Volume 29 1920 > Supplement. Kava Drinking ceremonies among the Samoans and a boat voyage round 'Upolu Island, Samoa, by S. Percy Smith, p 1-21
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Supplement to the “JOURNAL OF THE POLYNESIAN SOCIETY,” for June, 1920.
Kava Drinking Ceremonies Among the Samoans And A Boat Voyage round 'Upolu Island, Samoa.


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IT has been suggested to me that our members would be interested in the above subject, and as I had the opportunity of witnessing the function and its ceremonies in full force in Samoa, the following notes have been put together from my journal.

Seeing that Samoa has now become an outlying part of New Zealand under the Imperial Mandate, it has also been thought it would be of interest if a reproduction of my “journal,” describing a boat-voyage round the island of 'Upōlu might be acceptable to our members; but I must apologise for having to make use of the personal pronoun so frequently. During that voyage many of the customs of the Samoans were to be noticed in their old form, and as these will probably disappear soon, it is well they be recorded even if in only a cursory manner.

It was in 1897 that I visited many of the principal homes of the Polynesians with the idea of definitely locating the particular islands from which our Maoris emmigrated to New Zealand in the fourteenth century; and the result of enquiries then made clearly showed that Tahiti and the Society Islands of Porapora, Taha'a and Ra'iatea, were the parts they came from. The results of the enquiry were embodied in “Hawaiki”—of which three editions have been published.

After returning from the Eastern Pacific, I left Auckland on the 2nd October for Samoa, and, after a somewhat rough passage in the mail steamer “Alameda,” we reached Apīa, the capital of Samoa, situated on the north side of 'Upōlu Island, on the 6th October, and anchored in the spacious harbour then formed by the coral reefs, with the town showing its white houses along the sea-front, embowered in coconut and other trees, with the high hills of the tuasivi, or main range of the island sending its spurs down to the flat on which the town is built, and with the prominent hill of Vaea, on top of which Robert Louis Stevenson is buried, standing out very clearly. The town of Apīa at that time extended for about a mile along the beach, the western end of which was occupied by the Germans, the English, Americans and others dwelling to the east. - 2 On the extreme west the land advances north wards in a low peninsula named Mulinu'u, and on this the King of Samoa, Malietoa, dwelt with some of his people, while on the peninsula to the east was another native settlement, besides a few native dwellings in other parts. All of these were as usual sheltered by coconut, breadfruit, banana and other trees. In front of the beach laid the hull of the German man-o-war, the “Adler,” which was wrecked with several other German and American war-ships in the terrible hurricane that occurred in 1889, when the only vessel that escaped was H.M.S. “Calliope.” It has been said that she was able to stem this violent hurricane owing to the superiority of her coal, which came from Westport, N.Z., and so got out to sea, but with great difficulty.

On coming to an anchor we were soon surrounded by boats, among them those of the English, American and German Consulates with the boatmen dressed in distinctive clothing, and the National flags flying. At this time 'Upōlu and Savaii Islands were governed by the Consuls, the western island—Tutuila—being under the American Government solely. The natives appeared to me to differ slightly from other Polynesian types I had seen, probably due in large measure to the deeper brown of their skins, for they wear less clothing than the Eastern Islanders, and also due to the fact that nearly every one of them has yellowish or reddish curly hair, owing to the constant use of lime, which takes away the naturally black colour of their hair. They are a pleasant looking people however; the men fine stalwart fellows. Nearly all had articles for sale to our passengers, consisting of fruit, fans in great variety, necklaces of shells, tortoise-shell rings, or operculii—some of the latter very beautiful. The natives were very urgent that their particular boats should be used to land the passengers; they have a great eye to business, that is, if it does not entail much work, for the Samoan is not naturally very industrious. All were busy now preparing to go ashore, the ladies in brilliant dresses, the men in white, with extraordinary head gear for it was very warm, Apīa being sheltered from the prevailing S.E. trade-wind. Just before leaving the steamer the Collector of Customs, Mr. Hay, formerly of Papakura, near Auckland, introduced himself, in whom I recognised a former acquaintance; he kindly offered to forward the object of my visit as far as lay in his power. The two brothers Studd (of the famous cricketer's family) who had been fellow-passengers from the Eastern Pacific, and myself were the only passengers remaining here. On landing, I went to the Tivoli Hotel, rather a good house, facing on the harbour, with a splendid balcony fifteen feet wide and eighty feet long. Here I found my old fellow civil servant, Sir Walter Buller, F.R.S., in the act of taking a photograph of Mrs. Strong, R. L. Stevenson's step-daughter, while Mrs. Stevenson was below on - 3 the beach taking leave of their numerous Samoan friends, for all the family were leaving that day for America by the S.S. “Alameda.”

Soon after having settled down in my quarters I had a visit from (our present Hon. Member) Wm. Churchill, Esq., the American Consul General. In him I found a man intensely interested in all Polynesian matters (which he has shown later by his many philological works on the language). Owing to his kindness I got an invitation to accompany him on a boat voyage round the island of 'Upōlu in the Consular boat, on his farewell visit to the various chiefs of the island. As Mr. Churchill was a first-rate Samoan linguist and a chief by adoption of the people, I was exceedingly fortunate in meeting him and joining in his malanga, as the natives call an expedition such as we were about to undertake. 1


10th October. Soon after breakfast I got a note from Mr. Churchill saying that we ought to take advantage of the calm to start on our way to the east before the S.E. trades again set in. I went to his house at 11 a.m., and there found the Captain and some of the so called “Filibusters” who had arrived from San Francisco on their way to the Solomon Islands in search of a supposed hidden deposit of gold left there by some of the Spanish expeditions in the 16th century. They appeared nice educated young men, quite different from what was to be expected. 2

We got away in the Consular boat, with four Samoans as a crew, all dressed alike in lavalavas, or kilts, white shirts, blue sashes and blue turbans, in which with their dark brown skins they look very picturesque. In the stern we flew the American flag, and our steersman was Mr. Churchill's tulafale, or “talking man,” for, as a high chief of Samoa of course Mr. Churchill could not make his own speeches to the people we were to meet. There are a number of set phrases that have to be addressed to the chief of each different village which have been handed down from time immemorial; so many are the polite sayings, that they occupy a thick volume of typewritten matter, a copy of which my friend gave me. Our tulafale was named Tui-Samau, a middle aged man who was armed with the insignia of his office, a Samoan fly-flap, a wooden or bone handle some eighteen inches long with a large tuft of dog's hair at the end.

