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[This story is adapted from M. Titifanua and C.M. Churchward, 1995, Tales of a Lonely Island, Institute for Pacific Studies, University of the South Pacific (pp. 15-23).]

The First Rotuman Kings

It is said that there was a country in the sky, and that there was a king in that country named Tü'rotoma, the mua [high priest] being named Tü'feua. And when these two men saw Rotuma down below, they thought they would like to send somebody down to see whether it was a good land or a bad one.

And so the king chose a man from [the people of] his country, to go down to see what this country was like. It is said that the name of the man was Titofo. And so they lowered Titofo, and he arrived down here below, happening to alight at a place at Pephaua named Faufono, where there was a tupu'a [immortal man] named Toväe. So Titofo took up his abode with this tupu'a at Faufono while he went and looked at the various parts of this country, to see what sort [of a place] it was. And as he continued his investigations, he found that this country was quite a good place, not a place to be afraid of. Finally, therefore, Titofo returned to the sky to tell the king that the country was a very good one.

When Titofo arrived at his destination, he said to the king, "The country, sir, is a splendid country."

So the king then gave his son, Fagatriroa, while the mua gave one of his daughters, Päreagsau by name, that the two of them should come down here below. to take care of this country. The king appointed also two men, to come down with these two young folk, to remain and to look after them. And so the four of them came down [from the sky], and dwelt at Pephaua. Of these two men, the name of one was Moeauita, while that of the other was Orivai.

They remained for a long time, and then Päreagsau became pregnant by Fagatriroa. And when the two men observed that the woman was with child, they were angry, and they returned to the sky, leaving Päreagsau and Fagatriroa here below. On arrival [in the sky], they told the king and the mua what their two children had done, and [that] they did not approve of it and [so] had left them down below. But the king answered the two men, saying, "Don't be angry, for that is the very thing that we sent them down to do, so that the country should be populated by their children."

And so the two men came back once again to the earth, to look after Fagatriroa and his wife. And in the course of time the woman gave birth to her child: it was a boy and [they] called his name Muasio. By and by the woman became pregnant again, and gave birth to another boy, whom [they] called Seamrefäega. Now [the births of] these first two children were not reported to Raho at Hatana [a small islet off the western end of Rotuma]; but, as time went on, and the third child was born, the two men proceeded to Hatana to tell Raho about it. Upon arrival they said to Raho, "Fagatriroa and Päreagsau have a baby boy--he has just been born--and so we have come to report the matter to you, so that you may be kind enough to say what is to be done about it."

Raho's reply to the two men was: "I know all about it: there were two children born before, and you did not tell me. However, go back, and name the child Tu'iterotuma; he is to be the king of the country, and a courtyard is to be cleared for him at Halafa so as to be near me. And the name of the courtyard is to be Mariki."

So, as soon as the two men had arrived back from Hatana, they conveyed Raho's decision to Fagatriroa and his wife, and immediately went [up] to the sky to give an account of how they were all getting on, and to get [a] pig with which to prepare a feast of cooked food to take to Hatana. And as soon as they arrived in the sky, they had a talk with the king, and finally the king gave them a pig (a boar of no mean size it is said to have been), and they brought it down to prepare the feast.

But as the two men were carrying their pig, and had not yet arrived at their destination, they met Seamrefäega. And the man took the pig from them by force, killed it, and put it into the oven to roast. And when the oven was opened up, Seamrefäega cut the pig in halves across the centre, and said to the two men, "You are to take the fore part to Raho at Hatana, but I am going to have this hinder part myself."

And so the two men proceeded to take the fore part [of the pig] to Raho at Hatana. But when they arrived with it, Raho said to them, "Haven't I told you that a partially eaten thing is never to be brought to me, but that if [you] had a thing that had not been eaten at all you might bring it along? Who was it that told you to bring this half-eaten thing?"

And then Raho, in anger, flung the half pig into the sea,--and that is the origin of the blow-hole which foams in the sea at Hatana at the present time.

So the two men returned from Hatana, and then proceeded to carry out Raho's instructions regarding Tu'iterotutma's being made king. And, gathering the people together, they went to Halafa, and cleared a courtyard for the king at Mariki, and made that the king's place of abode. And then the king was brought to Halafa to live, so as to be near Raho at Hatana.

A long period elapsed, and then the king was taken ill, and before long he died. Thereupon the two men went to Hatana, and told Raho that the king was dead. Raho told them to go back, and to have a bier made, and to place the [dead] king thereon. The people were then to support [the bier] on their shoulders, and to carry it across country, while he would send two birds to go in front of the bearers [to show the way].

So the two men returned to Halafa, and the people made a bier and placed the dead king thereon, and began carrying it across country, when, lo and behold, the two birds that Raho had sent came flying along,-- the name of the one being Manteifi, that of the other Manteafa. So the two birds flew on ahead, while the bearers walked along behind them. On and on they went until they reached a spot inland from Lopta in the region of Muasolo, when [they noticed that] the two birds acted as if they were about to alight. The bearers then stopped and looked, and [they saw that] the two birds did not actually settle, but just flew on. Moeautia and Orivai thereupon told them to put the [dead] king down, for that was what Raho had told them to look out for: [he had said] that when the two birds acted as if they were about to settle in a certain spot, that was the spot where Tu'iterotuma's grave was to be dug.

