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Havaiki: The Land Under The Land

Updated: Nov 22, 2022

Photo: Ku'ialuaopuna

This story was taught to me from Maina a Manuarii who is from Takaroa island. Revised: June 13, 1996 Copyright © 1996 Daniel (Taniera) Longstaff

Havaiki: The Land Under The Land

This is a poem from Fakarava island in the western Tuamotus: Havaiki i ruga, Havaiki i raro, Havaiki i Taputapuatea, Havaiki above, Havaiki below, Havaiki at Taputapuatea,

This poem talks about a magical land called Havaiki. The old Tuamotuans believed in a land above the land named Havaiki-ki-ruga (Havaiki-Above) and in a land under the land named Havaiki-ki-raro. When someone died, the old Tuamotuans would say: ‘Ua hoki oia i Havaiki’ (He has returned to Havaiki).

There was also a Havaiki that was on this earth. In this poem it is referred to as Havaiki-i-Taputapuatea, or Havaiki at Taputapuatea. This refers to a marae (worship ground) on Fakarava island that was named Taputapuatea. The old name for Fakarava was Havaiki.

There was a man and a woman that lived together on Fakarava. One time this woman had an argument with her husband and she went out of the house and walked along the beach as she thought about the argument. She met another man that she had never met before. This was a strange thing because she knew everyone that lived on the island and he was a stranger. He told her to follow him and she did. They walked along the beach for a ways and they came to a place where they could look down onto the waves crashing onto the beach. He told her to jump in but she declined. She said that if he jumped in first then she would follow. So he jumped in and as soon as he was in the water he disappeared. She jumped in, and she disappeared also.

They went down to a land that is under the land. That land is called Havaiki-i-Raro (Havaiki Below) and they lived together for awhile. At first the other people there did not like this woman because she was a stranger.

She made friends with them and this is how.

After she lived with the man who had brought her to Havaiki-i-Raro she became pregnant and after about nine months she was going to deliver. The people of this land came to her with a knife and they told her that they would cut her open to deliver the baby. The people of this land were ignorant of the real way babies are born and that is why they did things like this. The custom was to open the womb of the mother. The baby would live and the mother would die. This woman told the people to not worry about helping her deliver her baby because she would show them the proper way to deliver babies. So she did and after they learned how to do it they were all very pleased and they liked this woman for showing them such a wonderful thing.

This woman lived in Havaiki-i-Raro for awhile longer until the day that she wanted to come back onto the land. The place that she came out on the land was on the island of Hawaii. For that reason that island is called Hawaii after Havaiki-i-Raro and Havaiki-i-Taputapuatea in the Tuamotus.

When she came to Hawaii, she brought with her the red panadanus that she had brought from Fakarava. The red panadanus still grows on Hawaii island.


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