Volume 78 1969 > Volume 78, No. 1 > Settlement patterns in Samoa before 1840, by Janet M. Davidson, p 44 - 82
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Settlement archaeology, the study of settlement patterns or community patterns, has become very popular in recent years. 2 It seeks to study the distribution of population at a given point in time, and the nature of this distribution. Inferences about social and political organisation are drawn from the physical variation and spatial distribution of occupation remains on the ground. The present position of settlement pattern studies in Polynesia has been summarised by Green 3 who demonstrated what can be done in this field using various approaches in three Polynesian societies (New Zealand, Mangareva and the Society Islands) and outlined the problems and potential for this kind of study in Samoa.

In some respects, Polynesia offers an ideal setting for settlement pattern studies. Firstly, the different societies being investigated are small and discrete, and, with the possible exception of New Zealand, there is little likelihood that language and culture were other than uniform throughout each separate island group studied. Problems that confront students of settlement patterns on large land masses where a correlation between language, culture and archaeological remains is by no means certain, are generally absent in Polynesia. Secondly, Polynesian societies have - 45 been exposed to European influence only comparatively recently, and for most island groups there is a body of historical information which can be brought to bear on the archaeological evidence, often with fruitful results. 4 Lastly, arguments in favour of Polynesia as a cultural laboratory 5 apply with equal force to settlement pattern studies through which the distribution of population and utilisation of resources in each separate island may be investigated and compared.

In recent years there has been considerable argument over the nature of the Samoan social and political systems. 6 The dispute appears to have its origins in discussions of the nature of non-unilinear descent groups in Polynesia and their functions as land-holding corporations. The nature of Samoan descent groups has bearing on attempted reconstructions of proto-Malayo-Polynesian descent groups and land tenure. 7 More recently the argument has centred on the nature of political authority and social stratification in Samoa, but in doing so it has covered settlement and population size, population pressure, and attempts to outline historical development up to the present time. A further development has been the call by Ember 8 for archaeological verification of his point of view. His challenge has been taken up by Green, 9 who has pointed out that such archaeological verification will be difficult if not impossible to obtain.

Ember suggests that settlements in Samoa initially consisted of a single related patrilineal group, and that these were variably located though mostly inland. Increasing population led to warfare and increased dependence on marine resources. This in turn led to the late development of coastal villages consisting of several unrelated patrilines of equal status. 10

Although archaeological evidence of the kind suggested by Ember for Samoa may not easily be forthcoming, it has been demonstrated elsewhere that archaeology can contribute in such fields as population size and distribution and the delimitation of settlements. It is not to be expected, on the other hand, that archaeology can help much in the dispute about kinship and political authority, unless in rare instances structures indicative of supralocal authority can be identified archaeologically.

As the arguments have been framed in terms of “aboriginal Samoa” it is necessary to consider both archaeological and historical sources in an attempt to elucidate certain points. This paper will examine archaeological and historical evidence relating to the nature and distribution of settlements, population size and the existence of social stratification or centralisation of authority, in an attempt to see whether archaeology can contribute anything to the arguments about Samoa.

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European Contact with Samoa

Previous reconstructions have tended to assume that Samoa in 1840 was fairly typical of Samoa in 1800 or in 1750. 11 Because 1840 is the first period for which a fairly reliable coverage is available, runs the argument, it is possible to discuss “aboriginal Samoa” drawing heavily on what is known to have existed about 1840. While it may be true that inadequate material for reconstruction exists for earlier periods, it is important to examine such earlier material as does exist very carefully in an attempt to determine the extent to which changes may already have taken place in various aspects of culture in response to European contacts prior to 1840. The subject warrants a detailed study in itself; only a brief discussion is possible here.

Samoa is generally believed to have been discovered by Roggeveen who visited Manu'a in 1722. Although the members of the expedition did not land they had some contact with the inhabitants, finding those who put out by canoe from Ta'u eager to obtain iron, while a young woman on a canoe off Ofu and Olosega was observed to be wearing a string of blue beads, and her companion showed himself anxious to obtain further supplies of these. Limited trading took place. 12 The next known visitor was Bougainville in 1768 who sighted fires and some huts but again did not land. 13 The first detailed observations on settlements come from La Pérouse who sailed past Manu'a and Upolu, and landed at Tutuila. 14 Both La Pérouse and Bougainville commented that the Samoans were unaware of the value of iron and sought only glass beads in trade. 15 The next known visitors were Edwards and Hamilton on the Pandora in 1791, but they, like several succeeding visitors who left brief records of visits, 16 provide no description of value for our purposes, although Edwards noted that they were told by a Tongan that the Pandora was the first European ship ever seen by the natives of the part of Savai'i they visited. 17

Although whalers probably did not begin to frequent Samoa in any numbers before the middle 1830s, 18 a substantial number of white men had already reached Samoa when missionary endeavour began in 1830. 19

Between 18 and 24 July, 1830, the London Missionary Society missionaries Williams and Barff visited Samoa, establishing contact with the chief Malietoa Vai'inupo at Sapapali'i, and leaving under his pro- - 47 tection eight native teachers from the Society Islands. 20 The ability of these teachers evidently varied greatly. Two of the original eight and several who came later were eventually discharged for misconduct, 21 and at least one of the older ones was never very successful in making converts. 22 Several of the others, however, and particularly Teava, may have been largely responsible for the initial convertions to Christianity, for between 1830 and the arrival of resident English missionaries in mid-1835, they toured every part of the group. 23 At the same time, many Samoans were turning to Siovili, 24 while several resident white men were “turning religion” with varying degrees of success. Undoubtedly the most influential of the Europeans was a man known as Tagnifo, whose adherents were widely spread particularly on Upolu. 25

Williams visited Samoa again for about a fortnight in 1832, spending about six consecutive days on Savai'i, two at Manono, two at Satupaitea (Savai'i south coast) and two at Apia, with brief visits to Manu'a, and Leone (at Tutuila). 26 Buzacott and Barff visited Samoa for 10 days in 1834, calling at Manono, Apia and Sapapali'i. 27 In June, 1835, Peter Turner, a Wesleyan missionary from Tonga, arrived with several Tongan teachers and began very intensive touring of the islands, preaching in most settlements 28 and was followed shortly afterwards in September by Platt and S. Wilson of the London Missionary Society, who also toured both Upolu and Savai'i once. 29 From then onwards the number of resident London Missionary Society missionaries steadily increased, and written descriptions by both missionaries and other visitors also increase. It is important to realise, however, that before any resident white missionaries arrived, the native teachers, and certain of the sailors, had taught Samoans to construct lime plastered chapels and houses, 30 and a large number of Samoans had embraced a new lotu (faith) propagated in three main forms by Teava (and to a lesser extent the other native teachers), Siovili, and Tagnifo (each of whom had adherents throughout the islands), with other sailors having smaller and more localised flocks. To judge by missionary descriptions, only two of the sailors, Stevens, the surgeon from the whaler Oldham, who lived mainly on Manono and Upolu, and a young man on Tutuila, had much claim to knowledge of the faith they purported to teach, although at least one - 48 other had taught Samoans on Upolu to read and write. 31 The haste and enthusiasm with which the more renegade sailors embraced religion could only have been in response to a strong desire by Samoans for change, at least in one field of their culture. Changes may not have extended into other aspects of culture, but there is clear evidence that pre-European religion was completely disrupted before any resident literate European was in a position to describe it. Williams himself wrote that whatever the religious system had been, Tamafaiga was its head, and it ended with his death, 32 just before Williams' own first visit. The strong desire for European religion, evidenced by the readiness of Samoans to take ship for Tahiti or Tonga in search of teachers, 33 must surely have been associated with a strong desire for more tangible European benefits. Malietoa, for instance, was in 1830 “earnest in his request for a blunderbuss”. 34 The quest for such European goods may also have had its effects.

Samoans appear to have been little affected by European contact in 1768, 1787 and 1791. 35 By contrast, the apparent possession of a string of blue beads, and eagerness for iron in 1722 does indicate some knowledge of Europeans and their goods—knowledge possibly obtained from Tongans, and subsequently forgotten as years passed. 36 It is the difference between 1791 and 1830, however, that is particularly striking, and it is just for this crucial period that evidence is so sadly lacking about what changes, if any, were taking place as a result of increasing visits by European ships, an increasing population of resident whites and possibly also the tales of other Polynesians, particularly Tongans, arriving from islands already subjected to more intensive contact. 37

Distribution of settlement

The first issue to consider is that of distribution of settlements, and particularly the extent to which both inland and coastal locations were occupied at various times in the past.

The first thorough survey of archaeological remains in Samoa was carried out by Golson in 1957. 38 There had previously been isolated reports on individual sites of an impressive or traditionally interesting - 49 nature 39 but no general survey. Golson summarised the types of field evidence he came across, and formed the view that settlement had formerly been predominantly inland, with successive movements of individual villages nearer and nearer to the coast in late prehistoric or early European times. The limited corpus of traditional information he collected tended to support this view. He did not question the nucleated nature of former settlements.

In 1963-64 when Green together with the present writer and others commenced work in Samoa under the Polynesian Archaeology Program one aim was to investigate this question further. 40 By that time the views of Wright, a New Zealand soil scientist who was very familiar with the Samoan countryside, were available. Wright stated in no uncertain terms that in prehistoric times settlement had been largely inland and the move to the coast probably coincidental with European contact. 41 Our preliminary investigations tended to confirm the presence of large amounts of archaeological remains in inland situations on Upolu. At Luatuanu'u, lines of house sites were found extending inland on narrow ridges behind the modern coastal villages. 42 At Vailele, a small cluster of coastal mounds was numerically far outweighed by a more numerous group extending inland. 43 In inland situations behind Falefa and Lufilufi extensive remains were found. Finally, on the south coast from Lotofaga to Lepa there appeared to be a continuous scatter of sites from the coast for a distance of two or three miles inland; then in the centre of the island a nucleated cluster was found at the site of a traditionally widely known village named Vaigafa. 44 On the larger island of Savai'i also, extensive remains of inland settlement were found in some areas. 45

In order to gather additional data on the nature and distribution of sites the writer spent a further six months carrying out site surveys on Upolu in 1965-1966. Three areas were chosen: the Falefa Valley, which is probably the most extensive, fertile and well-watered area in the island and presents optimum conditions for inland settlement; the sloping plateau behind Lalomanu village in Aleipata; and a portion of the extensive WSTEC plantation at Mulifanua. The reasons for this choice are elaborated elsewhere. 46 In all these areas, a continuous scatter of archaeological sites was found reaching from the coast to at least two miles inland. At Falefa the sites were curtailed only by the steep mountain walls in the centre of the island. In the other two regions, an area was finally reached in the centre of the island where only an occasional isolated site was found. 47 The majority of sites in all three areas consisted of house foundations and stone walls, with occasional large or unusually shaped mounds also occurring.

