Nicholas Senn.

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ceeded in reaching a fort called Papeharoro, at Mair-
epehe ; but they were too few to maintain themseives
there, and were forced to take refuge in the most
inaccessible parts of the high mountains, from whence
this chief succeeded in getting to a canoe which some
of his faithful followers provided for him, and kept in
readiness on the shore, at the peril of their lives. With
him were his brother and his young son, whom he
had himself carried in his arms during all this time of
fatigue and dangers.

Opuhara became chief of Papara, and soon
afterward chief of the island, and remained the
chief personage of Tahiti during the next seven
years. Ellis, the historian of the missionaries,
described him as an intelligent and interesting

At Moorea, Pomare's friends were Paumo-
tuans, Boraborans, Raiateans, missionaries, and
outcasts. Even these at last abandoned him.
The missionary journal shows that they had
long regarded their work as a failure, and after
identifying themselves with Pomare, in spite of
emphatic warnings, no other result was possible.
So the missionaries, leaving only Mr. Nott at
Moorea, sailed for Australia, not daring to
accept the proffered protection of the Tahiti
chiefs, because they could not separate them-
selves, in the minds of the common people, from
Pomare and his interests. At Moorea, Pomare


urged the visiting chiefs to become Christians.
On the 18th of July, 1812, he announced his own
decision to the missionaries, and shortly after-
wards, on invitation from his old district of Pare
Arue, he returned to Tahiti, where he was per-
mitted to remain for two years, as an avowed
Christian, unmolested by his old enemies. He
took up his residence at Pare Arue as a Christian
chief, August 13, 1812, and kept up a corre-
spondence with the missionaries at Moorea.

The missionaries returned and were more suc-
cessful in Christianizing the people. On the
17th of February, 1813, Pomare wrote : "Matavai
has been delivered up to me. When I am per-
fectly assured of the sincerity of this surrender
I will write to you another letter." The mis-
sionaries made a tour of the island; many con-
versions took place ; in Moorea several idols were
publicly burned; there could be no doubt that
the Christians were pursuing an active course,
and that their success would bring back the
authority of Pomare over the whole island; but
neither Opuhara nor Tati interfered, and the
peace remained. Yet, after waiting two years
at Pare, vainly expecting the restoration of his
government, and endeavoring to recover his
authority in his hereditary districts, Pomare
returned to Moorea in the autumn of 1814,
accompanied by a large train of adherents and
dependents, all professing Christianity. At the


same time the Christian converts in Tahiti
became an organization known as the Bure Atua,
and every one could see that Pomare was making
use of them, and of his wife's resources, to begin
a new effort to recover by force his authority
in the island. War was inevitable, and Pomare,
with his Christian followers and missionaries,
could choose the time and place.

Pomare himself was not a soldier, nor had he
anything of a soldierly spirit. He left active
campaigning to his wives, who were less likely
to rouse the old enmity. His two wives, Terite
and Pomare vehine, came over to Pare Arue
May, 1815, with a large party of Christians,
and urged their plans for the overthrow of the
native chiefs. The chiefs had no other alternative
than to get rid of them, and fixed the night of
July 7th for the combined attack. Opuhara led
the forces, and it is said that he had given the
two queens timely warning to effect their escape.
For his delay some of the other chiefs charged
him with treachery. He replied that he wished
no harm to the two women or their people ; that
his enemies were the Parionuu ; and he marched
directly into Pare Arue, and subdued it once

While Pomare and the missionaries grew
stronger, and, as Ellis expressed it, "became con-
vinced that the time was not very remote when
their faith and principles must rise preeminent




above the power and influence" of the native
chiefs, the chiefs themselves exhibited vacillation.
Pomare returned, with all his following, appar-
ently armed and prepared for war. The native
converts were trained to the use of firearms and
the whole missionary interest became, for the
moment, actively militant. The native chiefs
remained passive. Under the appearance of
religious services, Pomare and the missionaries
kept their adherents under arms and prepared
them for any hostilities that might arise.