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The northern coast of ‘Upōlu has an outlying reef of coral along most of its length, between which and the shore the water is generally smooth, while the shore itself generally has a level space between the sea and the foot of the hills, always covered with trees, among which the coconut is very prominent. Here and there the spurs come down from the inland mountains forming abrupt cliffs of lava, around which the level land ceases. At about five miles from Apīa we called in at Laulii, a pretty native village, of which Mr. Churchill is the chief by Samoan custom, and from which he obtains his native title of Vanivania, an hereditary title pertaining to the chiefs of that village. The title involves a good deal, for all the descendants of the deceased Vanivania become his relations for the time being and look to their chief for presents or other help.

As this was Sunday, we found all the people at Laulii in church, so we went in and were shown places in a prominent position. According to the custom introduced by the London Missionary Society, all the men sit on one side of the church, the women on the other, and my mat was among the ladies which I could see caused some amusement. The service was conducted with great decorum, but the hymn singing, in which all the congregation joined, was not so good, I thought, as that of the Rarotongans. After a long prayer by the native pastor, the service ended and all gathered outside the church where we shook hands with the principal people. 3 We were then met by a Samoan lady, Gese by name (Ngehe in Maori) or Le-ata-o-le-po (The shadow of night), who is Mr. Churchill's daughter according to the arrangement by which he is Vanivania of this village. Le Niu (or the Coronut) is the chief of the village, while Gese is the Tau-pou, or village maiden, a most important position in every village. As the Taupou will frequently be mentioned during the course of our malanga, her functions may be mentioned here once for all. She is generally the chief's daughter, or is selected for her high birth and goods looks. Her special duties are to represent the village as hostess to the visitors; it is her duty to meet them as they arrive, to entertain them, see to their comfort and make herself generally agreeable, which, from experience, I can say they invariably do. They are exempted from all work and pay great attention to their personal appearance and bearing, so that they are really ladies in the strict meaning of the term, and would be so considered by civilized people. Their dress is invariably a bright coloured lavalava, or skirt, reaching from the

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Burton Bros. Photo., Dunedin.
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waist to the calf of the leg, above which is usually a garment in the nature of a blouse, often made of velvet reaching from the shoulders to the waist with the sleeves cut off at the shoulders, thus exhibiting their well formed arms and delicate hands (like all Polynesian women) which, as they do no work, are soft and clean. Of course they have bare legs and feet, and generally wear garlands of sweet-scented flowers round their necks. Their hair, like nearly all Samoans, is of a light chestnut colour, curly and short, the colour being due to the use of lime mixed with a decoction made of the root of some forest plant. When first the lime is applied, it gives a peculiar appearance to the hair, for every one appears to have on an orange-coloured wig. The Taupous, as has been said, are of high rank and are much sought after in marriage by the young chiefs. As a rule they are as virtuous as our own ladies, for it is looked on as a great disgrace to the family if one of them goes wrong. When the time comes for a marriage great bargaining takes place between the relatives of the pair as to the amount of Tonga, or fine mats (sina) that are to be given in exchange by the two families and villages, for all people of the two villages to which the contracting parties belong, contribute their share.

The mats (sina) referred to are of great value and often take a woman more than a year to make a single one. They are about as coarse as canvass, and are quite soft and flexible, generally white in colour and sometimes ornamented in patterns of other colours. One I saw (then in the process of making) was nearly all white with a little black figuring on it. These mats last for generations and often have names by which they are known in song. The Samoans value them more than any property they possess. We saw, everywhere we visited, neatly wrapped up bundles of these mats enclosed in tapa and placed on the cross-rafters of the houses.

The mat I saw making was due to accident; in an unexpected visit Mr. Churchill and I made to a house in which a Tamaitai, or lady of the house, was engaged in the making of one. The Samoan custom is that no man may see such a mat until it is completed. The woman was much confused at our entrance, and hastily covered the mat with tapa.

But to return to our voyage. The Taupou led us to the house set apart for guests, and when the men came she proceeded to make us some kava, a description of which ceremony I postpone to a later date. But just here I may state, that as every one has a special title given to them at kava drinking, I here got my particular name—Le Alii-sue-fanua, which was the nearest they could get to my official designation of Surveyor-General. It would mean “Director of Lands.”

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After the kava we again embarked and passed on along the shores to the eastward to a village named Solosolo, by which time it was nearly dark, but, this being Mr. Churchill's farewell visit he had to wait till kava was prepared and drank. The chief here was Le Ota, the Taupou, To'omata, and another chief named Nepoliana (Nepolian).

Starting again in the dark we reached Sa-lua-fata, another large village of which Le Vaelilo is Taupou, her other name being Le Lupe-a-Noa (or Noah's Dove). Here more kava was prepared for us, and while Mr. Churchill was talking (through his Tulafale) with the people, I had a long talk with an old beach-comber who had been settled here many years; but he did not seem to have profited by his long residence by acquiring much knowledge of the people. After kava, the Aua-luma, or companions of the Taupou, accompanied us to the beach to show us the way, for it was very dark, a proceeding they seemed to enjoy, judging by the laughter, but they carefully guided us to our boat.

