Volume 43 1934 > Memoirs > No. 12 The migrations of a pandanus people... in the Gilbert Islands. Appendix IV. Tradition of the Karumaetoa clan, concerning the immigration into Beru, Southern Gilberts, of a man-eating ancestor named Tewatu-of-matang, p 109 - 112
                                                                                             Previous | Next   

- 109

1. The tree of Samoa was broken, and Te Taake (red-tailed tropic-bird) and Te Ngutu (yellow-billed tropic-bird), which were the birds of Nei Tituaabine, flew north until they came to Beberiki 1 and Tetoronga, but first they stayed at Beru. Te Taake made its first nest at Rurubao, on Beru, but she was driven thence by the people, so she flew to the place called Uma-n-te-anti and made another nest. But Tabu-ariki of Beru flung a stone at her: she flew aloft from that place, and dropped a tail-feather under the lee of Teteirio. That feather became the sandspit by Teteirio, which is called Bike-n-taake (shoal-of-Taake).

2. Te Taake flew northward until it came to Tetoronga (Little Makin). There it settled upon the branch of a tree which stood above a bathing-pool.

3. There was a maneaba by the bathing-pool, whither all the land went to dance, and when the dancers were hot with dancing they bathed in the pool. But when Te Taake saw them, it fell upon them and ate them, for it was an eater of human flesh. And the pool was filled with the blood of those who were eaten: therefore, the name of that place until to-day is Makua-n-te-rara (high-tide-of-the-blood).

4. A short time passed, and Nei Tituaabine came from Samoa, for she was seeking her bird. She saved the people - 110 of Tetoronga, for she told them the way in which the bird might be slain, so that no more of them were eaten.

5.Nei Tituaabine buried Te Taake, and planted over it a young coconut-tree. Then there came a night when the people were dancing in the maneaba, and behold! Nei Tituaabine led into the maneaba a giant, whose skin was red, and there was not one of the people who knew him. And Nei Tituaabine said to the people, “This is Koura, who grew from the coconut-tree that I planted over the tropic-bird. Ye shall honour him, for he is indeed a king (uea).” So Koura was made a king in the maneaba.

6. There was a man of Tetoronga named Tewatu who was not eaten by the tropic-bird, and he refused to be subject (toronaki) to Koura. He mounted his canoe and fled from Tetoronga to Tabiteuea (S. Gilberts). There he landed, at the place called Te-ati-rababa, and married a woman of the island, whose name was Nei Te-bai-bunani-karawa: he begot a son, whose name was Tautua.

7. But Tewatu did not dwell long on Tabiteuea, for there was war in that land. He took his son Tautua and all his people, and they fled from Tabiteuea. They sailed down-wind toward the west, and after a long time they came to the land of Matang, a great land in the west, where dwelt Tabu-ariki, his anti.

8. Tewatu and his people landed upon Matang, and dwelt there. Tautua, the son of Tewatu, grew to be a man: he married a woman of Matang named Nei Abunaba, who was the child of Tenrake and Nei Teuna; he begot a child, a man, whose name was Tewatu-of-Matang.

9. When Tewatu-of-Matang was a man, his father and mother died, so he took their skulls and set them upon his canoe, and departed with his people from Matang. He set forth eastward, and after a great time came to Beru (S. Gilberts). His canoe took the ground in the shoal water under the lee of Teteirio, and there he landed with his people. The skulls of his father and mother he carried ashore also.

10. And Tewatu-of-Matang made war upon the south of Beru, and killed many people: those whom he killed, - 111 he ate, for he was an eater of human flesh. Many men were eaten at Teteirio.

11. The king of Beru at that time was Taane-n-toa, the son of Beia-ma-te-kai and Nei Teveia: he was the second Taane-n-toa, and his house-place was at the north end of Beru, by Tabiang. When he heard that Tewatuof-Matang was eating the people of Beru, he sent to him the man named Bareiti, who was the keeper of his bwatua. 2 So Bareiti went to Teteirio and brought Tewatuof-Matang back to Tabiang.

12. Taane-n-toa was sitting in his maneaba at Tabiang, and at the south end of the maneaba sat the man Teikake with his dog. When Tewatu-of-Matang went in, the dog of Teikake ran out to bite his heel, so he laid hold of that beast: he raised it aloft by the hind legs, and tore it in halves, and made as if to strike Teikake therewith. But Taane-n-toa the king prevented him, saying, “Hold! Strike not that man for he is beneath thy foot (i.e., ‘he is thy servant henceforth’). Thou shalt sit in the boti, 3 the sitting-place of Karumaetoa, under the south gable of the maneaba. Thou shalt speak first among those who sit in the south, but the last share of the feast shall be thine, and the tail of the porpoise, for thou hast come too late for the head of the porpoise, and the men of Tabiang have eaten it.”

13. So Tewatu-of-Matang took the sitting-place of Karumaetoa, and Taane-n-toa said to him, “Who is the anti of the stone where those two skulls of thine are buried?” He answered, “Tabu-ariki is my anti.” Taanen-toa said, “And (Tabu-ariki is) our anti also. It is enough! Thou shalt not after this eat the people of Beru.”

14. Then Tewatu-of-Matang married a woman of Beru, whose boti was Te-kirikiri and Te-ba, under the north - 112 gable of the maneaba. He begot sons, whose progeny are the people of Karumaetoa upon Beru, and his daughter was Nei Taakeiti, who was the mother of Te-tongana, who was the ancestor of the lodge of Teaabike and the lodge of Auatabu 4 upon Tarawa.

1   Beberiki: see paragraph 1 of Keaki text, Appendix 3, which seems to imply that this place was a land to westward of the Gilbert Group. Other authorities in the Northern Gilberts, however, state that both Beberiki and Tetoronga are ancient names for Butaritari and its tributary island, Little Makin.
2   Bwatua: a small teleost fish of the order Plectognathi, much used in former days by the Gilbertese for sporting purposes, in the manner of game-cocks.
3   Boti: the term used to designate the hereditary sitting-room of a Gilbertese clan, for purposes of council and feast, in the maneaba.
4   The lodge of Teaabike and the lodge of Auatabu upon Tarawa were two political or military factions which, without reference to social organization or family ties, contended between A.D. 1700 and 1892 for the mastery of the island. Their incessant conflict went far toward obliterating the clan-organization upon Tarawa.