With his army numbering eight hundred, two
war canoes, one manned with musketeers, the
other wilh a swivel gun in the stern, commanded
by a white man, Pomare, on November 11th,
took possession at or near the village of Punaauia,
near Papara, with pickets far in advance.
Opuhara hastily summoned his men in the
famous battle of Fei-pi (the ripe plantains). The
field of battle was among the foothills near the
coast. Opuhara's warriors made a valiant attack
and pierced the front ranks of the enemy till it
reached the spot where one of the queens, Pomare
vehine, and the chief warriors stood. There one
of the native converts leveled his gun at Opuhara,
fired, the chief fell, and in a very short time
expired. The leader of the native forces was
killed by one of his own people who had cast
his lot with Pomare and the missionaries.

This war was brought on to force the natives


to Pomare's rule, and not for the purpose of
removing obstacles to the Christianization of the
islanders, as the chiefs were not opposed to the
peaceable dissemination of the teachings of the
gospel. It was a political and not a religious war,
and in this political endeavor the missionaries
and their converts took the leading part. The
missionaries evidently forgot the legitimate
object of their mission and unmercifully slaugh-
tered the natives who took up arms to defend
their rights. The Christians on Pomare's side
were fighting for supremacy, unm.indful of the
teachings of the sacred Scriptures.

For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath
showed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judg-
ment St. James ii : 13.

When Opuhara fell, his men lost courage,
retreated, and were not pursued. The death of
Opuhara was deeply regretted by Tati, his near
relative and successor in the government of the
district. In the ranks of his followers it was
firmly believed Opuhara, few as his forces were,
would have vanquished the enemy, had not the
native missionaries been taught to shoot as they
were taught to pray, and been supplied with guns
along with Bibles. With the death of Opuhara
the last hope of the natives was dissipated and
submission to Pomare's rule became a stern
reality. Neither the missionaries nor the natives
had any idea of allowing Pomare to recede into


his old ways. They made him refrain from mas-
sacre or revenge after the battle of Fei-pi. Tati,
the chief of Papara, maintained peace from that
time by his wise rule in that part of the island.
He began by the usual island custom of binding
Pomare to him by the strongest possible ties.
The rapid extinction of chiefly families in Tahiti
had left the head chief of Moorea heir to most of
the distinguished names and properties in both
islands. Marama, the head chief of Moorea, had
only one heir, a daughter, a relative of Pomare.
This great heiress, almost the last remnant of
the three or four sacred families of the two
islands, was given by Pomare in marriage to
Tati's son, immediately after Tati himself was
restored to his rights as head chief of the Tevas.
In doing so he claimed for his own the first child
that Marama (the bride) should have and made
at the same time a compact that the children
from the marriage should marry into the Pomare
family. These conditions were made to render
himself more influential with the most refractory
of the conquered tribes. Pomare II. died Decem-
ber 7, 1821, leaving a daughter, Aimata, and
a son, Pomare III., a child in arms. Aimata was
never regarded with favor by Pomare, her father,
who was frank in saying that she was not his
child; so the infant son was made heir to the
throne. Moerenhout made the statement that
Pomare, on his deathbed, expressed the wish that


Tati should take the reins of the government in
his hands, but that the missionaries and other
chiefs were afraid to trust Tati, and preferred to
take the charge of the infant king on themselves.
The missionaries in due time went through the
formal ceremony of crowning the infant, April
22, 1824, at Papara, and then took him to their
school, the South Sea Academy, which was estab-
lished in March, 1824, in the island of Moorea at
Papetoai. There he was taught to read and
write, and educated in English, which became his
language, until he was seven years old, when he
fell ill, and was taken over to his mother at Pare,
where he died January 11, 1827. During the
reign of the infant king, Mata, a friend of the
family, managed the affairs of state and became
the guardian of Aimata, as the Queen, Pomare
IV., was always called by the natives. Aimata
was married at the age of nine years. She led an
unhappy life, domestic, political, private and pub-
lic, until at last the missionaries, English and
French, fought so violently for control of her and
the island that she was actually driven away.

