Talk:Polynesian narrative

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UntitledEdit

Note: polynesian mythology is complex and does vary from region to region. Much has been lost because of contact with missionaries et al. Probably the most intact mythology is that of the Maori of New Zealand. Te Rangi Hiroa's works on Polynesia are very valuable. He was an anthropologist and native Polynesian.

I hope I can do some work on this page, but the few sentences written, and pointed to in the tentative area, are not at all adequate.

A. Perey

A number of the "[culture] mythology" pages are currently little more than a few lines of introductory text followed by a selection of links (even ones like Egyptian mythology that have been fairly influential on Western culture); additions and assistance from contributors familiar in these belief systems would be greatly apopreciated. -Sean Curtin 21:48, 11 Jun 2004 (UTC)

List removed, items categorizedEdit

I removed the list, and this article's placement in Category:Lists that should be categories. All pages that were in the list are/were in Category:Polynesian mythology, or its subcategories, with the following exceptions:

  • Areoi - appears to have been a real society, so I'm not sure it's link to mythology. Couldn't find much definitive information on google about it.
  • Ati (mythology) - originally had link to Ati, a disambiguation page.
  • Haole - which apppears to have nothing to do with mythology
  • Kanakas - which also appears to have nothing to do with mythology
  • Mauri (soul) (doesn't exist, linked from Mauri disambig page)

The following pages are categorized only have a brief explaination on a disambiguation page, with no link to a detailed article.

Other notes:

  • Rata - disambig page with brief description, but no seperate article (and not in a category)
  • Tutu - same asRata
  • Tonga (disambiguation) mentions several topics relating to Polynesian mythology, but none have seperate pages.

Some of the important mythological beings/places/ideas should be mentioned on this page, with a brief explaination of their significance. --Mairi 03:54, 1 August 2005 (UTC)

In progressEdit

I'm working on this. Any help would be greatly appreciated...there's no way I can write the whole article, but I can definitely get it started. Verloren Hoop 13:42, 1 May 2006 (UTC)

I'll be glad to help. Where are you at, what help can I give? How do you want to approach it? Kahuroa 00:09, 2 May 2006 (UTC)

The beginning of this page begins with information which firstly is not Polynesian mythology, nor does it reflect what is said in any oral histories that I know of, therefore I think the following paragraph should be removed;[Prior to the 15th century AD, Polynesian people fanned out to the east, to the Cook Islands, and from there to other groups such as Tahiti and the Marquesas. Their descendants later discovered the islands from Tahiti to Rapa Nui, and later Hawai‘i and New Zealand. Latest research puts the settlement of New Zealand at about 1300 AD].

Scientific information does not agree with the above history in a nutshell if that is what is was intended for. Some of the earliest sites in Eastern Polynesian are the Marquesas and Rapa Nui, dates so far for Hawaii are around AD127-249, although one site is ~2,500 years old (1) and the Polynesian rat arrived in New Zealand with people about 200BC (Lisa Matissoo Smith' work on Rattus Exulans).

(1)Terry L. Hunt and Robert M. Holsen in "An Early Radiocarbon Chronology for the Hawaiian Islands" States: " . . The corpus of radiocarbon dates available to date may be suggestive of colonisation of the Hawaiian Islands significantly earlier than has been generally accepted. Many archaeologists have shifted their estimate for Hawaiian settlement to approximately AD 300 - 400, and some recognised the potential for even earlier dates. One particular date (Gak-258 on charcoal) falls within the first millennium BC. Another date (Grn-2225 on charcoal) ranges from AD 127 -249 (range with highest probability), and might represent the age of initial occupation of the site (Kirch 1985)."

Here is some mythology (oral histories) that may have a more important place on a page such as this.

The following story of trade between Fiji and Samoa depicts the moment of first contact between Melanesia and Polynesia ~1,000 years ago, opening the gates for Asian plants and animals to enter Polynesia - which of course suggests Polynesians did not enter the central Pacific from the West, otherwise they would already have had citrus, bananas, breadfruit, pigs, chickens and dogs. Instead they had American gourds, , African jack bean, American chilli, South American sweet potato, Mayan vanilla and even Mayan cocoa in Samoa and oh and American cotton and the coconut tree also originated in America, but these may have arrived during an earlier age of seafaring - possibly as much as 10,000 years ago.

