Nicholas Senn.

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affords a more luxuriant prospect than the southeast
part of Otaheite [Tahiti.] The hills are high and steep,
and, in many places, craggy. But they are covered to
the very summits with trees and shrubs, in such a
manner that the spectator can scarcely help thinking
that the very rocks possess the property of producing
and supporting their verdant clothing. The flat land
which bounds those hills toward the sea, and the inter-
jacent valleys also, teem with various productions that
grow with the most exuberant vigour ; and, at once, fill
the mind of the beholder with the idea that no place
upon earth can outdo this, in the strength and beauty
of vegetation. Nature has been no less liberal in dis-
tributing rivulets, which are found in every valley, and
as they approach the sea, often divide into two or three
branches, fertilizing the flat lands through which they

Tahiti is the sajne to-day as when Captain
Cook visited it for the first time. The only
decided changes which have taken place since.

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are the building up of the capital city Papeete,
and the construction of the ninety-mile drive.
The beauty of the island has been maintained
because the natives have preserved the mag-
nificent primeval forests. Strip Tahiti of its
forests and it will be made a desert in a few years.
Nature relies on the forests to attract the clouds
which bring the moisture, and assist in the for-
mation and preservation of the soil. Remove the
trees, and drouth and floods will destroy vege-
tation, and the latter will wash the existing soil
into the hungry abyss of the ocean. Fertile and
beautiful as Captain Cook found Tahiti, he
deprecated the idea of settling it with whites.

Our occasional visits may, in some respects, have
benefited its inhabitants; but a permanent establish-
ment amongst them, conducted as most European
establishments amongst Indian nations have unfortu-
nately been, would, I fear, give them just cause to
lament that our ships had ever found them out. Indeed,
it is very unlikely that any measure of this kind should
ever be seriously thought of, as it can neither serve the
purposes of public ambition, nor of private avarice;
and, without such inducements, I may pronounce, that
it will never be undertaken.

The island has been invaded and taken by the
whites and the results to the natives have been in
many respects disastrous, which goes to prove
the correctness of Captain Cook's prophecy.


The climate of Tahiti, although tropical, is
favorably influenced by the trade-winds and
frequent showers. The breezes from ocean and
land keep the heated atmosphere in motion, and
the frequent rains throughout the year have a
direct effect in lowering the temperature. The
entire island from the shore to the highest moun-
tain-peaks, is covered by forests and a vigorous
vegetation. These retain the moisture and
attract the pregnant clouds, securing, throughout
the year, a sufficient rainfall to feed the many
mountain streams and water the rich soil of the
mountain-sides, valleys, ravines and lowlands
along the coast. The temperature seldom exceeds
90 degrees Fahrenheit, and during the coldest
months, March and April, it occasionally falls
as low as 65 degrees Fahrenheit. The atmos-
phere is charged with humidity, and when this
condition reaches the maximum degree, the heat
is oppressive, more especially when there is no
land or ocean breeze. If a hotel could be built
at an elevation of three to four thousand feet
above the level of the sea, the guests would find
a climate which could not be surpassed in any
other part of the world. A prolonged residence
in Papeete or any other part of the island near
the sea-level is debilitating for the whites. Those
of the white inhabitants who can afford it, leave
the island every three or five years and seek re-



ciiperation and a renewal of energy in a cooler
climate, usually in California or Europe. Papeete,
partially enclosed by mountains, and only a few-
feet above the level of the sea, and on the lee-
ward side of the island, is said to be one of the
warmest places in the island. The village of
Papara gets the full benefit of the trade-winds
and the land-breeze, and is one of the coolest
spots in Tahiti. Tahiti's summer-time is our
winter. I was fortunate in visiting the island
during the latter part of January. It is the time
when Nature makes a special effort here to pro-
duce the luxuriant vegetation after the drench-
ing rains of December. It is the time when the
evergreen trees cast off, here and there, a faded
leaf, to be replaced by a new one from the vigor-
ous unfolding buds. It is the season of flowers
and the greatest variety of fruits. It may
interest the reader to know that one day seven dif-
ferent kinds of fruits were served at the breakfast-
table, a luxury out of reach of our millionaires at
their homes in the North at that time of the year.
For a winter vacation, the months of Jan-
uary and February offer the greatest induce-
ments. Those who are in need of an ideal mental
rest, and are fond of a long ocean voyage, and
enjoy tropic scenery and the marvelous products
of the fertile soil of the tropics, should not fail
to visit Tahiti, the little paradise in the midst of
the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean.