Among other laws which were supposed to
have been passed through the influence of the
English missionaries, to prevent strangers from
obtaining influence in the island, was one dated
March 1, 1833, forbidding strangers, under any
pretext, from marrying in Tahiti or Moorea.
Ariitaimai, of noble birth, the historian of Tahiti,


was not inclined to marry a native chief, a de-
cision which met the approval of Marama, her
mother. She finally consented to become the wife
of Mr. Salmon, an Englishman, who was held in
high esteem and consideration in the island ; and
Aimata suspended the law in order to enable her
friend to be married to the man of her choice.
The missionaries virtually ruled the island for
forty years.


In 1836 two French missionary priests landed
at Tahiti to convert, not pagans, but Protestants
to the Roman Catholic faith. The Protestant
missionaries, who held the reins of the govern-
ment, indignant at this interference, invoked the
aid of the British consul, Pritchard, who caused
the Queen to order their arrest and expulsion.
The order was executed December 12, 1836.
The two priests made a protest to their govern-
ment, and King Louis Philippe sent a frigate to
Papeete with the usual ultimatum, to which the
Queen naturally acceded. Then began a struggle
on the part of Consul Pritchard and the English
missionaries to recover their ground, which led
to a letter from Queen Pomare to Queen Victoria,
suggesting a British protectorate, whereupon the
French government sent another warship to
Tahiti, in 1839, and made Aimata repeat her
submission. As the British government at that
time did not take much interest in missionaries,
and Sir Robert Peel had a very precise knowledge
of the value of unclaimed islands all over the
world, Queen Victoria did not accept the prop-
osition made by the Tahitian Queen, and the mis-
sionaries were again thrown on their own re-




The chiefs ignored the missionaries, and in
September, 1841, decided that, between such
powers as England and France, they could not
hope to maintain independence or even a good
understanding, and since England refused the
proffered protectorate, they would turn to
France. So they drew up the necessary papers
for the Queen to approve, but a British war
vessel arrived in that critical moment, and this re-
enforcement of British interests induced the
vacillating Queen to refuse to sign them. The next
August another French naval force arrived, and
the chiefs again met in council, with the admiral's
aid and advice. The chiefs sent the following
letter to the French admiral, Du Petit — Tuhouars :

Inasmuch as we can not continue to govern ourselves
so as to live on good terms with foreign governments,
and we are in danger of losing our island, our kingdom,
and our liberty, we, the Queen and the high chiefs of
Tahiti, write to ask the King of the French to take us
under his protection.

In response to this formal request the French
admiral, on September 30, 1842, hoisted the flag
of the protectorate. This did not end the polit-
ical and religious troubles of the little island.
Consul Pritchard, who had been absent from his
post for some time, returned from England Feb-
ruary 23, 1843, and declared violent war against
the French. As usual. Queen Pomare yielded to
his wishes, and refused tP obey those of the


French admiral. The admiral lost his patience
and temper, landed troops and took possession
of the island, declared the Queen deposed, and,
when disturbances arose, which he believed to be
fomented and fostered by Pritchard, he arrested
him and had him expelled from the island. This
act excited much attention, both in the English
and French press, which resulted in an order
from the King of France to the admiral to restore
the protectorate.

It will be seen that the last wars of Tahiti
were caused by a religious intolerance on the part
of the English missionaries, who objected to the
presence of two Roman Catholic priests in the
island. European governments were appealed
to and had to interfere in establishing in the
island free religious thought. It was a fight
between two religious denominations which kept
the natives in a state of warfare, a most serious
reflection on Christian charity,

Alas for the rarity
Of Christian charity
Under the sun.


The constant unrest of the islanders caused
by outside interference provoked frequent rebel-
lions, for "general rebellions and revolts of an
whole people never were encouraged, now or at
any time ; they are always provoked."

The two priests, bent upon a humane mission,


who, by their presence in Tahiti, without any
fault of their own, incurred the enmity of the
Protestant missionaries, were the direct cause of
French intervention which resulted in the pro-
tectorate and later annexation of the island.
The priests remained, new ones came, and to-
day nearly one-half of the population of the island
are members of the Roman Catholic church.

