Appendix I
Canoe Making

Emory, Kenneth P. 1965. Kapingamarangi: Social and Religious Life of a Polynesian Atoll. Bernice P. Bishop Museum Bulletin 228. Honolulu, Hawai'i: Bishop Museum Press.(p.270-275)

Reprinted by Permission of: Bishop Museum Press, Honolulu, Hawai'i.

Canoes, since they were to travel on the sacred ocean of the gods, must be consecrated by the ariki through a major ceremony at the cult house. Unless they were for the priests, canoes were never consecrated singly, but a number, sometimes as many as 20, were consecrated at one time. One canoe of each group must have been made for the priest or the assistant priests, to serve the gods of the cult house.

All drift logs and all breadfruit trees suitable for canoes were at the disposal of the secular and sacred chiefs. If a man spotted a drift log that he wished to have a canoe made from, or if he wanted a canoe of breadfruit wood, he would inform the secular chief. This official in turn informed the ariki, and if the two thought that the person desiring the canoe would provide food for the work group liberally enough, they would see that he had a canoe.

Theoretically only the priests could have canoes of breadfruit wood, but one could be made for the ariki, and for a consideration, turned over to a wealthy person.

It was up to the ariki to set the time when canoes would be made. He would usually wait until a number of drift logs were available. In earlier times, suitable logs came ashore in abundance, but recently they have become very scarce. The last large one drifted ashore in 1946, and from it two canoes some 40 feet long were made. King David claimed them as government property and they are lodged in the men's houses at Werua and Touhou.

The dedication of a large number of canoes at once was called the ariki's matawere. The significance of this term has become lost. The making of two canoes at once was called ti hau ruarua, the making of two. When only one canoe was made, the process was called ti hanga tautahi, the sacred work of making a one.

It was very rarely that just one canoe was made. When more than one were made, only two were made at the commencement of the work, a breadfruit hull being shaped alongside a driftwood hull, at the marae of Werua. These were brought to the marae at Touhou, made into canoes, and dedicated. The logs of the others were simply laid alongside the first two when they were dedicated, and then towed off for fashioning into hulls.

When the ariki thought the time had come for the making of canoes, he would have the commencement of the work announced by beginning the series of po services at Hereu, with the service knows as ti po ti ahin. The appearance of a new coconut-leaf mat outside the west end of Hereu on the morning following might be the only warning the people received.

Immediately following the second service, ti po Tiwawe, according to Terehi, the large rope (moea) from the Hare Ranga was taken out prepatory to towing the logs. The next day, the ariki paddled off in his canoe to two in the drift log which was to be fashioned alongside of the breadfruit log. He was followed by the four ariki koa, or local priests, each in his own canoe and in this order: (1) ariki pahi of the southwest, (2) ariki kuogo of the southeast, (3) ariki pahi of the northwest, and (4) the ariki kuongo of the northeast. In the last procession of this kind held, Tiahirangi was in the lead followed by Kipero, Tuhira, Tokirati, and Kamure.

On the following day the ariki pahi of the southwest went off with this canoe to see to the towing of all logs south of Touhou. The logs were towed to the marae at Werua. Those from the north were left on the south side, those from the south, on the north side. They were either anchored in the water, or towed ashore. The day following the towing in of logs from the north, the drift log of the ariki would be dubbed out first, according to Terehi, then the men would proceed to the felling of a breadfruit tree and the dubbing out of the hull.

In selecting a breadfruit tree, a man for whom a canoe was to be made would have let it be known at the men's house that he hoped the ariki would choose such-and-such a tree. This information would reach the ears of the priest, and, if well disposed toward the person, he would very likely select this tree. However, it was his right to choose any tree he wished. He would indicate his choice by setting the sacred ladder (kakenga hakamataku) of Hereu, a ladder about 5 feet long, against the trunk of the tree. The owner of the land on which the tree stood had no right to object.

If a tree was to be felled at Werua, and according to some, only trees from this island were used for canes, the men assembled there. The ariki was followed by the two ariki pahi and ariki kuongo, each of these chiefs having his sacred adz in hand. At the command of the ariki each of these lesser priests in turn made a single stroke (ta) against the trunk of the tree with his shell adz. Meanwhile the ariki chanted. After this, ordinary adzes and steel adzes could be used in the actual felling.

The roughly dubbed-out hull was taken to the marae at Werua.

Now followed a celebration called taki huri from haki huri, breaking and hurling down of coconuts. Men climb coconut trees at Werua collecting many bunches of drinking nuts. These were first assembled at three points on Werua, at Nukuoro in the south, the marae at the center, and at the northwest end of Werua. Toward the end of the day, however, all were carried to the marae. The women meanwhile had been pulling taro.

The men assembled at the marae to husk the nuts. Men of the tautono class wore a circlet of coconut leaflets from the end of a leaf (hiku rau niu). The tauihara stuck a single leaflet in the hair. It was thrust in at the back and floated over the forehead as would a feather.

The people, men and women, form the north took up their position on the north side of the marae, those from the south, on the south side. The ariki ahin, that is, the female ariki, sat at the east end, the ariki, at the west end.

The ariki ahin called out, "E rau, e rau," hundred, a hundred, meaning that there were this many or more taro tubers, or baskets of taro. An ariki i nuo then responded:

E roha senuo e hutarau (The land is informed there are a hundred taros)

Ka rongo hua, maria huo (We have heard, that is fine)

Again, the ariki ahin called out, "E rau, e rau." The secular chief ordered, "Ka kape tauiho," extract four nuts. Then men husked the nuts with two husking sticks. They were husked, however, as one would husk them on a canoe, with short, portable husking sticks. A basket of offerings such as are given at po offerings was first prepared with 10 husked nuts. The balance was redistributed among those present.