Accordingly, they put the corpse down, and there they dug the grave, after which they buried their king [there] at Muasolo. Raho had said, moreover, "The place where Tu'iterotuma is to be buried, that is the place which will produce abundant supplies of food for this country." And that was the first cemetery here in Rotuma, namely the cemetery in which the first person to be buried was Tu'iterotuma, at Muasolo, a little way inland from Huo (Lopta).

After that one of Tu'iterotuma's two brothers became king, which of them [we] do not know.

Not very long after this, Fagatriroa, Päreagsau's husband, died; and they took and buried him at a spot in the interior of Malhaha, named Tägkoroa. And that was the second cemetery to be opened on this island.

It was not so very long after this when a company of voyagers came from Samoa, led by a man named Vilo. And it is said that one of the men from this company went ashore and took up his abode with Raho at Hatana. This man's name was Fuanofo. After a while Fuanofo took a fancy to Päreagsau, the widow of Fagatriroa. Accordingly, Fuanofo and Päreagsau were married, that they might produce children who would be the first Samoan half-castes here in Rotuma.

So the marriage was properly celebrated, and then, after a somewhat lengthy period, Päreagsau became pregnant. And when Päreagsau's child was born--a boy--the name by which [they] called him was Täkalhöl'aki. Time went on, and this couple had another child, a boy [as before], and [they] named him Tukmasui. Then, later on, they had still another child, a boy [once again], to whom they gave the name Muamea.

Now it is said that when, in the course of time, both of Tu'iterotuma's brothers died, then Täkalhöl'aki, the child of Päreagsau by Fuanofo, became king. And when Täkalhöl'aki died, his younger brother Tukmasui succeeded him. And when Tukmasui died, then Muamea was [made] king in his stead.

It is said, further, that during the time when Tukmasui was king the people of Noa'tau equipped an army for the purpose of going to kill the king. The army then went off, and fought, but the king's army gained the victory, and the Noa'tau army returned home without killing the king. And it is said that that was the first war that ever took place on this island.

Later on, during the reign of Muamea, a man at Noa'tau named Moea went and married a woman at Malhaha named Panai. And after a while, it is said, the king developed a liking for the woman, and spoke to her, suggesting that she, Panai, should leave Moea and marry him [instead]. Thereupon Panai left her husband and lived in adultery with Muamea. And it is said that that was the first case of adultery here in Rotuma.

Moea then came to Noa'tau, weeping, and telling his people what had befallen him at Malhaha. He was very sore over what Muamea had done, and he loved his wife too, but he would not be able to get her again, seeing that she preferred the king.

On hearing this, Hänfakiu his sister said, "Don't cry! it's all right! stay where you are, and I will accomplish what you desire. You are a man, and yet you cry like a child."

Now what the woman proposed was that Noa'tau should go to war with Malhaha, with a view to killing the king (Muamea). And so she went to her house, and strangled herself, and so died. Having died, she then proceeded to Malhaha, the person whom she was going to see being an 'atua [ghost] at Malhaha named Penua. On she went until she came in sight of Penua's home, where she found Penua sitting. Penua at once turned round to see Hänfakiu approaching, and noticed what a sight she looked. "Good gracious, Hänfakiu," she said, "how terrible you look! your eyes are all bloodshot. and your tongue is hanging out helplessly."

"I have come," said Hänfakiu, "to get something done. And I want you to be kind enough to help me to carry it out."

Penua asked what it was that she wanted done; to which Hänfakiu replied, "The fact is that I want the king to be killed, to avenge my brother."

Penua then said, "You go to the fesi tree at Vakpäre: for Tokainiua has been struck by Raho, and the sa'aitu have covered him over, and he is still lying [there]. So you go and look closely, and when you see one of his make a grab at it, grip it tightly, and pull him up, with a sudden jerk, into a standing position. If you succeed in doing this to the man, your desire will be fulfilled." So the woman went straight to the spot indicated to her by Penua, to find the earth heaped up at the foot of the fesi tree. She then looked narrowly at it until she spied one of his big toes, whereupon she made a grab at it, and grasped it tightly, and gave a sudden jerk upwards, and Tokainiua stood up.

The woman then said to the man, "Come with me to Noa'tau, and let us equip an army, that we may come and fight against Muamea and his people. And if we are victorious, [the District of] Oinafa will be yours."

"Very well," replied the man, "let us go."

So the two of them came to Noa'tau, and this District equipped its army, and then proceeded to Malhaha to fight against Muamea and his men, the leader of the [Noa'tau] army being Tokainiua .

When they arrived, the fighting began immediately; and they fought on until the battle ended with the death of the king, Noa'tau gaining the victory. Thus Noa'tau gained the right of choosing the king, and immediately on returning home they annointed Riamkau, at Sav'ea, as king. Thus the kingship was now conferred on Riamkau, while Oinafa became Tokainiua's: all the land from Remoa [the eastern extremity of the island] to the stony ground between Huo and Malhaha was given to Tokainiua at the conclusion of this war.

And from that time onwards [it was the custom] that the kings of Rotuma should be chosen from each District in turn.

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