the paths of kings. The prophets were perhaps the least discredited part of the old religion. The missionaries, who referred to them sarcastically as “oracles”, were prepared to believe that these prophets were actually the subjects of demon possession. There was “more than probability”, wrote the missionaries in 1807, that some of the prophets “have been really actuated by the powers of darkness”. 8 The missionaries further asserted that the prophets were “the very life and soul of their religious system”. The Tahitians told them that they had had prophets “mae te po mae or from the remotest antiquity”. Inspiration was “not confined to sex, age or quality”, and all the prophecies concerned “the affairs of the present life, such as war and peace, death, restoration of health, division of lands, human sacrifices”. The particular place of the Tahitian prophet in the social life of the people helps to explain some of the appeal of the Mamaia prophets, for, to adapt Milton's phraseology, the new prophet or Peropheta was but the old traditional prophet writ large—even to the cultivation of the beard. 9

In looking for the germs of heresy in Tahitian Christianity, we should not ignore the early formulating of what the missionaries described as “Antinomian doctrines”. We might dismiss many of the missionary references to the Tahitians being Antinomians. Many of those who appeared to act inconsistently were merely living their former life, and paying lip-service to the new religion because it had been imposed upon them. They were not, in this respect, either hypocrites or believers in “false doctrine”. However, there were others who did profess what might be called Antinomian principles, because they had come to believe the basic Calvinist teaching, and yet were firmly engrafted to their former mode of life. Pomare II, especially, appears to have held the view that God had withheld his grace from him, and consequently his moral and spiritual lapses were excusable. The arguments with which he answered the missionaries were exactly those used by Antinomians in the home churches. 10 Naturally, such doctrines took root where the life of the senses was in direct conflict with the ethical-religious teaching.

Another early movement in the religious history of Tahiti was the confessed return to “heathenism” by those who had already made an open profession of Christianity. For various reasons they had become dissatisfied with the Christian creed and abjured it. This reaction is important, because it suggests the rejection of both the early Polynesian religion, and the imposed Christian teaching. Such natives were - 212 hardly likely to re-embrace the old system entirely, and it is extremely likely that they had accepted certain Christian explanations of things, as being more credible than their own traditional accounts. One distinguishing feature of these early “break-away” Tahitians, was that they were not “afraid to die”, whereas Christianity taught them to be afraid of God and death, unless they were extremely well prepared for eternity. From the very beginning of preaching in Tahiti, the people had tended to scoff at the idea of physical resurrection, whilst they had appeared to accept the more theologically complicated doctrine of the atonement, no doubt because of the importance given to propitiation and sacrifice in their old religion. The most notable break-away of this nature was the defection of two communicant members of the church of Papeete in 1821, during Crook's ministry. These two members, Tehoata and Taataino, could read well and had “a good understanding of the Scriptures”. 11 Nothing inconsistent had been observed in their conduct except inattention, just prior to their announcement that they were tired of the fellowship. Crook said that they seemed to have embraced infidelity, as they told him they “wish to be heathens and they are not afraid to die”. Crook's comment was: “There has been nothing to call forth the evil of the hearts of these people, but there must be also heresies among them.”

There appears, however, to have been a political reason behind this defection, as these two communicants were implicated in an attempt to kill the king. They had also been tattooing their bodies. The two ring-leaders, Pori and Mooriri, were sentenced to be hanged, whilst the four others arrested had to work on the roads and pay a fine. Pori seems to have been the only one who was disturbed by the Christian admonitions, and in a despairing state confessed to Crook that he should die “the second death and be lost for ever”. 12

During the Regency period, when the infant Pomare III was recognized as king, the movement towards a return to heathenism was much more pronounced. Indeed, it was openly asserted that the “era of law” had died with Pomare II in 1821. Pomare II's absolute power had been established by traditional means, 13 superiority in battle and political manoeuvring: the new king would have to establish his own rule. The outward sign of those who broke away was to be tattooed. Apart from this, the main features of the movement were to return to the old pattern of behaviour, and to make a mockery of Christianity, especially prayer. Hostility to the missionaries was also marked. When Crook removed to Taiarapu in October 1823, he found defection a much more common thing. In December he wrote in his journal that it was a lamentable thing “that all the young men with very few exceptions and many of the young women turn out very wild. They go by the name of Tutai Auri or Rust of Iron. Most of them have been tried and condemned to labour at the roads, or make cloth mats”. 14 He asserted - 213 that they tattooed themselves “out of bravado”, and that most of them were guilty of fornication and adultery. The chiefs insisted that several steady men should sleep in Crook's house in order to protect them from “the wild young men who are in the mountains”, but Crook did not perceive that the measure was as necessary as they made out. 15 It would appear that there was some organization behind these “wild young people”, and that the ringleaders were certain chiefs who wished to re-establish the Arioi Society, 16 one of the most prominent institutions of their traditional life, and one in which the chiefs had special privileges. One of the persons responsible for the movement in Taiarapu was Taine vahine, the daughter of Inometua, chief of Hitia'a. Crook said that she had “behaved very bad for several years past”, and that she had come from Hitia'a for the express puropse of seducing the young. Taine vahine was tried, reprimanded “severely but respectfully”, and ordered to leave the district immediately. 17 After this admonishment, some of the “wild young men” entered into the community life by attending certain services, and Crook even devoted certain times to speak with them. These people were sometimes called “ariois” as well as tutae 'auris. 18 Many of them returned to the forests and the mountains, and even several of the school boys tattooed themselves in order to join the party. On 26 February, 1824, Crook wrote:

“The behaviour of the tutoi auris as they are called is arrived at an alarming pitch. There are no less than six of our school-boys now in the mountains and people are going off from week to week.” 19
However, unlike the earlier defection at Papeete in 1821, none of the baptized or candidates for baptism joined them. At the same time, the whole district of Ahui was said to be given over to this revival of heathenism, and very few had not tattooed themselves, even the judges. They mocked prayers, and chose the Sabbath as their favourite day to tattoo themselves. According to Crook, they “cast off all religion and though most of them can read well, they neither read, pray or regard the Sabbath”. The negative character of the tutae 'auri movement is clearly seen in the entire rejection of Christian teaching, and the attempt to go even further by mockery and desecration of Christian institutions.

Between 1821 and 1826, the journals of the Tahitian missionaries are filled with reports of law breaking and the scheming of the chiefs. It is little wonder then that the unrest penetrated into the churches. Many of the deacons were chiefs, and church membership was a privilege which carried considerable prestige in the community. Indeed, excommunicated or suspended members would very often sit with the communicants at the ordinance of the Lord's Supper, though obliged to let the elements pass without partaking. In February, 1826, Henry of Moorea wrote that there was a general reaction to Christianity in most of the Society Islands.

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“This reaction has taken place and been in progress at these Windward Islands for some time past; and there is a great relaxation in the state of the general morals and circumspection of the people, as well as in their attention to the duties of religion, in all the stations here to windward, but not in all to the same degree; and yet, I trust, the cause of real vital religion is still on the increase. This reaction will, however, answer a good end; it will bring things to a proper level, and will discover who are really on the Lord's side and who are not. There has, indeed, been a great glare of religious profession and great shew and appearances here, and much alas! too much, said about this and the state of things. It is much to be feared, that with all this great shew, and all these favourable appearances, but few comparatively were really born of God, and truly converted.” 20

Henry also mentioned that Pritchard had just commenced his ministry at Papeete, “where the reaction was in a state of the most rapid and alarming progress, and that without any barrier to oppose it”.

It was in the very midst of this reaction that the Visionary Heresy began in a small way at Papeete. When Pritchard arrived in November 1825, the church at Papeete had been without a minister for two years. He found that his congregation knew “well how to talk about divine things”, but he was convinced that nine-tenths of his church members were “strangers to the power of vital Godliness”. 21

Some time between May and July 1826, one of Pritchard's church members, named Teao, had a remarkable dream, after which he predicted divine judgement upon the district, on account of the wickedness of the people. Teao was certainly not the first Tahitian to disturb the peace of the sinners of Papeete by his prophecies of divine retribution. When Crook had visited Papeete on 13 August, 1824, he had found that the royal family had all removed to the little island of Motu uta in the harbour, on account of the remarkable dream of a man named Maruae. His dream was that a great many of the Tahitians were to be destroyed for their sins by a water spout, and he had been warned by a voice to make his escape to Moorea. 22 Remarkable dreams were part of the stock-in-trade of the prophets of the old religion, and even after the establishment of Christianity as the national religion, such dreams continued to influence the people.

Teao, however, had much more to say than Maruae. When Pritchard was absent from the station, he went to the chapel and ascended the pulpit, in order to warn the people. It is not clear whether Teao made his revolutionary pronouncement at this stage, or after he had been denounced by Pritchard. There is one story which asserts that he claimed to be Christ, or rather, that he was possessed by the spirit of Christ, and made his revelations in this manner. 23

Teao's doctrine was revolutionary. At first he had preached the wrath of God. This was evidently preached at non-believers, and those who did not listen to what he had to say. His positive doctrine was that the Millennium had already commenced, and accordingly, there was no - 215 more evil in the world, and consequently, no need for any more law. He taught specifically that there was no hell, no sin, no devil, and no future punishment, and that in teaching the contrary, the missionaries taught nothing but lies. According to the missionaries, he also taught that, because the Millennium had commenced, man could do as he pleased; he could make spirits and get drunk, and he could commit adultery, and return to practices interdicted by the missionaries. However, there was one “means” to be kept, which was the observance of prayer. Teao further urged that all the old heathen songs and phrases should be adapted and used as prayers. In keeping with his prophetic role, he also said that they would see many visible signs, and he appointed days to wait for these signs.

Besides prayer, there were two features of Teao's message which had definite roots in mission teaching, divine interposition and chiliasm. The missionaries encouraged the belief in visible displays of divine interposition. Providence was to be seen at work in the works of nature, and the miraculous interpretation of natural phenomenon was rarely discouraged. Thus, in June 1817, Crook had received a letter from Utami, chief of Puna'auia, describing an extraordinary phenomenon. One dark and cloudy evening there was a loud clap of thunder, and the atmosphere appeared to catch fire. This fire appeared to “spread itself over all the western part of the district running along the surface of the ground and the adjacent sea”. At the same time the king's house was struck. Utami wrote that some thought the day of judgment had come, and others, that God was manifesting his anger on account of their sins, and was preparing to burn up their country. He, himself, regarded it as a token of the divine displeasure on account of the crimes of the people, and suggested that he and the whole district should observe a day of extraordinary prayer. Crook wrote back that it was well “when men were awakened to a sense of sin”. 24

The doctrine of the Millennium and the second coming of Christ was also specifically taught. Many of the first missionaries regarded the Millennium as an imminent event. They had interpreted the French Revolution and the Evangelical Revival in Britain and America as signs of the latter days. Millenarian heresies had come into being in Britain and America, a sure sign of the religious climate of the period. Crook records that in June 1817 his sermons and the “conversation meetings” had been on the theme of the first and second coming of Christ. 25 In December 1820, Davies mentions that Henry read one of Dr. Bogue's sermons on the Millennium at the English service. 26 Perhaps the most significant reference to the Millennium occurs in the concluding portion of the thirty-first report of the L.M.S. in 1825:

“The increase of intellectual and spiritual light in every direction, gradually progressive in its advances like that of the morning, which distinguishes the present era, when viewed in reference to THE TERMINATION OF THE GREAT PROPHETIC PERIOD, seems - 216 strikingly to indicate that the dawn of the Millenial Day has actually commenced; and to afford to all Christians assurance, that every effort, made in the spirit of prayer, faith, humility, and holy zeal, to disseminate Christianity throughout the world, will be rendered, under Providence, subservient to that great and glorious issue.” 27

It is just conceivable that Teao was familiar with the content of this report when he proclaimed that the Millennium was already begun. Certainly the language of the report has a strange irony.

