Whose loincloth is this?

During the conflicts between Taku and Rikitea there was a chief in Rikitea named Mahaga Tevihi-Nui (about 1500). During his time there was a famine in Rikitea. The war chief of Rikitea, Matua, traveled to the nearby atoll island of Temoe to catch squids.

While Matua, the war chief of Rikitea, was gone the village of Taku learned of the hunger in Rikitea and that Matua was away. The Taku people thought that they should take advantage of the hunger of their enemies.

While the Taku people were preparing for war, their preparations were discovered by the Rikitea people who started to prepare as best as they could despite their hunger. During these preparations, Matua, the war chief of Rikitea, returned to Rikitea and learned of the imminent battle. So he quickly distributed the squids that he had brought from the atoll of Temoe.

During the distribution he was giving the biggest squids to proven and mature warriors. If the battle against Taku was going to be won they were the ones who were going to win it.

A young warrior named Kokara Iti pointed to one of the bigger squids and asked Matua to give it to him. Matua replied to Kokara Iti that he was not yet a proven warrior so he could not have a big squid. Matua reached for a smaller squid and handed it to Kokara Iti in place of the larger squid that he had wanted.

Kokara Iti did not like getting a smaller squid and this is what he did.

At the beginning of the battle the Taku and the Rikitea warriors formed two opposing lines. Kokara Iti did not join in the line to fight the enemies from Taku. Instead he ran around the end of the two lines into the rear of the Taku line so that he was behind the Taku warriors.

Kokara Iti did this because he was seeking for the Taku chief, Te Aupu. Because Te Aupu was so overweight he did not fight. Instead he waited in the back and directed the course of the battle.

When Kokara Iti found the Taku chief, he plunged his sword into his stomach. Te Aupu had two women servants who were not from Taku, but were from Rikitea. After Kokara Iti stuck his sword into the stomach of Te Aupu these two women killed Te Aupu.

Kokara Iti removed the maro (loincloth) of Te Aupu and he returned to his side of the line without anyone noticing what he had done. Kokara Iti then sought out Matua, the war chief of Rikitea, and waved the maro (loincloth) at him and asked, “Do you remember the squid that you would not give me?”

Matua, the Rikitea war chief recognized it as being the maro of Te Aupu, the chief of their enemies. He then took the maro and ran in front of the Taku line waving the maro at his enemies and saying, “Whose loincloth is this?”

The Taku warriors recognized that it was the maro of their chief they then turned to see that their chief. They lost that day.

Just because someone is young, we should not conclude that they do not have power to accomplish great things.

The Taku people discovered that their enemies were hungry. The Taku people thought that they could defeat them. They were wrong.

If the Taku people had given their enemies food instead of fight, the Taku people would have made friends that day instead of being defeated. When your enemy is down, pick him up.

In the following generation, Taku was eventually defeated for good and they had to leave Magareva to search for new lands. If they had chosen to feed their hungry enemies, the conflicts between these two villages may have ended. Then the Taku people would have dwelt on the land of Magareva up until the present day.

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

Revised: March 26, 1997

Copyright © 1996 Daniel (Taniera) Longstaff