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Johanna Marau Taʻaroa a Tepau Salmon (24 April 1860 – 2 February 1935) was the last Queen of Tahiti. Her name means "Much-unique-cleansing-the-splash" in the Tahitian language.[2][3]

Queen consort of Tahiti
Queen Marau (1887).jpg
Reign17 September 1877 – 29 June 1880
Coronation24 September 1877
BornJoanna Marau-Ta’aroa Tepa’u
(1860-04-24)24 April 1860
Died2 February 1935(1935-02-02) (aged 74)
Papeete, Tahiti
Uranie Cemetery[1]
SpousePōmare V
IssueTeriʻi nui o Tahiti
Ariʻi Manihinihi
Ernest Albert Salmon
FatherAlexander Salmon
MotherAriʻi Taimaʻi
SignatureMarau's signature




Marau at fifteen years old, around the time she married.

She was born in 1860 to Alexander Salmon (Solomon), an English Jewish merchant, and Princess Oehau, later given the title ariʻi Taimaʻi, their third daughter and seventh child.[4][5][6] Her mother was the adoptive daughter of King Pōmare II's widow, the mother of Pōmare III and Pōmare IV. Considered one of the highest ranking chieftainesses in the land, she was head of the Teva clan, the traditional rivals of the Pōmare family, and descended from Chief Amo and Queen Purea who received the first European explorer to Tahiti Samuel Wallis in 1767. In 1846, Ariitamai was considered a rival candidate to the throne by the French governor Armand Joseph Bruat in the event that Queen Pōmare IV did not return from her self-imposed exile to Raiatea and comply with a French protectorate over Tahiti.

Her parents had ten children. Marau's siblings were: brothers Tepau, Tati, Ariʻipaea, and Narii; and sisters Titaua, Moetia, Beretania, and Manihinihi; see family tree. Her family were considered royalty by Tahitians. Marau's relation with her siblings shattered in the aftermath of their mother's death which culminated in a seven-year-long feud and lawsuit battle over their mother's lands and possessions. She was able to reconcile with her siblings and drop the lawsuits in 1904. She and her sister Moetia survived all their siblings and died only months apart.


Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh in Tahiti with Titaua Brander resting on his knee

The Salmon children, and their relatives from the Brander family, attended schools in Europe[7] or Australia.[8] From the late 1860s, Marau was educated in Sydney, Australia. She attended a private school, Young Ladies’ College, operated by Miss Fallow in the city until she went home to Tahiti to marry.[9] Her brother Narii and nephews John and Alexander Brander, who were the sons of her older sister Titaua, had preceded her to Sydney and commenced at Newington College in 1867.[10] The boys had arrived by ship in Sydney on 29 October of that year with two native servants.[11] Marau arrived in Sydney sometime after that as it is reported that she attended the picnic on 12 March 1868 at Clontarf where Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, was wounded in the back by a revolver fired by Henry James O'Farrell. The Duke visited Tahiti in 1870 and met Marau's sister, Titaua Brander.


In January 28, 1875, she married Crown Prince Ariiaue, the future King Pōmare V, at Papeete.[2] She was only fourteen years old, and he was many years her senior and had been married and divorced before to Teuhe, who later became Queen of Huahine in her own right.[4] The marriage was an unhappy arrangement and the couple constantly fought.

Her mother-in-law, Pōmare IV (1813–1877) died after a long reign on 17 September 1877, and Marau and Ariiaue separated, but the French Admiral Paul Serre persuaded them to make peace. They were crowned King and Queen of Tahiti on 24 September 1877 with the approval of the Legislative Assembly of Tahiti and the French, and her husband took the name of Pōmare V. They had three children, but it was agree that her husband's niece Princess Teriivaetua (daughter of his second brother Tamatoa V of Raiatea); and his nephew Prince Hinoi (son of his fourth brother Prince Joinville) would be ahead of any children of Queen Marau in order to secure a pure-Tahitian heir to the throne, which is strange considering the fact that Prince Hinoi's mother was half-English.[5]:161 They were:

Queen Marau and Hawaiian princess Abigail Kawānanakoa.
  1. Teri'i-nui-o-Tahiti Te-vahine-taora-te-rito-ma-te-ra'i Teri'ia'e-tua, (March 9, 1879 — October 29, 1961)[2][4][12][13]
  2. Ari'i-manihinihi Te-vahine-rere-atua-i-Fareia, (January 4, 1887 — June 27, 1976)[2][4][14]
  3. Ernest Albert Teri'i-na-vaho-roa-i-te-tua-i-Hauviri Tetua-nui-marua-i-te-ra' i Aro-roa-i-te-mavana-o-Tu Te pau, (May 15, 1888 — December 4, 1961)[2][4]

Queen Marau traveled to Paris in 1884 where she was greatly received. Her fashion style was admired and copied by many Parisian society women. After Paris, it seems she toured other parts of France and possibly Europe before returning to Tahiti. On her voyage home, she fell in love with a French naval officer by whom she had her two younger children. The marriage ended in divorce in July 27, 1887; the king repudiated her two younger children, and in retaliation, the queen denied his paternity of all three.[4]

In later life she became acquainted with American writer Henry Adams who wrote a biography of her mother and herself.[15] Among her other friends were Paul Gaugin, Pierre Loti, Somerset Maugham, Rupert Brooke, Robert Keable, Alain Gerbault.[16] and Robert Louis Stevenson.[17]

She died on 2 February 1935 in Papeete Hospital following an operation.[18]


French Honours


Family treeEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Tombe de la reine Marau". Tahiti Heritage. Retrieved 6 May 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d e Teuira Henry, John Muggridge Orsmond (1928). Ancient Tahiti. 48. Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum. p. 250.
  3. ^ Robert D. Craig (2002). Historical Dictionary of Polynesia. 39 (2 ed.). Scarecrow Press. pp. 126–127. ISBN 0-8108-4237-8.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Christopher Buyers Page 5. "Tahiti: The Pomare Dynasty Genealogy". Royal Ark web site. Retrieved 2011-09-09.
  5. ^ a b Constance Gordon-Cumming (1882). A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War. William Blackwood and Sons.
  6. ^ George Biddle (1968). Tahitian Journal. University of Minnesota Press. ISBN 0-8166-5708-4.
  7. ^ "LADY BRASSEY'S CRUISE TO TAHITI IN THE SUNBEAM". The World's News. Sydney: National Library of Australia. 2 March 1940. p. 6. Retrieved 2 February 2014.
  8. ^ "Ancient Race has Permeated Empire". The World's News. Sydney: National Library of Australia. 6 October 1937. p. 5. Retrieved 2 February 2014.
  9. ^ "MARAU TAAROA". The Sydney Morning Herald. NSW: National Library of Australia. 29 June 1935. p. 11. Retrieved 2 February 2014.
  10. ^ Newington College Register of Past Students 1863–1998 (Syd, 1999)
  11. ^ "SHIPPING". The Empire. Sydney: National Library of Australia. 30 October 1867. p. 4. Retrieved 2 February 2014.
  12. ^ "Splendor of Tahiti Is Gone". San Jose News. July 2, 1938.
  13. ^ "To Charm Or Not To Charm". Eugene Register-Guard. May 11, 1938.
  14. ^ "Tahitian Princess Here – Ariimahinihini Pomare, Daughter of Late King Pomare". The Day. Aug 10, 1903.
  15. ^ Henry Adams, Marau Taaroa (1901). Memoirs of Arii Taimai e Marama of Eimeo, Teriirere of Tooarai, Teriinui of Tahiti.
  16. ^ Ramsden, Eric (29 June 1936). "Marau Taaroa, a Sydney-educated Queen". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 6 January 2019.
  17. ^ Finney, Ben (1964). "Robert Louis Stevenson's Tahitian Poems". Journal de la Société des Océanistes. 20: 92–96. Retrieved 6 January 2019.
  18. ^ Ex-Queen of Tahiti Pacific Islands Monthly, March 1935, p16

Further readingEdit