Prayer, another early feature of Teao's message, had also played an important role in the old religion, and praying or religious chanting was the principal feature of most ceremonial. There was also a strong belief in the malignant effectiveness of invocatory prayer. By 1826, however, prayer was regarded as one of the principal features of Christianity. The first converts at Tahiti had been distinguished as “praying people” or bure atua. The habit of going privately into the bush to pray was the distinguishing mark of a Christian, and under persecution some of the first converts went as far as abandoning family worship, and even an open profession of Christianity, but when they could, they would retire to the bush and pray in secret to Jehovah. It was this “secret”, solitary prayer which appears to have been revived by the Peropheta. In the days when the persecuted Christians had resorted to the bush, they had also made use of their traditional prayers, not being familiar with any other form of words. It should also be remembered that the tutae 'auri, which was definitely a nativist movement, had made a point of ridiculing prayer.

Comparatively little is known of Teao's background. He was a native of one of the Leeward Islands, most probably Raiatea, and came to Tahiti with a number of other Leeward islanders, after Pomare II had been restored to the paramountcy of Tahiti in 1815. He was both attendant and friend of the king, and Pomare taught him to read and instructed him in the doctrines of Christianity. Teao became a voracious reader, and read all the books then printed in Tahitian. These consisted of a catechism, various spelling books containing scripture sentences and hymns, a summary of the Gospels and Acts, a hymn book, and at least four complete books of the New Testament, Luke, Matthew, John and Acts. There were also manuscript translations of other books, and sermons were memorised from headings. It is suggested that Teao knew many of these works by heart.

Shortly after May 1826, Teao's wife was judged for adultery with another Tahitian. Teao was considerably angered by the whole affair, and according to the missionary Darling, he began to show “symptoms of a deranged state of mind”. 28 It is difficult to assess this opinion, as most of our information is derived from missionary sources, and the missionaries easily assumed that the author of such blasphemous doctrines must necessarily be mad. As early as August 1826, Darling referred to the prophecies as the effects of Teao's “mental derange- - 217 ment”. 29 In his May report for 1827, he referred to him more definitely as being “always a kind of half wited fellow”. 30 Exactly the same kind of remarks were later made by the New Zealand missionaries about the Hauhau prophet, Te Ua. Bishop Williams referred to him as having always been “considered a harmless lunatic”, whilst the Presbyterian chaplain to the Imperial troops wrote that he had evidently been “afflicted with a species of insanity for some years”. 31

The second principal prophet of 1826 was a man named Hue. Hue's background is much more significant in any study of the heresy. Whereas Teao may well have been the victim of his own illusions, Hue's participation could be interpreted as the calculated allegiance of an apostate Christian. Hue was a Raiatean, and related to Utami, the chief or arii of Punaauia. Both Hue and Utami had come to Tahiti from the Leeward Islands, in order to assist Pomare II in putting down opposition, and in establishing Christianity. Hue was first noticed by the missionaries as a promising scholar in Davies's class at Papeto'ai in Moorea. When he and Utami removed to Puna'auia, they began a school together, and both acted as teachers. Davies later remarked that Hue had been a good reader when with him, and that he was “generally inquisitive” about the meaning of what he read. 32 The missionaries, Bourne and Darling, settled at Puna'auia in 1819, and when the church was formed there, Hue was one of its first members. Hue was also appointed a deacon, and was very active in church affairs. At the Annual Meeting of the Tahitian Missionary Society in May 1823, Hue seconded Wilson who addressed the meeting on the success of the Gospel.

Some time before May 1826, Hue was reported to be “drinking too freely with some wicked persons”. He was deprived of his office of deacon, and suspended from the church at Puna'auia for intemperance and “some other improprieties”. 33 After his public disgrace, Hue appears to have regarded himself as Darling's personal enemy. Whilst he was in this frame of mind, Teao made several visits to Puna'auia. According to Darling, Hue was “seized with something of the same spirit”, and embraced all Teao's doctrines. 34

Both the Peropheta formed a party round them. These followers continued to attend the preaching of the missionaries, and Teao and Hue presumed to contradict Pritchard and Darling in public, saying that all that they taught themselves was directly revealed from heaven. Personal knowledge, and even access to heaven, were experiences which most of the people accepted. The belief in spirit possession and transmigatory experience had survived the destruction of the old gods. Even the missionaries, as we have seen, refrained from denying that the prophets of the old religion had been possessed by Satanic agencies, after having witnessed their contortions and prophesyings, and hence they did not regard belief in possession as a superstition in itself. The - 218 conception that disease was a form of possession was widely held, and this received some support from the accounts of Scriptural miracles. One of the most vivid examples of transmigratory experience is the story of the trance of Ari'ipaea vahine, the Queen of Huahine, and titular 35 consort of Pomare II. Ari'ipaea was convinced of the genuineness of her spirit wandering, and claimed that she was visited by her spirit lover, until she became interested in Christianity, and joined Davies's class of students. 36 Such stories were popularly believed. Prophetic dreams persisted long after the suppression of heathen worship. Charter, a missionary at Raiatea, records the case of Terematai who had been almost insensible for two or three days. When she came to herself, she said:

“‘I have been to heaven. I saw Mr. and Mrs. Williams and a number of Raiateans there and I wished to remain but God sent me back to exhort my family that they may be saved.’ She was in a very happy state of mind and appeared wholly absorbed in spiritual subjects.” 37

The language of religious revival used by the missionaries was also suggestive of spirit possession. Crook, writing in 1823, mentions a popular hymn, which was a translation or imitation of “Come, Holy Spirit, come!” 38

The exact number of followers in 1826 is nowhere given. It does not appear that those church members who were followers in 1826 had any intention of leaving the church. Most of those who became followers were from amongst the baptized Christians, who had not been received as members. However, the movement was sufficiently popular, or notorious, to receive the serious attention of the missionaries at other stations. In July 1826, Crook set aside a day for personal retirement and devotion, and among other things prayed for the people, “deploring their apathy and the judgments of God upon them in permitting false prophets to arise and lead many captives”. 39 Darling first thought the matter worthy of reporting to the Directors in August. At the beginning of September, when the missionaries met together in Papeete, Davies preached a sermon on the text, “Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines.” 40 Also, in September, Utami and the other chiefs deported the prophets to Raiatea. Darling wrote in November that, although his station was in peace, and Hue's followers attended worship every Sunday, they continued to behave in a “very distant manner”. 41

After the Peropheta had been banished to Raiatea in 1826, there was little disturbance from their followers in the churches at Papeete and Puna'auia. However, the movement had lasted long enough to capture the popular imagination. In March 1827, an old man named - 219 Terua was relating extraordinary dreams to the people of Taiarapu. Crook relates that Terua came to the morning prayer meeting on 4 March, approached the person who had been engaged in prayer, and proposed to pray “speaking aloud a strange mixture of scripture and nonsense”. The people said it was a “second Teao”, and put him out of the chapel. 42 Some time before May 1827, the Peropheta returned to Tahiti, and began to proselytize again. In May, Darling wrote that Hue continued to do all the mischief he could, and that he was drawing away members of his church “under the pretence of getting into the bush to pray, using all the [old] expressions possible, many of which are Blasphemouse to [a] high degree”. 43 He also reported that Teao was almost worshipped by his disciples. Most of Hue's followers at Puna'auia belonged to the family of Utami, but the chief himself strongly opposed the movement, and promised Darling he would see that Hue was taken back to Raiatea.

Both Pritchard and Darling underestimated the appeal of the new movement, and the policy of banishment adopted by the chiefs contributed to the general spread of the visionary heresy. Those expelled from Papeete and Puna'auia were sent to the other stations on Tahiti or Moorea, as well as to the Leeward Islands. In purging his church, Darling was able to write in September 1827 that the new seat was beginning to fall. 44 However, in the same month, Hue was in Tai'arapu gathering converts. He visited the mission station when Crook was absent, and succeeded in encouraging a “number of wild young people together with a baptized man who [had] turned apostate” to go into the forest on the night of 9 September, and join in the new prayers “that they may commit lewdness and intoxicate themselves when they please, and that the laws and scriptures may be set aside and the missionaries banished”. 45

The attitude of the missionaries to the new doctrines varied considerably. They were most surprised at the doctrinal content of the heresy. In June 1827, Orsmond considered that the number of “blasphemous errors” amongst the people was “truly astonishing”, considering how young the churches were. 46 Orsmond's contact with the heresy was principally through those who had been exiled to his station on Moorea from Papeete and Puna'auia. He regarded this policy as persecution, and maintained that he was able to win back all those who were sent to his station. In September 1829, he was able to report that not one of the “New Lights” had “sprung up” at his station, and that the six or eight who had been sent there had been corrected by “a little plain talking”. 47 In November 1829, he was involved in a controversy with Darling for admitting some of Darling's former congregation to his church. The young chief Paraita had been exiled to Moorea from Puna'auia about the beginning of 1828 for being “one of the false - 220 doctrine lads”. Orsmond was satisfied with his conduct at Afareaitu, baptized him, and admitted him into the church. Subsequently, Paraita visited Tahiti, where he was treated “roughly”. When he returned, he brought several friends with him whom Orsmond afterwards baptized. Darling took offence at this, and wrote angrily to Orsmond. Orsmond was in many ways an eccentric, but he had a shrewd knowledge of the way to handle people, and even after he was disconnected from the L.M.S. in 1844, his rival missionaries admitted that he had the most efficiently run station. What he wrote in his reply to Darling contained a leading argument:

“But for those false doctrine lads whom you and others have sent here our stations would not have known those gents. Yet all on coming here hitherto(,) so far as we know (,) behaved well. You have done all the stations in all the Islands an injury by judging and sending those poor men away for their erroneous sentiments instead of trying by gentle means and suasive arguments to win them. Had you and Mr. Pritchard left them alone for a few months I fully believe it would all have been forgotten. But the poor men were provoked to rage and are now determined foes.” 48

At the beginning of 1830, Orsmond's station was still free from the visionaries, and he wrote that all the exiles had been reclaimed without exception, and were reunited with them as church members. “A little friendly dispassionate reasoning,” he wrote, “does more than fifty public judgments.” 49