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Part of the problem in elucidating questions of coastal and inland settlement, is that coastal situations are almost always still occupied and past remains are obscured by present houses. In Mulifanua, however, this is not the case. The Mulifanua block of plantations was among the first acquired by the German firm of Godeffroys, 48 and has never since supported a coastal village. Here there is no noticeably greater concentration of sites anywhere between the coast and a point some two miles or more inland. The archaeological evidence therefore suggests that at some time in the past, inland situations have been occupied much more than they are now. Moreover, while there are some instances in which the sites form a definite cluster, they are more usually continuously distributed over the available land. Yet two geographers separately concluded that in 1840 96% of the population and 86% of the settlements were less than a mile from the coast, 49 and that in the 1840s settlement bore a striking resemblance to its present form and had probably been more or less the same over 300 years. 50

Another problem arises in defining coastal and inland settlements. To the Polynesian, locatives are always relative to the speaker's position, and the spatial dimension is continuous, with the dividing line variably fixed according to where the speaker happens to be. The archaeological evidence for settlement suggests a continuous scatter of former settlement sites ranging from beach front locations like those of many present villages, to upwards of five miles inland, depending on the terrain. It is not being argued here, then, that there were two mutually incompatible forms of settlement, coastal and inland, with a preference for the latter in pre-European times. Nor does it seem possible, given the Samoans' own concept of the relative nature of i uta and i tai, and the variable terrain of the larger islands of Upolu and Savai'i, to draw an arbitrary limit of half a mile, one mile or two miles from the coast and classify settlement on one side of this line as coastal, and on the other as inland. What is being questioned, however, is whether the pre-European population was distributed exactly as it is now, or whether, as the archaeological evidence strongly suggests, people were more widely distributed over the land from the coast towards the centre of the islands, bearing in mind that even the most inland situations on Upolu, where signs of former occupation exist, can be easily visited from the coast by a man on foot in one day.

It has been suggested that inland settlers were refugees, vanquished in war, who took to the bush until things quietened down, or even that inland settlement was a response to constant warfare and the likelihood of frequent attacks both from other districts and from marauding Tongans. 51 This view is not really supported by the archaeological evidence. Some sites are consistent with descriptions of fortified refuges, but the bulk of the sites recorded, including those in the Falefa valley and at Vaigafa, are substantial, well-built house sites in relatively un- - 51 defended situations; these do not qualify either as temporary refuges, or as easily fortified locations. Certainly others, such as some at Vailele and Luatuanu'u, are in easily defended locations, 52 but descriptions of 19th century warfare in Samoa show that coastal villages could be, and often were, fortified equally effectively. 53 It is understandable that many settlements would have a bush refuge, but the majority of “inland” sites do not come into that category, and the numerous house sites whether inland or coastal would be equally difficult to fortify. Moreover, there is no strong historical or traditional evidence to suggest that inland settlement was related to warfare, apart from modern stories about Tongan invasions. There are frequent references to bush refuges, which seem clearly to apply to a recognisable category of archaeological site to which the majority of inland sites under discussion do not belong. There is a story relating that the undefended inland sites of the Falefa valley were abandoned by their inhabitants who in troubled times fled to the coast to reside with people there for greater safety. 54 It is obvious that the inland sites they abandoned, some of which have been identified archaeologically, were not built in response to war time conditions.

Of the pre-missionary visitors to Samoa, only La Pérouse provides any descriptions of settlements. He makes three main points. In the Manu'a group, he saw houses built half way up the hill, which he thought was a more temperate location than the coast. There were clearings near the houses, but most of the island was clothed in bush. 55 At Tutuila he visited a village set among trees 200 paces from the shore. The houses were in a circle around an open space 300 yards in diameter. 56 Villages were seen in all the coves. Finally he sailed along the north coast of Upolu, but did not land, being much alarmed by the massacre at Tutuila. What he saw or thought he saw on Upolu has caused much dispute. 57

A quatres heurès après midi, nous mîmes en panne par le travers du village le plus étendu peut-être qui soit dans aucune île de la mer du Sud, ou plutôt vis-à-vis une très-grande plaine couverte de maisons depuis la cime des montagnes jusqu'au bord de la mer: ces montagnes sont à peu près au milieu de l'île, d'où le terrain s'incline en pente douce, et présente aux vaisseaux un amphithéâtre couvert d'arbres, de cases et de verdure; on voyait la fumée s'élever du sein de ce village, comme du milieu d'une grande ville;

Dumont d'Urville, seeing no trace of this settlement some fifty years later, argued that La Pérouse had imagined it under the shock of the massacre at Tutuila. 58 Stair, however, who was a missionary resident in Samoa from 1838 to 1845, accepted the description of the settlement - 52 and commented on its passing. 59 Stair apparently believed the area was at Aleipata, and his view has been repeated by others. 60 A more recent assessment by Pirie led him to suggest that the site of the settlement must have been on the north coast, most probably behind Falefa and Lufilufi. Pirie felt that there would have been sufficient population there on present evidence to justify La Pérouse's description. 61

There are extensive remains of former settlements throughout the valley behind Falefa and on the adjoining plateau at Solaua; similar extensive remains are to be found stretching inland behind Apia and to the north-west of Upolu, as well as in the Aleipata district. It is impossible to believe that all these sites could have been occupied at the same time. Yet if even a small proportion of the sites in the Falefa valley were occupied in 1787, there would have been a much greater population away from the coastal strip presently occupied by Falefa and Faleapuna villages, and La Pérouse's description takes on a greater appearance of accuracy and reality.

La Pérouse noted that the Samoans seemed unaware of the value of metal, which suggests that they were at that time relatively unaffected by European contact. His account of settlements implies that there were coastal nucleated settlements corresponding to the classic picture of a Samoan village laid out around the malae, at least on Tutuila, and a more extensive and perhaps more dispersed form of settlement on at least one area of Upolu.

The next descriptions of settlements date from the period when there were already a number of white men resident in Samoa, Samoans were already aware of and eager for a new religion, and the population may already have been decreasing significantly.

Williams and Barff on their first visit to Samoa in 1830 found the population of Safotulafai strung out near the coast, with houses very thick along the beach on each side of the road, nearer together in some parts than in others, and said to be fairly thick also for some distance inland. They noted that in some places in Savai'i, habitations extended a mile or two inland. 62 In 1832 Williams visited Safotulafai again, and also called at Apia from which he walked up to a village some three miles inland. He remarked that the coasts were lined with settlements, most Samoans preferring the coast, and that inland villages were few. 63 This was also the impression of Peter Turner, who noted that the people mostly lived by the seaside while the islands lay waste. 64

During the first few years of resident missionary endeavour, most missionaries listed the settlements that they visited, although they seldom mentioned the number and size of houses or the distances between them. Most of the names given are those of villages or districts still in existence though it is evident that a few inland settlements now abandoned, such - 53 as Uliamoa and Tapueleele in Savai'i, were still occupied. 65 It is also possible to document movements of population on Upolu to a limited extent, in particular the return to A'ana of its inhabitants in 1836, 66 and fluctuations of population in the Falefa valley. In 1836 Buzacott found this valley uninhabited, and was told that people of former settlements there had fled to the coast for protection with the coastal people. 67 By 1838, Mills listed people living not only at the present inland villages of this region, but also at several settlements not now inhabited which have been identified and investigated archaeologically. 68

Wilkes, of the United States Exploring Expedition, following the usual east-west path in November 1839, came first to Tutuila. He described the villages of Fagasa and Pagopago as consisting of 30 and 40 dwellings and a council house, and remarked that the villages were all much alike. 69 Members of the expedition visited a couple of inland settlements on Upolu, 70 but Wilkes himself commented of both Upolu and Savai'i that all the villages and most of the plantations were near the coast. 71 He did, however, make brief mention of archaeological remains in the interior of the island. 72

The other major exploring expedition to visit Samoa between 1830 and 1840 was that of Dumont d'Urville. Although d'Urville's own account has several items of interest, his only comments of relevance at this point are his criticism of La Pérouse (mentioned above) and his remark that Faleata village (one of the few seen by him) was more than a mile inland. D'Urville considered himself to be the first man apart from Captain Bethune to have explored the Samoan bush, but he found little in it to remark upon. 73

The first explicit statement of a belief which appears to be still firmly entrenched in the minds of many Samoans, comes from Walpole who was in Samoa in the mid-1840s.

Their villages were formerly in the interior of the island, only a few people living on the coast who were considered rather an inferior race. They moved down to the ships, few remained inland save near the plantations. The numerous pics [his term for the stone house platforms] inland attest the size of these villages. 74

This view is commonly expressed by Samoans today, usually as “when the Gospel came . . . the people came down to the coast.” Golson received this information from several informants, and subsequent field-workers in Samoa have been told the same thing. The difference is, of - 54 course, that Walpole was there in the 1840s when the move referred to was within living memory.

Later nineteenth century eye-witness accounts do not discuss the location of settlements as such. There is an occasional reference to inland villages, 75 but nothing to suggest that the population was very differently distributed then than it is now. Observant visitors who travelled much in the interior, however, continued to comment on the numerous remains to be seen in the bush, 76 and there is occasional mention of the wide-spread belief that Samoans formerly lived inland. 77

Two missionaries, writing later in the nineteenth century, deliberately tried to reconstruct Samoan society as they believed it to have been before European contact. G. Turner had little to say about the form and location of settlements, tending to view them rather in terms of the people who lived in them. Stair, on the other hand, had quite a lot to say about settlement, and in evaluating his account one should remember that he arrived in 1838 (five years before Turner) and left in 1845. He wrote as follows: 78

In various parts of Upolu I have often noticed traces of a much larger population, and the general testimony of the natives confirmed this belief. Sites of deserted villages and remains of plantation walls could often be seen in the wild bush. And in many parts of the islands places once largely populated have now very reduced numbers.

As an example, he cited the road across Upolu from Fasito'otai to Falelatai in A'ana, a distance of nine or ten miles, formerly lined with detached habitations so close to each other that a child could wander safely the entire distance and never be out of earshot of a habitation. In 1845 there was not a single house standing on this trail, though there were plenty of traces of former dwellings. As recently as 1829 there had been a flourishing community in the centre of the trail whose inhabitants were either killed in the war of 1830 or joined other villages. 79 This account from an observant man living in A'ana only ten years or so after the last of the settlements along the trail was abandoned, closely parallels our archaeological evidence for the abandonment of the traditionally known village of Vaigafa in the mountainous interior of Atua district near the Mafa Pass, between 1750 and 1838. 80 Pirie has reasonably argued that the community of Afolau, described by Stair, was exceptional. 81 The archaeological evidence to be found in this area, and in other inland parts of Upolu, however, suggests that house sites were fairly widely distributed in areas now uninhabited, while in several areas, either fragmentary traditions collected during fieldwork or more substantial bodies of traditional information suggest that at least some of - 55 these inland sites were occupied in the immediately pre-European period. 82

The quantity of house sites on land apparently not occupied now or at any time since 1840, the strong evidence for the abandonment of two such inland areas (Vaigafa and Afolau) between 1800 and 1830, and the traditional evidence for relatively recent occupancy of several others, suggest that the missionaries who arrived between 1830 and 1840 caught the tail end only of a substantial movement of that part of the population not formerly living right on the beach, to a coastal situation where all could equally enjoy the benefits to be expected from European ships. This movement was completed before 1840 and was probably substantially completed by 1830.

Nature of settlement

Archaeology should also be able to assist in defining the nature of settlements in Samoa as well as their location. First, however, it is necessary to consider the concepts involved.

There is general agreement that the basic political unit in Samoa was and is the nu'u, which is generally translated as village. This has led some people to regard the nu'u primarily as the area of ground on which the residences of the people belonging to it are concentrated. To the Samoan, however, the term nu'u applies equally to the group of title names and their holders, wherever they live. Thus a title holder today is no less a part of the nu'u because he resides on his plantation, or in Apia, rather than on the coastal strip where most of his fellow title holders live, provided he meets his obligations in respect to nu'u activities. J. W. Davidson provides a more suitable definition of the nu'u when he states that it more nearly approximates the English administrative parish, in which there may be one or more hamlets or actual residential areas. 83 The nu'u can perhaps most usefully be viewed as a cluster of titles, which together are considered a localised political entity and recognised by a special ceremonial form of address or fa'alupega, together with the land over which the various title holders are recognised to have pule (authority). In most cases this would, in effect, embrace a geographical area, including a portion of the coast and extending far inland, with well known boundaries. The unused and central areas associated with present day villages are often stated to be under the pule of the highest title in the area under whose general overlordship all the parish lands are grouped.