The boat was now sent on, as the lagoon is shallow at this part, and as the moon had risen, Mr. Churchill, the Tulafale and I walked on along the beach and paths, under the coconuts, for some three miles, through the district of Lufilufi to the Fale-a-puna village, where we were received by the chief Taua'a-Laulu, a magnificent specimen of a man six feet five inches in height and broad in proportion. His brother is even taller, being six feet seven inches high. The village Taupou, named Tonga, also met us, and then she at once prepared kava for us, while the chief repeated the usual complimentary speeches to his guests. As we came along the path this evening we passed the tomb of Tamasese, a well-known chief who had been the rival of the present king Malietoa, and who died a few years ago. By the time the speeches were over it was 11 p.m., and so we were very glad of the taros and fowls that were served up for our supper. After this more kava, and to bed, under mosquito curtains which our hosts always provided for us all the way round the island. Our beds were on the floor, which was covered with clean mats, while bed clothes are quite unnecessary in this climate—a suit of pyjamas is all that is required.

October 11th. We had to wait here at Fale-a-puna until 10 a.m., to allow the chief Laulu to prepare a return present of food for that given by Mr. Churchill the previous evening. It consisted of a cooked pig, taros, fowls, etc., enough to last our party for seven or eight days. The Samoan cooking is bad, the pork and fowls so underdone and tough one can scarcely eat it. The taros are the only good things; but we had brought with us some tins of soup which the head boatman—Tanoa—served up every meal. The coast we passed along yesterday was somewhat monotonous, low-lying fringes of level land

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Burton Bros. Photo., Dunedin.
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covered thickly with coconuts and breadfruit trees, alternating with forest clad bluffs, and backed by the mountains a few miles inland, up to which the country slopes in easy grades; it is everywhere densely wooded.

After breakfast we sent the boat on, and walked along the native path following the coast, through several villages shaded with coconuts into Falefa Bay, which was one of the headquarters of the exiled king, Mata-afa, and where lived the first of the Tupua family 4 renowned in Samoan history, and from whom Mata-afa descended. Falefa is a much deeper bay than usual, and at its head enters a fine stream, the mouth of which forms an inlet; this place is also used as a harbour for ships. Here we were joined by the boat and then pulled up this pretty inlet, down to the margins of which the forests come, and at its head is a fine waterfall, with a considerable extent of level and undulating country beyond.

On pursuing our voyage towards the east we found the wind and sea had got up and was right ahead of us; and as we had to pass outside the reefs to avoid some bluffs, we found it very rough, and though the boat is an excellent one we got wet from the lap of the waves. About 2 p.m. the weather looked very bad indeed to windward with a heavy squall coming on, so we decided to make for the shore, and ran into a narrow pass in the reef which here is very close to the land. There was a village named Sauona where we landed, the chief of which is Sama-i-vao who welcomed us as usual, and as soon as the girls could be got together they proceeded to make the inevitable kava for us.

Staying at Sauona we found another malanga, or travelling party, from Tutuila Island the easternmost of the three principal islands of Samoa, and their Taupou, named Ufanga-lilo a very pretty girl who, together with the Aua-luma of Sauona, did the accustomed honors of the place. The village is prettily situated along a strip of level land facing the sea and at the base of high wooded mountains. The village has two churches, though there are only about twenty-five houses in it.

As it was late, we decided to stop here over night, and in the evening the young people gave us a siva. This is the Samoan national dance, if it may be so called, though it is not really a dance at all any more than the Maori haka, which we call a posture-dance. The actors, about twenty in number, occupied one end of the house, which, like all others in Samoa, is oval in shape, and the audience sat round the rest of the house, everyone sitting cross-legged, which - 8 is Fa'a-Samoa, or Samoa custom. This position is very uncomfortable to us, but to the Samoans is natural, as they practise it from childhood, and thus sit easily and gracefully. The Taupou took up a position in the centre of the front rank of girls of whom there were eight, all dressed in Samoan fashion which consists of the lavalava and garlands of leaves and flowers, their bodies from the waist upwards being naked. It has been truly said that brown people do not look naked when without clothes, it certainly is so. The siva is a song accompanied by movements of the hands, arms and body, many of which postures are very graceful, whilst the music is not unpleasant. Time is kept by one of the men who beats on a folded mat in place of a drum. Sometimes one of the girls stands up and gesticulates with her hands, accompanied with movements of the body, but the feet move very little. In none of the sivas that I have seen is there the coarseness of the Maori haka. At every pause in the performance the audience calls out “Malie!” which may be translated as “thanks.” After a time the young men take up the principal part, which was much like that performed by the girls; and then they changed the whole proceeding into a kind of pantomime, in which they act dogs, pigs, bats, etc.—all done to the accompaniment of singing. They finished up by representing a conversation between two Papā-langi (white men) which was very amusing, as they spoke in the hoarse voices of the beach-comber, with much gesticulation, so different from the quiet manner of the Samoans in conversation.

October 12th. We got away early, and outside found a stiff breeze blowing against us. We pulled along the coast to the east, in the open sea, for the reef here is close in with the shore. We passed several rocky points against which the heavy surf was dashing in foam. We then crossed Fangaloa, a deep inlet running into the mountains. It is very picturesque with the forest coming down to its shores. There are many places like it in New Zealand. On the east side of the inlet is a high waterfall coming down from the side of the mountains, the waters originating in a lake that occupies the site of an old crater. A couple of miles beyond Fangaloa we saw another high fall, that comes from the same crater, on its eastern side. The country all about this part is high and wooded, indeed Fau, the highest hill on 'Upōlu, lies only a few miles from the coast opposite here. The sea continued very rough, but our boys pulled bravely against sea and wind, and about noon we reached the eastern end of 'Upōlu.

