Religion and Fishing
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. 319-324)
Reprinted by Permision of: Bishop Museum Press,Honolulu,
RELIGIOUS PRACTICES IN CONNECTION WITH FISHING
Those who went out fishing must, if they wished success, recite certain prayers or formulae, and make certain offerings. With the exception of bonito canoes, each fisherman's canoe had, on the forward part of its outrigger platform, an open framework (koromanga) to receive offerings of drinking nuts. Bonito canoes had this framework (see Fig. 41) on the back of the platform. Koromanga means, literally, to gaze (koro) at food (manga) enviously. The koromanga was divided into four compartments, each large enough to receive a drinking nut. Behind this frame, according to Keweti, was another smaller one, a fifth compartment to receive one coconut.
When a canoe set out it carried enough drinking nuts for the offerings and for the fishermen. These were husked during the trip with a portable husking stick (ko).
Upon arrival at the fishing ground, or just before, the nuts for the offering, called the o, were husked. They were also called "the meal of the canoe," sakangutu ti waka. The nut to be placed in the single, or fifth compartment was called "the drinking nut of the canoe," ti rumat ti waka. In their thinking, as is evident from the chants, the canoe itself had a personality or spirit or was animated by the spirits of the gods, and also it was the property of the gods, having been put at their disposal by the priest.
After husking, the nuts were placed on the canoe platform. Then the eldest or most experienced man in the canoe stood to give the prayer (oriori) to the gods of the canoe. The four nuts, Keweti thought, were four gods, but for which ones he did not know. When we questioned aged Manuere, who, however, was a tauihara, a member of the nonsacred class, he said that he believed these nuts were for the ariki. Terehi, who belonged to the sacred class and who served in a position not far below that of the high priest, told me that the two coconuts in front were for the gods, the two in back, for the people in the canoe. He also said that in the ariki's canoe, since the god he looked after was Mongotohoro, his offering was for this god. The people as a whole, he claimed, usually dedicated the offering to the god or gods of the high priest. There was, however, some flexibility here. At one time they might offer the coconuts to Mongohenua and Tiwawe, and if that fishing trip was not successful, the next time they would try Hakatautai and Takame.
The elder (tangat matua) who stood to recite the prayer gave their word for a younger person to place a coconut in a compartment by saying:
Ti mat niu ti waka nei ku rawa.
The young coconuts of the canoe here are ready.
Ka wanga, ka wanga ki ti waka.
Give them, give them to the canoe.
The assistant then placed one in a forward compartment of the koromanga, keeping his hand on it while the elder recited a prayer such as this, given by Keweiti.
Sei au ma pe tiaha, ki tahi ake kimaua ko i taia ti me.
Do what you will (literally, your something is what), that (you) look after us until tomorrow.
Pa hua nia rongo i tou hare nei,
That the news from your house be gentle (i.e., not bad),
Kei ku te wawa kia hoki kimaua i o nua nei.
Do not starve us who are upon you.
This prayer was given by Tomoki:
Ne ro ia hua hakahuri ki rara
(We) who have come are bent over (with starvation)
Ti me hua e harahara ki roto ti kaka.
(All we have) are what we find in searching into the coconut-cloth wrapped around the base of the leaves.
Ti uru senua nei ki mahango
All trees of the land here are dried up
Te me hua ne hurei hakakono ki roto ti kaka
(All we have) is what we find in searching without much success in the coconut cloth,
Iha ki o nua nei.
But that appears on you (i.e., is given to you the canoe).
Tera ka hane iha ta tau muri
Is the one who has come along with you
Ne hai hua ti me nei e romo.
He performs the prayer here by himself.
If an elder person has not come along, someone else takes his place but, in the above oriori, he uses the name for the elder, even though he is not, in reality, present.
Another formula, given by King David, is in the same vein:
To iha nei ki o nua hani moi ai,
We who have come on you (the canoe),
Hakarongo e hai nei, e wawea parua.
This is how (we) feel, (we) cry-out with double (starvation).
At the end of such a prayer, the assistant takes his hands off the drinking nut and then places each of the other nuts in its compartment.
If the bait of one canoe runs out, and more is taken from another canoe, a drinking nut is given in exchange. In case no fish are caught, the coconuts of an o were cast out with these words, "Ti o ti waka e ta ki taha," the o of the canoe is thrown out. Coconuts which had been offered to the gods could afterward be used to quench the thirst and satisfy the hunger of those on board the canoe.
When fishing began, a prayer suitable to the specific kind of fishing was offered by the elder. For ordinary line fishing outside the reef, a typical prayer (oriori) recited upon arrival was the following, dictated by Tioripi.
To the gods:
Hakamoror, ti hare o eitu.
Greetings, house of the gods.
Ti waka ku to i tono hare
The canoe which arrives at its house
Hakatino ange tono ara.
Guard it on its way.
To (the gods of) the canoe:
Teretere hakaroware to tahataha
Sailing on in poverty beyond your breakers
Te-ata-anga-waka-ina i o nua nei
The-one-who-has-nothing, (who is) on you,
Hakatino ange tono ara.