If the nu'u is seen as an administrative parish, how does this affect the spatial arrangement of settlements? Theoretically, a variety of forms of settlement could exist on parish lands without altering the social and political system operating within the parish. A single nucleated settlement is one alternative. Several discrete smaller settlements is another. A continuous scatter of residences is a third, and combinations such as a - 56 nucleated core of part of the population with the remainder scattered, are also possible.

Discussion of settlement in Samoa is complicated by the fact that there has been no uniformity in the English terms used to designate the various units of local organisation recognised by Samoans. Although nu'u is usually translated as village, this usage has not been universal, as will be shown. In Samoa today there are two main units smaller than the nu'u as well as various larger groupings. A nu'u may be divided into two or more sections, called pitonu'u—usually spatially distinct portions of the nu'u—which lack a fa'alupega (ceremonial address) and formally recognised fono (council) of their own. Some pitonu'u have, in historic times, achieved the status of separate nu'u. An even smaller unit is the fua i ala, or measurement on the path, which seems often to correspond to the house site land of a particular family group or section thereof. At a higher level, there are on Upolu and Savai'i various groupings of adjacent nu'u into larger regional divisions which in turn are grouped together to form the major island divisions.

A profusion of different English terms has been used to designate these various levels of settlement and local and/or political organisation. Early writers spoke liberally of hamlets, villages, settlements, towns and districts, with district, for instance, being used both for the major divisions of an island, such as A'ana, and for much smaller subdistricts such as Falelatai. Some of the confusion that has arisen over the existence of “inland” villages in early historic times appears to be due to varying usages of the same English terms.

Watters in his reconstruction of Samoan settlement in 1840 chose to use a basic unit that he called the settlement, which was not a village but a part of a village. Thus he used “village” for the nu'u, and “settlement” for a village section. 84 This is an exact reversal of the terms used by Stair, who called large units such as Leulomoega or Fasito'otai (which are today recognised as nu'u) settlements, reserving the term village for smaller sections of these. Stair was entirely consistent in his usage of these terms, though his terminology for larger territorial groupings seems somewhat muddled. Stair's rather unusual use of “village” for what most people would term “village section” has caused his statements on the subject to be rejected by some. This is unfortunate as he is virtually the only early writer to say anything about inland settlement. He claimed that there were 54 inland villages on Upolu and 38 in Savai'i when he arrived in Samoa. 85 It is important to note he also stated that the settlements on the trail between Fasito'otai and Falelatai were villages—not settlements. His statements concerning inland villages were rejected by Pirie who could find evidence that only some six inland villages were politically important in precontact times. 86 Pirie admitted the possibility that Stair was employing the term “village” in an unusual sense but did not carry this line of argument very far.

It is the present writer's suggestion that the inland villages cited by - 57 Pirie were probably nu'u; that is, they were independent political entities whose territories may not have included access to the coast, except in a very limited way. They were always few, and may have existed principally because some valuable resource on their territory enabled them to maintain a separate existence and obtain what they needed from the coast through various exchange systems.

Only one of the six localities mentioned by Pirie has been investigated archaeologically. Vaigafa, famous in tradition and known to have been a residence of people of rank, is located near the Mafa Pass in the mountainous centre of the Atua district in Eastern Upolu. Test excavations in the floor of a house site at Vaigafa in 1964 revealed a higher than normal concentration of stone flakes of a very fine-grained basalt suitable for adze making. This suggested the possibility, unverified geologically, that Vaigafa is located near a stone source site. The writer has found no description of stone adze making in early European descriptions of Samoa, and knowledge of this art seems to have been lost very rapidly, as is to be expected. An interpretation of Vaigafa as a stone working centre would account both for the large and well laid out pre-European settlement, and for its rapid abandonment at the time of initial European contact. Further investigation might reveal similar explanations for other large and apparently politically independent inland settlements.

A more common form of inland settlement, however, would have been the village section, Stair's village. Normally the lands of the title holders of the nu'u would extend from the coast far inland. From existing archaeological evidence it is possible to argue that until European times, small settlements belonging to each nu'u were fairly evenly scattered over village lands, some on the coast, some in the inland parts, with no recognisable line distinguishing i uta from i tai.

The archaeologist engaged in site surveys in Samoa is confronted with a bewildering range of archaeological sites which often seem to be continuously distributed over the land. From surface inspection it is impossible to say how many in a given area were occupied at exactly the same time, or to infer the social organisation of the occupants. It is possible to say, however, that there is little evidence for discrete nucleated settlements away from presently inhabited areas. On Upolu, former coastal occupations are largely obscured by present settlements. At Mulifanua, however, and at other plantation areas such as Vailele and Vaitele, where there is no modern coastal settlement, there is no stronger evidence of discrete coastal settlement, or of settlements more nucleated than those whose remains extend inland in each area.

Three inland occupation areas were encountered during site surveys on Upolu which had the appearance of nucleated and planned settlements. The first is Vaigafa, whose central portion consisted of well made house platforms aligned on either side of a raised stone pathway. This settlement was both substantial enough, and well planned enough, to be described as a village in every sense. Vaigafa is remembered as being of considerable political importance, and it was probably abandoned between 1800 and 1830. 87 It is therefore evidence of the existence of planned nucleated - 58 villages at the close of the prehistoric period. The second settlement considered to be a nucleated village is located near Falevao and was identified by old men in that village as Sasoa'a, one of several named and well known antecedent sections of the large modern coastal village of Falefa. Sasoa'a is smaller than Vaigafa and consists of a cluster of house sites huddled together with no apparent arrangement. The most important thing about Sasoa'a is that both archaeological and historical evidence show it to belong to the early post-European (i.e. post 1830) period. 88 The third site, near Sauniatu, was not thoroughly investigated but appeared to consist of a small number of house sites (fewer than at Sasoa'a) set out around an open space. No traditional information was obtained for this site which is classed as a nucleated settlement because of its planned arrangement and the absence of other sites in the immediate vicinity. Of these three sites, only Vaigafa is large enough to be considered a complete village, in present day terms. The other two are of a size to be expected of village sections, being smaller than even the smallest of modern villages, and their locations would make them well suited for village sections located on an inland sector of parish lands, assuming the parishes to have occupied similar territory in the past to the lands of Falefa and Saluafata today.

Other areas of house sites besides the above were surveyed on Upolu. These ranged from haphazardly arranged and well spaced sites in the area known as Leuluasi, inland of Falevao, and similar arrangements throughout the back of this large well watered valley, to linear arrangements of house sites on ridges behind Luatuanu'u where some sites were definitely clustered together and others more spaced out. Nowhere was it possible to identify archaeologically a settlement conforming to the ideal Samoan village neatly arranged about the malae, although on La Pérouse's evidence this configuration was already in existence in pre-European times.

Even in early missionary times, the dispersed nature of settlement (albeit nearly all on the coast) created many problems for the missionaries. Statements about the neatness and arrangement of villages, however, vary greatly with different writers. Barff, writing in 1836 of Sapapali'i and nearby settlements expresses his astonishment at the excellence of houses and the neatness of villages. 89 Buzacott, however, writing of Safotu in the same year, mentioned that there the houses “when compared with the generality of villages, were arranged with tolerable order”. 90 LMS committee minutes in 1837 lamented that the people were so widely scattered they were impossible to instruct, 91 and the position on Tutuila (where the problem was acute) was elaborated by Murray as follows: 92

The present state of population of this island renders it very desirable they should be collected into two or three large villages: now they - 59 are scattered over the island and live together in small settlements containing many of them not more than 50 inhabitants, and these separated by considerable distances . . .

On Upolu and Savai'i, villages tended to be larger and closer, but this in itself created problems. 93

Safata extends about 20 miles on the South Coast of Upolu. The number of villages it is perhaps difficult to estimate, the houses are so scattered and you are often in doubt how many houses should constitute a village.

The Samoans themselves, however, knew very well what constituted a village as the missionaries soon discovered. Slayter, who was stationed in Saluafata in 1844, noted that his house was situated on the boundary of two villages whose houses joined but the people would not unite for worship, each group insisting on having their own chapel. 94 The right of each village and even each village section to have its own chapel is a sad and recurring theme in missionary writing. 95

Visitors other than missionaries also commented on the nature of settlements in the early missionary period. Dumont d'Urville remarked of Apia that the houses were “éparpillées sans aucun ordre, sous de belles toufs de cocotiers”. 96 At Faleata, however, he found the houses more numerous, bigger, better kept, and more comfortable; and more important, regularly grouped about a large open space in the centre of the village. 97 This is further evidence of the diversity in layout of Samoan villages then, as now.

Although descriptions of settlements between 1830 and 1840 are not as clear as could be wished, the main picture that emerges appears to be one of houses often (to the visiting European) scattered and haphazardly arranged, sometimes more closely grouped than at other times, sometimes more obviously aligned around a path or open space than at other times, but always following patterns well known to the Samoans, in which people occupying a certain territory regarded themselves and were regarded by others as a unit, even though the unit could not always be identified at first glance as spatially discrete. Not unexpectedly, exactly the same situation obtains today in some parts of Samoa, notably the north-west coast of Upolu where houses are continuous for miles of road and through a number of villages. The village set out around a malae, in the ideal form seen today in Saleimoa, for instance, is rare now and, if missionary descriptions are any indication, was even rarer in the decade before 1840 when something not unlike the present settlement pattern was first described.

The archaeological remains in inland situations suggest that to this picture of houses apparently haphazardly arranged, but sometimes clustered around a large house, a road, or a meeting ground, a third dimension should be added for the immediately prehistoric period. In- - 60 stead of being concentrated almost entirely on the coast, houses may have also been scattered among plantations, sometimes forming a substantial cluster around a person of rank or an important resource. Each parish may have had a core of nucleated settlement around a principal title holder; such a core may have been right on the coast or some distance from it. Here it is interesting to note that various informants told the writer that many Tui Atua are believed to have resided in inland locations rather than at modern coastal settlements. 98 A careful analysis of traditions relating to the Vailele area also, shows that Tupuivao and Salima, powerful chiefs of that area in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, resided some distance inland. 99

Nature and distribution of settlement at earlier periods

Much of what has been said so far, relates to the most recent portions of Samoan prehistory. It is axiomatic in studies of Polynesian settlement patterns that the most recent occupations are the most susceptible to analysis in terms of settlement archaeology, and that the further back in time one goes in a given area the less profitable does settlement archaeology become, unless there has been radically different use of land areas during different periods.

In Polynesia generally, it is the sites of immediately pre-contact times that tend to be most numerous and best preserved. It is the last house on a site that survives in recognisable form, while the majority of sites in an area belong to the last time that area supported a viable community. There is little prospect that the techniques of settlement archaeology can be successfully applied to earlier times unless by some curious chance an island or part of an island was abandoned centuries ago and not reoccupied.

Excavations in individual sites, however, can furnish valuable information on the duration and frequency of occupation in an area, even if the extent and pattern of occupation at a given early period cannot be revealed. This is certainly true in Samoa.

