The Death of Ahine

In the 1500’s there was a long conflict or series of wars fought between the village of Rikitea and the village of Taku. At one point the warriors of Taku attacked a man named Ahine and his two sons who were fishing.

This is how Ahine and his two sons were fishing. The youngest son, Pohue, was standing on the beach and holding one end of a long net while his father and older brother, Te Ma-Ahine, were pulling the net through the sea. Those two were on a raft a short distance from the shore and as the three of them moved along the beach they were catching the fish that were along the shore.

When the enemies came they hit the youngest brother, Pohue, and wounded him. He fell and called to his father, “Father, here I am.” The meaning of this is that he was calling to his father to come and help him.

Te Rangi Hiroa (Peter S. Buck) writes: “The father said to his first born, ‘I am going back to your younger brother. Alas, he is calling to me.’ "

But the son, Te Ma-Ahine, said to him, “Don’t go, if you do you will also die.”

The father continued, " ‘No. There is your younger brother, but you can go. Though I be killed, one son will live. An old man am I, so allow me to go to your younger brother. Though we both die, you will be left to think of us and to avenge our death.’

Father and son wept their farewell with their heads pressed together. The father then went ashore and was killed beside his son Pohue. The spot on Te Kau where they were killed was named Pohue in memory of the son of Ahine.” (Peter H. Buck, Ethnology of Mangareva, B.P. Bishop Museum Bulletin 157.)

Te Ma-Ahine escaped, but he was captured by the Taku people and became their prisoner. As they were sailing to Taku he was in the back of the canoe behind the sail. The only person who could see Te Ma-Ahine was the one guard who was preventing him from escaping. This guard was a secret fried of Te Ma-Ahine and as the canoe sailed past the home island of Te Ma-Ahine, the guard untied him and said, “Go on, swim away.” So Te Ma-Ahine quietly slipped into the water and swam to shore.

When the canoe arrived at Taku, the other Taku people in the front of the canoe came behind the sail and asked the guard, “Where is the prisoner?” The guard replied, “Where indeed?” That is to say: “I thought you had him.”

from Ethnology of Mangareva: Te Rangi Hiroa [Peter H. Buck].

Revised: March 26, 1997

Copyright © 1996 Daniel (Taniera) Longstaff