In passing close to a rugged rocky point before reaching there, we saw a Samoan canoe making splendid weather of it as her two paddlers urged it along before the wind. It was a very pretty sight. This was one of the canoes used for bonito (Samoan name, atu) fishing, a vessel much superior to the ordinary canoes which indeed are, as a

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rule, inferior to those of the Eastern Pacific. The bonito is only found far out at sea, so these hardy fishermen have to face the rough seas and winds. The native name for this kind of canoe is Va'a-alu-atu, and it is decked in at the fore and aft ends, with an open space in the centre for the two paddlers. The canoes are about fifteen to twenty feet long, and are built up of small pieces of wood sewn together with sinnet. Behind the steersman they carry a long bamboo rod to which is fastened a line and shell-hook (pa) which latter trails along over the stern, with the foot of the rod resting against the steerer's back, who, when he feels a bite, hauls in the line. The bonito like the kahawai of New Zealand, can only be caught while the canoe is moving rapidly through the water. These canoes are very pretty models; they use an outrigger.


At the east end of 'Upōlu our course was south, between the mainland and four small islands called Fenua-tapu, Namua, Nu'u-tele and Nu'u-lua which sheltered us somewhat from the heavy seas. Shortly afterwards we turned towards the reef, which again lies some distance off the land. As we approached the line of breakers, the great waves were dashing on it in curling ridges of foam that looked very formidable, nor was any sign of a pass to be seen. But our Tulafala steered boldly on to what appeared certain destruction, until as we got to the edge of the reef a small opening appeared not more than twenty-five feet wide, into which the following surf carried us safely. In a moment we were in the smooth waters of the lagoon, thankful to have left behind the mountainous waves outside. Here we followed a crooked channel through the “bosses” of coral and very soon reached the beach, where Mr. Churchill, the Tulafala and I landed, and then walked half-a-mile along the beach to the village of Amaile. Just below the village on the beach among the rocks bursts forth from the low cliff of volcanic rock a very fine spring of clear fresh water, Le Vai-a-Tama which is celebrated in Samoan history; but most interesting to us and our immediate wants as furnishing a splendid place for a bathe, which we were not slow in indulging in.

On the terrace above the spring is the village of Amaile, just like all other Samoan villages, with oval shaped houses open to the air up to the eaves, with rough gravel all round and fine gravel inside the houses, the whole shaded as usual with beautiful breadfruit and coconut trees. A new church was in course of erection. We went straight to the house of Tufuola, the only son of the exiled Mata-afa, whose wife received and welcomed us, and then sent away for her husband. On his arrival we found him to be one of the pleasantest looking of the Samoan chiefs I had seen; he is one of those who prides himself on keeping up the old style of native courtesy.

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Guests on arriving, like ourselves, approach the house slowly in order to allow the women time to spread mats on the gravelly floor of the house. We always enter at the side of the house, never at the end, for that is the place of honor reserved to the chief of our hosts, and in this country it is becoming to appear modest. If the chiefs are at home they advance and shake hands, saying, “Talofa” or “Talofa-lava,” meaning “love to you” or “great love to you.” Every one then sits down cross-legged, the Tulafale on Mr. Churchill's left, I on the right, and one of us sitting with his back against one of the double posts supporting the side of the house, for that is the proper position, not against one of the single posts. It is very rude to sit with one's legs pointing towards any one else in the house, because the soles of the feet are thereby seen. If a change of position is required on account of the fatigue of sitting cross-legged, then the proper thing to do is to draw up one of the floor mats over the feet.

On Tupuola's arrival and that of some other chiefs, the usual complimentary speeches were uttered, which I copy here from the book of “Fa'alupega,” kindly sent me by my travelling companion. There are many other “sayings” applicable to this village, but one group will suffice. These are spoken by the Tulafale on behalf of Mr. Churchill, but I have not got the responses of our host. A considerable interval occurs between the utterance of each sentence, while all present sit cross-legged in solemn silence:—

“Tulou-na a 'oe le Aua-luma. “Saving the grace of thee, the Aua-luma.
Tulou-na a Lau Sūsūga a Tau-iti'iti alii tua 'i le itu o Matua. Saving the grace of thy Sūsūga Tau-iti'iti who art the chief upstanding among the Elders.
Tulou-na a alo tutusa o le Mata-'afa. Saving the grace of equal sons of Mata-'afa.
Tulou-na a Tama a pa'a. Saving the grace of child of the crab.
Tulou-na a le Tama āiga.” Saving the grace of the child of the family.”

Our Tulafale now produces a piece of kava root, and creeping outside the limits of the house, presents it to the Tulafale of our host, at the same time making many depreciatory remarks as to the quality of the root. He says, “I present this root with many apologies, for it is of so execrable a kind that it is not worthy of this company of chiefs.” Our host's Tulafale takes the root, examines it carefully, and says, “Why, surely this is the finest specimen of kava root I have ever seen; many, many thanks.” If the visitors have not roots with them, the

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Burton Bros, Photo., Dunedin.
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host's Tulafale comes quietly behind the guests' Tulafale and gives him a root. The root is now handed over to the Aua-luma, or bevy of young maidens, who always accompany the Taupou and aid her in making the kava, entertaining the guests, etc. Three or four of these ladies were sitting in a row on the opposite side of the house to that occupied by our party, with the kava bowl, or tanoa, in front of them. The girls now proceed to wash their hands in coconut shells which are slung two and two together, the water being poured into the open hands by one of the others. After this the girls very carefully rinse out their mouths, and fill them with fragments of the kava root which has been pounded up on a stone for the purpose. These fragments they proceed to masticate until reduced to a pulp, which is then cast into the bowl. The above is the proper and ancient method of preparing the root, but it is now more generally pounded up with a stone. The bowl, or tanoa, is made of wood, circular in form and generally about eighteen inches in diameter and six inches deep; it stands on six legs, and is usually highly polished; the inside is of a light purple colour caused by the stain of the kava; and this is also the case with the cups made of half-coconut shells very highly polished and often carved.