Intensive excavations have so far been conducted only in four areas of Upolu, two of which may be considered “coastal” and two “inland”. 100

At Lotofaga, on the south coast, a coastal midden suggested fairly continuous occupation of the beach area from approximately 1200 A.D. until the present time. There is some possibility that the area where the excavation took place was not habitable at an earlier time, and that evidence of earlier occupation might be found on the cliffs above the beach. At Vailele several successive but not continuous occupations have been found covering a period of some 2,000 years. These two areas provide evidence of extensive occupation of coastal regions, as was only to be expected. Excavations at Luatuanu'u, however, revealed use and - 61 modification of an inland site for a period as long as that covered by the Vailele occupations. While the earliest use of this site was apparently not residential, the radiocarbon dates are still remarkably early for a relatively unattractive site one-and-a-half miles inland. 101 A small excavation at an inland Vailele site also gave a date earlier than previously anticipated. 102

Excavations in the vicinity of Falevao have provided equally surprising information. Each of four visible surface sites yielded evidence of several occupations, one site having at least eight and probably nine superimposed house structures. This makes it fairly certain that these inland house sites did not represent a single phase of occupation, or isolated manifestations of an irregularity in a normal coastal occupation pattern. Of course the life of one house may be less than 20 years, and obviously all houses were not occupied all the time or all at once. Apart from anything else this would require an immense population. But equally, inland occupation is seen to have occurred throughout the known span of occupation of Samoa. The Sasoa'a site was found to have some three prehistoric occupations underlying the two occupations of the post-contact village site discussed above. The earliest two layers of this site produced pottery and are believed to be as ancient as any site yet found in Samoa. Sasoa'a is two miles inland. Thus every site so far tested whether coastal or inland has revealed a surprising depth of settlement, and the inland sites are at least as old as, or older than, the coastal ones. Under these circumstances it is very difficult to answer the questions raised by Ember, as Green has already pointed out. Where most sites contain considerable depth and complexity of occupation, area excavations, particularly of early levels, are virtually impossible under the present scale of operations in Polynesian archaeology. Because of this, it may be impossible to identify the beginnings and developments of “villages” as such. Not only are earlier coastal occupations obscured by present habitations, but one can be confident that the visible part of almost every inland site is the last of a number of modifications of the same site. While this is discouraging for area excavations, it is also significant, for it suggests that there has been an intensity of occupation through a greater length of time than was previously suspected.

In summary then, evidence from excavations to date has shown that, at least on Upolu, the distribution of occupation, as reflected in the distribution of archaeological remains, has covered both coastal and inland situations, including areas not at present occupied residentially, at various times during the last 2,000 years. The nature of this occupation, in terms of the size and pattern of settlements, is much more difficult to determine, for while many of the visible sites probably belong to relatively recent times, these same sites, when excavated, are shown to have undergone successive modifications and re-use over considerable periods of time.

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Definition of communities by archaeological sites

While a few apparently discrete communities could be identified in the field, generally it has proved almost impossible to identify communities merely as discrete clusters of sites. Are there any individual sites which can be identified as the specialised sites to be expected in a community of given size? Is there any way of inferring the former presence of high ranking individuals or supra local authority of any kind from very large or otherwise distinguishable sites?

Three units appear to have been an essential part of each viable community at the time of contact; the malae or open meeting place, the fale tele or community house, and the fale aitu or god house. Written evidence concerning these three types of site varies, and can be divided into eye witness accounts and reconstructions. The god house particularly, figures mainly in the latter type of account. Each feature, however, may be considered according to the historical evidence for its existence and nature, and the extent to which it may be expected to survive in a form in which it can be recognised by archaeologists.

The malae was and is an open space in a central position, with no artificial features which could be expected to survive archaeologically. It was usually associated with one or more fale tele and the two functioned together in community activities. La Pérouse's description of a village on Tutuila includes mention that it was laid out around an open green some 300 yards in diameter. Williams in 1832 mentioned that fono were held in the government house “or on a shady lawn, which every settlement of importance has”. 103 Later missionary observers made similar comments, but remarks tended to concentrate on the houses, with the malae mentioned only in passing, and indeed local malae seem to have functioned partly as overflow areas for fale tele where most important activities took place. Platt noted as part of his daily diary of events, that a malaga (visiting party) came and filled the malae at Sapapali'i where he was residing. 104 Buzacott reported seeing a fine dancing house on “the green sward” at Lealatele, 105 while Heath recorded the holding of a fono on a malae at Manono. 106 On this occasion the fono was between Manono people and representatives of a district on Upolu to establish an alliance.

As well as the village malae which were frequently described by witnesses there were district malae which were named and famous, such as Malae o le Vavau at Leulumoega, and two principal malae in Atua district, Moamoa at Falefa, and Falepapa at Lufilufi. (The continuing importance of Moamoa may be evidence of the comparatively recent rise of Lufilufi to the position of district capital through the skill of its orators.) It is important to note that in addition to large meetings and festivities associated with marriages of chiefs and other secular gatherings, great annual religious festivals were said to have been held on district malae in pre-contact times. These included 'o le tupu o A'ana i le fe'e on - 63 Malae o le Vavau, and 'o le amo o Atua ia tupu le gase which was celebrated successively at Moamoa and Falepapa. 107

At the time of the first missionary accounts of Samoa, Malietoa's rise to supremacy following the defeat of Tamafaiga led to a malae at his home on Savai'i being regarded as a National Malae. Platt noted that an assembly was being held in the “Great National Malae” in 1836. 108 It appears that every independent community had a malae of some kind, and there were also district malae, and at least at certain times a recognised national malae. Unfortunately, it has not proved possible to identify former malae sites archaeologically, whether local or district malae, so this feature, at least, is likely to be of little use in identifying communities, or persons of high rank (who might be expected to reside near malae of greater than village importance).

A much larger body of information exists about community houses. For visiting missionaries, the community house was obviously the most important feature of a settlement, and although missionaries used a host of terms 109 it is clear that these all refer to the same thing.

Williams in 1832 provided an excellent description of the nature and function of a Samoan community house as a spacious house for public entertainment, between round and oval in shape, with two or three large posts supporting a ridgepole six to ten feet long. He gave the dimensions as generally 40 to 50 feet long and 30 or 35 feet wide. Dwellinghouses were the same shape but smaller and lower. The large house of the settlement, according to this account, was built for malaga (visiting parties), meetings, and dances. 110

Many settlements apparently had only one large house of this kind. Most places that are referred to as having more than one are areas that today have a number of almost or completely autonomous sections, such as Safotu, Safune, and Safata. An exception is Lotofaga on Upolu which appears to have been in the throes of potential fission during the 1830s, for it was also noted to have a number of independent chapels at an early date. 111 Buzacott specifically noted that “In every village they have one or two large houses according to the number of chiefs in the village for the reception of strangers and for dancing”. 112

Missionaries normally held meetings in these houses as well as being accommodated in them. This use of the houses, however, seems to have occurred because the missionaries were village guests to whom many people wished to listen, rather than because the houses were normally associated with religious activities. Early accounts frequently mention that prayers were held in the large house because no other place was - 64 large enough. 113 Evidently it was not unusual for several hundred people to be crowded into and around such a house. 114 One house at Lealatele on Savai'i, which appears to have been the most magnificent house in Samoa in the 1830s could allegedly accommodate 1,000 people. 115

It is also clear that these houses were not chiefly residences. On several occasions the chief's house is mentioned as being distinct from the large house. At Pagopago in 1836 Platt was forced to hold worship in the chief's house as there was no other house near that was convenient and dancing was in progress in the large house. 116 At Falealupo, for the same reason, Buzacott in 1836 lodged in the chief's private house, a short distance from the large round house. 117 In only two instances (both at Tutuila) were missionaries refused permission to worship in the large house because it was sacred to an aitu, 118 but since many aitu had been abandoned before the first visit of white missionaries to the villages this may not be a true indication of the extent to which these large houses also did duty as god houses.

Other observers also described fale tele. Dumont d'Urville called it the “maison publique”, and described it as “un grand édifice construit avec un élégance et un légèreté admirables”. 119 At least one member of the U.S. Exploring Expedition also referred to a “public house”. 120 Wilkes himself described the fale tele as a council house, and noted that every village had one, the property of the chief, in which dances were performed, fono held and visitors received. At the time of his visit two kinds were in use—the Samoan and Tongan types. 121 Fale tele continued to attract attention as important features of settlements in the mid nineteenth century. Perhaps the most amusing description is Pritchard's statement that every town had a fale tele or “free hotel”. 122

The fale tele would appear to be a promising item in the range of field evidence that might be used to identify communities. To date, little success has been achieved in identifying such sites but this is partly because field archaeologists have focused their attention on sites remarkable for their height or unusual shape (such sites are discussed below) rather than for their extra length or breadth. These larger houses should be identifiable particularly in areas where actual house outlines remain demarcated by stone curbs. A further possible clue would be the presence of two hearths, mentioned by several writers as a feature of some fale tele. 123

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In contrast to the frequent references to community houses in the first decade of continuous contact, there are very few references to chiefs' houses, but the general absence of direct references and the few that do occur, suggest that at this period chiefs' houses were not normally particularly large and impressive. The house of Malietoa Vai'inupo at Sagana was no different from any other house except that a third of the floor was slightly raised. 124 Accounts of his earlier residence at Sapapali'i suggest that the only remarkable feature there was the presence of two houses on one extensive (but evidently not high) pavement. 125

Early and middle nineteenth century descriptions of house platforms are generally confusing. Wilkes described Tui Manu'a's house in 1839 as 30 feet long on a platform four feet high, while most house platforms in Manu'a were two feet high. 126 Later, however, writing of the Samoa group generally, he mentioned the fale tele as one foot high. 127 One of the members of his expedition described the village of Suisega as having all houses on platforms one foot high and some 50 feet square. 128 The missionary writers, especially George Turner, relate that houses were raised six to eight inches above the ground, with those of important chiefs sometimes being three feet above the ground. 129

From the late 1840s onwards, there are more references to platforms two or more feet high, 130 and it may be that the present widespread use of substantial raised platforms has its origin in the mid nineteenth century. Most archaeological sites, on Upolu at least, that are recognisably house sites and are on relatively flat land are not more than about one foot high. House platforms at Sasoa'a, for instance, correspond well with missionary descriptions and differ significantly in height from those of modern villages in the area; Vaigafa, on the other hand, corresponds more to Wilkes' account of Manu'a, with most house platforms being some two feet high.

It is in the reconstructions of Stair and Turner, rather than in pre-1840 eye witness accounts that mention of massive foundations is encountered. Stair stated that on the marriage of a chief with a lady of rank their house site was made into a fanua tanu by all the inhabitants of the settlement or district concerned. A fanua tanu was a raised terrace of stones 50 to 70 feet square and often many feet high. Similar foundations were made for fale aitu and were sometimes very massive. 131 In this context it is important to remember that Stair, like some other early writers on Samoa, reserved the word “chief” for the rather small number of high chiefs or ali'i paia and a few others, whose titles were ao. There were only 22 of these titles. 132

First hand accounts of fale aitu are few, largely because by the time of - 66 the first missionary tours of the islands buildings specifically built as Christian chapels had already replaced them in many villages. There were at least two plastered chapels in 1834, one on Manono and one on Upolu. 133 When Platt arrived in Samoa in 1835 there were at least seven plastered chapels (some built under the direction of a sailor) and several villages were mentioned as having three or four prayer houses. 134 Unfortunately, Peter Turner, the Wesleyan, who diligently toured Upolu and Savai'i in the months prior to the arrival of Platt and Wilson, did not leave detailed accounts of the villages he visited. He did witness people “pull down a devil's house” at Taga, 135 on Savai'i, and by mid 1836 he was forced to write: 136

The same religion may have three chapels when the whole town does not contain two hundred persons. They are more concerned about their chapel than they are about who shall preach—any person or nobody.