History is the witness of the times, the torch of
truth, the life of memory, the teacher of life, the mes-
senger of antiquity. Cicero.

It was my privilege during my brief stay in
Tahiti to meet Tati Salmon, chief of the Papara
district. He is a direct descendant of one of the
two noble families of the island, the Tevas, and
one of the most prominent and influential citizens
of the island. I asked him to what race the
Tahitians belonged. To this question he had a
ready reply. He said : "We belong to no race ;
man was created here ; this is the lost Garden of
Eden." There is much force, if not truth, in
this assertion when we take into consideration
the charming beauty of the island and the boun-
teous provisions which Nature has made here for
the existence of man. Then, too, the Tahitian
is a good specimen of manhood, intellectually and
physically, far superior to the Negro race and
the MongoHan. Ariitaimai (Arii Taimai E), the
mother of the chief just referred to and the
authoress of the book mentioned in the preface,
believes that the Tahitians belong to the great
Aryan race, the race of Arii, and that their
chiefs were Arii, not kings, and the head chiefs,
Ariirahi — Great Chiefs. It was only the latter
who were entitled to wear the girdle of red



feathers, as much the symbol of their preeminence
as the crown and sceptre of European royalty.
The Tahitians are Polynesians, like the inhab-
itants of most of the South Seas and of Hawaii,
and there can be but little doubt that the Poly-
nesians belong to the Malay race, having migrated
from island to island, from west to east, by way
of Java, Samoa and the Hawaiian Islands. As
these voyages had to be made by means of frail
canoes, we can readily conceive the hardships
endured by the bold navigators of centuries ago.
A story current in Tahiti relates that it was thus
that the great chief Olopaua of Hawaii, driven
from home by disastrous floods, bore his wife
Lu'ukia in the twelfth century, to find a new
dwelling place in Tahiti, twenty-three hundred
miles away. It is said that the chiefess was a
poetess, a dancer famed for grace, and the
inventor of a style of dress which is still made by
the Hawaiians. Many of the primitive peoples
trace their origin to a legend which is handed
down from generation to generation.

In all ages of the world there is nothing with which
mankind hath been so much delighted as with those
little fictitious stories which go under the name of fables
or apologues among the ancient heathens, and of par-
ables in the sacred writings. Bishop Porteus.

The Tevas of Tahiti have their legend and it
is related by Ariitaimai, as it has been told for
many generations. They take pride in the story


that they are the direct descendants from the
Shark God. The legend tells how many cen-
turies ago a chief of Punaauia, by the name of
Te ma»utu-ruu, married a chiefess of Vaiari,
named Hototu, and had a son, Terii te moanarau.
At the birth of the child, the father set out in
his canoe for the Paumotu Islands to obtain red
feathers (Ura) to make the royal belt for the
young prince. The legend begins by assuming
that Vaiari was the oldest family, with its Maraes,
and that Punaauia was later in seniority and rank.
While Te manutu-ruu was absent on his long
voyage to the Paumotus, a visitor appeared at
Vaiari, and was entertained by the chiefess. This
visitor was the first ancestor of the Tevas. He
was only half human, the other half fish, or Shark
God; and he swam from the ocean, through the
reef, into the Vaihiria River, where he came
ashore, and introduced himself as Vari mataau-
hoe, and, after having partaken of the hospital-
ities of the chiefess, took up his residence with
her. But after their intimacy had lasted some
time, one day, when they were together, Hototu's
dog came into the house and showed his affec-
tion for his mistress by licking her face, or,
as we should say now, kissed her, although in
those days this mark of affection was unknown,
as the Polynesians instead only touched noses
as an affectionate greeting. At this the man-
shark was so displeased that he abandoned the


chiefess. He walked into the river, turned fish
again and swam out to sea. On his way he met
the canoe of the Chief Te manutu-ruu returning
from the Paumotus, and stopped to speak to him.
The chief invited Vari mataauhoe to return with
him, but the man-shark decHned, giving as his
reason that the chiefess was too fond of dogs.