On the other hand, Pritchard, at Papeete, seems to have resorted principally to the assistance of the civil magistrate. Some time before March 1828, he closed the church at Papeete for three weeks, because Teao had not been banished to another island, and because some of the congregation, including some church members, had followed the new doctrines. By resorting to expulsion, Pritchard purged his church but assisted in spreading the movement. Surprisingly enough, the only description of the visionaries in Pritchard's districts, comes from the journal of Hugh Cuming, who visited Papeete in January and April 1828. Cuming says that the visionaries had three houses near the harbour of Taunoa, where his vessel lay. He visited these houses several times, and found that the visionaries were often at prayer. He found them “very Industrious in making their houses neat and clean”. 50 On the Sabbath he called twice, and always found them praying, but he was unable to gain any further information from them. As far as he could see they were ignored by their neighbours. Moerenhout also reports that they were always at prayer, and that they wore long beards. 51

Persecution of the sect, of a more stringent kind, was most marked at the Papara station. In May 1827, Davies had written that there had been no doctrinal “innovations” in his church. 52 However, exiles from - 221 the other stations soon disturbed the peace of his station. One of the doctrines mentioned as being held by the sect after 1827, was that they were able to walk on water. This suggested a “punishment to fit the crime” which strongly appealed to Tati, chief of Papara, and the other chiefs and judges. Cuming reports this method of punishment being in use in April 1828. He said that several of Teao's followers who resided at “a north part of the island” had been banished by the chief of their district, and ordered to proceed to the “royal domain”. 53 In each of the districts they passed through, the chiefs made them walk on the reefs and swim over the openings. A reporter writing in the South-Asian Register, published in December 1828, and based on information supplied by Captains Kent and Henry (who had left Tahiti earlier that year), commented on the great persecution of the sect in Tahiti by the “higher powers”, and the fear at one time that the movement would “almost subvert the government”. The same source claimed that the sect was since suppressed, and that numbers of the most zealous adherents had been condemned to walk barefoot on the reef surrounding the island. 54 In November 1828 Crook, who was still at Tai'arapu, was surprised to see several persons swimming in the sea, and several judges walking along the beach. He discovered that those swimming were visionaries who had been members of Davies's church at Papara. Tati had judged them, and they had been sent off from Papeari through the sea. They were to be taken round the south and north ends of the island, and then presented to Queen Pomare. They had not committed any overt acts, but had been punished merely for “assembling together for their visionary practices”.

“One said he was Jesus, another Peter(,) another John(,) another Mary, and one or more of them said they could walk on water.” 55

They were allowed to come ashore in Crook's presence, and he found that their eyes were much swollen and inflamed with swimming so far. Like Orsmond, Crook strongly objected to any persecution of the sect. When the judges had wished to punish the visionaries in his own district for their prayers, in September 1827, he had advised them to leave them alone until they became “obnoxious to the laws”, which he thought would be the case. 56 In the case of the reef-walkers, he advised the judges to deal “moderately and mercifully” with the “poor deluded creatures”, urging that kindness, rather than severity, would be more effective.

Early in 1829, the visionaries first came to Matavai. Between April and August of that year eighteen church members were judged for adhering to Teao's principles and, with a number of others, they were sent round the island until they renounced their views and practices. Only a few returned, and a man and his wife were received into membership again. Some stopped at other stations. Those who returned attended school and church services, but manifested “no - 222 inclination to renounce their opinions”. 57 These people were afraid to associate together in case they were judged and banished. Wilson reported that when six or eight were found praying or conversing together, they would be “dragged away in a cruel manner and judged”. He claimed that he had interfered to prevent it more than once, because such methods were “illegal, and not likely to convince them of their errors”.

The opposition of the principal Tahitian chiefs to the visionary heresy was decided and uncompromising. They were more clearly identified with the missionary-inspired laws of Tahiti than either Pomare III or Pomare IV. As governors and judges under the law, they retained much of the power which they had been in danger of losing under Pomare II. Under the Regency, they attempted to consolidate their power and build up their prestige. Tati and Utami were, in many respects, the effectual rulers of Tahiti. As Supreme Judges of Tahiti, they gathered around themselves much of the old pomp of their former high chiefly status. Henry describes Tati and Utami in their judicial costume at Moorea in March 1832:

“The two judges were dressed nearly alike and had a very respectable, yea venerable and noble appearance, being robed in long scarlet dresses which reached nearly to their feet.” 58

Being civil magistrates as well as hereditary chiefs, these men often interpreted the law as they wished. As the Peropheta taught that the law was no longer necessary, the heresy was a direct threat to the authority of these chiefs. They regarded this aspect of the heresy as being treason in itself, and consequently were particularly severe in their judgments. Both Teao and Hue were banished to Raiatea at least once again before 1830.

It was during these years of persecution that the visionaries received the name Mamaia from their Tahitian detractors, and that Orsmond wrote his tract against their teachings. The doctrines of the sect remained substantially the same as in 1826, and it is difficult to know which were held at the beginning of the movement and which were added later. The principal doctrine was that of the effectiveness of prayer. Crook mentioned in 1829, that the visionaries prayed for three days and nights, in order to be favoured with their visions. In their inspired state, they claimed to hear voices or see visions. 59 Darling observed that when they were in their “frenzy way”, they believed themselves possessed with the spirits of Paul, John, Peter and Mary, and saw “visible signs from heaven of various things”. 60 The reporter in the South-Asian Register described their doctrine as follows:

“They hold, that the pleasures of this life are good, that they are the blessings of the faithful, bestowed upon them from the earliest ages of the world; that Abraham, Noah, David and Solomon, were favoured to partake of them more largely than common. As for what the - 223 Missionaries urge, it is all very well in part, and the sayings of Jesus Christ are worthy of acceptation, but there is no Day of Judgment for the faithful, no condemnation unto them who believe, but they will enter heaven immediately, having their humanity renewed, and their enjoyments made infinite boundless, lasting for ever. They prophesy, moreover, that all things are fulfilled.” 61

The view that they were particularly blessed, as befitting a covenant or chosen people, was a conspicuous belief throughout the history of the movement. Their faith acted as a kind of charm against all odds, whether enemy gunfire or disease, in the same manner that the Hauhau soldiers of New Zealand believed that their prayers and charms could ward off enemy bullets. 62

Some of the missionaries did not even mention the Mamaia in their reports, and only Darling, Crook, Wilson and Orsmond mention specific beliefs. Blossom dismissed it as being a “good deal of something like Joanna Southcott nonsense”. 63 However, Orsmond's account of the doctrines in 1832 agrees with the accounts given in 1826. In September 1832, about two dozen Tahitians were “detected in performance of those vile ceremonies of those called Mamaia”, many miles inland from Orsmond's station in Tai'arapu. These persons were judged and banished as “disturbers of the common peace”, although Orsmond referred to the sentence as a“species of persecution”. He then specified the doctrines:

“They professed (1) that their leader was at the time of inspiration really God (2) that the missionaries are all liars in as much as they state that the soul never dies (3) that hell fire is figurative not real. (4) that men ought to eat and drink abundantly and take any wife they long for that the land may be full of people.” 64

This last belief has been characteristic of other millenarian movements. The Hauhau prophets taught that men and women should live together promiscuously, so that their children might be as the sand of the sea-shore. 65 Anti-missionary propaganda also became a more marked feature of the Mamaia in these years. During 1826 and 1827, dissatisfaction had been expressed amongst orthodox church members with the system of voluntary contributions to the L.M.S. Insinuations of misappropriation of the funds by the missionaries, were made. 66 Indeed, the question was such a moot one, that Henry considered it necessary to resign from his station at Papeto'ai in Moorea in June 1827. The principal abbettors in the affair were the tutae 'auris, who should not be confused with the Mamaia, though doubtless their insinuations were welcomed or shared by the visionaries. In March 1829, Crook was opposed by one of the exiled visionaries at his station, for stirring up the people to bring in their subscriptions for the L.M.S. - 224 This man had been one of Crook's church members at Papeete; he had then been excommunicated, and became a church member at Nott's station at Papaoa, where he was frequently excluded for drunkenness and immoralities. He had since been banished from Pare, and sent to Taiarapu, for uniting with the visionaries. He asserted at the meeting that the followers of Teao were really inspired with the spirit of God, and a church member, whom he had influenced, supported him. This apostate church member declared that the Bible was a “black book”, but “their new religion was a white book, and that he was resolved to follow it”. 67 In the same month the visionaries sought to convince Darling's congregation at Puna'auia that they were “purchasing the salvation of their souls” with the oil which they were subscribing. 68 There was also active hostility, and attempts were made to burn Darling's house.

Very limited figures are available for the spread of the Mamaia heresy in the years 1827 to 1830, and it is also difficult to determine the influence of the movement in regular church attendance. Orsmond wrote in November 1827 that Darling had “hardly anything but forms to preach to”, and that no people had “so degenerated as those at Burder's Point”. 69 However, intervention by Utami in exiling the leaders was effective in checking the separatism, and former followers were induced to attend church again. In November 1828, Darling was able to write that many had cast their errors away. On the other hand, he was aware of others who attended church, but who still held their visionary beliefs, and privately made use of the “most inconsistent sentences and words” in their prayers. 70 An article in the Caledonian Mercury for 30 June 1828 mentioned that Darling's church had been deserted. Darling denied this, saying that his station had been no more deserted than that of Papara, and that of Papeete. Not more than ten or twelve members had ever left his church, and most of these had applied to be readmitted. When he wrote in January 1830, he asserted that the whole system had “died or nearly so” at Puna'auia. 71 Figures for church members, however, are not as revealing as those for the baptized. The heresy had a greater appeal to the baptized, and to suspended members who were denied the privileges of membership.

The figures for Papara, where the movement was very strong, are also only partly informatory. In May 1828 Davies already had three or four members who were “countenancing wild notions”, and one had to be suspended. 72 However, there are no other figures to suggest the extent of the movement at his station. Wilson of Matavai reported 30 excommunications in 1829, 18 of which were for “following the prophets”, and two were received again. 73

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By 1830, the visionary heresy, or Mamaia sect as it had come to be called, had passed its peak in the Windward Islands. In Tahiti, it was still fairly strong in the Matavai-Pare area. It had been most efficiently stemmed in Papara and Puna'auia, where the chiefs Tati and Utami were its decided opponents, but it had not been eradicated. It had also found some degree of refuge in the Tai'arapu peninsula, where some of the chiefs were more actively sympathetic. In Moorea there were comparatively few supporters. 74 There is no record of the movement in the Tiarei-Hitia'a area at all. In the Leeward Islands the visionary doctrines were much more widely accepted, and the Mamaia threatened to subvert the entire missionary order.

Nowhere in the Society Islands did the visionary heresy reach such proportions as at Maupiti. 75 Nowhere else was it fully adopted by church and state. No European missionary had resided at Maupiti, and the quality of Christianity on the island depended on the native teachers. Maupiti was an outpost of the church at Borabora which, at the time of the rise of the heresy, was under the superintendency of Platt. The native teachers, Reva'e and Farebu'a, had been taken there in 1822. The first church was formed on 2 March 1823, and the first members were the two teachers, the principal ari'i or king, Ta'ero, and five others. On 5 March 1823, an auxiliary missionary society was formed on the island, and a thousand bamboos of oil were subscribed. Although the church began so auspiciously, it was the only church in the entire group which wholly succumbed to the doctrines proclaimed by Teao and Hue.