Only rarely were the LMS missionaries in time to encounter fale aitu still in use. At Faleata near Apia, the chief was found plaiting cinnet in a house, and Buzacott was refused permission to preach in that house as it was sacred to an aitu although he was permitted to preach in the community house. 137 The only other instance of a god house of any kind recorded by a missionary on Upolu or Savai'i was the famous site of two mummified chiefs at Amaile, Aleipata.

. . . at that place we saw the corps of two old Cheifs, Father and Son the elder had been dead about twenty years and the other ten, as to the maner in which they were layed there is a house built for them, and a stand made like a double canoe, on the there are boards fixed which rise gradual up to the head, and on that they are by each others Side with a stone under their heads, they are covered with native cloth and tied together with native string, at their feet there is a wooden image which is the hight of the Stand on which they lie, its arms hanging down by its Sides and its eyes are made of white shells, being about the size of a child a year old . . . 138

Buzacott who also saw this, added that the two dead chiefs were treated with divine honours. He saw remnants of food offerings and kava cups. But already at the time of his visit the idol was “lying down in disgrace”. 139 Buzacott tried unsuccessfully to purchase this figure but in 1839 Heath wrote of his intention of shipping to England the only human shaped idol found in the group. 140

It is rather surprising that Dumont d'Urville should have seen and recognised a fale aitu in a small settlement between Apia and Faleata which is not mentioned by any of the missionaries. In a small pagan hamlet, according to his account, “Sur un petite tertre est situé leur - 67 chapelle entourée d'une petite palisade.” 141 One can only presume that this establishment so close to Mr Mills' station at Apia was rather a thorn in the missionary flesh and not deemed worthy of mention.

Tutuila was more conservative in abandoning its old ways. In 1837 the community house was found to be sacred to an aitu in two villages, Amanave and Aoa. 142 On Tutuila also, on the overland route between Amanave and Poloa, Buzacott and his companions saw:

. . . a little house near the road's side about the size of a dogs house, this we were informed was a sacred place, the residence of Taima one of their aitus. 143

And as late as 1845 Powell noted that on Tutuila two relics of the old religion, a sacred tree and a temple with its gods, still survived. 144

By far the most important report from this period, from the archaeological point of view, is one by Platt on his journey round Upolu in 1836.

Passed by a place most ressembling a Tahitian marae of anything we have yet seen. It does not appear that sacrifices or idolatrous worship of that kind was offered. It was sacred to the devils on which they laid the bodies of the dead. There also the chief when he had a design of conquering a district, he used to divine, by catching wild pigeons in a net on the top of it. It is an immense pile of stones of several hundred yards. We could not well estimate the extent on account of the thick bush in front. The side which we passed projected in several places like buttresses of three or four yards in extent each about 12 or 15 feet high with niches between. We did not ascend to examine the top. 145

This is quite clearly a description of a form of field monument which has been found to be widely distributed in Samoa and has been called, because of its characteristic shape, the star mound. 146 Star mounds in both earth and stone have been found in all kinds of situations. Some are apparently in the centre of formerly populous settlements; others are in fairly remote situations. Some are near the coast, while others are far inland. Suggested interpretations have included pigeon snaring mounds, and religious sites. The suggestion that they were pigeon snaring mounds caused difficulties because of the absence of any nineteenth century reference to mounds associated with the chiefly sport of pigeon snaring, of which there are numerous descriptions. 147 The interpretation given by Platt's informants suggests that star mounds had strong religious associations which were apparently lacking from the bush clearings where pigeon snaring took place as a competitive sport. It may never be possible to interpret the star mound as adequately as scholars would wish. That it was a religious site, however, seems fairly certain, and it may be that - 68 when the known distribution of these sites is analysed they can be shown to have some significance for the analysis of settlement patterns.

Generally, eye witness descriptions of fale aitu are not very helpful, beyond demonstrating that such things did exist and took a variety of forms. In view of the profusion of Christian or allegedly Christian chapels in the 1830s, initial missionary and other assertions that Samoa lacked organised religion and any sort of god houses or temples cannot be taken very seriously. On the other hand, Turner's reconstructions, for instance, may err in the other direction. Nevertheless, his detailed account of individual gods and their observances, 148 supplemented by less detailed and widely scattered observations by other writers, suggests a considerable diversity both of religious sites and the form in which aitu were believed to manifest themselves. From among the mass of aitu residing in trees, stones, and other natural habitats, however, a proportion can be distinguished in whose honour houses of various kinds, sometimes on very massive foundations, were erected. 149

Nineteenth century reconstructions of Samoan society by Turner, Pritchard and Stair, agree that most nu'u had a fale aitu that was not different from ordinary dwelling houses. 150 These may have been located in a fenced enclosure near the malae. 151 A few small villages did not have a separate fale aitu and in such cases the fale tele was used for this purpose. 152 Although it is sometimes stated that the fale tele was normally used for Christian worship in early missionary times, 153 the missionary writings make it abundantly clear that neither the missionaries, the native teachers, nor the Samoans themselves were anxious to do so. 154 Initial missionary visits at which English missionaries were the star attraction were often held in fale tele, but only because prayer houses, constructed by Samoans and native teachers in many cases before any English missionary visited their village, were not big enough. 155 The first phase of chapel building, which included purely native style and lime plastered chapels, began before 1835; stone chapels began to be built about 1841, 156 and thereafter Samoan church building became common.

Some villages also had a sacred grove. 157 Turner, in his lengthy account of various individual gods and their temples, often states that a particular god house or shrine was inland of the settlement, in the bush. But it is difficult to ascertain whether this was in post-contact times when - 69 the god houses were in disuse, or at a time when they were still tended. 158 It seems one must accept the probability that most aitu, including aitu belonging to chiefs whose authority covered only one settlement or section thereof, were thought to live either in various natural features, or in very small houses, or houses indistinguishable from the average dwelling place. While Turner emphasises the diversity, however, Stair maintains that most communities had a fale aitu. Excavations may eventually reveal that certain otherwise undistinguished house sites were surrounded by small fences; in field surveys, however, this type of god house would normally be unrecognisable.

A large number of star mounds has been found on Upolu, where this form tends to outnumber the large stone mound of more orthodox shape. The reverse seems, on present evidence, to be true on Savai'i. 159 The distribution of such specialised sites could also be very significant in finally determining the distribution of population. If star mounds and other specialised sites occurred mainly in isolation, they would be of no use in answering questions about the distribution of residential occupation, but abundant evidence suggests that they were often associated with other remains. If they could be shown to be contemporary with spatially associated house sites, they could then be used as community markers, and would show that populations were at some stage widely scattered. One star mound at Aleipata is very close to the coast, while the site Platt observed must also have been near the coast. Others, however, are widely distributed over present plantation lands and in the bush. The complete absence of star mounds from modern villages cannot be regarded as significant as it is likely that former star mounds in these situations have been demolished or rebuilt as house platforms.

Field archaeologists working on Savai'i have made out a case for the existence of a category of large stone mounds that do not appear to be house sites as they lack smoothly finished surfaces. 160 This raises the possibility of both large round or square mounds and star mounds belonging to this special category. In the stoneless parts of Upolu, some excavation evidence has been assembled to suggest that there, earth mounds with the distinctive pebble house floor replaced by a puddled earth surface, may also have fulfilled some specialised function. 161 Here then, is one category of site with several subdivisions, which can tentatively be regarded as not supporting a dwelling and as probably of religious significance. It includes star shaped and more orthodox mounds, both made in earth or stone, or earth with stone facing, depending on local conditions.

At this point it should be noted that there is good evidence to suggest that both the largest earth mound and the largest stone mound yet found 162 do not belong to this category, but are rather dwelling sites, - 70 or at least are finished in a way that would suggest they could be used as dwelling sites. In general, however, sites tentatively identified as religious fall in the upper size range. If it is true that they are religious sites, a prehistoric prototype existed for the post-European Samoan propensity for building Christian churches of unparalleled magnificence; this is a phenomenon that is difficult to explain in terms of the basically secular account of Samoan society often put forward.

Reviewing the data on houses, it appears that the essential and universal marker of a minimum community was a fale tele which was distinguished by greater length and breadth, but not necessarily height, than other houses, and was usually associated with an open space. The presence of more than one such house in close proximity would indicate the presence of more than one chief of more or less equal status within the one community. Chief's houses and fale aitu, on the other hand, were sometimes but not invariably distinguished by high and massive foundations. Where-as fale tele were widely observed and described in early post contact times, however, it is only in reconstructed accounts that descriptions of massive foundations for chief's houses or god houses occur. Functioning examples of both had simply disappeared by 1830. God houses seen by missionaries were invariably indistinguishable from other houses, except for the small spirit house on Tutuila, and, were it not for Platt's description of the buttressed mound on Upolu, one would be tempted to believe that large mounds did not exist.

Reconstructed accounts suggest that the largest mounds were often foundations for actual houses, whether for chiefs or for gods. The large mounds found archaeologically need further investigation to determine whether they might have supported houses, or whether there was in fact a houseless category of large ceremonial mound, as Platt's informants implied. Bearing in mind, however, the presence of houses even on burial mounds in Tonga, 163 it is by no means certain that Platt's mound had always been lacking in any kind of house.

Concerning the houses that might have been built on mounds of various types, it is worth noting that archaeological excavation has so far revealed only one type of house structure. The term fale tele is today normally applied to the almost round type of house, but early descriptions are clear that the community house could be more elliptical than round. 164 It is also evident that the fale afolau, now often regarded as the most suitable type of house for a fono house or large guest house was widely believed in the first half of the nineteenth century to be a recent Tongan introduction. 165 Williams' description suggests that most houses followed the fale o'o plan 166 in various sizes, and so far, excavations have supported this view.

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Although this kind of data on houses and foundations should be most useful in archaeological interpretation and in the elucidation of settlement patterns, numerous practical difficulties arise in attempting to apply it. One of the principal difficulties is the condition and diversity of the sites themselves. The vegetation in Samoa is such that it is difficult to obtain full details of a range of sites. The major difficulty, however, is the variation in the nature of the evidence in different parts of the islands, according to the nature of the underlying geological formations—a variation which is still visible in modern house sites.

In the geologically older eastern parts of Upolu, where much of the archaeological work has taken place, there are deeper soils, fair amounts of smooth waterworn stones, and little of the rough porous vesicular basalts characteristic of the younger parts of Upolu and much of Savai'i. In Falevao and Luatuanu'u, houses are outlined by stone curbs and can be easily identified and measured. In A'ana, however, even house platforms that were occupied ten years ago have lost their sharp outlines and are rapidly becoming mere heaps of rock. It is in the western area that the majority of the large stone mounds on Upolu are found; to the east they tend to be replaced by earth mounds which have a curious and not entirely predictable distribution. There are few concentrations of stone mounds on Upolu, where a single large stone mound tends to be surrounded by many lesser sites, but earth mounds do occur in clusters.