The legend proves that the natives regarded
Vaiari as the source of their aristocracy. Papara
makes the same claim, for when Vari mataauhoe
left Hototu he said to her: ''You will bear me a
child; if a girl, she will belong to you and take
your name; but if a boy, you are to call him
Teva; rain and wind will accompany his birth,
and to whatever spot he goes, rain and wind will
always foretell his coming. He is of the race of
Ariirahi, and you are to build him a Marae
which you are to call Matava (the two eyes of
Tahiti), and there he is to wear the Marotea,
and he must be known as the child of Ahurei
(the wind that blows from Taiarapu)." A boy
was born, and, as foretold, in rain and wind.
The name of Teva was given to him ; and Matoa
was built; and there Teva ruled. From this boy
came the name Teva ; but when and how it was
applied to the clan no one knows. The members
of the tribe or clan believe it must have been
given by the Arii of Papara or Vaiari. To this
day, the Tevas seldom travel without rain and
wind, so that they use the word Teva rarivari —



Teva wet always and everywhere. The Vaiari
people still point out the place where the first
ancestor of the clan lived as a child, his first
bathing place, and the different waters in which
he fished as he came on his way toward Papara.
This legend is to-day as fresh in the district of
Papara as it was centuries ago. It is but natural
that the Tevas, one of the two most influential
and powerful of the tribes of Tahiti, should be
anxious to trace their ancestry to a royal origin
even if the first ancestor should be a man-shark,
little remembering that

It is not wealth nor ancestry, but honorable conduct
and a noble disposition that make men great.


As the Tahitians had no written language
before the missionaries visited the island, little
is known of its earlier history. The history
of the island since its discovery has been accu-
rately written up by Ariitaimai, an eye-witness of
many of the most stirring events and on that
account most to be relied upon, for

The only good histories are those that have been
written by the persons themselves who commanded in
the affairs whereof they write. Montaigne.

Let us follow her account of the history of
the island since its discovery by Captain Samuel
Wallis, June 18, 176?. The captain made a voy-
age around the world in Her Majesty's ship


Dolphin, and on his way found the island, and
called it Otaheite. At that time, Amo was head
chief of Papara and of the Tevas, or rather his
son Teriirere, born about 1762, was head chief,
and Amo exercised power as his guardian,
according to native custom, which made the
eldest child immediately on birth, the head of the
family. At that time the power of calling the
Tevas to conference or war was peculiar to the
Papara head chief; the military strength of the
Tevas was unconquerable, if it could be united;
but perhaps the most decisive part of every
head chief's influence was his family connection.
Nowhere in the world was marriage a matter of
more political and social consequence than in
Tahiti. Women occupied an important position
in society and political affairs. The chiefesses
held the reins of government with as much firm-
ness as the chiefs, and com.manded the same
influence and respect. She was as independent
of her husband as of any other chief ; she had her
seat or throne, in the Marae even to the exclu-
sion of her husband; and if she were ambitious
she might win or lose crowns for her children
as happened with Captain Wallis' friend Oberea,
the great-aunt of Ariitaimai Purea, and with her
niece, Tetuauni reiaiteatea, the mother of the
first King Pomare. At the time of Wallis' and
Cook's visits, Papara was the principal city in
Tahiti, and Papeete, the present capital city of the


French possessions in Oceanica, a mere village.
The Papara head chief was never the head chief
of the whole island, but his power and influence
were predominant throughout the whole island.
The kingship which Europeans insisted on con-
ferring on him, or on any other head chief who
happened for the time to rival him, was never
accepted by the natives until forced upon them
by foreign influence and arms. From this it will
be seen that before European influence made
itself felt, the Tahitians were divided into tribes
ruled by so many chiefs, with a head chief
whose influence extended over the entire island.
The form of native government was very simple
and had many very commendable features. Wars
between the tribes and between Tahiti and the
neighboring island, Moorea, were, however, of
frequent occurrence.