When the Peropheta were sent down to the Leeward Islands in 1826, they did not fail to communicate their beliefs, and their reputation for miracles and remarkable dreams all but travelled on the winds. Others who were banished from Tahiti continued to spread the doctrines. As early as November 1827, Orsmond received letters from Platt informing him that all of Maupiti, except about four individuals, had embraced the heresy. Both Reva'e and Farebu'a had committed adultery, and were “in the practice of every vice”. 76

Maupiti had formerly been conquered by Ma'i, one of the high chiefs or “kings” of Borabora. When the island had embraced Christianity, Ma'i restored Ta'ero, the principal ari'i of the island, to his former position. Just how far Ta'ero was activated by the spirit of revolt, it is not easy to determine. He appears to have been one of the first to embrace the visionary doctrines, and the chiefs and people turned with him, just as they had turned en masse to Christianity. In a regular assembly, Ta'ero and his chiefs revoked the Tamatoa Code, 77 which Ma'i had introduced from Borbora, and sent the laws back to Ma'i, announcing their intention to be no longer ruled by them. They acted according to Hue's principle, that all laws “human or divine” were to be held at naught, and deprived their governors and - 226 chiefs of all authority. According to Cuming, Tamatoa of Raiatea sent an armed force to compel the people of Maupiti to receive the laws and their governors, but he was unable to restore orthodox Christianity. 78

The visionary doctrine at Maupiti was much the same as at Tahiti. The people likewise claimed to be inspired by Paul, Peter and the Virgin Mary. As Bourne phrased it, they gave loose to “all the vile practices” of adultery, fornication, and dancing. 79 However, we are indebted to Samuel Crook, the son of the missionary, for a more detailed account of the “Maupiti madness” and the “many hocus pocus juggles” of the sect. Samuel Crook's account was probably based on Platt's letters, or the observation of Platt's sons. According to this account, the visionaries at Maupiti celebrated the Lord's Supper every Sabbath and on Wednesdays. 80 This communion was open to all, including children, and nobody was excepted. They took each other's wife “or a dozen wives in a day”, and atoned for this by praying until they felt that their sin was forgiven, and then began again “with their wickedness”. 81

More significant, however, is the cargo doctrine which Samuel Crook describes:

“They are to have a ship load of cloth from the skies and a large boat made for the purpose is to bring the ship from above. They are to have swarms of fish come on the strand for their use, wine from heaven in bottles, and cows out of the clouds.”

This aspect of millenarianism, common to so many movements in primitive societies, gives strong support for a more general interpretation of these cults and sects.

Platt went immediately to Maupiti to put down the heresy, but he was literally shouted down, and otherwise treated with disrespect. He was told that they had “more light”, and that he was a false teacher. According to himself, there were few who resisted “the delusion”. 82 From Maupiti the heresy spread to Borabora, and threatened the peace of Platt's church. He was constrained to suspend several members “on the Maupiti business”, and several others were excommunicated. Amongst these was one of the teachers' wives from Maupiti, who became inspired during a church meeting. Platt was not sure of the sex of the spirit, for the name given was “as indefinite with respect to gender as Legion”. However, as the pa'a or shell of the spirit was the teacher's wife, Platt referred to the spirit as a female. The spirit's name was Fa'aoti or “finisher”, and she was “come to finish the work of God”. She informed Platt that he was a true teacher sent from God, but he had two crimes. Anxious to understand more of the movement, he required her to be explicit. She then told him that he had sold the Scriptures “which [were] God's and ought to be given free”, and that he had encouraged the people to collect property for the L.M.S., which was only to serve their own purposes. Platt, however, reacted rather - 227 angrily to these assertions, told them they had got the spirit and could work miracles, and suggested that, as they had most of the Scriptures, they should make their own paper and print and distribute their own books. The meeting ended in confusion, and the visionaries were excommunicated. That was in June. In August 1828 the people of Maupiti were still “completely infatuated and inspired”. They had also revived their old “tricks of deception” or “juggling tricks” in order to keep the support of the people. 83 However, in October, Platt reported that “the awful mania” on Maupiti was all over for the present.

Platt believed that the system of contributions was the principal cause of the visionary heresy. “You have heard”, he wrote from Borabora in 1830, “of the Prophets of Tahiti and of the Visionaries of Maupiti, but perhaps you are not aware that one half of their disaffection and spleen is against the subscriptions to the Society and the selling books and their teaching and practice are entirely against the Society. 84 The teaching and practice of the sect was entirely against the L.M.S. rather than against the missionaries. The latter were only condemned as agents of the Society, and “consequently embezzlers of peoples' property”. Platt, no doubt, found it difficult to forget the revelations of the spirit Fa'aoti, who had come to “finish the work of God”.

Hue was not the only prominent apostate Christian in the business. The principal Peropheta at Maupiti was the ex-deacon Taua of Huahine. Taua was formerly known as Matapuupuu, and was by birth a ra'atira or landowner. Under the heathen system he had been a principal Arioi, and succeeded his elder brother as chief priest of Huahine. In August 1813 he joined Davies's school at Papeto'ai, and later accompanied Ellis to Huahine, where he became a prominent church member and was appointed deacon. He was also appointed first Secretary of the Huahinean Missionary Society. His speeches at prayer meetings and May meetings were reported with some pride. During the visionary disturbances, Taua decided to renounce his connection with the church, and removed to Maupiti where be “became most forward in promoting those wicked delusions”. 85 Taua, however, was an exception. Many of the other leading Arioi priests, such as Auna, remained loyal to the Christianity of the missionaries. In the Hauhau movement in New Zealand, it was the old tohunga priests who were the first to accept the Pai Marire religion. 86 This was not actually the case with the Mamaia, but Taua's defection is interesting in this respect. Doubtless, he expected to regain something of the prestige which had been his in former times.

The visionary heresy spread throughout the Leeward Islands. In 1830, the people of Maupiti had unanimously adopted the doctrines, and the position was almost the same at Borabora. Even the ari'i Ma'i of Borabora united with the visionaries, and earned the additional censure of the missionaries for buying and drinking spirituous liquors to excess. - 228 When he was at Tahiti in April 1829, he was toying with visionary notions, although he appeared to reform under Crook's ministry at Tai'arapu. 87 During the wars which were to follow he became a supporter of the heresy again. By 1833, more than half the inhabitants of Taha'a and Raiatea were influenced by the Mamaia doctrines. Even Huahine was not unaffected. In November 1828 Barff had written that there were “strange notions” abroad. 88 The visionaries at Huahine claimed to predict future events, and to perform miracles by healing the sick. They even attempted to raise the dead “by virtue of the power God had given them”. Barff regarded such claims as being “common traffick” of the people in their heathen state, and tended to regard the movement as a revival of heathenism. In September 1830 he wrote that, while he was at Tahiti, eight of his church members had been “drawn aside by some visionaries” transported from Tahiti. They had “carried their visionary dreams and insulting language so far as to abuse the chiefs in a most insulting manner” and threatened their lives “if they did not receive their strange dogmas”. 89 Before Barff returned to Huahine they had been judged and had repented.

It was during the wars at Tahiti and the Leeward Islands (1830-1833), that the visionary heresy flourished more openly again, but it was to be the swan-song of the movement.

In 1829, there had already been signs that the Mamaia sect was going to have political implications, and that disaffected parties would embrace the new doctrines for their own ends. When Tati had spoken at the May Assembly in 1829, he endeavoured to win over the other principal chiefs who were suspected of favouring the visionary heresy. The hostile attitude to the laws and to the contributions already displayed by the Mamaia, appealed to those chiefs who wished for a change of government. Queen Pomare IV 90 and her advisers were also influenced by the new doctrines, although they did not actually indulge in the visionary practices. Several years after the death of Pomare II, the Tahitian court, or “travelling company” as it might well have been called, had become notorious for its freedom from moral restraint. After the accession of Pomare IV, her court was a virtual centre of “heathen” resistance to missionary teaching. The missionaries deplored the system of sending the visionary exiles round the island to the Queen's residence, on the grounds that they would only add to the number of “bad characters” around the Queen's person. In December 1828 Pritchard reported on the moral state of the islands:

“By a great part of the people the missionaries are treated as deceivers and as persons inimical to their interest. From the time the people in general embraced a profession of Christianity, there never was a period in which they manifested such a desire to return to their former customs, as they do at present. In this they are encouraged by the Royal family. The attendants of the Queen are of the very worst - 229 description of character. With these she unites in the worst of practices.” 91

The chiefs on Tahiti most sympathetic to the Mamaia were those of Tai'arapu, the ancient seat of Tahitian royalty. Some of these chiefs had reason to be dissatisfied with the missionaries. Whilst Crook was at Tai'arapu he had offended several of the chiefs. He interfered much more in the administration of the law than many of his brethren, and he showed little sympathy for native custom or traditional law. Thus, when chiefs took action, which was not mentioned in the law code, he regarded such action as being “illegal”. In one instance, the chief Vahama'i forbade his sister to marry a young man who was unbaptized. The chief's reason was that his adopted son was the friend of the young man, and that consequently the young man stood in the relationship of nephew to the chief's sister. When prevented from marrying, the couple ran off together. They were afterwards caught and treated cruelly. On 10 April 1826, they were brought to trial before Ta'aviri, the chief judge of the district, and a leading ari'i of Tai'arapu. The man was sentenced to banishment, and the woman was sentenced to hard labour “altho three months gone with child”. Crook remonstrated against the sentence, and also suggested that the couple be allowed to marry. Ta'aviri accused Crook of “opposing the king and the laws and with opening a door for the commission of crime”. 92 Crook regarded Ta'aviri's action as being contrary to the law code. The matter, he stated, actually belonged to the province of the district judge. The young man had not been sentenced to work which was in contravention to the law, and accordingly Ta'aviri should lose his office. Crook further asserted that. Ta'aviri, in supporting the opposition to the marriage, had interfered in matters outside his judicial capacity. Ta'aviri said that he would appeal to the court, and accused Crook of being against the laws. Ta'aviri, the chief Vahama'i, and Tumatuma, one of Crook's deacons, wrote a letter to Tati appealing against Crook's influence, but Tati merely reproved them. On 17 April Crook excommunicated Ta'aviri, and suspended the deacon Tumatuma and Vahama'i.

Vaira'atoa, the paramount chief of Tai'arapu, supported Crook in this matter, but he was far from being sympathetic with the Christian cause. At the May Assembly at Papa'oa in 1827, he proposed “in the most artful manner that the old customs” of presenting property to the Queen “should be re-established, but his design was at length seen through, and firmly opposed by the parliament men”. 93 Notwithstanding this, Vaira'atoa and some of the other Tai'arapu chiefs seemed “inclined to do away with the laws and to set up many of the old customs again”. 94 When the Queen and her party arrived in Tai'arapu, they presented her with large heaps of food, and large bundles of cloth in the traditional manner. Vaira'atoa was further offended with Crook when his efforts - 230 forcibly to detain the missionary Buzacott, at the end of 1827, met with Crook's strict censure. Before Crook left in September 1830, he brought Vaira'atoa to trial over a matter of fraudulence. 95 The old chief was possibly in the wrong, but his hurt pride caused his opposition to the missionaries to become more definite. According to Moerenhout, he declared that he would not remain quiet until he had lit the fire of civil war, and caused the new sect to triumph.