The chief girl (but not the Taupou) now takes a long whisp of white hibiscus bark (Fau, or Purau) and with it works the pulp backwards and forwards in the bowl for some time; then gathers up the fibre in a roll and twists it in a graceful manner, always the same, to strain out the liquor into the bowl, water having been added to the pulp previously. She then hands the whisp to one of the attendant girls who flicks out all the insoluble matter of the kava root. This is repeated several times until nothing is left in the bowl but a soap-sud coloured liquid, which is now ready for serving.

By this time the Taupou has taken up a position in front of the girls, and taking one of the cups she fills it with the prepared kava from the bowl, which she does by dipping into it a whisp of fibre and twisting it draws the liquid into the cup. But before doing so she says:

“'Ava 5 taute i le afiafi, 'Ava taute i le taeao.” Kava prepared for the evening, Kava prepared for the morning.”

The presiding chief says:

“'la faasoasoa ma sue foi.” “Make it ready and dilute it.”

He adds:

“Toe sue.” “Further dilute it.”
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The Taupou says:

“Silasila ma le manū, 'ua tonu ma le manū.” “That is correct and now bless it.”

At this all present clap there hands. The host's Tulafale then says:

“Au mai le ipu a le ali'i … Lau 'ava a Tui-samau.” “Give the cup to chief so and so. kava to Tui-samau (our Tulafale).”

Great care is taken to ensure that the cup is first taken to the person of principal rank in the company; it is the duty of the Tulafale to call out the names in their proper order, and woe betide him if he makes a mistake. Every one at a kava drinking has a special name for that occasion. I have already stated that mine was Le Alii sue-fanua. These names are called “Se ingoa ipu,” or cup names. In our case the rule was that Mr. Churchill's name was the first called under his native name Vanivania (I think), then myself, then the principal chief present, or the Taupou, then our Tulafale, whose cup-name was Tui-saman, and so on through the names of those present. On naming the person to whom the cup is to be presented, all present clap their hands.

The Taupou now arises, and taking the coconut cup in her hand, advances to the person who has been named, who claps his hands, and as she advances, she holds the cup up to her forehead, and at two paces from the recipient, with a graceful movement brings the cup with a curve outward from herself to near her feet, and with another curve delivers the cup to the recipient, who spills a few drops on the floor or over his left shoulder as a libation to the gods, saying at the same time:

“'la taumafa 'ava le aitu ia matangofie le fesilasila lenei.” “Let the god drink kava that this gathering (lit., this seeing one another) may be pleasant.”

The girl meanwhile has retreated to the central posts of the house, and stands there while the recipient drinks, after which he gives the cup a twirl and sends it twisting over the mats to the girl's feet. And so it goes on until all have drank. Generally the Taupou will not partake of the drink, but just gives the bottom of the cup a flick with her finger, after which a few drops of the liquid are added to the contents of the cup before it goes to the next name called.

After going all round, he who has called out the names receives the last cup, at the same time saying:

“Le 'ava 'ua motu, 'ua matefa le fau, 'ua pa'u le alofi.” “The kava is broken off, the strainer is poor, the company of chiefs has fallen down.”

Thus ends this ceremony, which is a very pleasing one to witness. The decorum of all present makes it somewhat of a solemn ceremony, while the graceful movements of the girls with their bare arms are all - 13 very pleasing. Kava is usually spoken of as an intoxicating liquor, but it does not affect the head at all, though it is said that frequent indulgence in it tends to an unsteadiness in the legs, and eventually drinking to excess produces a scaly appearance of the skin. It is a refreshing drink, very slightly exhilarating. The shrub from which the roots are obtained is so like the New Zealand Kawakawa, that it is difficult to tell the difference when growing; but botanists find a distinction as proved by the names, that of New Zealand being Piper excelsum, while the island variety is named Piper mythisticum.

After the kava, comes the talking, always conducted in such low tones of voice that it is a wonder how those on the far side of the house can hear at all; but it is the correct thing for chiefs to speak in a low tone so that the voice does not grate on the ear—from which some of our civilized assemblies might take a lesson. All the time the talking is going on the girls are preparing selue, or native cigarettes, which they light and then hand round, when each one takes a few draws and passes it on. The native cigarette is made of a piece of native grown tobacco rolled up in a dry leaf. It is pleasant smoking though rather strong. I have omitted to mention, in its proper place, that while the kava is being prepared some of the girls bring round garlands of sweet-scented leaves, or the hard red segments of the pandanus fruit, also scented, and hang them round the necks of the guests.

One often sees, before the kava drinking, one or more of the people present with his feet, as he sits cross-legged, covered with a mat. This is a polite way of indicating that he is there only by the indulgence of the chiefs in whose company he is not fit to sit until kava has been drank.

When the talk was over some one of our hosts says, “We are going,” and all leave the house but the Taupou and her Aua-luma, or attendant girls, who remain to entertain the guests, which they do by conversation and singing.

In the afternoon and before the meeting described above. Mr. Churchill and I took a walk for about four miles south of Amaile, through a succession of villages all exactly alike, and situated along the coast of Aleipata as this part is called. We passed a couple of houses belonging to some Morman Missionaries, and called on the principal Tulafale of the Aleipata district who lives at Salea'a-mua, and is named Tapua. He is an enormous man, of considerable age. The usual complimentary speeches were made. The old man sat with one of the floor mats drawn up to his chin, and on asking Tupuola the reason of this afterwards, we learned that this was the correct behaviour in one who had just arisen from sleep and had not had time to wash out his mouth before speaking to chiefs.

