Huahine cultural heritage

Huahine consists of two islands, Huahine Nui and Huahine-Iti, which are connected by a bridge. Recent archaeological discoveries indicate that the history of Huahine back at least to 1100 years.

Huahine-Iti depended on Huahine Nui, each island with four districts in ancient timeHuahine island is known for the village of Maeva, where all district chiefs once lived side by side and proceeded to the worship of ancestors on their respective marae.

   Huahine big chiefs lived on the thin strip of coastline, on the lagoonside. The great  marae Manunu on the island opposite the village of Maeva, and marae Anini of parea acted as community marae  to Huahine-Nui and Huahine-Iti, respectively.
 marae has a 
two levels platform (ahu), elevated location for the gods. The Marae Anini  and marae Manunu are the only Leeward Islands marae to have two (ahulevels. 

Dr. Kenneth P. Emory of the Bishop Museum in Honolulu, was the first to identify the types, functions, and names of the marae on Huahine in 1925. Dr. Yosihiko Sinoto from the Bishop Museum restored the Maeva marae for the Tahiti committee of touris  from 1967 to 1968. Dr. Sinoto later brought to light additional 35 marae on the hill behind the village Mata'ire'a Maeva.

  •  The legend of Hotu Hiva

       Tutapuarii, chief from the Leeward Islands royal family, had a daughter named Hotuhiva. From her early childhood, she had a boyfriend, Teaonuimaruia. With whom she shared all her playtime. Tutapuarii left Huahine to go and live in Ra’iatea; he took his daughter with him. Her health declined and she felt sick.The most famous medicine woman of the island tried her best, in vain. Hotuhiva said: “E ere to’u mai I te ma’I tino, e mai mana’o ra, [it isn’t my body but my mind which is sick].” Informed of the arrival of a beautiful young lady, the chief of Maeva village ordered two of his young warriors to fetch her. He took her as his wife but soon knew that she would never belong to him. Out ofspite, he gave her each night to a different man of his choice. Teaonuimaruia finally recognized her, killed the chief and married her. Their union sealed the unification of the whole island and started Te-pa’u-i-hau-roa d, the first dynasty that reigned over Huahine. They had four sons, then he died. She then married a chief from Matahiva and bore him four more sons. These eight sons, Na Mata’irea e va’u, divided the island in eight disticts, upon which they reigned. This spatio-political organization is valid up to these days. From this union with the god were born eight children who became the eight districts of the two islands of Huahine.


  •  The god Hiro's canoe cuts Huahine in two pieces

       Hiro tried to go to the island of To'erau roa, who was the former name of Huahine. The wind picked up, it was Toerau, which came straight to the center of the sail. Hiro's canoe took the wind, and slid roughly over the waves. Hiro, attentive, scans the land in front of the canoe. In the darkest of night, Hiro told his brothers to look after the boat, because when the wind would turn, it'd pass through To'erau Roa Island, that is to say Huahine. Hiro finally told them, "I'm going to rest a little, and when the earth is near, wake me. Beware this: when the mist rises, wake me or our canoe will cross the earth." Hiro went to rest at the back of the boat.

       However the God Hiro's brothers paid no attention to the warnings of Hiro but the younger of all brothers, Tupurairai : He told his brothers to ride the canoe carefully. His brothers said to him, "be quiet or we will throw you into the sea!" Tupurairai was silent, for fear of being thrown into the sea and being eaten by sharks.

        The wind began to turn and swelled the sail of the boat. But the brothers Hiro did not awake their elder, as the canoe sped pleasantly blown by the wind. The canoe went across the island and the boat cut out To'erau Roa into two parts, Toerau the great called today Huahine Nui and the small portion Huahine Iti.

       When the God awoke, the island had been cut and the boat kept on going. Hiro had lost his canoe's paddle, and till nowadays it is in the bay of Maroe.


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The Marae Anini was attended by the community of the southern tip of Huahine-Iti. Deities, Oro (the chief god of war, in honor of that most human sacrifices were performed) and Hiro (the god of thieves) were worshiped on this marae. The last priest of the marae, Hiro, told the Reverend William Ellis in 1818 he remembered at least 14 human sacrifices. The main characteristic of Marae Anini is the ahu. Small platforms, ro'i were considered as beds dedicated to gods Oro and Hiro. The standing stones upright, ofa 'i turui, allowed priests and leaders to lean or rest or even are memorials to deceased chiefs. A small marae with standing stones in the roadside part was built along the royal family when a child downline was adopted . A platform far removed from the enclosure shows the place where the house of Oro was located. Under each pillar of the house, a human was offered in sacrifice.
Tane, the dominant god of Huahine, was worshiped on this marae, which served the community of Huahine Nui. Tane was the god of war and fish of Huahine. It was associated with the construction of canoes, making adzes and the braiding ropes. The god Oro, who was introduced later, was also worshiped on the marae Manunu. Besides the ava'a (bed for a god or platform for placing images) is the tomb of Raiti, the last high priest of Maeva. When he died in 1915, a stone block of the marae collapsed. In accordance with his last wishes, he was buried on the site of the marae. The foundations for a small fare pote'e (round house containing sacred drums and ceremonial items) is inside the marae. Look carefully at the stone block on the ahu airport side : you will see the petroglyph of a turtle. The turtle was seen as a reflection of the god in the sea.
They were built in ancient times, when the eight chiefdoms where ruling in Maeva. Eighteen of these traps are assumed to date from that time and to have lasted until the beginning of the XIXth century, more or less kept in good repair because of the rivalry between the descendants of the eight clans which exploited them. They were really restored only around 1880 at the time of the reigns of Te-ha’apapa and Teuhe, who appropriated them. Te progressive establishment of the French administration as from 1890 resulted in the lake and its shoe becoming public property. The traps were left at the disposal of the inhabitants but the maintenance of the system was not carried out correctly and deteriorated. Today, the traps are operational again.