Between the time of Pomare IV's accession and 1830, there were frequent indications of political tension. Utami and Tati were forced to act as mediators, and found it difficult to maintain the laws. However, by December 1828, they had so consolidated their position as to be able to dictate their own terms to the Queen. A letter was sent round to all the principal judges requiring them to meet, in order to discuss the conduct of the Queen and her family who had been participating in the traditional dances with the tutae'auri at Moorea. 96 In January 1829, at a public meeting at Pare, the Queen was questioned by Pa'ofa'i, on behalf of the Supreme Judges of Tahiti. She was told plainly that if she broke the laws in future “there would be no difficulty in the business”. 97 Her mother and aunt, who were both ringleaders in the reaction, were reproved, and regulations were made regarding the Queen's attendants. It was said that the tutae'auri would rise if the Queen was brought to trial, but the meeting passed without any incident. As Nott described the proceedings, all was “appropriate, firm, grave, yea solemn and peaceable”. 98

During 1830, Pomare IV visited the Leeward Islands where she was considerably influenced by her relations, particularly Mahine, the principal ari'i of Huahine, who was also an ari'i in Moorea. Before the Queen returned from Raiatea, she sent messages to the Windward Islands, requesting the people of Tahiti and Moorea to make her some cloth which she desired to present to her relations, Tamatoa and Mahine, who were accompanying her. This was contrary to the Tahitian law, which required the people to give the Queen an annual stipend. Vara and the other chiefs of Moorea decided to comply with the Queen's request and perform the ceremony of presenting the 'A'a one. The 'A'a one was specially prepared cloth for persons of high rank, which was presented in a roll with an abundance of native productions. The finest cloth was held by men, women and children, with thumb and finger, walking on each side of it. The Queen landed at Papeto'ai on 8 December 1830. When warned that they would be judged, Vara and the chiefs argued that it was better to support the Queen than create war. On 20 December, the chiefs of 'Afareaitu were requested to attend the presentation, which they did. When they returned they informed Orsmond that dancing had taken place. However, the chiefs at 'Afareaitu decided to present their cloth without anything “indecent” occurring. 99

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Utami, Tati and Pa'ofa'i were determined to oppose the revival of the homage system. They were further aroused to opposition by the reported insults of Mahine and Tamatoa. They announced that the Queen could come and take her rolls of cloth from where they were as they did not intend to present them, especially as they were required to be presented in an open state. They also said that they would judge the Queen and her relations as soon as they landed in Tahiti, and deport them. Orsmond regarded the opposition of the chiefs as being “as puerile as her request [was] childish”.

Orsmond maintained that the judges who came across to judge Vara were drunk. When the Queen arrived at 'Afareaitu, she scolded the people for not detaining the boats and binding the judges with ropes. The 'A'a one was presented at 'Afareaitu on 5 January 1831. Orsmond described the ceremony as being well-conducted, and his eldest son, who had been a companion of the Queen's deceased brother, presented her with three yards of cambric. He further asserted that the charge that Pomare wished to do away with all law was “a mere made up tale”. He believed it had been “trumped up by the chiefs to give colouring to their ill founded opposition”. Whilst in Moorea, she was “in persona punishing offenders and testifying publicly to her love to the laws”.

In mid-January the Queen went across to Tahiti. Mahine and his party remained in Moorea because of the state of feeling against him in Tahiti. At the Assembly at Papa'oa in January, the chiefs requested Mahine to be judged “as he was a mover of sedition”. 100 In answer to this request, Pomare “stood up and remained speechless more than 15 minutes perhaps, understanding her meaning the Chiefs after some consultation agreed to drop the matter”. However, they made it plain that they would not allow any cloth or food to be presented. They argued with the Queen's speaker for a number of hours, and proposed that she should wait till March, when the laws could be legally revised. It was at this point that the Mamaia openly sided with the Queen, as they were the only ones in Tahiti who had offered to receive the Queen with the ceremonial. Moerenhout says that she actually lived with the Mamaia in Tahiti at this critical stage, and showed her preference for them.

Vairaatoa, the old chief of Tai'arapu, who had desired the revival of the presentation system in 1827, now openly defied the decision of the Assembly and the laws, and encouraged three other ari'i of Tai'arapu, Taaviri, Tapuni and Rora, to comply with the Queen's request. As a result, they went ahead with the ceremony. The principal ari'is now insisted that the four rebellious chiefs should be judged. The rebels evaded their trial at Tai'arapu, and joined the Queen at Pare. She, in turn, fled to the islet of Motu uta in the harbour at Papeete. In this affair Darling, Nott, Davies, Wilson and Henry advised the chiefs, as they were afraid all the laws would be broken. Orsmond was regarded as having betrayed his brethren, and from then on his relations with them were somewhat strained.

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Some of the chiefs threatened to come to Papeete under arms, and remove the rebel chief from the Queen's protection. In March, Pomare appealed to Williams and Barff, who agreed to help if she would reestablish the laws and give up her demands for the presentation of cloth. Captain Sandilands of the Comet, 101 who was also at Papeete, took part in the mediation, and he and Pritchard endeavoured to prevent the chiefs from resorting to force. They, however, would not disband until the offenders had been given up. The Queen compromised by giving up Vaira'atoa, and 'Oto'ore and Ua, two chiefs of Pare. Utami went to Motu uta and judged these three persons, deprived them of their office, and sent them to other districts. The other “vagabonds”—as Wilson termed them—Tapuni, Ta'aviri and Rora were not given up. 102 Darling asserts that the four Tai'arapu chiefs, who had presented the tribute, had all embraced the Mamaia doctrines. 103 At the end of March 1831, Davies wrote deprecatingly of the “wicked young Queen and her gang” of tutae'auris, and the “wicked example” of Mahine, Rora and Ta'aviri, in supporting the Queen “in trampling the laws”. 104 He said that Pare was a place of thieving, adultery and drunkenness. The Queen herself returned to Papeete on 2 April, and re-instituted the laws at a public meeting.

It would seem that, in the disturbances of 1830-1831, the Mamaia played a comparatively small part. The Queen received their support, but she does not appear to have embraced their doctrines. The rebel chiefs of Tai'arapu may have actively participated in visionary practices, but there is no direct evidence of this. They certainly bore less love to the missionaries than most. However, when Orsmond went to Tai'arapu in 1831, the chiefs do not appear to have held Mamaia beliefs.

It was in the Raiatea-Tahaa war that the Peropheta took a more active part. This war was an old dynastic struggle between the Fa'anue or people of Borabora and Taha'a 105 against most of the people of Huahine and Raiatea. The chief of the Fa'anue party was Pomare tane, the husband of Pomare IV, afterwards known as Tapoa II. Tapoa had been insulted whilst in the Leeward Islands and a battle was fought. A truce was then engineered by Utami and Ari'ipaea, the Queen of Huahine. Some time later, Tapoa decided to attack the Raiateans. This action surprised all who knew Tapoa, as he had repeatedly said that he would never be the aggressor. He appears to have been entirely influenced by the Mamaia, who promised him complete success. Tapoa was defeated and made a prisoner. Platt remarked that the Mamaia fought hard as there were so many of them slain. 106 Williams declared - 233 that Tapoa was “instigated by the fanatics to act as he did”.

“All the fanatics from all the Islands had collected around him, they pretending to be inspired assured him of an easy and certain victory.” 107

It was in their role as battle augurs, that the visionaries were the direct successors of the traditional prophets. Blind confidence had been inspired in Pomare II and his followers by the prophet Metea, before the battles fought in the first decade of the century. The Peropheta appear to have had certain superstitious fears about places of worship, as they urged Tapoa to attack before the chapel at Raiatea was completed. They also told him to attack in the night “as God was God of day and not of the night”. 108

Tapoa's connection with the Mamaia is particularly curious. Throughout his life he satisfied the missionaries with his moral conduct, and he was regarded as having the most upright character among the natives of the group. To what extent he was carried away by the visionary prophecies is not clear, but the alliance is more suggestive of political expediency. Pomare IV took the opportunity to divorce Tapoa whilst he was conquered and disgraced, and her second marriage to a young ari'i of Huahine led to the third disturbance in which the Mamaia sect was involved.

When Vaira'atoa died, in March 1832, the chief judge, Ta'aviri, became the principal leader of disaffection in Tai'arapu. In August 1832, Orsmond remarked that Hitoti and Pa'ofa'i, who had previously been the “thorns” in the Queen's side, had become her principal allies. 109 Whereas, previously, they had driven out her attendants, they now “winked at every infamy”. On 3 December, Nott married the Queen to the young chief from Huahine. This was immediately used as a pretext for renewing the hostilities of the 1830-1831 crisis. Both Moorea and Tai'arapu protested against the marriage which was supported by Pa'ofa'i and the other chiefs. In this instance, however, the opposition claimed to be on the side of the laws, asserting that the Queen had broken the marriage laws. A deputation from Tai'arapu failed to defer the wedding, and left in displeasure. Orsmond advised the chiefs to write a short letter to the Queen “testifying that they opposed her wishes only out of regard to the laws as they understood; but since all Tahiti had agreed to her wish, they were satisfied and wished her peace and prosperity”. 110 At first Ta'aviri took Orsmond's advice, and wrote the letter of agreement.

The principal opposition to the marriage came from the chiefs of Moorea. Fanaue, the chief judge of Moorea, was determined to make a case of the matter. Tati and the other judges determined to resist Fanaue's intervention, and Tati sent for Ta'aviri to attend in opposition to Fanaue. The chiefs of Tai'arapu, with Orsmond's support, induced Ta'aviri not to go to Pare. 111 At the end of December, all governors - 234 and judges were ordered to attend at Pare to exert their influence in protecting the Queen in the case brought by the people of Moorea. A great host of people from Moorea came across to Tahiti, in order to judge Pa'ofa'i and dissolve the marriage. At the same time the chiefs at Tautira, who had separated themselves from Orsmond's station at the time of his arrival, took the side of Moorea. At Orsmond's station at Teahupo'o, there was a certain amount of division. The chiefs were influenced by Tapoa's deputy, and called a meeting on 4 January 1833, to decide whether they should recant having signed the letter of agreement, whether they should judge Moorea, or whether they should unite with Tautira and profess their determination to judge Pa'ofa'i and his colleagues. Orsmond was able to persuade them to take no part in the affair.

Those who came from Moorea to judge Pa'ofa'i lost their case and were judged in return, being ordered to work on the Queen's fortifications. They returned to Moorea chagrined, and Simpson at Papeto'ai noticed a marked falling off in the schools. 112 Many abandoned “both law and gospel”, and possibly the Mamaia doctrines took some root. Those who claimed that they supported the laws against the marriage were sentenced either to banishment or to hard labour. Some of the people were actually observed buying muskets and gunpowder.