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We passed a Roman Catholic Church of large size, and called on the Pére who, however, was not at home. Then on to a house where several Sisters of St. Joseph reside and teach school. The Lady Superior was a pleasant looking French-woman, as were two of the Sisters who hail from Wallis or Uvea Island, the other a good looking Samoan woman. The Lady Superior was urgent we should speak French, but our modesty did not allow of that, so they dropped into Samoan, while the Samoan woman talked English to me. From here we returned to Amaile by boat.


13th October. Started late, as the return presents from Tupuola had to be cooked before we could leave. Mr. Churchill and I again walked for some distance along the coast passing the extreme eastern point of Upōlu, a place that is celebrated in Samoan history, where these people after suffering defeat at the hands of a Tongan invasion, arose and drove their enemies before them to the western end of 'Upōlu, where the peace known as Matamata-mē was made, and the name of Malietoa as that of the kings of Samoa first came into use. This event happened about the middle of the thirteenth century.

Passing between the south-east point of 'Upōlu and the Nu'utele Island, our course was now west along the south shore of the former. After passing out of the reef-enclosed lagoon into the open sea we were at last able to use the sail of our boat. The south-east trade wind carried us along at about half-a-mile from the shore, which from a rocky promontory jutting out toward Nu'u-tele (an island mentioned in Rarotonga traditions) is high and steep for many miles, with here and there a little flat land along the bays, where a few native houses could be seen. The surf, which was rising with an increasing trade-wind, prevented our landing at Lepa, above which rises the extinct volcano of Fanganga; so we sailed on.

The heavens now became overcast, with black fearsome looking clouds that in another climate would indicate a big storm; but although there was a downpour of rain not much wind accompanied it, though it still looked very bad to windward, and I was therefore glad when we got to a pass into the lagoon which leads to Fale-a-lili harbour. This was a fine broad pass; and here we were overtaken by one of the big open boats for which Samoa is now celebrated, and which had been overhauling us for many miles past. It contained about forty natives under our fat friend Tapua who was collecting the taxes. These boats are built like whale boats and are of very large size; they sometimes pull as many as twenty oars on each side; they are so long that one would not care to face a heavy sea in them.

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Soon after, we landed at the Mission Station of Satala, but found the resident Missionary away at Tutuila Island. We walked on from here along the native path, while the boat passed through a shallow part of the lagoon. The villages are not so numerous along this part as along the northern side of ‘Upōlu. It was very hot as we marched along barefooted, notwithstanding the shade of the trees. About 2 p.m. we reached Evans’ store at Fale-a-lili. Mr. Evans and his pleasant looking Samoan wife, made us at home at once, and gave us some lunch.

In the evening we paid a visit to the German station in charge of Herr Johnsen, and we found staying there Herr Otto Reedel, the General Manager of the German “Deutschen Handels Plantagen Gessellschaft fur Sudsee Insulen” (more generally known as “The Long Handled Company”), in whom we found a pleasant and courteous gentleman speaking excellent English. Lager beer was the order of the day, and then back to Evans' after arranging with the German party to accompany us to Le Ana-taisulu on the morrow.


14th October. Loafing about in the morning while Mr. Evans dispatched a lot of copra by his New Ireland boys (Melanesians from the Solomon Islands), for the Samoans are no good at this work, they prefer to idle about amusing themselves. It was here I saw one of these nearly black boys tattooed like a Samoan. Every Samoan above the age of twenty is fully tattooed from the waist down to the knee in a pretty open pattern which, at a distance, makes them look as if they wore knee-breeches of lace. In the afternoon, finding the Germans could not join us, we started for the cave, Mr. and Mrs. Evans, two Samoan girls, and the boat's crew. The cave is about a mile inland, the way to it leading through the forest. The latter has a large number of trees unknown to me, and a great variety of creepers, besides a fern-tree or two, but none to equal our New Zealand Mamaku. I noticed our New Zealand Para-tawhiti growing luxuriantly, and a species of the Areca palm so like the New Zealand Nikau that one could not tell the difference—indeed they are both of the same genus.

The cave of Le Ana-taisulu is what is called, by geologists, a lava bubble, formed by the more rapid cooling of the outer part of a lava stream, which allows the fluid and hotter interior part to flow away, thus leaving a cave. The cave is on the flat land with a slight hollow leading down to the entrance, which is a hole six feet by three into which we had to crawl, and then descended some forty feet to where the cave became much larger, and the floor level, which had been paved by the natives in former times, with flat stones in order to facilitate access to the water. We proceeded onwards for perhaps two hundred - 16 yards when we came to the water which is fresh and beautifully clear and cool. Before entering the cave every one had discarded their clothes and donned lavalavas. And the natives had made each of us a torch by filling bamboos with kerosene. On reaching the water we all entered amidst the shouts and laughter of the natives, our biggest boatman, Vaenga, taking my hand. It got deeper and deeper, until the water was up to my chin, when I came to the conclusion the place was not good enough for the Surveyor-General of New Zealand to be drowned in, so I turned back, while Mr. Churchill and the girls swam on into the darkness, each holding a torch in one hand. The sight was a very pretty one with the reflection of the torches in the water which also lighted up the roof and sides composed of lava rocks. The natives were screaming with delight, dashing about in the water like so many porpoises, while some held the torches above. The cave runs in a long way filled with deep water, but otherwise of no particular beauty, as the rocks are bare and of a sombre hue.

We afterwards returned to Mr. Evans' and spent the evening in reading and playing cribbage.

15th October. We left Fale-a-lili at 8 a.m., and pulled out of the lagoon into the open sea, and then along the coast to the westward. There is sheltered anchorage for ships within the reef at Fale-a-lili, and a fairly good entrance. We passed along the coast for four or five miles, which is formed by an old lava flow from the mountains in the interior. It presents a bold rocky face to the great waves of the Pacific, this being on the windward side of the island and constantly exposed to the S.E. trade-wind, which waves are doing their best to undermine the cliffs, and form caves of which there are many, besides isolated rocks cut out of the black basaltic lava. The cliffs are not more than forty feet high, but they present faces so steep that I saw no place where any one could climb up them in case of shipwreck here. The tops of these cliffs seem to be covered exclusively with a growth of Pandanus trees; the coconut is quite absent which is a strange feature, for usually they line the shore everywhere in all the islands I have visited.

