Tearikituohea: Cast Out and Poisoned By His Relatives

On the island of Hao in the 1500’s there was a man named Nomakaitagata. He had two wives who were sisters of one another. The first wife was named Ruakairoro and she gave birth to a boy named Tearikituohea. Tearikituohea was not a man, but a spirit and he had four eyes. Nomakaitagata slept with his second wife, Tevahinearikituhea, and in time she gave birth to ten children whose names were: Huripapa, Tuteakaumea, Porofana, Tuauta, Tuatai, Rotoroa, Mapunaheiava, Tuhoropuga, Tukopuroatevanaga and Raumea. The last child was a girl and only the second and the tenth child were people, the other eight were spirits.

When Tearikituohea, the son of the first wife was born, his parents did not tell anyone about him, they just hid him. The father, Nomakaitagata, told his wife, “Let’s take this child down to Toganui (the southern part of Hao) and let’s abandon him down there.”

The mother agreed so she went and prepared their stuff for the journey. Then those two rowed down to Toganui. When they arrived there the father went onto the land to look for food. As he traveled he ’tarotaro’, that is he prayed. He prayed “i to te takarari, i to te ragi, i to te henua i to te ruki”, that is, he prayed to the spirits of the sea, of the sky, of the land and of the night world. He prayed that they would take care of the baby that he was going to abandon.

After he had caught his fish he returned to his canoe and gave the fish to his wife. Then he took the child onto the land and left the child on the matuapapa, or the foundation of the night world. Apparently, the foundation of the night world is located in Toganui on Hao.

Then those two returned to the northern part of Hao.

When Tearikituohea grew up he hid in the bush and would spy on the people who came to Toganui to look for food. He would also eat the people that he saw. Because of this a lot of the people who would go down to Toganui to search for food would not return back to the northern part of Hao. The oldest child of Nomakaitagata by his second wife was a boy and he was named Huripapa. One day Huripapa went to his father and asked, “Many people go down to Toganui to look for food and they never come back. Is there a warrior down there who is killing them?” Nomakaitagata told his son, “Go and get your brothers and sisters and then bring them to me. I have something to tell you.”

So Huripapa went and gathered his brothers and sisters and they went and talked to their father. Their father, Nomakaitagata, said to them, “You have an older brother by my first wife. His name is Terikituohea and we abandoned him in Toganui because he was a spirit. He is the one who is killing the people who go down to Toganui. My word for you is that you should never go down to Toganui. After I am dead you will have power to overcome your brother because I and your other spirit brothers will do magic on the sea, in the sky and in the night world and you will do magic on the land. Then you will have power to overcome him. These are my words to you.”

Sometime later Nomakaitagata the father died. People who went down to Toganui would still disappear and never return. One day the brothers and sisters of Tearikituohea decided among themselves that they would go down to Toganui and look for food. So they climbed onto their canoe and they sailed to Toganui. When they arrived there they went fishing. After they had caught their fish they put the fish in a pile and they did magic over the fish so that when their brother Tearikituohea ate the fish that “e akua to`na mehara,” (his thoughts would be chased away), that is, he would become stupid.

Then they wept over their youngest sister Raumea and they gave her a string of fish, that is, a number of fish with a rope strung through their gills. They told her to go onto the shore and if she met Tearikituohea that she should give him the fish. If he were to grab her she should drop off her clothes and say to him, “Eat the fish first then we will sleep together.” Then they rubbed noses with their sister and she swam to the shore.

When she arrived onto the beach her brother Tearikituohea was watching her and he came out. She offered him the fish. But he grabbed her. Then she dropped off her clothes and said to him, “Eat the fish first, then we will go and sleep.” When she dropped off her clothes Tearikituohea was really surprised. Then he agreed that he would eat the fish first then they would sleep together. When Tearikituohea ate the fish his thoughts went away from him and he was stupid. He forgot about his sister. Then he went back to his house which was at a place called Nikau. Then he thought that he would walk over to a place Opotiki. So he started to walk along the beach. His brothers and sisters followed him along the shore in their canoe. As Tearikituohea walked he kept falling down, then standing up again and then falling down again. When he got to Opotiki he turned around and decided to go back home. But when he got to Pokara he fell down and wouldn’t get up anymore.

Then his brothers and sisters came onto the shore and took him into their canoe. They thought to take him to Opokara but then they decided to take him to Nikau, where he ate the fish that his sister gave him. So they sailed back to Nikau. As they sailed Tearikituohea started to sing:

Taku fare, taku fare, tukau,
Taku mata, taku mata,
Keinaga teikiro,
E ariki nui hoki Tearikituohea,
No Toganui nei,
No Togaraharaha,
O taku kakahu nei,
Te ragi makerekere,
Te ragi fakahua, My house, my house, ?
My eye, my eye,
Bad relatives,
Tearikituohea is great chief,
From the big south,
From the wide south,
My clothing is,
The dark black sky,
The sky that blows the waves
onto the land,When they arrived back to Nikau, Tearikituohea was still laying in
the canoe, but he was dead. This story is done.

In this story we see the pain of Tearikituohea. He was abandoned by his parents, hated by his brothers and sisters. In the end they poisoned him so that he died. In his poem he says that his clothing is the dark black sky, the sky that blows the waves onto the land. This is his expression of the feelings of his heart.


This story came from Paea a Avehe of Vahitahi island and is recorded in J. Frank Stimson’s Tuamotuan notes which are located in the Peabody Museum in Massachusetts. A microfilmed copy of these notes can also be found in genealogy libraries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints genealogy library collection, film nos. 761842-761848. This story came from film no. 761846, pp. 13826-13829.

Revised: June 13, 1996 Copyright © 1996 Daniel (Taniera) Longstaff