About the same time Ta'aviri, the chief judge of Tai'arapu, appears to have been judged for agreeing to the marriage, by the judges of Tautira. As a consequence, the other chief judges of Tahiti deputed Tati and some district judges to judge those at Tautira. On 17 January, Tati and all the judges proceeded to Tautira via Teahupo'o “in warlike equipment”. Ta'aviri and Vahama'i and the other southern chiefs now decided to take to arms, and raised a party to assist the people of Tautira in resisting Tati and the judges. Orsmond told the chiefs that he was for “peace and for the King”, and endeavoured to dissuade them. Ta'aviri eventually relented, and sent off messengers to call back the armed men, who had already proceeded two miles. Orsmond also attempted to dissuade Tati from pursuing his course. Tati, however, was determined to judge the judges of Tautira. The people of Tautira gave Tati a very rough reception, and he and several of the judges were actually bound with ropes. 113

After this incident, hostilities were inevitable. Tati obtained his release, and returned to Papeari. The act of Ta'aviri and his confederates in taking up arms against the law, was considered as rebellion against the Queen's government. Orsmond wrote to Tati asking him to request Pomare to call a general meeting at Tarahoe, to reconsider the marriage, to reinstate the chiefs of Moorea, and to “seek means to reestablish the laws”. 114 By this time all the “bloom of Tai'arapu” were under arms. A meeting was held by Pomare, Tati and the other chiefs, and it was decided that the chiefs of Tai'arapu would have to be judged for resorting to arms, and that they would be satisfied by judging - 235 Ta'aviri and Vahama'i. 115 Accordingly, a messenger from Pomare arrived at Orsmond's station, demanding that the two chiefs “and all that followed them” be judged. Orsmond and the people endeavoured to persuade the other chiefs to give up the two leaders, but they refused. Orsmond was inclined to agree with their resistance, although it was in contravention to a law of March 1832, because he believed that Pa'ofa'i and the Queen were in the wrong. On 26 January Tati sent another message, demanding that Ta'aviri and Vahama'i should be given up, and two days later a number of judges arrived to judge them. Ta'aviri and Vahama'i sent messengers to induce those under arms to return home. The judges made it plain that the leaders would still be judged, and this was tantamount to a declaration of war. Orsmond describes the arrival of a band of insurgents, who reached the station on 2 February. They were equipped with “spikes of the rudest kind, Bayonets, Swords and old muskets”. He claimed that he endeavoured to persuade them that resistance was wrong, and engaged in prayer with them. On the same day a missionary deputation arrived, including Davies, Darling and Pritchard, who attempted to effect submission to the laws, failing which they would remove Orsmond from his station. They brought with them a letter from Pomare, ordering Orsmond to remove to Papara.

On 4 February, a church meeting was held, and the members were asked who were “for the Laws, the gospel and the king”, and who were not. About 40 men said that if Orsmond had to leave they would follow him. But the majority were for resistance.

“[All] seemed infatuated with the idea that they are in the right. tho. they have bound the Chief Judges with ropes and have joined in a bond to take up arms against the king.” 116

They informed the deputation that they would rather fight than yield. On the same day Davies, Darling and Pritchard set off to Pare, to a meeting with the chiefs and Pomare. War was imminent. On 7 February, Orsmond and his family left home.

So far nothing has been said about the participation of the Mamaia in this affair. In the accounts, other than Orsmond's, the cause of the insurrection is traced directly to the Mamaia. “The cause of all the obstinate conduct of these people,” wrote Darling, “seem(s) to be connected with the doctrine of the visionary fools. Two men of their number professed to be inspired to tell them that they would be sure to conquer.” 117 These two men, who called themselves Peropheta, were Tutuai and Vaipai. 118 Not only did they promise the insurrectionists victory, but they advocated the return to their old customs, and the entire overthrow of the laws.

On 7 February, the Queen's aunt and mother, Utami, Pa'ofa'i, Tati, Hitoti, and the other high chiefs, all armed themselves and proceeded to Tai'arapu. All the soldiers of Tahiti prepared themselves for the - 236 fight. Tati made a last desperate bid to prevent a war, and on 11 February, he proceeded by boat to the rebel camp. He was unable to persuade Vahama'i to give himself up, but Ta'aviri came back with him and was judged. He was convicted, defranchised, and ordered to complete one furlong of road for the Queen. Peace was again declared, and the army retreated.

Ta'aviri's compliance seems to have been part of an organized plot, a subterfuge to distract the principal chiefs, for no sooner had the army begun to proceed back to the other stations, than Ta'aviri and his colleagues decided to attack. About seven or eight hundred men from Tai'arapu pursued the rear of the army. They declared that they would not accept the peace, and that they were determined to judge Pa'ofa'i. On 12 February the first fighting took place. The firing lasted nearly three hours, and the rebels were finally forced to fly to the mountains. According to Darling, from twenty to twenty-five rebels were killed, while only six of the Queen's army were slain. 119 Orsmond asserts that hundreds followed those who went to fight, simply to plunder and destroy, and said that the heads of the slain were beaten to pulp. 120 Orsmond's station was partly destroyed. Even the floors of the old and new chapels at Teahupo'o were torn up, in order to make coffins for the dead. Ta'aviri was killed, the rebels returned to their homes, and the other chiefs were judged and banished from Tahiti.

The effective quashing of the revolt at Tai'arapu put an end to attempts to restore the former customs of Tahiti, and to organized political agitation. The defeat of the rebels was virtually the defeat of the Mamaia who had prophesied their victory, and who had rallied around the person of Ta'aviri.

However, there was one feature of the movement which continued to obtain support from the people: this was the claim of the leaders to be able to heal diseases. Some of the “faith healers” who emerged in this period, may not have been directly associated with the Mamaia sect, but the missionaries regarded them as being equally committed to error. Moreover, the Mamaia leaders, themselves, claimed to be able to work similar healing miracles, as those performed by Christ. As early as November 1828, Barff had mentioned such claims being made by the visionaries at Huahine.

In May 1833, Darling wrote that his station had been disturbed by Satan in another form, and that a man claimed to be able to cure disease by commanding the evil spirit responsible, to leave the afflicted body. Darling said that this man had effected cures in several instances, and that people flocked to him from all the other districts. 121 Many of them believed him to be possessed with supernatural power. Disease and spirit possession were not only associated with scriptural accounts, but the same association was common to the old religion. Platt tells a story relating to the cause of disease, during the visionary disturbances of 1828 at Borabora. On the evening of 20 October, a dog - 237 had continued to bark very loudly, until a child of four or five was seized with convulsions. All the people around, except one, asserted that the dog had been barking at the approach of an oromatua which took possession of the child, and they refused to believe that the child had some disease. 122 The curer of disease at Puna'auia also claimed that disease was caused by the sin of the relations of the sick persons, and practised the “casting out of ti'is or spirits”. In January 1834, Darling wrote that he had carried his curing too far, and had been compelled to leave the district. 123

The Mamaia, themselves, specialized in the healing of diseases, using incantation and faith-healing methods. Usually those possessed with the mana or powers were shrewd, observant men, expert in mental therapy, who could analyse the non-physical causes of illness. The reputation of the Mamaia healers saved the sect from complete disbandment, after the failure of the Tai'arapu revolt, and Teao and his followers continued to cure diseased persons at their settlement in the district of Fa'a'a. They specialized particularly in the cure of venereal diseases. It was their faith in their own curative powers which was eventually responsible for the complete annihilation of the sect.

Apart from the community centred around the prophet Teao at Fa'a'a, the Mamaia made little impression in the islands after 1833. In July 1834, Davies referred to the Mamaia as a “sort of wild Antinomians” who had originally “made some pretence to religion”, but that this was now “nearly laid aside”, and they were hardly distinguishable from the tutae'auri “being equally immoral”. They were then little noticed “as a distinct class”, and he prophesied that, because their novelty had worn off, they would “drop into oblivion”. 124

At the Assembly of 1834, the Mamaia were reproached with having endeavoured to change the received forms, and to establish new doctrines and ceremonies, for their own particular ends, and without the sanction of the majority. 125 A number of reformation laws were passed. These included a prohibition law, and another which made attendance at church and schools compulsory. This legislation made it much more difficult for the Mamaia to flourish.

The movement in the Leeward Islands possibly continued longer than in Tahiti, although there is very little evidence after 1834. In - 238 November 1835, Barff related the death of a man named Obu piti, who had been “led away by visionary folly”. The man was repentant on his death bed, and lamented not having listened to Williams. Barff said that he was so affected, that every muscle was in “violent agitation”, and he was covered with a profuse perspiration. 126 Ma'i, the rebel chief of Borabora, also continued to live in a heathen state. Moerenhout said that he took several women, and lived publicly in a way not even permitted under the ancient religion. 127 In 1835 Barff spoke of his wild costume, and referred to him as “the great leader in sin and mischief”. 128 He lived in the valley of Fa'anui, where his party refused to adhere to the laws, and where there was no observance of the Sabbath. Hue, the second prophet of the movement, was drowned at Taha'a, attempting to swim to Huahine.

Teao, the first of the Peropheta, lived at Fa'a'a until 1841, when the movement virtually terminated with his death and the death of most of his followers. The missionaries regarded the extinction of the Mamaia as a special dispensation of Providence, and marvelled at the event. During the course of 1841, a smallpox epidemic raged. The missionaries endeavoured to combat the disease by means of vaccination, and were able to check the epidemic. On the other hand, the Mamaia refused to be vaccinated, and insisted on the effectiveness of their own cures.