The teachings and example of the English mis-
sionaries and their conduct toward the Catholic
priests prove only too plainly:

Christian graces and virtues they can not be, unless
fed, invigorated and animated by universal charity.



Our country sinks beneath the yoke ;

It weeps, it bleeds, and each new day a gash

Is added to her wounds.


The disturbances which preceded and followed
the establishment of the French protectorate in-
duced the Queen to seek safety on a British ship,
and the whole Pomare following took up arms
and established themselves in the stronghold of
native power and influence near Papeete. Another
civil war broke out which waged between the
natives and Europeans from 1844 to 1845. Tired
of foreign dictation and oppression, the natives
fought with desperation. Forts, which remain to-
day in a good state of preservation, were erected
by natives and the French. Most of the ruins
of these forts are scattered along the ninety-mile
drive between Papeete and Papara. From time
to time, determined attacks were made with vary-
ing fortunes of war. The natives were superior
in number but could not stand up against the
well-directed firearms of the professional soldiers.
A last and crushing attack was ordered by the
French admiral, which meant certain defeat for
the natives.

It was at this critical time that a woman came
to the rescue pf her people and prevented a


wholesale slaughter of the heroic defenders of
the island. This woman was Ariitaimai, the
authoress of the book we have been following so
closely in sketching the history of the island. She
was the daughter of the famous Marama, of
Moorea, the wife of Mr. Salmon, and the mother
of Tati Salmon, the present chief of Papara. She
recognized the hopelessness of the cause of her
people and determined to prevent further useless
bloodshed and establish peace. It required good
judgment and a great deal of courage to under-
take the task which she finally accomplished with
such a brilliant success. She was one of those
who believed that

Almost all difficulties may be got the better of by
prudent thought, revolving and pondering much in the
mind. Marcellinus.

She was intensely patriotic and had no fear
of the results of her daring mission. She was
very popular with the natives and well known to
the French authorities, which aided her very
much in formulating and carrying out her plans.
She had no time to lose, as the decisive attack
on her countrymen had been ordered and was to
take place the next day. She called on Bruaat,
the governor of the island, with the determined
intention to end the war. He granted her twenty-
four hours to accomplish her task. She then
called a meeting of the head chiefs and urged
them to surrender on the conditions stipulated by


the French, in view of the hopelessness of the
island's cause. At that time this woman was
the most conspicuous figure in the politics of the
island, loved and respected by the chiefs and the
people throughout Tahiti and Moorea. The
head chiefs received her proposition with favor.
Notable speeches complimentary to her were
made on this occasion. One chief said:

Ariitaimai, you have flown amongst us, as it were,
like the two birds, Ruataa and Toena. Your object was
to join together Urarii and Mauu, and you have brought
them into this valley. You have brought the cooling
medicines of vainu and mahainuxeumu into the hearts
of the chiefs that are collected here. Our hearts yearn
for you, and we can not in words thank you ; but the
land, one and all, will prove to you in the future that
your visit will always remain in their memory. You
have come personally. I have heard you speak the
words out of your own mouth. You have brought us
the best of all goods, which is peace. You have done
this when you thought we were in great trouble, and
ran the risk of losing our lives and property; you have
come forward as a peacemaker for us all.

"What beautiful thoughts in simple, homely
language ! What a splendid specimen of natural
oratory !

In oratory, affectation must be avoided ; it being
better for a man by a native and clear eloquence to
express himself than by those words which may smell
either of the lamp or ink-horn.

Lord Herbert of Cherbury.

The chiefs unanimously accepted the terms
of peace, and after the adjournment of the


council, Ariitaimai hastened to Papeete with the
message of the chiefs, which was accepted, and
once more the protectorate flag was raised
and was recognized and respected by the chiefs
and the people. During all these great final
trials of the island, the Queen remained in the
island of Moorea and even after peace was
restored and she was formally requested to
return, she refused to do so. The French author-
ities offered the crown repeatedly to Ariitaimai,
but as often, she refused the great honor. The
exiled Queen was her intimate and dear friend

Ennuis has well remarked that "a real friend is
known in adversity." Cicero.

