Nanumea Island

Gazette -- Jan 2009 page 4

Pai and Vau

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Ms. Pai and Ms. Vau gave further details of this sad episode. Tefolaha cheated, they said, tricking them by turning to his spirit nature so he could not be seen. Pai and Vau with LokoHe used a small worm on a web to get them to blurt out the names, and then he confronted them.

"We had no chance," they said. "He was very pushy and of course we did not know his name. He claimed to have won many battles in Tonga and Samoa. We did not care about that." They went on to describe how they had made this island by spilling sand from their kete basket. "There was nothing here before we came. We took care of the island for ages, we loved it" they noted.

"What did you do when you left Nanumea?" our reporter asked the two women. "We gathered up our kete and loulou and took off. Some sand spilled in the lagoon, making two more small islets, we could see that. And our loulou made a long scrape in the reef on the ocean side of Matagi. Pai and Vau leaving, dragging loulou behindBut that was all we saw, we were out of there. We could not argue with that guy, he was really tough!"

Pai and Vau are still living in hiding and have asked that we not disclose the islands they now live on. They said they are trying to forget the past, but some have urged them to take their case to court. They believe they could bring charges of fraud and deception "by changing to spirit nature."

According to the two women, "there are major issues of gender bias in this story. This bias should be brought out into the open. We will decide soon whether we will press charges," they said. Both Pai and Vau added that despite their great loss, they bore no ill will toward Nanumeans, and wished them only the best.

Tefolaha Stories

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All Nanumeans know the story of the coming of Tefolaha, his tricking of Pai and Vau, and the settlement of Nanumea by Tefolaha's descendants. Below are two of these stories recorded by Kiti and Ane in Nanumea in 1973 and 1974.

Story 1 was told by Tepou Hoa (then 64 years old), who traced his descent from Koli, one of Tefolaha's daughers. We recorded it December 31, 1973. Tepou's Story of Tefolaha  (in Tuvaluan, with an English translation)

Story 2 was told by Sosemea Sameulu on July 28, 1974 at the house of Kiti and Ane in Nanumea. Sosemea had learned the story from his elder relative, Takitua Peni.
Sosemea's Story of Tefolaha  (in Tuvaluan, with an English translation)

Origins of the Po o Tefolaha and "Big Days"

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Each year in Nanumea a main holiday season is "Big Days", Po Lahi, which runs from Christmas through New Year and Po o Tefolaha. Below are three accounts of this period and especially the origin of the festive Day of Tefolaha, which is celebrated around January 8th each year.

Big Days and Po o Tefolaha from Tuu, Faiga mo Iloga faka Nanumea

Po o Tefolaha from Keith's thesis, Heirs of Tefolaha

Po o Tefolaha from the book, Unity of Heart