The Beginnings of the Anutan Community
Here! As for me, I will relate an ancient story of Anuta. My name is Moses Purianga.
These are stories that I heard long ago, stories about the beginnings of Anuta. No one knows if they are false or true.
There was a double-hulled canoe from Tonga. It went on the warpath through the upper islands, the islands of Polynesia.
One leader of the canoe was Pu Taupare. The second was Pu Kaurave. Pu Kaurave was from Tonga. Pu Taupare, from Uvea. They exchanged sisters in marriage. Each man married the other’s sister.
They cast off, making for an island in the Ellice Archipelago. They planned to go to war there too.
They were separated from the island by a storm. The storm struck with enormous force. Pu Kaurave’s brother-in-law, the Uvean, said “Look! Let’s turn the canoe and run before the wind. The canoe will be torn apart if we stay here.”
They flung the stern toward the wind. They sped downwind. Pu Kaurave’s brother-in-law, the Uvean, Pu Taupare, said: “Our canoe should sail toward the star that stands before us there, the star known by the name of Manu.”
So they turned the bow toward Manu. They sailed down. The island of Anuta sped up toward them.
The people who lived on the island before had disappeared. Pu Kaurave and Pu Taupare went ashore to see if anyone lived on the island. No one was there. Not a woman. Not a man.
They hauled the canoe up onto dry land. They listened to the sounds of the island’s interior. The island was empty. So Pu Kaurave and Pu Taupare stayed. They stayed with their followers, the crew of their canoe.
(Told by Moses Purianga. Translated by Richard Feinberg, with the help of others. The text here is adapted by Joseph Grim Feinberg from Richard Feinberg’s Oral Traditions of Anuta: A Polynesian Outlier in the Solomon Islands [New York and Oxford: Oxford U. Press, 1998], pp. 49-51.)
When they the Tongans and Uveans came, there was no food on this island. The food they brought from overseas had spoiled. They dug into the ground. Nothing was planted in the ground. On the whole island there was no food.
They dug into the ground again one day. When they went back the next day to look at the soil, taro had come to life. And bananas. And yams. There were three kinds of food: taro, bananas, and yams. No one had planted them. They sprang out from the earth.
They had two gods. The Uveans’ god was Tokitaaitekere. The Tongans’ god was Putiuraua. The body of the Tongans’ god was the eel. The body of the Uveans’ god was the lizard.
The Tongans and Uveans live there on the island. They planted their taro. After some time, their food was plentiful. They pulled out the taro and grated it to prepare fermented pudding, ma.
In the garden called Raumaaina, Pu Kaurave and Pu Taupare carried large coconut-leaf baskets. When they had finished grating the taro, they carried their baskets to the hilltop to bury their ma in the ground. They went along, carrying ma.
They carried it toward the same fermenting pit. But Pu Taupare was quicker, because he took the shorter path.
The two of them carried their ma. Pu Kaurave took a head start, and Pu Taupare walked behind. They carried it up to the hilltop from below. There they began to bury it. But Pu Kaurave became angry because Pu Taupare reached the pit before him. Pu Kaurave struck at Pu Taupare with a club. He struck at Pu Taupare’s head with the club. Pu Taupare caught it.
When they finished preparing their ma, they descended to the lowlands. Pu Kaurave cursed Pu Taupare. Pu Taupare became ill. Pu Taupare died.
Pu Kaurave’s baby had been born on the voyage to Anuta. While he was still small, Pu Taupare died. Pu Taupare returned from the dead to strike the child down, because he knew that Pu Kaurave was to blame for his own death. The dead child’s name was Pakarangaimoana.
Pu Kaurave lived on. He had another child, named Ruokimata. They went together on a voyage. They went to explore another island. They reached Taumako. After some time, perhaps a month, Pu Kaurave became sick there and died.
After Pu Kaurave’s burial, Ruokimata came back to Anuta. He came to tell his mother he would tear down the house, because only people who had died inside their houses could be buried there. He tore down the house because his father, Pu Kaurave, had been buried outside.
(Told by Pu Nukumarere with the assistance of Pu Tokerau. Translated by Richard Feinberg and adapted by Joseph Grim Feinberg from Oral Traditions of Anuta, pp. 46-49.)