The basket, poroporo, of nuts, and also taro, were taken to the Long House at Taharoto, Touhou islet.

The next morning the men went out with the fishing net. That afternoon all feasted and gathered at the men's house at Werua to celebrate (hai ti mo), by dancing (konikoni) and then chanting late into the night.

The next day saw the rite called hakapi (sprinkling). All the people came to Touhou early in the morning and assembled on the terraces about Hereu, at the call of the trumpet.

The meteitoko then went off by canoe to Werua to see to the towing of the two hulls and the logs. The ariki I nuo and ariki koa walked over the reef flat to Werua to watch the proceedings as the hulls were launched. Any people left on Werua, such as the elderly and the sick, hid in their house, since the procession of these priests was a sacred one, the gods were supposed to accompany them, and no one was suppose to be left on Werua.

While the ariki decked himself in his full ceremonial regalia, awaiting the return of the meteitoko and the lesser priests, the ariki hakaruru put on a comic act called ako ti kaia, showing the ways of a thief. The taro pudding, sakaroi, to be divided among the priests and meteitoko had been placed in front of the little house Takame. The ariki hakaruru crept out of Hereu, and looking to the left and right, said,

Ni tane hakaoti ka to I Werua (All the men have gone out to Werua)

O Touhou te ai tangata e noho ai (There is not a person left on Touhou)

He now stole quietly across to the puddings, picked one up, and dashed off, while the spectators shouted with laughter.

When the lesser priests returned, a hush fell, because this was the sacred procession. Everyone kept silent, bent down (para hakanuni). Their expression for the attitude is that the people "swam on the mats" (kaukau ni nae).

The ariki took his position on the south side of Hereu, his meteitoko sat in a long line off to his side. After anointing themselves with coconut oil and dividing the puddings among themselves, the ariki stood up and chanted. Then he went into Hereu followed by his higher priests only.* Within he recited the prayer, Hai ti me hakamataku, at the offering of the poroporo basket of drinking nuts prepared at Werua. Then the ariki and the ariki hakaruru were ready to go to the shore. At this point the gathered men raced to the great stone out on the reef opposite Touhou, while the children hurried to the lagoon beach to witness the arrival of the hulls and logs from Werua.

On each hull were two men, a tautonu in front with a circlet of coconut leaves, and a tauihara behind with a single leaflet in his hair. The ariki hakaruru called out,

Hakapi ti wak e ti eitu purapura e, ka iti, ka iti [Sprinkle (with salt water) the canoe of the glowing god, now strip (off the husk), strip.]

The man in the bow then took one of two drinking nuts with him, removed the remaining husk with his teeth, threw the coconut into the water on the float (ama) side, and cast the husk to the other side. With the second nut he cast the nut to the free side, the husk to the float side.

The men then went out with the village fishing net, and when they returned the fish they had caught were loaded into the hull, while the ariki hakaruru chanted.

Ka puru to waka e ti eitu purapura (Sink, canoe of the glowing god,)

Hahui noko tere kaki tana moana noho (Hahui who has been traveling on the ocean, now stay)

Heweiki noko noho ra ka hana (Heweiki who has remained ashore, now go)

Ka mai tana ika hakauta ti waka ti ariki (Bring to him fish to load the canoe of the ariki)

Now tauihara people were free to go out on the ocean without having to take along a tautonu man or boy.

The next day a rough shed (pora) was constructed at the marae and the canoe hull pulled up under it. The following day rough bow and stern pieces, side pieces, and parts for the outrigger, called collectively the rakei ( decorations) of the canoe were made or assembled. The ariki now said to the owner, the tangata tana waka, "tomorrow the canoe will be put together," taia ti waka e hau. This man gathered together poorly prepared food (putu ti mea kai huaaitu). On the following day the rough parts were put together and the canoe launched in the manner of (ako) Utamatua's traditional canoe which had been hastily assembled and incomplete when it was launched to search for his wife Roua.

Before the launching of the canoe, however, the ariki, ariki hakaruru, and the highest ranking ariki i nuo assembled at the bow of the canoe, the next ranking ariki i nuo, his companion the ariki pahi of the northwest, and the latter's companion the ariki kuongo of the northeast, gathered at the stern; the ariki pahi of the southwest and his companion, the ariki kuongo of the southeast, were at the middle of the canoe. The food, such as it was, mature nuts, puddings (roi) without coconut cream, and the like, was divided into three piles, one for the bow, one for the stern, and one for the middle of the canoe. After seeing to the finishing of the makeshift canoe and its launching, the food was taken to the men's house beside the marae at Touhou, and eaten there.

The "canoe of Utamatua" was now left at anchor until the next in the series of po services was held, probably in about three weeks. The ariki set the time for the finishing of the canoe, and called for the third po service. The first evening's activities followed the pattern of the other two services. On the next day the canoe was adzed, and a fire was built within it to burn off shavings (ti ahi ka unu i roto ti waka hakamarari). The work continued on this for the ensuing days until finished. Then the fourth offering was made at Hereu.

The next day the bow and stern pieces and the gunwales were fitted and finished. The following day these parts were joined and lashed. The next day saw the final polishing, and the following day the attachment of the outrigger.

Now the fifth and last of the offerings was given. The following day the koromanga, a crate for the sacred offerings to the gods, was fitted on the outrigger platform, and the canoe was carried to the water and paddled away to collect bait. On the next day, men set out with it for the first day of fishing, carrying stones which would be used to sink the bait and hooks. This ended the sacred period dedicated to the making of canoes.