Taaviri Joseph Nicholas

Tangiia and Karika

This story is told by my nana from Mauke, Moetuma Nicholas. It tells us to never give up.

Once there were two warriors, Tangiia from Tahiti and Karika from Samoa who were at sea in search of the island which we now know as Rarotonga. In the past, Rarotonga was known as Tumutevarovaro before that Nukutere. (These names have stories that go with them but I’ll explain that another time.) Anyway, they saw each other approaching the horizon and Tangiia told the men that were on his canoe to go below deck. I was told that Tangiia had about 200 people on his canoe. So as they drew closer to each other Karika noticed that there were only women on Tangiia’s canoe. When they discovered that each were in search of the same island, they engaged in what we call ‘putoto’ which is sort of like tug-of-war, but instead of pulling a rope, they pushed each other’s canoes. As you would expect Karika was winning. Tangiia was waiting until Karika’s men had used up most of their strength. Then he called his men to get up and paddle so they slowly did. And they almost pushed Karika back to Samoa. In resignation, Karika gave Tangiia directions as to how to get to Rarotonga. They went further, the more Tangiia noticed that it was getting cooler. He dipped his hand in the sea – it was cooled indeed. That is where the name Rarotonga, which means down south, came from.