One of the foremost supporters of the sect was Tere, a chief and Supreme Judge of Moorea. Although a church member, he appears to have hankered after the old ways. Whilst at Tahiti, he contracted venereal disease, but on his return he denied misconduct of any kind. He then returned to Fa'a'a to the Mamaia party, who, at this time, were famed for their skill in curing such diseases. He remained at Fa'a'a for some time, expecting to be cured, and whilst there, he fully adopted the visionary views. However, instead of recovering, he lost the use of his limbs and sight whilst under their treatment. About May 1841, he returned to Moorea with his wife and family, and a Mamaia priest. On the journey, they slept in a house where there was a severe case of smallpox. They had no fear, as they believed that they were favourites of God, and that no evil could befall them. They then crossed to 'Afareaitu, where they remained two nights. Tere believed that the house at 'Afareaitu was so full of spirits that he could not sleep, so they proceeded to Teavaro. Two days afterwards, the Mamaia priest showed symptoms of smallpox, and died in a few days. Tere's wife was the next victim, then a stepson, then his infant son, followed by a sister and a brother-in-law until, in all, thirteen of his relations had died of smallpox. He also caught the disease, but recovered. Howe described him as “lying upon his bed, blind and lame, as the fruit of his secret sin”. 129

- 239

One of Tere's brothers was a Mamaia “preacher”. He returned to the settlement at Fa'a'a, taking the disease with him. It spread so rapidly that the district was almost literally without an inhabitant. Upwards of a hundred died of the disease. Darling wrote that the missionaries never realized that there were so many, until they were “cut off” by the smallpox. A woman from the party went to Papetoai, where thirteen persons belonging to the sect died. “Thus,” wrote Howe, “the sect of error, was made to become the source of death.” 130 Eliza Pritchard wrote exultingly that they had been “suddenly consumed root and branch destroyed”, and that wherever one or two were living in any part of Tahiti, “the disease appeared to search them out for its victims”. 131

There is little wonder that the disease was as fatal as it was, considering the refusal of the Mamaia to be vaccinated, and their own means of attempting to cure the sick. Darling asserted that they went as far as “blaspheming” the idea of vaccination. “Why vaccinate?” they mockingly asked the missionaries. “Was not the Son of God pierced for us according to what the teachers say and must we be pierced over again?” 132 Their method of curing was to repeat certain incantations, and to repeat certain things which were told them by the spirits which possessed them. When the disease first began at Papeete, they boasted that they could easily cure the victims by means of prayers and incantations. They regarded the smallpox as one of the diseases known to themselves as oniho, a skin eruption, which they could cure with proper native medicine. Anyone who was afflicted with the disease was placed in the midst of a circle made by the members of the sect. All the pustules of the sick man were then opened, and the people repeated their prayers. Naturally enough, the disease spread rapidly after one or two cases had been treated in this manner. From three to five persons died each day in Fa'a'a, and were mostly buried without coffins. Amongst them was Teao, who, as Darling phrased it, “died of smallpox in a miserable way in the bush”. “Thus,” he continued, “they were all sent into eternity with a lie in their right hands.” 133

Apart from the faith-healing doctrines and miraculous cures, little is known of the general doctrines of the sect after 1834. Howe regarded them as having some doctrines similar to those held by Roman Catholics, and called them “a people prepared for the papists”. 134 They - 240 would not partake of the ordinance of the Lord's Supper, because they believed that the bread and wine were really the body and blood of Christ. This seems to have been a new doctrine, and may well have been suggested by the information supplied by Orsmond's anti-Jesuit tract, and other anti-Catholic propaganda. It was only natural that those who were opposed to the missionaries should adopt the doctrines, or what they thought to be the doctrines, of those condemned by the missionaries. Darling also believed that the Mamaia would have united themselves to the Catholic party, had they been spared by the epidemic. 135

During the years of decline, the Mamaia sect was little more than a discontented community of “faith-healers” and die-hards. Earlier reaction had been quelled by 1830, and the political significance of the movement was no longer valid after 1833. The Mamaia was a curious, yet a not altogether unexpected manifestation of the process of culture change. The true roots of the movement lay in dissatisfaction and reaction. The more general forms of this dissatisfaction were not always the most obvious. When the Tahitians changed their allegiance from Oro to Jehovah, they carried over their notion of reciprocal obligations. The failure of the new religion to bring property was fairly obvious. A popular notion in the islands in the early days of Christianity, was that learning to write was a direct means of acquiring property. Many found that, to their chagrin, the letters which they wrote were not sufficient to obtain property, whereas the missionaries and traders were quite successful with the same means. The same reasoning was applied to the system of contributing through the local L.M.S. auxiliary. The missionaries taught that faith was more important than works, and that good deeds, especially the giving of presents, was of no avail to salvation. The Polynesian, with his idea of reciprocal obligations on the part of gods and men, found this idea difficult to grasp. He was dissatisfied with a system which did not give him salvation in return for his good works, such as the giving of subscriptions. On the other hand, many were dissatisfied with the system of church membership. In their heathen societies, particularly the Arioi Society, membership was according to social rank, and chiefs knew where they stood. Those who were not able to grasp the significance of membership, looked upon the system as arbitrary and unfair, especially those who felt that they did more for the church and the missionary than some of the members.

Another form of dissatisfaction, was the failure to understand how the Tahitian and the European could share the same God. There was a strong element of dualism in the ancient Polynesian religion. A similar type of dualism is evident in the Mamaia teachings. Fundamental differences of character and colour distinction sought for an explanation in dividing the Christian godhead. Whereas in New Zealand, the Hauhau prophets later claimed Jehovah as their covenant deity, and Christ as the God of the whites, the Tahitian prophets sought their inspiration from Christ. Although there is no direct evidence that they regarded Jehovah as being the particular God of the missionaries, - 241 it seems that they held the belief that the “God of the Europeans” was a god of the day only. They also referred to the Bible as being a black book, and their own revelations as a white book. Doubtless, the most general reaction from Christianity was simply a dislike for the moral restrictions, and the severe moral discipline imposed by the chiefs and missionaries.

The Mamaia doctrine was essentially a heresy, an attempt perhaps, to “adjust” the orthodox teachings of the missionaries to the special circumstances of environment and events. It grew rapidly from the Christian seed, because it could rely on the measure of importance given to prophecy in the Bible, and the oracular ambiguity of certain key passages. It had dispensed with Oro and Tane, but the new Apostles and the new Christ had much in common with their Polynesian predecessors. It was a nativist movement, 136 but one worked out within a framework of half-digested Christian ideas, ideas interpreted according to the old cosmological ways of thought, in which the dual godhead of the sexual genesis reigned supreme.

Above all, the Mamaia or Visionary Heresy was dependent on a considerable number of historical circumstances which brought it into being. Calvinistic theology, early break-away movements, missionary-inspired laws, political reaction and discontent, the failure to understand European technical superiority, and a premature acquaintance with difficult scriptural passages and doctrines, all assisted in giving a cause to one or two “dreamers of dreams”.

POSTSCRIPT—SEPTEMBER, 1961

But was 1841 the final date for the Mamaia? Certainly it was as far as the missionaries were concerned. Evidence collected in Tahiti during August 1961 would suggest, however, that the memory of Mamaia lingered long in the minds of people in the districts of Papeete and Puna'auia where the movement had originated. So far these traditions would appear to be valueless in reconstructing the actual doctrinality of the movement, although they may reveal to the psychologist and the anthropologist valuable information about the creation of myth.

The only historical data to be gleaned from these stories is that the Mamaia may have continued to survive in isolated pockets in valleys contiguous to Papeete and Puna'auia, though it is conceivable that the memory predates 1841, and secondly, that the valleys of the Mamaia were thick with the wild plantain or fe'i which they appear to have eaten in its raw state. Beyond that we enter into the realm of myth.

Mr. Gustave Brodien, nephew of the Polynesian scholar Teuira Henry, recalls that as a young man at the beginning of this century, he went pig-hunting in the Ti Paerui valley. This valley is not easy of access, and he remembers having to pass the dogs down into the valley - 242 because it was so steep. This valley was described to him as “te fenua o te mamaia”, it was then thick with the wild fe'is, and pigs were plentiful.

We are indebted to Mr. Ralph Gardner White of Tahiti for the principal survival account of the Mamaia in the Puna'auia district. 137 This account was told by an old man named Tutehau who learnt the story many years before from a man named Tau, who was then 84 years old. The story tells how Tau, as a very young man, went up the Punaruu valley in search of plantains and came upon a Mamaia asleep on the path. It would also appear that the Mamaia wore black pareus and white shirts in order not to be seen and that they behaved in the manner of poltergeists, throwing knives or stones at those who came along the paths. Tau and his friends captured the Mamaia by pressing him down with a green pole and tying him with rope. The prisoner, who had extremely long nails, clawed at the wood till the blood ran. He also had “long hair, of unequalled length”. He was kept on a tether at Taapuna until the fourth day when he commenced to eat, though he would only eat raw plantains. His captors at last tamed him and got him to wear a pareu. He was also taught to speak, after which he was asked many questions about the Mamaia.

“Whether [there] were many, whether they were numerous. He agreed that they were numerous, but that the eye of man cannot see them, because their occupation was going up onto the plantains and [then] eating the plantain fruit. When they noticed human odour, live human odour, well, they would leave. They did not travel by land, but it was as though they were incremental evil spirits [or, increments of ball lightning], as they would soar, soar upon one place, then on another, and so on. And then, if they wanted, would descend and travel by foot. Ah, do you give birth? He replied that they do give birth and multiply. In your opinion, if you were to go back, could they perceive you? He replied, No, no they would no longer perceive me. Do they have names? They are all named; every last one of them has a name.”

Needless to say, before the story is over, the Mamaia becomes a communicant church member. Several comments were made at the conclusion of the narrative concerning the language of the Mamaia:

“You cannot understand their language. You could certainly hear it, but it was like grunting, grunting, you would not know what it meant … Yes, perhaps like animals, though real speech, real speech it was.”

Thus it would appear that the Mamaia ultimately became a genus of menehune, 138 elemental spirits dwelling in valleys which perhaps had - 243 once been their places of refuge from a society which did not understand them.