She was content with having accomplished a
patriotic deed and with the respect, love and
gratitude of her people.

So true it is, that honor, prudently declined, often
comes back with increased lustre. Livius.

She could say:

Give me a staff of honour for mine age ;
But not a sceptre to control the world.



Tis less to conquer than to make wars cease,
And, without fighting, awe the world to peace.



Ariitaimai made several visits to the unhappy
Queen, urging her to return and resume her
reign of the island, and had the satisfaction,
finally, to bring her back from Raiatea on her
third visit.

True friends visit us in prosperity only when invited,
but in adversity they come without invitation.


The Queen, on her return, was received with
regal honors by the French authorities and by
the people.

Pomare V. was the last of the kings of Tahiti.
He was the oldest son of Queen Pomare IV. and
known as Ariiane Pomare. He was married to
Marau Taawa Salmon, Tati Salmon's sister, and
had two daughters: Teriimii-o-Tahiti, and
Arii mainhinihi. Under European influences and
customs he became a degenerate Tahitian, prof-
ligate and dissipated, and it is said that he was
largely responsible for the annexation of the
island to France as a colony in 1880, as he
received a substantial remuneration for his in-
fluence in that direction and a pension of sixty
thousand francs a year. He died in 1891. Since
Tahiti has become a French possession the island
has enjoyed uninterrupted peace. The French
government has been exceedingly liberal with the
natives, having interfered as little as possible
with their habits and customs.


That is the best government which desires to make
the people happy, and knows how to make them happy.


The island is governed under the French laws,
but local laws and tribal rule remain and admin-
ister the local affairs. In completing the eventful
history of this little island it becomes apparent :

What is public history but a register of the successes
and disappointments, the vices, the follies and quarrels
of those engaged in the contention for power.


The government has established and enforced
religious liberty, observing the precept: "The
protection of religion is indispensable to all gov-
ernment" (Bishop Warburton). Taxation is
limited to road tax only. The annexation was
looked upon with great disfavor by the natives,
but was finally accepted with good grace, and
peace and happiness have reigned since.


The Polynesians inhabiting the islands of the
great Pacific Ocean constitute a distinct race of
people, supposed at one time by certain writers
to be of American origin, now almost univer-
sally admitted to have a close affinity with the
Malays of the peninsula and Indian Archipelago,
and hence classified by Dr. Latham under his
subdivision Oceanic a Mongolidce. In physical
structure and appearance the Polynesians in gen-
eral more nearly resemble the Malays than they
do any other race, although differing from them
in some respects, as, indeed, the natives of several
of the groups also do from each other. Centuries
and environment have left their impress on the
inhabitants of the different islands, as

Everything that is created is changed by the laws
of man; the earth does not know itself in the revolution
of years ; even the races of man assume various forms
in the course of years. Manilius.

In stature the Tahitian compares well with any
other race. The face is expressive of more than
ordinary intelligence. The color of the skin
varies from almost black to a light yellow. The
aquiline nose is commonly seen among them, and
there are many varieties of hair and complexion.
In complexion they resemble more nearly the




Japanese than the Chinese. The beard is thin,
the prevailing hair jet black, straight, wavy or
curly, profuse and long ; eyes large and black ; no
drooping or obliquity of eyelids. The face is
generally roundish; lower jaw well developed;
no unusual malar prominences ; forehead slightly
receding; mouth large, lips thick and as a rule
slightly everted; wide nostrils; ears large; chin
prominent. The general resemblance of stature
and physiognomy, however, is more with the
Malays than any other race, and from which they
are undoubtedly the descendants, changed by cli-
matic influences, food, habits and methods of
living. In physical appearance the Tahitians and
Samoans are the handsomest and tallest of all
the natives of the Pacific Islands, with the ex-

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Online LibraryNicholas SennTahiti; the island paradise → online text (page 5 of 14)