To MacGregor Index

To Legend of Uea

Rotuman Custom as told to Gordon MacGregor in 1932
from notes archived at
Bishop Museum, Honolulu, Hawai'i

Legends: Tarsagone






C.M. Churchward

MacGregor's Notes


This turtle was very bright red in color, so it can always be seen. It went to Savai'i. The chief was Togia and he and his people caught the turtle and ate it. Its shell was gathered together and buried. They climbed the hill and made a stone house (ri haf) and buried the turtle there. Then Togia turned to a little boy who was present, put his hand on his head and said "Liu lag Varo", so that you may tell where the turle is buried if anyone comes looking for it.

The boy remained a child for scores of years. They marked the grave by planting a togai tree. This grew to be of tremendous size.

By and by the sau in Tonga sent his servants to look for the turtle, and by and by the fleet arrived at Savai'i. The Samoans fled inland for fear, except Vero. And then the Tongans asked the boy whether he had heard the old people talking about Tarsagone. The boy said "Yes, I saw it buried." The Tongans were very angry, and could not understand how he could have witnessed the burial.

However, Vero took them up the hill to the tree over the grave. So the Tongans said, "Let us dig up the tree and if Tarsagone is not there, we'll kill the boy." So they dug till the tree fell and opened the stone house under the ground. The fish shined up at them, so that the bright red color reflected on the leaves of the tree.

Then they expressed their gratitude to Vero, "Noa'ia," and they offered to provide a sur kaga (a wife) for him.

So the fleet of canoes carried off the turtle shell to Tonga and the chiefs divided it among them regarding it as an 'aitu. They found it possessed mana.





Liu lag Varo = sail (tack) into the wind known as Varo (but possibly lag 'uar ta = northwest wind)












Noa'ia = standard Rotuman greeting


'aitu = a god

To MacGregor Index

To Legend of Uea