In ancient times two large sharks came into Hakaehu bay on the northern coast of Nuku Hiva. These sharks had come from Tahuata island in the south. The tuhuna (shaman) in Hakaehu realized that they were not regular sharks but that they were gods. He commanded his servant to go and feed the sharks. When the servant was feeding the sharks, one of the sharks told the servant that it wanted to eat human flesh and that the servant was to feed his sister to the shark. The servant did not want to do this, but he fed his sister to the shark anyway. After the shark ate the sister the two sharks swam to the island of Eiao which was uninhabited at that time. The shark that had eaten the sister, spit her up and the other shark spit up a man that it had eaten in Tahuata island. This man and woman married and were the ancestors of the people who lived on Eiao island in ancient times.
There was once a woman who had a son but no husband. Someone killed her son and she needed to find someone to take revenge for the death of her son. So she went down to the beach and she called for her brother, Haipuka, who lived in the sea among the coral. She called and called for her brother and finally he heard and he came. He stepped out of a wave that was falling onto the beach. Because he lived in the sea he was covered with all sorts of coral, seaweed and other things. She took him home and she made a bathing basin the floor of her home which she filled with hot water. When her brother Haipuka bathed in it the coral and shells fell off of him and he looked like a man in appearance. After this he went and took revenge for the death of his nephew.
In this story the mother’s brother takes revenge for the death of his nephew. The Marquesans are like other Polynesians in that the mother’s side of the family gives the most support and love. There is another story called ‘Tiu’ in which a man is given human appearance by his sister. There seems to be some reciprocating in this story. The sister makes her brother become human in appearance and then he takes revenge for the death of her son. This reciprocation between a husband and a wife happens in the story of ‘Pepeiu’.
‘Marquesan Legends’ by E.S. Craighill Handy
Revised: June 13, 1996
Copyright © 1996 Daniel (Taniera) Longstaff