All exact knowledge concerning dates in the
history of the island begins with June 24, 1767,
when Wallis warped his ship into the bay of
Matavai, the most northerly point of the island.
The appearance of the foreigners, the first time
the natives had ever seen a white man and such a
great ship, created consternation. Excitement
ran high on the landing of the crew. The natives
attacked them, but their rude implements of
v/arfare could not cope with firearms, and they
were defeated. Two days later, June 26th, the
battle was renewed and aeain terminated in the


defeat of the natives, promptly followed by
sudden friendship for their first European
visitors. The natives, extremely superstitious,
were at first suspicious, and it required some time
to establish free relations between them and the
commander and crew of the Dolphin. Strangely
enough, the first native to board the ship was a
woman. The incident is related by Wallis him-

On Saturday, the 11th, in the afternoon, the gunner
came on board with a tall woman, who seemed to be
about five and forty years of age, of a pleasing counte-
nance and majestic deportment. He told me that she
was but just come into that part of the country, and that
seeing great respect paid her by the rest of the natives,
he had made her some presents ; in return for which
she had invited him to her home, which was about two
miles up the valley, and given him some large hogs ;
after which she returned with him to the watering-place
and expressed a desire to go on board the ship, in
which wish he had thought it proper, on all accounts,
that she should be gratified. She seemed to be under
no restraint, either from diffidence or fear, when she
came into the ship, and she .behaved all the while she
was on board with an easy freedom that always distin-
guishes conscious superiority and habitual command.
I gave her a large blue mantle that reached from her
shoulders to her feet, which I drew over her, and tied on
with ribbons; I gave her also a looking-glass, beads of
several sorts, and many other things, which she accepted
with good grace and much pleasure. She took notice
that I had been ill, and pointed to the shore. I under-
stood that she meant I should go thither to perfect my
recovery, and I made signs that I would go thither the


next morning. When she intimated an inclination to
return, I ordered the gunner to go with her, who, having
set her on shore, attended her to her habitation, which
he described as being very large and v/ell built. He
said that in this house she had many guards and
domestics, and that she had another at a little distance
which was enclosed in lattice work.

This visit opened the island to the English-
men. Wallis repeatedly refers to his first visitor
as "my princess, or rather queen." When he
came on shore the next day he was met by the
princess, who ordered that he and the first lieu-
tenant and purser, who were also ill, should be
carried by the people to her home, where they
were treated in a most hospitable manner. Here
is a beautiful instance of natural hospitality,
charity and gratitude combined; a kindly deed
dictated by unselfish motives, an exhibition of
virtues so rarely met with in the common walks
of hfe.

Hospitality to the better sort and charity to the poor;
two virtues that are never exercised so well as when
they accompany each other. Atterbury.

The princess had full control over the curious,
motley crowd, which gave way to the strangers
by a sign of her hand. The house proved to be
the Fare-hau, or Council-house, of Haapape, and
the princess, as Wallis called her, who did not
belong to Haapape, but to quite another part of
the island, was herself a guest whose presence
there was due to her relationship with the chief.


Wallis left the Island July 27th. His "queen"
and her attendants came on board and bade him
and his crew a most affectionate farewell.
Neither Wallis, nor Bougainville, who visited
Tahiti in April, IT 08, eight months later, ever
learned what her true rank was, or from what
part of the island she came. According to
Ariitaimai, she was her great-great-grandaunt
Purea, or rather, the wife of her great-great-

Bougainville named the island New Cytherea,
and Commerson, the naturalist, charmed by its
beauty and astonished at its resources, called it
Utopia. The latter gave the following romantic
description of the island and its people in a letter
published in the Mercure dc France :

Je puis vous dire que c'est le seul coin de la terre ou
habitent des hommes sans vices, sans pr^jugcs, sans
besoins, sans dissensions. Nes sous le plus beau ciel,
nourris des fruits d'une terre feconde sans culture, regis
par des peres de famille plutot que par des rois, ils ne
connaissent d'autre dieu que I'Amour. Tous les jours
lai sont consacres, toute I'isle son temple, toutes les
femmes — me demandez-vous? Les rivales des
Ge6rgiennes en beautc et les sceurs des graces toutes