While it may ultimately be possible to use these various distinctive sites as community markers of various kinds, this is by no means a straightforward matter of correlating a certain universally recognisable site with a particular community size or status. A considerable quantity of data has yet to be analysed, but results to date indicate that whereas the community house appears the most likely community marker from historical evidence, it is not easily identified archaeologically despite the proven value of similar community houses in settlement pattern studies in the Society Islands. 167 Star mounds, and other large mounds, are far more distinctive archaeologically, but conclusive historical evidence for their interpretation is lacking. Nonetheless, it is the large spectacular mounds, already abandoned by 1830, that appear to offer the best hope both for studying the distribution of communities, and for recognising the former presence of people of rank and influence. To build a mound the size of Pulemelei or Laupule, a man would have had to wield considerable authority, whether for himself, in order to take up residence, or to honour the deity whose servant he proclaimed himself to be. It is these large sites, too, which may provide the only archaeological evidence that can be brought to bear on the argument about status and supra local authority in Samoa. While it is disappointing that ethnological material for their adequate interpretation is so sadly lacking, there is some hope that further archaeological investigation may provide a fairly accurate - 72 time scale for dating the construction and use of the largest sites. Such information as we have so far been able to assemble for earth mounds suggests that they were mostly built several centuries ago, and the traditions for the largest suggest that it was the house site of the high chief Tupuivao in the seventeenth century. 168 The same area formerly contained the residence of a holder of the Salima title (one of the 22 highest titles according to Stair). 169 A very large stone mound in Leulumoega attributed to the time of Tamalelagi, 170 who is believed to have lived in the sixteenth or early seventeenth century, is further evidence that such sites may be of some antiquity. The apparent lack of commonly known traditions about many other large sites suggests, not that they are of immeasurable antiquity, but that they may be at least several centuries old.

The argument about the Samoan social system would gain a new dimension if it could be demonstrated that the largest and most impressive sites are all several centuries old, and belong to a time when holders of high titles were able to mobilise a larger labour force. Stair believed that the Samoan social system was formerly far more autocratic and stratified, 171 and it would be interesting indeed if archaeological evidence could be adduced to support such a view. For the present, however, this remains merely pleasant speculation, and may remain so for some time to come, for the excavation of a really large mound will be a very major task.

Population size

Most cross-cultural studies of adaptation in Polynesian societies depend partly on an assessment of population pressure on available resources. 172 It has been generally believed that in Samoa there was no population pressure, although Ember has argued that there was pressure on readily available agricultural land and that this led to increased warfare and increased nucleation. 173 Archaeology cannot produce conclusive answers to problems about population size or population pressure, but archaeological evidence can provide guidelines to two aspects of this question. The range and extent of archaeological sites can be compared with the present occupation pattern to give a crude indication of population size in the past relative to present population. More usefully, archaeological evidence can give an indication of the length of time the islands have been occupied, so that models of population growth can be applied. In this way it may be possible to furnish suggestions in the light of which the question of population pressure can be reviewed.

The population of Samoa is now well over 100,000, 174 and there is, as yet, little sign of absolute population pressure. Large areas of land are now geared to cash cropping rather than subsistence economy. But almost all land now used either for subsistence or commercial plantations has its - 73 quota of archaeological sites. Moreover there are sites, many of them house sites, in the bush in remoter customary lands not now used for gardening. It is impossible to imagine that even a substantial number of these sites were occupied simultaneously throughout the islands. Even so, their number and extent supposes either a population at some time greater than the generally accepted size range for the mid nineteenth century, or an extremely mobile population, much given to unnecessary labour in the frequent construction of substantial new house platforms. Yet it is extremely unusual today for a Samoan to construct a new stone pavement for a house if there is an old one in the vicinity that can be re-used, and there is abundant archaeological evidence for re-use of old sites in the past.

Archaeology has also shown that there was sufficient population on Upolu some 2,000 years ago to leave evidence of occupation in three of four areas where excavations have been so far carried out. Such a time depth implies that by the nineteenth century the population could have increased to more than 50,000 if no restricting factors or pressures of any kind had been in operation.

McArthur, in a recent discussion of Samoan population, concluded that it fluctuated between 34,000 and 39,000 throughout the nineteenth century. She discounted the accuracy of the earliest missionary population counts, and suggested that the widespread belief in population decline was probably inspired by missionary attitudes rather than by actual evidence. She also suggested that the very areas pointed out by the missionaries as showing evidence of depopulation, were those whose inhabitants were temporarily residing elsewhere because of recent devastation by war. 175

Pirie, on the other hand, accepted a figure of between 40,000 and 50,000 for the decade prior to 1840. 176 Using conservative estimates he suggested that the population could have risen to more than 70,000 by the time of first European contact (by which he meant a much earlier date than 1830), and he suggested that introduced diseases may already have reached Samoa, taken their toll, and even enabled the Samoans to build up a certain immunity by 1830. 177 This would help to explain both what he assumes may have been a decline in population prior to 1840, and the relatively slight effect on Samoans of epidemic diseases, compared with other Polynesian island groups.

Watters accepted a pre-European maximum of 80,000 with a steady annual decline to the point where reliable figures were first taken. 178 His initial figure is apparently based on an estimate attributed to La Pérouse.

It is certainly true that the first population figures for nineteenth century Samoa were mere guesses, as is self evident from their wide range. The estimate of 80,000 attributed to Frazior, a white man resident in the group for some six years in the 1830s is well known. 179 Less widely - 74 quoted are several guesses by Peter Turner, the Wesleyan missionary, who found that Samoa did not live up to the reputation of it carried by ships to Tonga. “They [the Samoan Islands] are in many places very stony, bad travelling and but thinly populated”. At that time he wrote that there might be 25,000 on all the islands, 180 although he subsequently grudgingly increased this figure to 30,000. 181 More reasonable, perhaps, is Williams' 1832 estimate that there could have been 40,000 or 50,000 but not more, and that the population was much thinned by wars and other evils (unspecified). 182 Williams was normally an unbiased reporter, and it is likely that he obtained this opinion either from the Samoans themselves (who frequently impressed upon missionaries the fact that their arrival had put an end to serious depopulation resulting from warfare) 183 or from white men residing in the group.

Similarly, Buzacott's initial figures of 10,000 for Tutuila, and 20,000 each for Upolu and Savai'i, were merely guesses, and that for Tutuila at least was subsequently shown to be over generous. 184 From 1836 onwards, however, resident missionaries began counting heads, and it is probable that by 1839 their counts were beginning to have some semblance of accuracy, for it appears that they counted and recounted, not being content with single estimates. In this connection it is interesting to note that Mills' and Heath's first count on Upolu was made by counting houses and multiplying by an average number of inhabitants, and that by 1837, when they first counted heads, they were aware of the problems of shifting populations. 185

It is important to assess remarks on population size in the context in which they were made. George Turner's remark that “very mistaken reports have been circulated as to the population of these islands” is widely quoted, but it may not be realised that he was writing about his own district of Safata. He had lately counted its population at 2,900, a figure at variance with that of 5,000 given by Bullen, the previous incumbent, little more than a year earlier. 186 A moment's reflection will show that a figure of 5,000 for Safata would indicate a probable total for Upolu of rather more than 20,000. Turner, however, going to a district in the expectation of having 5,000 souls to preach to and finding only slightly more than half that number, would naturally be irratated and inclined to distrust other estimates as well.

The evidence for population size in this period is scattered and contradictory. The fact that missionaries counted and recounted, however, and were aware of the shifting population, tends to support Pirie's conclusion that the population of the Western group was probably between 40,000 and 50,000 during the 1830s.

Pirie, writing at a time when only limited archaeological results were - 75 available from Samoa, assumed, for argument, an initial base of 10 settlers expanding with a mean annual increase of 0.5 per cent for a period of 1,750 years up to initial European contact. 187 Further archaeological evidence for settlement 2,000 years ago implies a population greater than 10 at that time, reinforcing Pirie's own view that his premises were conservative. As he stated, it is possible that the Samoan population could have expanded to exceed 70,000 persons in pre-European times.

We are thus confronted with somewhat of a quandary. If there was no population pressure, why did the population rise to only 45,000? If it did rise to substantially more than that figure in pre-European times, what caused its decline? If it did not rise to more than that figure, what factors were limiting it?

The number of archaeological sites throughout the group lends support to the view that the population had declined substantially by 1840. Although McArthur classed missionary statements concerning this decline as based on emotion rather than fact, 188 it appears that the missionaries based their views partly on statements by Samoans, and partly on relatively widespread evidence of abandoned settlements. Contrary to McArthur's view, these abandoned sites were by no means all in areas involved in the wars immediately preceding missionary settlement. 189 The abandoned sites could, of course, be evidence solely of the shift in the location of settlements (to an almost exclusively coastal situation), or of a combination of this with population decline.

Pirie has convincingly argued that the population decline may have been largely due to the introduction of European diseases before the missionary period. He summarises such evidence as there is, amounting mainly to the fact that Samoans were relatively little affected by European diseases after 1830 compared with the observed effects on some other islands, possibly because they had already been exposed to, and developed some immunity to, most of the major European introduced diseases. Missionaries did collect vague accounts of an epidemic which took place some years before 1830. 190

Samoa is unusual in that regular contact with Europeans began so relatively late. In addition to the known visits there must have been a substantial number of unrecorded contacts simply to account for the number of resident white men (mostly English and American but including at least one Italian). 191 There was also contact with other Polynesians, particularly Tongans, but also East Polynesians, some of whom arrived by accident (or in the case of Tongans, on trading voyages), and others on European ships, from islands already in closer contact with Europeans.

The other factor which may have either contributed to population decline or acted as a limiting factor in controlling population growth, is - 76 warfare. Once again, the evidence on warfare, particularly its effectiveness in reducing population, is conflicting.

There is abundant archaeological evidence for warfare on Upolu, in the form of earthwork fortifications in various parts of the island, although such evidence to date is much more limited from other islands. 192 There is also considerable historical data about nineteenth century warfare, but this is contradictory in various respects, and in any case cannot be safely applied to pre-European warfare.

The first war to attract European attention was the famous war of A'ana, fought in 1830 and concluded just before Williams' visit. The fullest account is by Heath who enclosed the story with one of his letters in 1838; 193 by this time, no doubt, figures were exaggerated. He makes several interesting points. A'ana, in this context, consisted of some eight to ten settlements on the north-west coast of Upolu, but two of these took the other side in the war: 5,000 or 6,000 people were involved, first in bush refuges and then in banishment, but two settlements were soon allowed to return. Thus a maximum of some 4,000 people were involved in the six year banishment and had to be accommodated elsewhere. According to Heath's account, hundreds fell on both sides, and some 400 were burned alive by the victors. Guns were obtained shortly before this war and allegedly used to good effect.

By contrast, during the Savai'i “war” of 1844, the people of Palauli and Satupaitea were driven from their homes for some six months, after which they were permitted to return, and no lives were lost. 194

Another story relates to an attack on the Atua district of Upolu by the rest of Samoa, aided by a fleet of Tongan canoes which “happened to be visiting at the time”, shortly before 1830. On this occasion, Atua people were in their bush refuges for some six to eight months, but did not take refuge in other districts. 195 The pattern then, seems to have been to retire to bush refuges (archaeological examples of which are common on Upolu) while the invaders destroyed the crops and houses, but only rarely to take semi-permanent refuge in another district. Similarly, victors did not usually occupy conquered territory, which suggests that their motives were not basically the need to acquire more land but rather the struggle for political power and prestige. These instances, however, belong to a time when there was presumably no population pressure in the areas concerned. One can only hypothesise about patterns of warfare at an earlier period when there may have been a higher population.