From 'Vikings of the Sunrise' by Sir Peter Buck,

"A Samoan legend tells of first contact with the Fijians; A Samoan voyager visited Fiji and was feasted on pork. He naturally desired to take pigs back with him to his own country. The Fijians, however, refused to allow any live pigs to leave their shores, but they raised no objection to dead pigs being taken as food for the voyage. The Samoans thereupon procured two very large pigs, which they killed and dressed. Unknown to their hosts, they stole some young ones and concealed them in the abdominal cavities of the dressed animals which they covered with leaves. Carrying the dead pigs on poles, they successfully eluded the vigilance of the Fijian "customs officers", and so pigs were introduced to Samoa." 07:09, 3 March 2010 (UTC)Peter L Marsh (talk) "The ancient history of Hookumu Ka Lani & Hookumu Ka Honua" by Solomon L.K.Peleioholani. (Solomon L.K.Peleioholani was considered an important Hawaiian antiquarian, and the final word in Hawaiian genealogy, especially of the chiefs and royal familes. He was a High Chief, and in many ways both the pinnacle and terminus of the old royal blood lines from Maui, Oahu, Hawaii, and Kauai. His grandparents were among those who sided with Kamehameha the Conqueror to achieve unity of the islands. His father was an uncle to the Kings Kamehameha IV and Kamehameha V and he was himself one of the highest ranking chiefs in the Hawaiian Islands.")

"The ancestors of the Hawaiian race came not from the islands the South Pacific – for the immigrants from that direction were late arrivals there. – but from the northern direction (welau lani), that is, from the land of Kalonakikeke, now known as Alaska. According to this tradition, a great flood that occurred during the reign of Kahiko- Luamea on the continent of Ka-Houpo-o-Kane, (the bosom of Kane) and carried away a floating log of wood named Konikonihia. On this log was a precious human cargo and it came to rest on the land of Kalonakikeke (Alaska). On this log was the first man and woman who came to Kalonakikeke from the continent of Ka-Houpo-o-Kane, they were Kalonakiko-ke ("Mr Alaska") and his wife Hoomoe-a-pule ("woman of my dreams"). They were said to be high chiefs of the countries of Kanaka-Hikina (person of the east) and Kanaka-Komohana (person of the west) and were descended from the great great ancestor Huka-ohialaka. Many generations later, Chief Nuu, travelled with his wife, Lilinoe, their three sons and their three wives in a canoe called Ka-Waa-Halau-Alii-O-Ka-Moku (the royal canoe of the continent), and it rested apon Mauna Kea (white mountain), on the island of Hawaii.They were the first Hawaiians. According to Hawaiian genealogies, Chief Nuu lived approximately 2,200 years ago. This concurs exactly with the genetic evidence. His complete family tree lives on to this day in the families of Hawaii, such as the Kekoolani Family. (Information kindly provided by “The Kekoolani Family Trust of Waipio Valley, Hamakua, Hawaii”). This vital historical information shows that Hawaii was the crucible of Polynesian society and was in fact the "Heart of Polynesia"

The Growth of the Samoan Ancestor Tree.

From; Migrations, Myth and Magic from the Gilbert Islands by Rosemary Grimble

Taranga (Polynesian) lived on the sea, and when he finally decided to settle on Samoa he was surprised to find Auriaria (tall, red haired people) already there and they remained the dominant people. From Auriaria and Taranga came the Te-uribaba lineage who had beliefs against the terrible practices (human sacrifice) of the Auriaria, but did not gain power. Taburimai was a later lineage. Koura was another breakaway group but they embraced the ways of the Auriaria . Tabu-ariki, Riiki, Nei Tevenei and Nei Tituaabine are all more recent lineages that grew out of this family tree. All these people descended from the Auriaria were known as; “The Red men, with red hair and pale skin”. The first great kings of Samoa was ‘Batuku, the skull'. He was tall with a very long skull. He was of the Auriaria lineage. The food of Batuku was the heads of the people killed by his children. There came a time of boatbuilding and sailing. The children of Batuku joined with the many people from other islands – the male lineages came from Au-te-venevene, Au-te-rarangaki, Taburitokia, Kotunga, Kaburoro and Nan-Te-Buaka people. The female lineages came from Nei Bubuia, Nei Te-wa-matang, Nei Kaekea, Nei Te-wi, Nei Kiaiai and Nei Kameenono people. These people together began making boats that could sail great distances in search for food for ‘Batuku the skull', their ancestor figure. This new society was led by Kaburoro and they built a great boat. To launch it they slew many men for the rollers.

With this new age of voyaging, their numbers grew as men from other islands came on board - the Nan Tabera-ni-bou, Nan Te-ata, Nan Te-aababa, Nan Tari-ni-bwe and Na Uamori. A woman Nei Te-buroburo also joined them.

All these people created the Samoan population under the reign of Te Kaburoro.

Then went Te Kaburoro with its crew, the children of ‘Batuku the skull' to seek the food of their father. They sailed west to Futuna Island. The people stood on the beach to welcome them, but the children of ‘Batuku the skull' went ashore to slay them. They were not prevented because the people of Futuna knew naught of fighting.