At the west termination of these cliffs we entered the lagoon again not far from Siuma village, and then pulled along in the smooth water close to the land. We had already had our usual heavy shower of rain, and now it was very hot, notwithstanding which my friend had a snooze in the stern-sheets, with his face fully exposed to the sun, consequently he was “done nicely brown.” We soon after landed to walk as the cramped position in the boat became urksome, while the boat went on, the boys singing their pretty boat songs in time to the oars, which leads me to say that the Samoan music is much more harmonious than that of other branches of the Polynesians I have met. We passed in our walk village after village, at one of which we called

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Burton Bros. Photo., Dunedin.
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in to see one of my friend's “daughters” (according to Samoan custom), and found her making one of their fine mats. Of course we had to have kava, with floral decorations. Then on again under the partial shade of the coconuts to Vaie'e-i-tai, where there is a store. From there we crossed an isthmus and came out on to a pretty sheet of water known as Vaie'e, where the boat was waiting. We pulled across to Vaie'e-i-uta and landed. The village Taupou—a very nice looking girl—coming down to the beach to welcome us. Then kava, and dinner.

In the evening the Taupou, whose name is Fa'a-ofu-tumua, two other girls and some children performed a siva for our entertainment, but as her Aua-luma were away, it was not nearly so good as the one I have already described. The chiefs here are named Tafito-ala and Teu.

Coming along the path to-day we crossed a stream named Mulivai-o-Ata, which bounds the two village lands of Mulivai and Ale, Filipo being the chief of the former. The interesting thing about this stream is, that its name has been preserved in Maori traditions as Muriwai-o-Ata. There was the usual new church building here. These people carry to an excess the covering of rough lava stones in their village, for it is unpleasant to walk over. The village is built on top of a lava flow, on which, however, there are trees and shrubs growing. Below the low cliff several fine streams of fresh water gush out.

16th October. Started from Vai-e'e-uta (which is almost the same name as the island on the way from Auckland to the Thames, Wai-heke) early, and with a really fine fair wind passed out of the pretty Vai-e'e inlet and through a pass in the reef, and then along the coast westwards. The country all round here and for some distance inland is level and undulating, rising gradually to the Tuasivi (Tua-hiwi, in Maori, the ridge) or backbone range of 'Upōlu. But for the stones it would be a fine country for settlement, and yet will bear crops of coconut for making copra probably.


I should have mentioned that the posts of the house we stayed at last night were made of tree-fern stems, apparently exactly like the New Zealand wheki tree-fern, which I had not noticed anywhere before.

So with a flowing sheet we passed Le Fangā Bay which is a pretty place, and behind it rises the extinct volcano Tofua-tuana'i, and then entered the lagoon again by a narrow pass near a bay named Fangalei, which is the Samoan equivalent of our Whangarei, north of Auckland; just opposite is the village of Fale-latai. We had now reached the district of Aana, distinguished for its extent ol level land, and on this account it presents no interesting features, the monotonous rows of coconuts lining the shore preventing a view inland, for we kept quite close to the beach all along here. The wind held and we soon reached - 18 Muli-fanua (the same name as the North Cape of New Zealand meaning “the lands' end”), the extreme west end of 'Upōlu, and just a couple of miles off the shore is the island of Manōno, enclosed in the same reef as the main island. I scanned the gentle declivities of this island to see if any feature could be identified with the Uru-o-Manōno of Maori and Moriori legend, but its bush clad slopes with several small villages half hidden in the trees lend no aid to such an identification. And indeed we learn from Rarotongan traditions that the incidents of the Maori story took place at Haabai of the Tonga Group, It was here at Manōno that the rival king Mata-afa—whose name in courtesy language is Lau-ifi-afa—surrendered himself to the German and British men-of-war after the battle of Vaitele in 1892-3, after which he was exiled to the Marshall Group.

The trade-wind now failing us as we were under the lee of Upōlu, we had a long pull along the west and north-west coast within the lagoon, to the German station, where we were kindly received by Herren A. Krueger, the Manager, Duesterdieck, and Reedel, the General Manager, who had preceded us here. Lager beer as usual, then a very acceptable bath, then dinner, at which two Solomon Islanders waited. In the evening we had long talks on Polynesian Philology, all the German gentlemen talking good English. It was a treat to sleep in a bed again; for the Samoan only supply mats over a pebbly floor. At this place there is a harbour within the reef where large ships load copra for Hamburg.


17th October. Parted from our kind hosts, but before leaving we witnessed a very solemn kind of dance by the Solomon Islanders, for what purpose we knew not. Their dance seems to be confined to constantly changing places to the beat of a drum. These people—who are engaged as laborers on the coconut plantations—are quite different to the Samoans, very dark though not black, with the characteristic negroid hair, and beside the stalwart Samoans look like pygmies.

We retraced our steps to the west, past the north end of Manōno Island, and the little islet of Nu'ulopa, on our way to Apolima Island, which lies about half way across the Straits separating 'Upōlu and Savāi'i Islands.

Outside the lagoon a big sea was running, but we soon drew near to Apolima which is only two and a-half miles beyond Manōno, and as we did so, its volcanic character became very apparent. We pulled in near the shore to observe it more closely, and then I discovered a new phase in my friend Churchill, viz.: that he was a good geologist as well as author, editor, special correspondent, explorer, yachtsman, diplomatist, and above all, linguist, for he knows many languages and

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Sketch by S.P.S.
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is acquainted with the construction of some forty of them. It is a loss to Samoan history that he is leaving this month for America. The Samoans will lose in him a good friend.

