Poumaka: The Warrior Mountain

This is the story of the pous (columns). On Ua Pou there are these rock formations that look like columns pointing into the sky. One of these columns is named Poumaka. Before Poumaka was born there were other pous on Ua Pou. But they were killed by a pou (column) who came from Hiva Oa. This pou was named Mata-Fenua. When he killed the pous of Ua Pou they fell down and now they lay around Ua Pou and they appear as ridges between the valleys that run into the sea. When Poumaka was born he walked around Ua Pou and he saw the dead pous and he asked, “Who killed these pous.” He was told that it was Mata-Fenua. So Poumaka decided to go down to Hiva Oa and to take revenge for the death of these pous. When Poumaka reached Hiva Oa, Mata-Fenua was scared and he ran down to the eastern end of Hiva Oa. Mata-Fenua went to the western end of Hiva Oa and he killed a pou named Kiukiu. Kiukiu lies there to the west of Hanamenu valley. Then Poumaka went to the eastern end of Hiva Oa and he fought and killed Mata-Fenua. He chopped off Mata-Fenua’s head and he tied that to his loin cloth and then he returned to Ua Pou. The body of Mata-Fenua is the great ridge that runs into the sea on the eastern end of Hiva Oa. If you go to Ua Pou today, there is a low hill besides Poumaka: that is the head of Mata-Fenua.

I mean no disrespect to the people of Puamau, Hiva Oa for telling this story about how their pou was killed. Although the pous of Ua Pou were killed before the birth of Poumaka, he felt a loyalty to them to go and avenge their deaths. So too, people from an island or village in Polynesia feel a loyalty to the people from their homeland.

‘Marquesan Legends’ by E. S. Craighill Handy Revised: June 13, 1996 Copyright © 1996 Daniel (Taniera) Longstaff