The small Manu'a group, by contrast with Upolu and Savai'i, is an interesting case. The missionaries believed that people of Manu'a were “constantly” at war, 196 and Williams noted that in 1832 Ofu was almost depopulated, and 35 people of Ta'u had recently been lost in war with Olosega. 197

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It is thus very difficult to assess the role of warfare in aboriginal Samoa. On the one hand is Heath's account of the A'ana war; on the other hand is Williams' comment that “they go to war for a trifle and consider 5 or 6 killed a great number”, 198 and slighting remarks by later European observers about Samoan tactics and strategy. 199 At the same time it is apparent that whether or not guns were used to effect in the A'ana war (and in the hands of unscrupulous white men centred on Manono they may well have been) patterns of warfare had already changed by 1830, and later accounts can be used only with extreme caution in assessing the effectiveness of pre-European warfare.

On the whole it does not seem very likely that warfare was the major influence either controlling the population in pre-European times, or causing it to decline in the decades prior to 1830. The A'ana war, indeed, probably was fought with the aid of guns, but these could not have been of much importance in earlier wars.

This discussion of population in Samoa is necessarily inconclusive. It should serve to demonstrate, however, that a view of Samoa, happily free from population pressure, and never achieving a population of more than 50,000, needs very careful assessment before being used in any cross-cultural studies.


In terms of the present state of archaeology in Polynesia, the Samoan group, and particularly Western Samoa, has been fairly intensively investigated. Yet it is not possible at this stage for archaeologists to provide definite answers to any of the questions raised by Ember. Indeed, the major points on which archaeological evidence can contribute are very marginal to the main lines of argument among anthropologists.

Samoa in 1840 is unlikely to have been completely unchanged by European influences, and cannot safely be used as a starting point for descriptions of aboriginal Samoa. The readiness of Samoans in 1830 to adopt European weapons and embrace European religion implies a period of contact and some change before 1830 for which no satisfactory documentary evidence is available.

The nature and extent of archaeological remains suggest a population more widely scattered over both inland and coastal areas at some time during the prehistoric period. Moreover, a substantial portion of inland occupation does not seem to relate to war-time conditions, although fortified refuges do occur in inland situations.

It is possible to document the abandonment of some inland settlements in the 1830s, and of others just before 1830—probably between 1800 and 1830. At the other end of the time scale, excavations have shown that inland locations have been used for residential as well as agricultural purposes for 2,000 years. There is some evidence then, to support a view that the concentration of so large a proportion of the total population on the coast, is a recent phenomenon.

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Although some abandoned settlements appear to have been planned nucleated settlements, most sites represent a more dispersed form of occupation. Yet it is possible that under certain conditions the population of a nu'u could be dispersed over its plantation lands, and still function as a nu'u around a malae, community house, and god house somewhere within those lands. Nucleation could occur, however, in response to particular resources or around a high ranking personage. The unique nature of the composition and history of each nu'u, and the diversity of religious observances, are reflected in the diversity of arrangement of archaeological sites and the lack of apparent patterns.

A universal feature of settlements in the 1830s was the fale tele or community house, which ought to be a useful marker in settlement pattern studies. Such houses are not, however, easily identifiable archaeologically. More useful to archaeologists are star mounds in earth and stone, large roughly finished stone mounds, earth mounds with puddled surfaces (identifiable only by excavation), and abnormally large house platforms in both earth and stone. Further work is required, however, in investigating such sites and analysing their distribution before they can be adequately interpreted and their usefulness as community markers or indicators of the presence of high ranking persons assessed. But the very existence of a small number of very large mounds would appear to be an indication of greater stratification than Ember would allow.

Most large and impressive sites may date not to the immediately pre-European period but to a period several centuries earlier. At this time the power and authority of high ranking chiefs may have been greater than it apparently was in 1840. If this is so, then it probably follows that Savai'i was then more important politically than it has been recently. The presence of many large and impressive sites on Savai'i is difficult to explain in terms of the greater importance of various other districts during the last few centuries.

Finally, the range of archaeological sites and the time depth of occupation suggest that further consideration should be given to questions of population growth and population pressure before the Samoan case is invoked in cross-cultural studies.