We then approached the north-west side of Apolima (which name means “the hollow of the hand,” and after which I suspect the Aparima Island in Foveaux Straits is named), and suddenly the surrounding cliffs gave way and a narrow passage some forty feet wide, opened up between the black lava rocks in which there is somewhat less surf than the towering waves that dash against the outside cliffs of the island. A dozen strong strokes from our crew and our boat is landed on a sandy beach within the crater of the volcano. The little harbour is not more than an acre in extent, and behind it the level bottom of the crater is covered with a luxuriant growth of coconut, breadfruit and other trees, while the nearly perpendicular walls of the crater rise up to a great height, reflecting the sun's heat on to the vegetation below. About a dozen native houses peep out from among the trees, with, of course, a church. It is a beautiful spot, but what an oven it must be on a sunny day!

The girls of the village made kava for us while the elders recited the usual complimentary phrases. We were charmed with this pretty place, with which are connected many incidents in Samoan history. In former times of war the people used to bar the passage into the crater, and thus prevent an enemy from landing, for it is quite impossible to do so outside owing to the steepness of the crater walls. After an hour or more spent with these people, we returned to the main island, and after calling again at the German station passed on our way to the east; but the usual heavy squall coming on we were compelled to run ashore for shelter at Satafuala village, where we were welcomed by the village Taupou, named Toa, a very pretty girl; and found settled there the refugees from Manōno Island. We were wet and tired, so decided to stop at this place for the night, and were as usual indulged in kava, dances, etc., by the people.


18th October. We got off soon after daylight and pulled along the shore with the tide in our favour, still within the reef, until we reached Le Ulu-moenga at six a.m. Here we very coolly marched into the drawingroom of the Resident Missionary—whose name has escaped me—and waited until some one got up. I felt very shame-faced about our proceedings, but the Consul-General assured me it was alright and fa'a-Samoa (Samoa custom). Presently a bright little lady appeared in the person of Mrs. Newall, wife of the Rev. J. E. Newell, of Malua, who was at this time in New Zealand for a change. She gave us a capital breakfast, the lady of the house, a - 20 new-comer, being unwell. Our hostess is the daughter of my good and lamented friend the Rev. W. Wyatt Gill, D.C.L., Polynesian scholar and author, and her husband and I have frequently corresponded on Polynesian matters, so she knew who I was. 6

After thanking Mrs. Newall for her hospitality, we adjourned to a large native house where there was a gathering of the people to meet Mr. Churchill. Of course they gave us kava, etc., and though very courteous as usual, the chiefs seemed under some restrain, due, Mr. Churchill says, to the fact that these people are followers of the exiled Mata-afa, and do not acknowledge Malietoa as king.

We then passed on along the coast for some miles, which has many villages, churches and coconut groves, backed up by the tuasivi main range, to Malua point, a very pretty place, one of the London Mission Society's stations. Here are two mission houses, facing the lagoon down to the smooth waters of which pretty lawns extend. Here we found the Rev. and Mrs. Goward, of Apia, staying for a change, and they were kind enough to give us dinner, after which Mr. Goward and an intelligent young Samoan student showed us round the establishment. A new and very fine lecture hall has just been finished here, named the “Jubilee Hall.” It is quite unexpected to find so fine a place in Samoa. Then we saw the students' quarters, houses built of coral arranged in a quadrangle. Being vacation time the students are away, but during term there are one hundred and eighty students here training, mostly as Missionaries to the out islands, of which Samoa has already furnished a large number. Malua is the prettiest place I have seen in Samoa, and Mr. Newall is to be congratulated on the excellent order in which every thing is kept.

After dinner we again started on our course to the east, passing close to the shore everywhere, which is low and lined with little villages, and at five p.m. reached Apia, our starting point.

Thus ended an eight days' voyage of over a hundred nautical miles, and although we had some rain each day but the last, one does not feel the wet as the rain is quite warm. Thanks to the Consul General I have certainly had an opportunity of seeing the Samoan people under peculiarly favourable circumstances, which brought to the fore many of their old customs, and perhaps showed them in a more favourable light than usual.

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A week spent in Apia was profitable to me in that, by the help of Mr. Churchill, and Mr. E. W. Gurr, as interpreters, I got some useful information from the natives of Apia, which has been made use of in “Hawaiki.” I was often visited by the well-known chief of Apia, Seu-manu-tafa, who had saved many lives of sailors during the hurricane of 1889.

After a visit to the largest island of the Samoan Group (Savai'i, which is one of the Maori Hawaikis), where I gathered from the old natives some interesting notes on the Maori heroes Tawhaki and Rătă, I left for Honolulu at the same time as Mr. and Mrs. Churchill, on the 3rd November, 1897.

1   As I write this account, news comes that Mr. Churchill has lately been knighted by the King of Belgium, and made an Officieur de l'Ordre du Leopold II. for services rendered during the war.
2   This expedition failed in its search, and returned to Samoa in a deplorable condition in May, 1898, an account of which will be found in the Auckland papers of 20th May, 1898.
3   It is well-known that the Rev. John Williams introduced Christianity to Samoa in 1830. At the time of my visit there were 179 churches under the London Missionary Society, 18 churches and 45 chapels under the Roman Catholics, while the Wesleyans have 64 churches, making 306 altogether in Samoa, with a population of about 38,000 souls.
4   There are references to this Tupua family in the Rarotongan history as long ago as about the twelfth century. Mata-afa was exiled from Samoa by the Germans in consequence of local wars.
5   While kava is the usual name, the Samoans, Hawaiians and Tahitians not having the letter “k” in their languages where others use it, use the word 'Ava instead.
6   On my second visit to Samoa on my return from Honolulu, I spent several pleasant days with Mr. and Mrs. Newall at their home, Malua. Mr. Newall died some years ago while on furlough, in Germany.