TRADITIONS AND SOME WORDS OF THE LANGUAGE OF PUKAPUKA ISLAND

TRADITIONS AND SOME WORDS OF THE LANGUAGE OF DANGER OR PUKAPUKA ISLAND.

IN the month of May, 1904, accompanied by Lieut-Col. Gudgeon C.M.G., I paid a visit to Danger Island, recently annexed to the Colony of New Zealand. It is a solitary atoll more than seven hundred miles to the north-west of Rarotonga, with a population of nearly five hundred people. Only one vessel has visited the Island since the visit of the s.s. “John Williams” in October, 1903. Owing perhaps to their want of communication with the outside world the majority of the people seem somewhat duller in intellect than the other Northern Islanders. One of the most intelligent of the natives is a man named Ura, and during our short stay there I gleaned the following information from him.

“Bukabuka was a rock in the ocean. A god named Tamaye watched the rock, and thought it to be of no use whatever. The rock, however, burst asunder, and a man appeared. He looked about him, and there was hardly standing room. He accordingly made the land of Bukabuka, and he was the ancestor of the people. His name was Uyo. His wife came from Tonga, and her name was Te Vao-pupu. Their son was named Tu-muri-vaka, and their daughter was named Te Mata-kiate.

In very ancient times two warriors came from Tonga, one was named Tokai-pore, and the other Taupe-roa, and they settled the people in three districts, one was called Avarua or Kotiporo, another Te Awea (vpronounced like w) or Pana-uri, and the third Taka-numi or Ure-kava. In those days the kumara, the sugar cane, and arrowroot grew on this Island. (The kumara plant flourishes now but has no tubers; the sugar cane grows when planted in the taro patches, but there is no arrowroot there at the present time).

They went to many lands in ancient times. Their warriors went to the east and west, but not to the north or south. The people went from Bukabuka (its ancient name was Nukuroa) to Samoa, to Niu?,
and other lands as Manihiki and Penrhyn Island (Tongareva). A number of people under a warrior went to Islands called Maunga-uiui pronounced Maunga-wiwi). The people there were like the Chinese (in colour). The land farthest to the westward which their ancestor visited was called Tekumatanau; the land farthest to the eastward which they visited was called Yiliavari. At that land their ancestors saw some big land monsters which were called ngolo. A warrior from Bukabuka went to a land called Vetuna, where these monsters were. The people tried to kill him and his parents; and to show his strength he seized one of these monsters (ngolo) and tore it in halves; and the people of that land were then afraid of him.

Their ancient name for Tahiti and the surrounding Islands, and Rarotongo and the surrounding Islands was Yaiake. Rarotonga was a mountain of Yaiake. There were two Arikis there who quarrelled, one was named Turi-yauora, and the other Tuyi-mate. When they quarrelled the land was divided, and Rarotonga was carried to the south; hence the name Rarotonga, that is Tonga to the west, because it was once located further to the east.

In ancient times Nukuroa (i.e. Bukabuka) was a much bigger land, and there were many more people than there are now, but there was a deluge, which swallowed up a great part of the land and of the people. The deluge came because of the wickedness of the people, and because of their impiety towards the gods. Some, who called upon their family gods were saved by them, and others who were dead were brought to life by their gods. The daughter of the king in those days stirred up the people to acts of wickedness and impiety. Her name was Anuna.

The people reckon their descent from the mother's side. The tribe which is the most ancient (probably the first settlers) was called Te Ua-ruru, and they are descended from an ancestress called Te Raio. The second tribe (in point of ancient descent) is called Te Mango. The third tribe is called Te Uira, and the fourth tribe Te Kati. There are a number of sub-tribes, but these four are the most important tribes of Bukabuka.”

At the close of Ura's narrative in Rarotonga will be found a list of Bukabukan words with their Rarotongan and English equivalents.


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