  • Abbreviations: LMS—London Missionary Society.
  • MMS—Methodist Missionary Society.
  • A.T.L.—Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington.
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  • — ms 1837. Letter from Apia dated January 4, 1837. LMS South Sea Letters, Box 11, Folder 3, Jacket E. Microfilm in A.T.L.
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  • — and Janet M. DAVIDSON (eds.), 1969. Archaeology in Western Samoa, Volume 1. Bulletin No. 6, Auckland Institute and Museum, Auckland.
  • — and Kaye GREEN, 1968. “Religious Structures (Marae) of the Wind-ward Society Islands. The Significance of Certain Historical Records”. New Zealand Journal of History 2(1):66-89.
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  • HARBUTT, W., ms 1842. Letter from Lepa dated January 24, 1842. LMS South Sea Letters, Box 15, Folder 5, Jacket A. Microfilm in A.T.L.
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  • — ms. 1844. Letter from Sapapali'i dated March 11, 1844. LMS South Sea Letters, Box 17, Folder 6, Jacket B. Microfilm in A.T.L.
  • HEATH, Thomas, ms 1837a. Minutes of Meeting of Missionaries held at Sapapali'i, August 30, 1837. LMS South Sea Letters, Box 11, Folder 4, Jacket B. Microfilm in A.T.L.
  • — ms 1837b. Letter from Manono dated December 1, 1837. LMS South Sea Letters, Box 11, Folder 4, Jacket C. Microfilm in A.T.L.
  • — ms 1838a. The War of A'ana. A Samoan Tale. LMS South Sea Letters, Box 11, Folder 8, Jacket A. Microfilm in A.T.L.
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  • — ms 1839a. Letter from Manono dated May 3, 1839. LMS South Sea Letters, Box 12, Folder 6, Jacket B. Microfilm in A.T.L.
  • — ms 1839b. Letter from Manono dated October 21, 1839. LMS South Sea Letters, Box 12, Folder 6, Jacket E. Microfilm in A.T.L.
  • — 1840. “The Navigator's or Samoa Islands. Their Manners, Customs, and Superstitions”. The Polynesian, Saturday October 3, Honolulu.
  • — ms 1840. Letter from Apia dated March 30, 1840. LMS South Sea Letters, Box 13, Folder 5, Jacket A. Microfilm in A.T.L.
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  • MCKINLAY, J. R., 1969. “A Preliminary Report on the Excavations at Sasoa'a, Western Samoa, 1966-1967”. New Zealand Archaeological Association Newsletter 12(I):2-14.
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  • MILLS, W., ms 1838. Letter from Apia dated August 15, enclosing list of schools in his district. LMS South Sea Letters, Box 11, Folder 8, Jacket B. Microfilm in A.T.L.
  • — ms 1840. Resolutions at a Meeting of Missionaries . . . held on February 6, 1840, at Falefa. LMS South Sea Letters, Box 13, Folder 5, Jacket A. Microfilm in A.T.L.
  • MULERT, F. E. (ed.) 1911a. De Reis van Mr Jacob Roggeveen. The Hague.
  • — 1911b. Scheepsjournaal, gehouden op het Schip Tienhoven. Middleburg.
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  • PETERS, K. M., n.d. A Brief Note on an Additional Radiocarbon Date for Site SU-Lu-53, Upolu, Western Samoa. Forthcoming.
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  • — 1958b. “Culture and Environment in Old Samoa”. In Western Pacific, pp. 41-70. Geography Department, Victoria University of Wellington.
  • WILKES, Charles, 1844. Narrative of the U.S. Exploring Expedition During the Years 1838, 1839, 1840, 1841, 1842. 4 volumes. Philadelphia, C. Sherman.
  • WILLIAMS, John, ms 1832. Narrative of a Voyage performed in the Missionary Schooner “Olive Branch”. With section entitled “Observations on the Navigators”. LMS South Sea Journals 101, Box 7. Microfilm in A.T.L.
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  • — and C. BARFF, ms 1830. A Journal of a Voyage Undertaken chiefly for the purpose of introducing Christianity among the Feegees and Hamoa's by Messrs Williams and Barff 1830. With section entitled “Remarks on leaving Samoa”. Ms in Mitchell Library attributed to Barff, photocopy in A.T.L.
  • WILSON, M., ms 1836. Letter dated November 17, 1836. MMS Correspondence—In. Samoa 1834-1870. Microfilm in A.T.L.
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1   Fieldwork on which this paper is based was carried out in 1965 and 1966 as part of the Samoan section of the Polynesian Culture History Program sponsored by Bishop Museum and financed by the National Science Foundation of the United States. I am indebted to Mr A. Sharp and Dr A. G. Simonds for assistance with documentary sources, and to Dr J. D. Freeman for some stimulating discussion. Above all, I must thank Dr R. C. Green for constant encouragement and helpful comments. The views expressed here, however, are my own.
2   Trigger 1967; Chang 1968.
3   Green 1967.
4   Groube 1964:29-35; 1965:35-58; Green and Green 1968.
5   Goldman 1955; Goodenough 1957; Sahlins 1957. The idea is not new and may be traced in nineteenth century writings, e.g. Pritchard 1866:376.
6   Ember 1959, 1962a, 1962b, 1963, 1964; Freeman 1964, 1966; Holmes 1963.
7   cf. Ember 1966 with Goodenough 1955 and 1956, and Frake 1956.
8   Ember 1966.
9   Green 1967.
10   Ember 1966.
11   e.g. Watters 1958a:1.
12   Mulert 1911a:167-169; 1911b:127-128.
13   Bougainville 1771:236-239.
14   La Pérouse 1797 (III):177-237.
15   Bougainville op. cit.:238; La Pérouse op. cit.:182.
16   e.g. Kotzebue 1830. Pirie (1964:22-23) lists three other ships known to have visited Samoa between 1800 and 1830.
17   Edwards and Hamilton 1915:49-50.
18   Platt (ms 1835-36:entry for February 4) noted “whalers are beginning to flock this way” and later (entry for April 16) that there were many whalers round Manono. Dumont d'Urville (1842 (IV):106) estimated approximately 30 whalers per year by 1838.
19   In 1830 Williams met John Wright on Apolima and “a gang of white men led by George Bow” on Tutuila. In 1832 he saw at least 15 white men as well as a gang of convicts who had stolen a boat at Huahine (Williams and Barff ms 1830; Williams ms 1832). See also Maude 1964:261.
20   Williams and Barff ms 1830; Williams 1838.
21   Buzacott ms 1836-37:entry for September 28; Mills ms 1840.
22   Hardie ms 1837:entry for September 13.
23   When Platt and Wilson toured Upolu early in 1836 they found adherents of their “lotu” in most settlements, many “converted” by Teava.
24   Freeman 1959, and numerous references in LMS South Sea Letters and Journals from 1832 onwards, also P. Turner ms 1835.
25   Platt ms 1835-36; Buzacott ms 1836-37, passim.
26   Williams ms 1832; Williams 1838.
27   Buzacott and Barff ms 1834.
28   P. Turner ms 1835:letter numbered 49.
29   Platt ms 1835-36.
30   Platt (ms 1835-36:entries for November 17 and 30 and February 11) mentions 3 chapels on Upolu, 2 at Fusi, 1 at Amoa. Buzacott and Barff (ms 1834) mention one on Upolu. Note also Barff ms 1836:entry for June 21, “the native teachers all have plastered houses with board floors and have persuaded some of the chiefs to follow suit”.
31   Williams ms 1832; Platt ms 1835-36; Buzacott ms 1836-37.
32   Williams ms 1832:Observations . . .
33   Buzacott and Barff ms 1834; Buzacott ms 1836-37; Platt ms 1835-36; P. Turner ms [1836].
34   Williams and Barff ms 1830.
35   See notes 15 and 17 above.
36   Schouten and Le Maire visited the extreme north of Tonga in 1616; Tasman visited the Tonga group in 1643.
37   Between 1830 and 1840, visits from Tongan trading canoes are recorded by Williams and Barff ms 1830, Buzacott and Barff ms 1834, and Heath ms 1839a. Drift voyages included those of a Ravavaean who drifted to Manu'a, a Rurutu native teacher who drifted to Niuatoputapu (Williams ms 1832), a Pukapukan who drifted to Samoa, and 14 men from the Cook Islands who drifted to Manu'a (Heath ms 1840). Buzacott ms 1836-7 noted that a Hawaiian had converted most people on Aunu'u; a chapel had been built at Matautu (Savai'i) under Hawaiian supervision; and runaway sailors included Tongans and Hawaiians as well as English and Americans.
38   Golson, in Green and Davidson 1969:14-18.
39   Thompson 1927; Freeman 1943, 1944a, 1944b, 1944c.
40   Green and Davidson 1969:5.
41   Wright 1963:91-94.
42   Green and Davidson 1969:184-195.
43   Ibid.:98-101.
44   Green and Davidson 1965:67-68.
45   Scott, Buist, in Green and Davidson 1969.
46   Green, Davidson and Peters 1967:28-29.
47   The largely unoccupied hinterland is referred to as the vao matua in some areas.
48   Lewthwaite in Fox and Cumberland 1962:142.
49   Watters 1958a:7.
50   Pirie 1964:37.
51   Wright loc. cit.
52   Sites such as SU-Lu-42 (Scott in Green and Davidson 1969:205-209) and the Mafafa fort (Green and Davidson 1969:fig. 2) compare well with descriptions of bush refuges such as those in Williams ms 1832 or Heath ms 1838a or Wilkes 1844 (II):151, but are very different from most of the sites under discussion here.
53   Pritchard 1866:52; Erskine 1853:75; Samoan Reporter, No. 9, March, 1849.
54   Buzacott ms 1836-37:entry for August 31, 1836.
55   La Pérouse 1797 (III):178.
56   Ibid.:189-190.
57   Ibid.:219.
58   Dumont d'Urville 1842 (IV):96.
59   Stair 1897:56-57.
60   Krämer 1903:13.
61   Pirie 1964:20-21.
62   Williams and Barff ms 1830:Remarks . . .
63   Williams ms 1832:entry for November 1.
64   P. Turner ms 1835.
65   P. Turner visited Uliamoa on April 11, 1836, and again in October or November the same year. Platt visited Tapueleele in May 1836 and Buzacott in July 1836.
66   Buzacott ms 1836-37:entry for September 29.
67   See note 54 above.
68   The names Sasoa'a and Folasa which appear in Mills ms 1838, were given to me by informants in the field before I was aware of Mills' list of schools.
69   Wilkes 1844 (II):74, 78, 82.
70   Dana 1849:231; Poesch 1961:162-163; Pickering 1848:75.
71   Wilkes 1844 (II):121.
72   Ibid.:94-95.
73   Dumont d'Urville 1842 (IV):102, 111.
74   Walpole 1849 (2):351.
75   Erskine 1853:110-111; Pritchard 1866:118; Hood 1863:109, 128.
76   Churchward 1887:107-110, 175-176, 280, 282.
77   The Stevensons 1956:46.
78   Stair 1897:56.
79   Ibid.:57.
80   Green and Davidson 1965:67.
81   Pirie 1964:38, 40-41.
82   See Green and Davidson 1969:102-107 for a discussion of traditions relating to the Vailele area. Fragmentary accounts of sites in the vicinities of Falevao and Lalomanu collected by the writer suggest occupancy up to and in some cases into early missionary times.
83   Davidson 1967:16.
84   Watters 1958a:3.
85   Stair 1897:57.
86   Pirie 1964:38.
87   Green and Davidson 1965:67-68.
88   McKinlay 1969.
89   Barff ms 1836:entry for June 21.
90   Buzacott ms 1836-37:entry for July 27.
91   Heath ms 1837a.
92   Murray ms 1840:entry for June 22.
93   Bullen ms 1842.
94   Slayter ms 1844.
95   See for instance p. 66 below.
96   Dumont d'Urville 1842 (IV):100.
97   Ibid.:111.
98   Alleged residences of former Tui Atua included Vaigafa, Folasa and another inland location in the Falefa valley.
99   Green and Davidson 1969:102-105.
100   For excavation reports on three of these areas, Vailele, Luatuanu'u and Lotofaga see Green and Davidson 1969. Final reports on the excavations in the Falevao area are now in preparation.
101   Peters n.d. and Peters in Green and Davidson 1969.
102   For this and other Vailele C14 dates see Green and Davidson 1969:fig. 69.
103   Williams ms 1832:Observations . . .
104   Platt ms 1835-36:entry for February 8.
105   Buzacott ms 1836-37:entry for July 13.
106   Heath ms 1837b.
107   Stair 1897:137-138, 136; Turner 1884:20, 29.
108   Platt ms 1835-36:entry for April 22.
109   The following terms occur in LMS letters and journals up to 1840:assembly house, government house, large house, big house, great house, large round house, large dancing house. The Wesleyans P. Turner and M. Wilson usually referred to the large house.
110   Williams ms 1832:Observations . . .
111   Buzacott ms 1836-37:entry for August 29.
112   Buzacott ms 1836-37:Manners and Customs . . .
113   e.g. Platt ms 1835-36:entries for January 12 (Sa'anapu), and July (Pagopago); Buzacott ms 1836-37 (Leone).
114   Numbers are not usually given but Buzacott (ms 1836-37) mentions more than 700 at Saga and several hundred at Salani.
115   This house drew admiring comments from Buzacott and P. Turner. The latter estimated it would hold 1,000 persons and was told that it took two years to build.
116   Platt ms 1835-36:entry for July.
117   Buzacott ms 1836-37:entry for August 1.
118   Buzacott ms 1836-37:entries for February 1 and 21 (at Aoa and Amanave).
119   Dumont d'Urville 1842 (IV):100.
120   Poesch 1961:181.
121   Wilkes 1844 (II):135, 145, 149. For discussion of house types see below, p. 70.
122   Pritchard 1866:132.
123   Erskine 1853:46; Pritchard 1866:78; Wilkes 1844 (II):147; Hood 1863:33.
124   Wilkes 1844 (II):94.
125   Williams and Barff ms 1830:entry for July 24.
126   Wilkes 1844 (II):66-67.
127   Ibid.:146.
128   Poesch 1961:162.
129   Samoan Reporter No. 20; Turner 1884:153.
130   Walpole 1849 (2):327; Erskine 1853:46.
131   Stair 1897:111-112.
132   Ibid.:65-69.
133   Barff and Buzacott ms 1834.
134   Platt ms 1835-36.
135   P. Turner ms 1836a:Journal entry for December 1, 1835.
136   Turner ms 1836b.
137   Buzacott ms 1836-37:entry for October 1.
138   Wilson ms 1836.
139   Buzacott ms 1836-37; entry for August 31.
140   Heath ms 1839b.
141   Dumont d'Urville 1842 (IV):108.
142   Buzacott ms 1836-37:entries for February 1, 21.
143   Ibid.:entry for February 21.
144   Powell ms 1845.
145   Platt ms 1835-36:entry for February 3.
146   Green and Davidson 1969:39-40, 71-72, 191, 210-221; Calkins 1962:165.
147   See for instance Turner 1884:127-128; Pritchard 1866:161; Samoan Reporter No. 13 July 1851; Churchward 1887:139-140; Krämer 1903:332-334.
148   Turner 1884:23-76.
149   Stair is the principal authority for the massive nature of some religious fuana tanu.
150   Pritchard 1866:110; Turner 1884:19; Stair 1897:226.
151   Stair 1897:226; Dumont d'Urville 1842 (IV):108.
152   Pritchard 1866:110; Turner 1884:19.
153   Watters 1958a:12.
154   Williams (ms 1832:entry for October 21) recorded the Tahitian teachers' objection to the use of fale tele. By 1835 Samoans had enthusiastically embarked on chapel building (every chapel required to be opened with a large feast and often many hundreds of pigs) and missionaries frequently recorded with approbation in their letters and journals the opening of new chapels.
155   See note 113 above.
156   The first two stone chapels (as opposed to lime plastered chapels) were apparently built at Solosolo about 1841. (Buchanan ms 1841.)
157   Stair 1897:235; Turner 1884:9.
158   e.g. Turner 1884:24, 38, 53, 55, 65.
159   Evidence for the distribution of this type of site on Upolu is drawn from the writer's field data; for Savai'i see Buist, Scott, in Green and Davidson 1969.
160   Buist in Green and Davidson 1969:39-40.
161   Green in Green and Davidson 1969:146-148.
162   Laupule on Upolu (Green in Green and Davidson 1969:102); Pulemelei on Savai'i (Scott in Green and Davidson 1969:79-82).
163   See brief discussion in Davidson 1969:282-283.
164   Williams (ms 1832:Observations . . .) and Buzacott (ms 1836-37:Manners and Customs . . .) describe community houses as having ridge poles 6-10 feet high (too long for the round type of fale tele) supported by a single row of central posts.
165   Wilkes 1844 (II):145; Stair 1897:105; Heath 1840.
166   Buck (1930) provides a valuable description of Samoan house types and terminology in the early twentieth century. At that time the double row of internal posts and tie beam were typical of the fale afolau and also more common in the fale o'o than the single row of central posts. Excavations, however, have so far failed to yield evidence of anything other than the single row of central posts, supporting a view that the tie beam as well as the elongated afolau shape is a relatively recent introduction from Tonga.
167   Green et al. 1967:174-176.
168   Green and Davidson 1969:102-105.
169   Stair 1897:69.
170   Krämer 1902:152.
171   Stair 1897:74, 76.
172   e.g. Sahlins 1958:195.
173   Ember 1966:167.
174   McArthur 1967:113.
175   Ibid.:113-115, 160.
176   Pirie 1964:30.
177   Ibid.:26-28.
178   Watters 1958b:45.
179   Dumont d'Urville 1842 (4):104.
180   Turner ms 1835.
181   Turner ms 1836b.
182   Williams ms 1832:Observations . . .
183   Heath ms 1838a.
184   For Tutuila:Buzacott and Barff ms 1834:entry for May 30, and Murray ms 1840. For Western Samoa:Buzacott ms 1837.
185   Heath ms 1837b.
186   Turner ms 1843. cf. Bullen ms 1842.
187   Pirie 1964:26.
188   McArthur 1967:160.
189   Several “depopulated” areas on Savai'i not affected by the 1830 war are mentioned in LMS South Sea Letters and Journals.
190   Pirie 1964:27-28; Turner 1884:139.
191   Platt ms 1835-36:entry for January 16.
192   Green and Davidson 1969:16-18, 41, 84-85, 101, 187, 205-209.
193   Heath ms 1838a.
194   Hardie ms 1844; McDonald ms 1844; Chisholm ms 1844; Drummond ms 1844.
195   Harbutt ms 1842.
196   Heath ms 1838b.
197   Williams ms 1832:entry for October 17.
198   Williams and Barff ms 1830:Remarks . . .
199   Erskine 1853:92; Pritchard 1866:63-67, 77.