Oral Traditions of Anuta: A Polynesian Outlier in the Solomon Islands

Oral Traditions of Anuta: A Polynesian Outlier in the Solomon Islands

Oral Traditions of Anuta: A Polynesian Outlier in the Solomon Islands

Oral Traditions of Anuta: A Polynesian Outlier in the Solomon Islands


Anuta is a small Polynesian community in the eastern Solomon Islands that has had minimal contact with outside cultural forces. Even at the end of the twentieth century, it remains one of the most traditional and isolated islands in the insular Pacific. In Oral Traditions of Anuta, Richard Feinberg offers a telling collection of Anutan historical narratives, including indigenous texts and English translations. This rich, thorough assemblage is the result of a collaborative project between Feinberg and a large cross-section of the Anutan community that developed over a period of twenty-five years. The volume's emphasis is ethnographic, consisting of a number of texts as related by the island's most respected experts in matters of traditional history. Feinberg's annotations, which arm the reader with essential ethnographic and historical contexts, clarify important linguistic and cultural issues that arise from the stories. The texts themselves have important implications for the relationship of oral tradition to history and symbolic structures, and afford new evidence pertinent to Polynesian language sub-grouping. Further, they provide insight into a number of Anutan customs and preoccupations, while also suggesting certain widespread Polynesian practices dating back to the pre-contact and early contact periods.


Ko au, kau araara ki te araarapanga I mua, I te mataki noporakinga mai a te tau maa. A Kaurave mo Pare.

Te mataki porau ne au mai mai te Atu Runga. Te vaka nei e ati ko te Vaka o Tamareua.

Te vaka nei ne au I te poo. A ko nga paapine ne oro ki rototai. Oro o raorao. E kau I ei, Nau Kaurave. Nau Kaurave, te nopine o Pu Kaurave. Teaa, te Tonga.

Oro oro I rototai. Kae pakarongo ki te aringa e tukua mai, mai te mataamatangi. Kairo rea!

A nai ko te vaka o Tamareua. Ko te vaka e ati Tamareua, ko te . . . ko ia e rati I te vaka.

As for me, I will relate an ancient story from the time the brothers-in-law, Kaurave and Pare, first dwelt together here.

The first voyage came here from the Higher [i.e., Polynesian] Archipelagoes. This canoe is called Tamareua's Canoe.

This canoe arrived at night. The women went down to the reef flat. Went to catch fish on the reef with their bare hands. Nau Kaurave participated in it. Nau Kaurave was the wife of Pu Kaurave. He was the Tongan.

They went out to the middle of the reef flat. Then they smelled a stench wafting hither on the face of the wind. It was incredible!

It was Tamareua's canoe. The canoe was called Tamareua [after] the . . . he was the canoe's leader.

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