Over one hundred were slain and from among the dead bodies, the first born and the bald and bearded ones were chosen as food for Batuku their god. And the children of Batuku cut off the heads of the dead and used the heads as decoration on their canoe. They sailed back to Samoa and arrived at the place called Te-maungi-n-aomata - ‘The putrefaction of men'. Then again the canoe of Kaburoro went voyaging to find food for their god Batuku-the –skull and they went to Nuku-maroro Nieue, again the people knew not the art of fighting and many were slain.

The family lineage of Te-Uribaba disapproved of this terrible practice and they decided to end it. So Te-Uribaba hid under a leaf mat on the boat of Kaburoro on its next journey of death to Tonga. The people of Tonga were slain but Te-Uribaba slipped into the sea under the leaf mat and swam ashore to teach them the art of war.

After that Te-uribaba arose and went to Futuna and Nuku-maroro and he taught them all the art of war.

A new generation grew up and they were all skilled in fighting.

Finally in the thirteenth century, Chief Savea (Polynesian) led the battle against the 'Children of Batuku the Skull' (The Red Headed Auriaria) and destroyed them. Further battles across the Pacific led to the end of this terrible society based on human sacrifice.

The legend of the wars in the Pacific at this time is confirmed by the numerous mountain fortresses across the Pacific all dated at around the 13th century. The lack of respect that Polynesians have for pyramids with names such as Maha'ia'tea (Many-people-white) is understandable, in the light of the terrible practices of this former culture based around human sacrifice.

Compare the above legend to the history of Hawai'i . "In the period of 100 years, 1300-1400 AD, an unknown number of warlike Tahitians arrived on the peaceful islands of Hawaii. At some point the warrior/priest Pa`ao came to Hawaii and found that the power of religion was at a 'low ebb'. He was disturbed that the people lived in peace and that the 'kapus' were few and the ceremonies were easy: that human sacrifices were not practiced, and cannibalism was unknown; and that the government was more patriarchal than regal in nature." (Fornander, An Account of the Polynesian Race, Vol.1,p 209) To him, it seemed that the previous invasions from Tahiti, had failed. There being no real class distinctions and the newcomers being assimilated into the culture was with typical Hawaiian Aloha. This could not be tolerated. He went back to Tahiti and then returned with warriors, priests (Kahuna) and royalty (Ali'i) of much mana (spiritual power). With this force, he invaded the peaceful land. He killed the priests of 'Io and changed the attributes of Ku, Lono and Kane, from detesting human death, to demanding it. He brought bloody stones from a human sacrificial site in Tahiti and used them to desecrate the primary heiau (temple) of 'Io on the "Big Island" and then built his luakini (human sacrificial) heiau on top of it. A few of the priests of `Io escaped to New Zealand, before Pa'ao had the great voyaging canoes burnt and the Hawaiian navigators put to death. After this, Hawaii had very little contact with the outside world for the next 100 years.


Pa`ao is credited with, not only the destruction of the peaceful culture of the Hawaiians and the perversion of the worship of Ku, but with the introduction of many elemental spirits (like Pele) and the cruel 'kapu' system. This forbade many things and demanded many more, with any infraction being punishable by death. The laws were strict and always favored the Kahuna and the Ali`i. With this new power given to the ruling classes (by manipulating the masses through fear) their kingdoms became more powerful. Terrible wars erupted as rival chiefdoms attempted to exert their new found power over their neighbours. At some point during the eradication of the priests of `Io, one of them prophesied that 'one day the knowledge of `Io would be restored to the Hawaiian people.' For 600 years the families descended from the priesthood have kept that hope alive, wondering, will our son be the one?"

This basicly shows that the Hawaiians - the genetic core of Polynesians, were once a very peaceful, loving people, but their culture was perverted by the people from the south. (This material was posted by User:Peter L Marsh on 3 March 2010)

That was a very long dissertation, unfortunately much of what you quote is not Polynesian mythology either, but secondary and tertiary sources mishmashed up and presented in English, with nary a sight of any original oral sources, and much has long been discredited. And the radiocarbon dates for Rattus exulans in NZ are disputed. You also seem to think that a story supposedly from the Gilbert Islands (now Kiribati, and not a Polynesian culture) is an authority on the mythology of Samoa - puzzling. The precise geographical identification of Alaska and New Zealand also should ring warning bells, as does your assertion that "their culture was perverted by the people from the south", among other things you say. No doubt this will trigger another giant posting from you, but I doubt anyone would feel like wading through it. Kahuroa (talk) 01:50, 4 March 2010 (UTC)

The deleted textEdit

One of the other editors added this text, then deleted it. I thought it was extremely useful, so I'm putting it up again, under my OWN name. Other editor is relieved of all onus for ever thinking any of these things. It's all bad Zora.

