TA-TATAU OR HERALDIC MARKS AT AITUTAKI ISLAND

 

THE ORIGIN OF THE TA-TATAU OR HERALDIC MARKS AT AITUTAKI ISLAND.

IT is claimed that each canoe that arrived at Aitutaki from Hawaiki was carved on the bow in a more or less distinct pattern, presumably with the heraldic bearings of the chief of the canoe, and that this carving was adopted by those who came in the canoe as the ta-tatau which should for all time distinguish them from other tribes.

So far as can now be ascertained, the first of these canoes in point of time was the Te Uatoaua, under the chief Te Muna-korero, a Tongan. This canoe entered by the Avaroa passage, and the crew landed in thetapere, or district now called Waiau. They adopted the carving of the canoe as the tribal ta-tatau, and it was tattooed on their bodies, and occasionally on the neck, wrist, or legs, but never on the face. The same mark was placed on the garments and tribal ornaments, and any appropriations of this special mark by another tribe resulted in bloodshed, for the object of the mark was to preserve the descent of each family by giving each member thereof the proof of his descent on his own person.

It was Te Muna-korero who gave the name to the small reef island of Maina, by throwing himself down in the coral sand to enjoy the heat of the sun, mainaina ra. His ta-tatau was

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and this mark is called pa-maunga, or range of mountains, in memory of a range in far off Hawaiki.

Katopa-enua was the next canoe to arrive, under the chief Kaki. It entered by the Vaimotu passage and landed at Taravao. Their ta-tatau is called puapua-inana, and the mark was as follows:

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Irakau, the canoe of Ui-tario, came at the same time as Kaki, and entered by the Taketake passage. Their ta-tatau was called komua, or the forward thrust of a spear, viz.,

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After the foregoing came the Ariki Te-Erui-o-te-Rangi in his double canoe, one side of which was called “Te Rangi-matoe,” and the other “Te Toenga-rangi.” This canoe entered by the Ava-tapu, and their ta-tatau is called paek?:

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The last of these ancestral canoes was Tue-moana, with the chief Ruatapu, who entered by the Ava-kopuanua, and asserted his m?na over all the tribes of the island. His ta-tatau is known as punarua, viz.,

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Compare the arms of the Montacutes with those of Te Munukorero, and the same idea will be seen.

 

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