REFERENCES Unpublished Sources
  • CHARTER, George: Journal, April 1838-September 1856, MS.; L.M.S., Sydney.
  • CUMING, Hugh: Journal of a Voyage from Valparaiso to the Society and the Adjacent Islands performed in the Schooner Discoverer . . . in the years 1827 and 1828. MS.; Mitchell Library, A 1336 (through the courtesy of the Trustees).
  • DAVIES, John: The History of the Tahitian Mission, MS.; L.M.S. Library, London.
  • LONDON MISSIONARY SOCIETY: Australia Letters 1797-, MS.; L.M.S., Library, London (through the courtesy of the Directors).
  • — —South Seas Journals 1796-, [S.S.J.], MS.; L.M.S. Library, London.
  • — —South Seas Letters 1796-, [S.S.L.], MS.; L.M.S. Library, London.
  • [SMITH, Joseph]: Ross Manuscript on Tahiti, MS.; 4 vols. typescript, catalogued under Ross, Ernest A. R., whose name appears on the original manuscript. Annotated by Teuira Henry, niece of Smith; B.P. Bishop Museum, Honolulu (through the courtesy of the Trustees).
Published Sources
  • BABBAGE, S. Barton, 1937. Hauhauism. An Episode in the Maori Wars 1863-1866. Wellington, Reed.
  • ELLIS, William, 1831. Polynesian Researches during a residence of nearly eight years in the Society and Sandwich Islands. 4 vols. London, The Friend, a Semi-Monthly Journal, devoted to Temperance, Seamen, Marine and General Intelligence, Honolulu, 1843—.
  • HENRY, Teuira, 1928. Ancient Tahiti, Based on Material Recorded by J. M. Orsmond. Honolulu, B.P. Bishop Museum Bulletin 48.
  • LUOMALA, Katherine, 1951. The Menehune of Polynesian and other Mythical People of Oceania. Honolulu, B.P. Bishop Museum Bulletin 203.
  • The Missionary Register, London, 1813-1838.
  • MOERENHOUT, J. A., 1837. Voyages aux Isles Du Grand Océan. 2 vols. Paris, A. Bertrand.
  • MÜHLMANN, Wilhelm Emil, 1955. Arioi und Mamaia: Eine Ethnologiske, Religioussoziologische und Historische Studie über Polynesisiche Kultbünde. Wiesbaden, F. Steiner.
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  • PUKUI, Mary and CURTIS, Caroline, 1960. Tales of the Menehune. Honolulu, Kamehameha Schools Press.
  • The South-Asian Register, No. 4, December, 1828, “Missions”, 334-358.
1   Orsmond, 29 November, 1829, S.S.J., no. 97.
2   Probably intended as a pun on teuteuarii, “the king's attendants” [C. W. Newbury]. Tahitians apply tutae 'auri (sc. stercus ferri) both to a costive person or to rust. The word, though not a euphemism, provides a strong metaphor.
3   Orsmond, 24 November, 1828, S.S.L.
4   Davies, “Specimens from Tahitian Dictionary”, 1834, S.S.L.
5   Orsmond, 4 September, 1832, S.S.J., no. 100.
6   Darling, Report 18 January, 1842, 8, S.S.L.
7   Jules Remy in reference to the Hawaiian kaula, quoted The Friend, N.S. XIV, 2.
8   Davies, 17 September, 1807, S.S.J., no. 31. See also Ellis 1831, 1:561 ff.
9   There are quite full accounts of the behaviour of the Tahitian prophets (taura) in the misionary records. See particularly Davies, 13 January, 1809, S.S.J., no. 33 (Prophet of Tane at Huahine).
10   See Crook, 13 December, 1821, S.S.J., no. 23.
11   Crook, 30 June, 1821, S.S.J., no. 58.
12   Crook, 25 July, 1821, S.S.J., no. 58.
13   These, of course, had been greatly assisted by English guns, and the additional prestige conveyed to his father by the early voyagers.
14   Crook, 12 December, 1823, S.S.J., no. 70.
15   Crook, 19 December, 1823, S.S.J., no. 70.
16   For details of this organization see Ellis 1831.
17   Crook, 21 December, 1823, S.S.J., no. 73.
18   Crook, 3 January, 1824, S.S.J., no. 73.
19   Crook, 26 February, 1824, S.S.J., no. 73.
20   Henry, 9 February, 1826, S.S.L.
21   Pritchard, 19 October, 1826, S.S.L.
22   Crook, 15 August, 1824, S.S.J., no. 76.
23   See Moerenhout 1837, 2:501-502.
24   Crook, 24 June, 1817, S.S.J., no. 45.
25   Crook, 23 June, 1817, S.S.J., no. 45.
26   Davies, 10 December, 1820, S.S.J., no. 56.
27   Missionary Register, 1825:454.
28   Darling, Report, May, 1827, S.S.L.
29   Darling, 24 August, 1826, S.S.L.
30   Darling, Report, May, 1827, S.S.L.
31   Quoted, Babbage 1937:24.
32   Davies, History (Bunaauia).
33   Darling, Report, May, 1827, S.S.L.; Davies, op. cit.
34   Darling, 24 August, 1826, S.S.L.
35   She had been ‘betrothed’ to Pomare II, but her sister was the actual wife of the king, and mother of his children.
36   For this story see Henry 1928:220-223.
37   Charter, Journal, end pages.
38   Crook, 28 May, 1823, S.S.J., no. 66.
39   Crook, 22 July, 1826, S.S.J., no. 80.
40   Crook, 6 September, 1826, S.S.J., no. 80.
41   Darling, 20 November, 1826, S.S.L.
42   Crook, 4 March, 1827, S.S.J., no. 85.
43   Darling, Report, May, 1827, S.S.L.
44   Darling, 5 September, 1827, S.S.L.
45   Crook, 10 September, 1827, S.S.J., no. 90.
46   Orsmond, 6 June, 1827, S.S.J., no. 88.
47   Orsmond, 4 September, 1829, S.S.J., no. 97.
48   Orsmond to Darling, copied 19 November, 1829, S.S.J., no. 97.
49   Orsmond, 15 January, 1830, S.S.L.
50   Cuming, Journal, 104.
51   Moerenhout 1837, 2:515.
52   Davies, Report, May, 1827, S.S.L.
53   Cuming, Journal, 104.
54   South-Asian Register, December, 1828:352-353.
55   Crook, 17 November, 1828, S.S.J., no. 94.
56   Crook, 10 September, 1827, S.S.J., no. 90.
57   Wilson, Report, December, 1830, S.S.L.
58   Henry, 22 March, 1832, S.S.L.
59   Crook, 13 April, 1829, S.S.J., no. 95.
60   Darling, Report, November, 1828, S.S.L.
61   South-Asian Register, December, 1828.
62   See Babbage 1937:34.
63   Blossom, 25 September, 1827, S.S.L.
64   Orsmond, 4 September, 1852, S.S.J., no. 100.
65   See Babbage 1937:37.
66   See Orsmond, 20 May, 1827, S.S.J., no.87; Henry, 26 January, 1828, S.S.L. The charge of misappropriation was also voiced at Taha'a at the May meeting in 1826; Bourne, 16 May, 1826, S.S.L.
67   Crook, 4 March, 1829, S.S.J., no. 95.
68   Darling, 18 March, 1829, S.S.L.
69   Orsmond, 10 November, 1827, S.S.J., no. 92.
70   Darling, Report, November, 1828, S.S.L.
71   Darling, 12 January, 1830, S.S.L.
72   Davies, Report, May, 1828, S.S.L.
73   Wilson, Report [July or October], 1829, S.S.L.
74   In 1828 there were only supposed to be two or three.
75   Sometimes called Maurua.
76   Orsmond, 6 November, 1827, S.S.J., no. 92.
77   The Law Code of Raiatea and Borabora.
78   Cuming, Journal, 105.
79   Bourne, 20 January, 1828, Australia Letters.
80   The missionaries held Wednesday weekday services at their stations.
81   S. Crook, 13 March, 1828, S.S.L.
82   Platt, 5 June, 1828, S.S.L.
83   Platt, 28 August, 1828, S.S.L.
84   Platt, 15 November, 1830, S.S.L.
85   Davies, History. (Maurua.)
86   Babbage 1937:38.
87   Crook, 13 April, 1829, S.S.J., no. 95.
88   Barff, 23 November, 1828, S.S.L.
89   Barff, 27 November, 1830, S.S.L.
90   She had succeeded in 1827.
91   Pritchard, 26 December, 1828, S.S.L. Orsmond describes some of these practices as if he had actually seen them, 1 November, 1827, S.S.J., no. 92.
92   Crook, 10 April, 1826, S.S.J., no. 80.
93   Crook, 10 May, 1827, S.S.J., no. 85.
94   Crook, 25 July, 1827, S.S.J., no. 85.
95   See Moerenhout 1837, 1:337-338.
96   Crook, 21 December, 1828, S.S.J., no. 94.
97   Crook, 12 January, 1829, S.S.J., no. 95.
98   Nott quoted Crook, 15 January, 1829, S.S.J., no. 95.
99   See Orsmond, 14 January, 1833, S.S.J., no. 100 [5 January, 1831].
100   Wilson, Report, 1831, S.S.L. [with 1830 Report].
101   It is interesting that Sandilands, in his account, does not mention the Mamaia, although they were still very much in evidence in the group.
102   Wilson to Crook, April (?), 1831, quoted Crook, 6 June, 1831, Australia Letters.
103   Darling, 28 April, 1831, S.S.L.
104   Davies to Crook, 30 March, 1831, quoted Crook, 25 May, 1831, Australia Letters.
105   Part of Raiate a was also included in this alignment.
106   Platt, 18 July, 1832, S.S.L.
107   Williams, 27 September, 1832, S.S.L.
108   Williams, 27 September, 1832, S.S.L.
109   Orsmond, 22 August, 1832, S.S.J., no. 100.
110   Orsmond, 7 December, 1832, S.S.J., no. 100.
111   Orsmond, 17 December, 1832, S.S.J., no. 100.
112   Simpson, 18 May, 1833, S.S.L.
113   See Darling, 10 April, 1833, S.S.L.
114   Orsmond, 22 January, 1833, S.S.J., no. 100.
115   Also called Teieie.
116   Orsmond, 4 February, 1833, S.S.J., no. 100.
117   Darling, 10 April, 1833, 18 May, 1833, S.S.L.
118   See Moerenhout 1837, 1:337.
119   Darling, 10 April, 1833, S.S.L.
120   Orsmond, 14 February, 1833, S.S.J., no. 102.
121   Darling, 13 May, 1833, S.S.L.
122   Platt, 21 October, 1828, S.S.L. An oromatua was the malevolent ghost of a deceased person.
123   It is possibly not coincidental that Punaauia was afterwards the residence of Tiurai, the “greatest of the Tahitian healers”, who was not born till about 1835, and who died in 1918. The accounts given of Tiurai put him in the direct tradition of the visionary healers, and possibly of an earlier tradition of pre-Christian healers. Besides his healing powers, Tiurai was said to be gifted with prophecy, and to have made “a number of extraordinary predictions” which were fulfilled. Legends were told of the great wonder workers who had preceded Tiurai at Punaauia. It is significant that he professed to be a fervent Catholic. Nor does the parallel end there. Tiurai died of an imported disease in the manner of the earlier sect. See Pacific Islands Monthly, November, 1937:41-42.
124   Davies, “Some Remarks”, 18 July, 1834, S.S.L.
125   Wilks, Tahiti, 88.
126   Barff, 2 November, 1835, S.S.L.
127   Moerenhout 1837, 2:515.
128   Barff, 7 November, 12 November, 1835, S.S.L.
129   Howe, 20 October, 1841, S.S.L.
130   ibid.
131   E. Pritchard, 13 February, 1842, S.S.L. Joseph Smith, a planter in the islands, states that the smallpox epidemic of 1841 “in a few months after its introduction swept away about 150 of the population in one small district opposed to vaccination”. Of the diseased victims, some “attempted a retreat from the deserted houses into the valleys, and were devoured by the hogs”. He confirms the fact that “the root of this infatuated opposition existed in unextirpated heathen principles, and belief, actuating a considerable number in the Island called Mamaiia; who [were] located in the district.” He says they attempted “native cures in succession.” Sentimental Reminiscences, Ross MS., Part II, pp. 41-42.
132   Darling, Report, 18 January, 1842, S.S.L.
133   Darling, Report, 18 January, 1842, S.S.L.
134   Howe, 20 October, 1841, S.S.L.
135   Darling, Report, 18 January, 1842, S.S.L.
136   According to Mühlmann 1955, the Mamaia was a resurgence of the old Arioi Society, reclothed in the terminology and some of the forms of the “new knowledge” introduced into their thinking by the advent of the European.
137   Mr. White has kindly permitted me to use his translation of the oral account taken down some years ago.
138   This is the Hawaiian menehune, not to be confused with the very different Tahitian manahune. According to Pukui and Curtis, 1960, “The Hawaiians said their talk sounded like the low growl of a dog, and their laughter could be heard far away.” Detailed information concerning the menehune is given by Luomala (1951, particularly pp. 68-72). “Wild men, real human beings who were war refugees or were social outcasts for other reasons, have also contributed material to the Oceanic mythology about forest bands. They wander about only at night, live a single life, hide in the mountainous interior of islands, have neither fire nor cooked food, are unkempt, long-haired, and ferocious-looking, and steal at night from travellers.” (Luomala 1951:83). For stone throwing in Tahiti see Henry 1928:224.