Volume 8 1899 > Volume 8, No. 4, December 1899 > Names of the Paumotu Islands, by J.L. Young, p 264-268
NAMES OF THE PAUMOTU ISLANDS, WITH THE OLD NAMES SO FAR AS THEY ARE KNOWN.
[In the original list of the Paumotu Islands, Mr. Young has arranged them geographically, but we have given them alphabetically for ease of reference. The present names of the Islands will be found opposite the Latitude and Longitude; the others are either ancient or synonymous. The Latitudes are generally from the “Annuaire de Tahiti,” 1863; the Longitudes are from the Admiralty Chart of the Pacific, and are approximate, but sufficiently near to fix the positions.
The Pau-motu, Tua-motu, or Low Archipelago to the East of Tahiti, lie between Lat. 14° 0′ and Lat. 26° 0′ south, and between Long. 124° 0′ and Long. 149° 0′ west. The Islands are nearly all low attols, and the group lies generally in a W.N.W. and E.S.E. direction for a length of 1500 miles. It will be observed that the people use the same letters as the Maori, except that they substitute “F” for “Wh” and “V” for “W.”
We hope shortly to publish some interesting old chants of these people, which are remarkably Maori in the language and form. We trust that Mr. Young's example will be followed by others, so that in time we may have the correct orthography of the names of all Polynesian Islands.—Editors.]
Vaira-atea, is given by the “Annuaire de Tahiti” of 1863 as the name of Osnaberg Island, whilst the Admiralty Chart gives the same name to Egmont Island. Mr. Young does not mention it at all.
Taiara, is given on the chart as the name of King's Island in Lat. 15° 70′ Long. 144° 4′, but is not mentioned by Mr. Young.—Editors.- 268
Mākatea: so called from the drinking water used by the people being brought out of the dark caves. “Mā,” pure, clear; used here to mean water. “Atea,” light of day. K. for euphony. The other name of the Island was Mangaia-te-vai-tamāe—“Mangaia of the purified (or clear) water.”
Makatea is an upraised coral formation 400ft. high; it is almost the only Paumotuan island with good water, hence the reference in the name.
No doubt the name Mangaia was given from the similarity of formation to that of Mangaia in Cook Group where the drinking water is also obtained from the caves, with which the raised coral islands abound, the rain water percolating down from the top of the island. All water found in the ordinary low coral atolls is brackish.
Tikahau, the peace, to be at peace; the other name is Porutukai. Compare Polutu, Samoan; Mbulotu, Fijian; Bulotu, Tongan—Paradise, a place of peace.
Marerenui, an old native of Faaiti Island, says that Anaa or Nganaa-nui was so called because it was the children of Nganaa, “a chief who was killed at Nuku-hiva (Marquesas)”, who lived there. Can this refer to the Ngangana mentioned in the Tangi of Te Mamanga?2 (see Vol. III., p. 149).
The Anaa people were the most powerful tribe in Paumotu, and most other islands were tributary to them. It is said they owned more canoes than all other islands combined.
Fakarava or Havaiki-te-araro: see “Origin of name Tahiti” (see Vol. VIII., p. 109).
Marutea: the second name should be Taunga-tauranga-e-havana, the friendly bird that rested and plumed itself on our mast—so says Marerenui. There is a legend attached to this name, of which only fragments can be obtained.
Raroia and Takume are, or rather were, called Napaite, the twins (ite, two).
Angauru: breadfruit-tree roots.
It would be natural that the Paumotu people should speak of Mangareva as “the place of breadfruit,” for they themselves had none.
Raroata: Maroura, a native of Raraka, says this name was given to Mangareva because the shadows fall south there. I pointed out that Raro is not south, but west; but Maroura persists that the meaning is correct.
Mangareva being almost on the southern limit of the Tropic of Capricorn, the shadws would fall south, except for seventeen or eighteen days in December in each year. It may be that the change to the shadows falling northward for this short period was sufficiently striking to impress the people.
No native of Mangareva, and I have asked several, can give any reason for the name.
The name Mangareva is probably from Manga: a branch, a division, a par of the whole—hence a tribe, or part of a tribe; and Reva: lost, far distant separated, drifted away—therefore Mangareva: the distant or separated land or people.
Note.—Mareva=a travelling party, or rather a visiting party (Tahitian) and mareva, to be separated, loosened, (Rarotonga).
Fakaau and Pukamaru Islands are known to the traditions of the Rarotongans, and were calling places on their voyages between their home and the Maquesas.—Editors.
1 On the chart this name is given to Byam Martin Island in lat. 19·28, long. 140·30.—Ed.
2 We think it not at all unlikely, for it is known from Hawaiian traditions that Nana (= Maori Ngana or Ngangana) lived in the central Pacific, which is also the inference to be drawn from Maori legends.—Editors.