  • If someone is going to rewrite this article, they really should have an understanding of how oral tradition works. They should have read and understood Albert Lord's The Singer of Tales (1960) for a start.
  • It's important to understand that in the real world there is/was no such beast as Polynesian mythology. Each culture/island group/island had its own mythology which was unique. What those mythologies shared was a common (but distant) origin and history, but Polynesia never functioned as a unit in terms of generating an oral tradition. Hence it is wrong to combine the traditions of different areas. You have to keep them separate if your writing is to have any validity.
  • You need to have a good understanding of at least one (preferably more than one) Polynesian people and their culture and history.
  • Older sources, and books that derive from them, tend to be romanticised.
  • Generalised collections of mythology (new or old) are likely to be inaccurate. Especially if they are written outside of Polynesia
  • You have to make sure that what you read is accurate - and that it gives its sources, and that ideally the original text in a Polynesian language can be identified. Studying the mythologies of the Polynesians is filled with traps for the unwary

That's a little daunting, but fair. I just haven't had the time for this. I speak Tongan, have a smatter of Hawaiian and have some background in Hawaiian and Tongan mythology. It's been years since I read any of the material for Samoa, Tahiti, New Zealand, Marquesas, etc. But I think I can recognize New Age woo-woo kukaebipi at twenty paces.

Giving an overview of Polynesian mythology could be approached two ways: island group by island group, OR, taking one motif, like Maui fishing up islands, and showing how it is treated in different groups. I'd say we do mainly the first, and do the second only when it's an important myth and there is lots of material.

Listing reference books and useful websites might be a start. Zora 00:32, 2 May 2006 (UTC)

Of the two approaches you mention, the first I think is much better in terms of being true to the material. I think that is what needs to be done first, then the other later if at all. That is what I and others have been trying to do with individual articles on the subject. Quite a few articles (like Māui (mythology)) refer to multiple traditions, and I am not too comfortable with that long-term, but at the moment there isn't enough there in a lot of cases to warrant splitting it up just yet. I have tried to keep the individual cultures carefully separated within the article. There is also the article Laka - which brings out a problem with having combined articles - why should the Hawaiian form of the name be used for the article - most of the material relates to other cultures and the Hawaiian form of the name is pretty divergent from the rest.
Tangaroa is another case in point. In Māori he is the god of the sea, as in other areas of Polynesia. In Hawaii however, he seems to be only marginally associated with the sea, and is the god of the underworld, an evil fellow. I wouldn't want someone to come away with the impression that 'Tangaroa' is the Polynesian god of the sea and the underworld' because that would not be true. But those are things to worry about long term.
In Rangi and Papa I have tried to keep it pretty much focussed on Māori - for the simple reason that nowhere else do the two names occur together, and 'equivalents' in other areas seem to be rather different as well.
The idea of listing sources is great. Will add some when in the mood for that. I don't remember being very impressed by Malo tho. Seems a little non-trad if I remember. Beckwith is pretty good for Hawaiian material. Kahuroa 06:07, 2 May 2006 (UTC)

You're right about the Malo, really. He touches on mythology only glancingly, and immediately says that it's wrong. He was a missionary man all the way. I just couldn't think of anything else that would approach primary source status. By the time you get to Fornander, it's all so contaminated with Biblical mythology as to be greatly suspect. Perhaps the Kumulipo as a primary source ...

Darn, I've forgotten a lot of this stuff. I've been reading Islamic and Persian history, plus books about Bollywood and ethology, of late. Nothing like WP to widen your horizons. Zora 06:37, 2 May 2006 (UTC)

Trading and sweet potatoEdit

I removed this material added by an unregistered contributor because it I think it is too far off the topic, and has nothing to do with mythology. It may be better in another article:

Recent research on sweet potato varieties in the Pacific indicates that some Polynesians made contact with the coast of South America (or people from there), and returned, but there is no evidence of Polynesian societies in South America. At the same time as some Polynesians were exploring to the east, others were re-discovering routes to the west, establishing maritime trade and raid relations between locations as far apart as Tonga and Uvea (Wallis), Tonga, Anuta and Tikopia, or Samoa and Ouvéa (in the Loyalty Islands).

Kahuroa 05:01, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

Merge proposalEdit

Kastom is the more commonly used word to describe the range of myths and associated praxis. Merge? Paki.tv 08:23, 11 October 2007 (UTC)

STRONG OPPOSE Why would you want to merge POLYNESIAN mythology with an article about a concept in MELANESIAN pijin??? Kahuroa 10:24, 12 October 2007 (UTC)

Easter island refEdit

Concerning to the Easter Island, the Rapanui people have a mythology more differentiated, due to the island's isolation from other Polynesian islands; being Makemake their chief god.

I took this out pending discussion here because I think it needs sourcing. My understanding is that Rapanui myths were only poorly recorded and so perhaps the differentiation mentioned is because we don't know much. So a source might help get this right Kahuroa (talk) 19:57, 10 July 2010 (UTC)
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