Such was the simple, innocent, happy island
life when Tahiti was discovered by the white
man, whose pretended object was to bring to
the natives the benefits of modern civilization.
As to the immediate effects of European civili-


zation on the morals of the natives, Ariitaimai
has the following to say in reply to the alleged
laxity of Tahitian morals:

No one knows how much of the laxity of morals was
due to the French and English themselves, whose
appearance certainly caused a sudden and shocking
overthrow of such moral rules as had existed before in
the island society : and the "supposed" means that when
the island society as a whole is taken into account.
Marriage was real as far as it went, and the standard
rather higher than that of Paris; in some ways
extremely lax, and in others strict and stern to a
degree that would have astonished even the most con-
ventional English nobleman, had he understood it

The third European to visit Tahiti was that
intrepid explorer, Captain Cook, whp entered
Matavai Bay on the 13th of April, 1769, in Her
Majesty's bark, the Endeavor^ on his first voyage
around the world. He met chief Tootahah,
under whose protection he settled on Point
Venus. He was accompanied by a staff of sci-
entists, among them Joseph Banks and Dr.
Solander, a Swedish naturalist. Captain Wallis'
"queen" was again on the shore to meet the
strangers. Captain Cook gives a detailed
account of her visit:

She first went to Mr. Banks' tent at the fort, where
she was not known, till the master, who knew her,
happening to go ashore, brought her on board with
two men and several women, who seemed to be all of
her family. I made them all some presents or other,
but to Obariea (for that was the woman's name) I gave


several things, in return for which, as soon as I went
on shore with her, she gave me a hog and several
bunches of plantains. These she caused to be carried
from her canoes up to the fort in a kind of procession,
she and I bringing up the rear. This woman is about
forty years of age, and, like most of the other women,
very masculine. She is head or chief of her own family
or tribe, but to all appearance hath no authority over
the rest of the inhabitants, whatever she might have
when the Dolphin was here.

Cook ascertained at this time, that Obariea
was the wife of the most influential chief of the
island, Oamo, but did not live with him. She
had two children, a daughter eighteen years old,
and a boy of seven, the heir to the throne. He
says in his Journal :

The young boy above mentioned is son to Oamo and
Obariea, but Oamo and Obariea do not at this time live
together as man and wife, he not being able to endure
with her troublesome disposition. I mention this
because it shows that separation in the marriage state is
not unknown to these people.

When Cook made his second visit to the island,
in 1774, he learned that Oam.o and Obariea, or,
as they are called in the genealogy of the Tevas,
Amo and Purea, had been driven from Papara
into the mountains. Vehiatu, the victor, made
Amo resign, and the regency of that part of the
island was entrusted to Tootuhah, the youngest
brother of the deposed chief.


The Pomare family are descendants of chiefs
called Tu of Faaraoa, one of the atoll islands
of the Paumotu Archipelago, some two hundred
and fifty miles northeast of Tahiti. The exact
date of the first Tu's arrival in Tahiti is unknown.
Even the generation can not be fixed. The
Pomares were always ashamed of their Paumotu
descent, which they regarded as a flaw in their
heraldry, and which was a reproach to them in
the eyes of the Tahitians, for all Tahitians
regarded the Paumotus as savage, and socially
inferior. The first Tu who came to visit the
distant land of Tahiti, came in by the Taunoa
opening, which is the eastern channel, into what
is now the harbor of Papeete. Landing at Taunoa
a stranger, he was invited to be the guest of
Manaihiti, who seems to have been a chief of
F*are. He was adopted by the chief as his
brother, and at the death of the chief, he
became heir and successor in the chief's line.
He married into the Arue family, which gave his
son a claim to the joint chiefdom of Pare Arue;
and at last his grandson, or some later genera-
tion, obtained in marriage no less a personage
than Tetuaehuri, daughter of Taiarapu. One
of the members of this family, Teu (born 1720,



died 1802) made new and important advances
in the social and political circles of Tahiti by
marriage, and became the father of Pomare I.
(1743-1803), the first king of Tahiti. Ten seems
to have been a very clever and cautious man.
He never assumed to be a great chief or to wear

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