george calderon : legend of hiro and marama, 1921
Louis took me
to the house of Tipu to get parapores or legends.
He lived in a little house in a garden neatly laid out in rows of taro and umara (potatoes).
Potatoes are not eaten by the natives ; they are a delicacy for the European.
He produced a big book ruled with lines for money, like a ledger.
He swept the fleas from his page as he read.
I transcribed the first page or two of his book and promised I would show it to no one in Tahiti.
This book was written in parau huna (a secret writing).
Suddenly he grew suspicious of me and wished to know why I wanted his book.
It is genealogy : parau tupuna.
This is not legends ; it is grandfather talk, true tales of the ancestors of men who live here, men that I know.
It is always the custom to keep genealogies secret except for the members of
OF HIRO AND MARAMA
( This is an epic heroic poem, " recited to give courage at great gatherings " : told to me by Mali)
Hiro, a giant,
a builder of canoes, married a woman who had already two children, Marama
(moon) and a girl.
One day the wife went to the wood to get firewood.
The women said: "We pity you!"
"Because Hiro is such a magician."
She said : " It is true.
I am afraid every night when I go to bed."
Hiro, being a
magician, heard these words though spoken far away.
When she returned home he said : " Come here and get into the boat."
She got into the boat; she lay within it and passed out the cords as he passed them in (for like other canoes it was made in three pieces and bound with coco-husk sinnet cord).
She cried out, " Stop, my finger is caught," but he pulled all the more and crushed her finger in the cord and held her fast.
Then he climbed into the canoe and killed her and hid her body in the boat-shaped trough in which they weave mats in Tahiti.
At that time Marama
was surf-diving, plunging landward from the reef on the crest of a wave
on his diving-board.
When he reached home he did as he did every day, he called for his mother.
But she did not answer him because she was dead.
Then he called his sister and she came ; he bade her bring him his tihere (waist-band ; a thing that was worn before pareus, about six inches broad and sometimes twenty yards long, made of woven grass) ; she was naked herself, but she covered herself with the branch of a tree and brought it to him.
Grant Richards Ltd. in London, 1921