Guide him on his way.
Upon arrival back from fishing and just before landing on the reef, prayers such as this, also given by Tioripi, were recited:
Hakamaroro, ti hare o eitu.
Greetings, house of the gods
Mau hangota ne hai i tou hare nei,
Our fishing just completed at your house here,
Ni tam a ripa e matarua.
Has resulted in fifty small ripa fish.
Ti waka nei ka hai tono harongo ki uta,
When the canoe here goes on its way to land,
Sei au wawa etahi, ki to ti waka nei ki uta.
Give one of your waves, so that the canoe will land.
Ku te moho hua i tou hare nei.
Do not just break it at your house.
Those who went fishing for flying fish might give the prayer which has been presented under the section on the initiation of fishermen, page 333. Just before the lighting of the torches, another prayer such as the following was given. It was dictated and explained by Keweti:
Ka pura Hakatautai mo Takame noko pura,
Light up (your torches) Hakatautai and Takame who lit them before.
I ti heni ti ra ti wa hiahi.
After the sun has gone down at evening.
Hai hara manga tinau hare nei,
(When it is) searching for food at your house here (the ocean),
Purapura repera i nau muri ti keinga hakawhou
(We) worthless rubbish, light our torches also, after you.
Ma na huruhuru a ma taura me,
Wandering up and down under your ? power,
Sei au anga poroporo iwi ra mua ti waka nei.
(Grant) one of your empty baskets of (fish) bones at the front of the canoe.
E hara tua i e kimaua to hare nei.
We two will search at your house here.
If an eitu, or god, should be seen or heard during a torch fishing expedition, all the canoes in the vicinity immediately came together and a prayer was given, beginning, "Hakamaroro, turanga Roua mo Tariki," greetings, rise up Roua and Utariki.
When the fishing was over and the torches had been thrown away, the elder said again to the gods:
Hakamaroro, ti ramarama nei hai to hare nei
Rest, the torch fishing done at your house here,
Hakare, e romo hua.
Resulted in no fish, none at all.
Ono hua tawe e matarima.
Only fifty flying fish.
Ti waka nei ka hai ono horonga ki tai,
When the canoe here goes on its way to the beach,
Kei au ma pe ti hah ki to ai ti waka nei ki tai.
Do what you may that it arrive safely.
Pa hua ono rongo to hare nei.
May the news which spread from your house here, be gentle.
When they had entered the pass and were moving along adjacent to Pumatahati, a sacred islet, the elder called out the same oriori that was recited when the fishing was over on the ocean, except that he addressed it to Tapariki, which King David thought was a title of respect to Utamatua. He also ended it differently, because they were now within the lagoon. These prayers vary somewhat from family to family. Below I give Manuere's chant for this occasion:
Ramarama i to hare nei.
The torch fishing at your house
Nia tawe matarima.
(Resulted in) fifty flying fish.
Ti mea nei takatonu waka.
See that they ever increase.
Ti rau tane rere aka
The men pray
Hakaroware aka ki ti koe.
Ti waka nei ka tokotoko i oropaki ra ngauta.
This canoe is being poled at the sandy point there eastward.
The prayers of the tuna fishermen varied to a degree which may be judged by this one given and explained by Keweti. Alternative lines, given by Tirongorongo, are found in the footnotes to the chant.
Spoken to the gods:
Aro repera Hakatautai mo Takame,
(We) will paddle with Hakatautai and Takame
Noko aro ki tai,
Who have paddled seaward before.
I ti hapongo (=hoponga) ti ra ti wa taia,
As the sun is about to rise, early in the morning,
Harahara manga tinau hare nei.
Searching for food at your house (the ocean).
Aro repera i nau muri keinga hakawhou.
Paddling behind you will be worthless rubbish.
Ma na huhua (=hehea) ma taura me.
Going back and forth with (? your protection)
Spoken to the canoe:
Teretere hua i ti manga te atawakaina I o nua nei.
Journey along with the children who have nothing on you.
Aro repera ki tai, te ai, te ai.
We paddle on, but there is nothing, nothing,
Sei au me ro hokorekereke, turi ro ra
Just give a tiny, small (fish)
Ki ti ngutu ti mauma i rara.
To the mouth of our fish-line below.
Ki tahi aka kimaua, ko I tai a,
When we lift up our paddles tomorrow,
[Hu te] pa hua nia rongo i o nua nei,
May no news spread from you
Ti me toromeanei ku hai ti katakata tangata.
So that what we obtain today will make people laugh (at us).
Upon returning from tuna fishing, in passing Pumatahati islet, a chant such as the following given by King David, was recited:
Sakua erima, tera hua.
There are five tuna, that is all.
Teai ti me ngara i ti koe ai.
Nothing is hid from you.
Tokotoko hakaroware rara
We paddle along destitute
Ti oropaki ki o ngauta.
By the sand spit there.