Collected by E.S. Craighill Handy

Toni [a tau‘a, or inspirational priest] lived at Taiohae; Te-pua-i-mohui, a fisherman, was his son; Pepe-iu was his daughter. When the son went fishing, the daughter remained up in the valley with her father. Three times when Tepua-i-mohui returned from f ishing, he gave none of his catch to his father and sister. The next time the young man went fishing, Toni dressed Pepe-iu in all her finery, anointed her head and body, and sent her to the seashore to await the return of the fishermen, along with the oth er people who had come for fish. Everyone marvelled at Pepe-iu’s beauty.

When her brother returned he said, “Who is that pootu – that fine looking girl.” They told him it was his sister. “Come and get your fish,” he called to her.

Pepe-iu waded out in the shallow water with a basket. As Te-pua-i-mohui filled his sister’s basket with mullet, he told the other men to paddle out. Pepe-iu was lured to follow the canoe out into deep water. When Pepe-iu came into deep water these fish be gan threshing about, tearing the girl’s flesh. She ran to the shore and returned to her father, weeping and covered with wounds and blood. Toni asked her what had happened, and the girl recounted the story of her brother’s mistreatment of her.

For three days Toni anointed his daughter every day. After the third day at midnight, he told Pepe-iu to take a handsome loin cloth and other ornaments. They went to the seashore, where there was a double canoe called Na-humu-o-Taka-oa. When the cock crew Toni told the girl to get into her canoe.

“But these are fish,” said Pepe-iu.

“Never mind,” replied her father, “this is your canoe.”

When they put the canoe in the sea the two humu wriggled. “Now you will go to Aotoka (Rarotonga). When you have gone three or four days you will come to a land which says ‘A-o, a-o, a-o, a-o.’ That will be Aomeika (Ao, low; meika, banana; perhaps the isla nd of Tubuai). You will pass by that land. You will sail on eight days longer and come to a land which says, ‘Tup-ti, tup-ti, tup-ti, tup-ti.’” That is Aotoka.”

The humu went off with the girl. They passed Aomeika and Oahuaa as Toni had told them to do.

Finally, eight days after they had passed Oahuaa, Pepe-iu heard “Tup-ti, tup-ti, tup-ti, tup-ti, tup-ti.”

“This is my Aotoka,” said the girl.

“Long Humu, Short Humu, let us go up inland.” Pepe-iu took her finery and the humu and carried them up into the temple named Aavehie. (This is also the name of a temple at Taiohae.)

Pepe-iu came to the bathing basin. The chief came, found her in his pool and claimed her as his woman. At that time the women of Aotoka did not know how to bear children. When a woman was with child, her abdomen was cut open to release the child and the w oman died. Taro was their only food; they had no breadfruit. They ate their food raw, not knowing how to cook. Pepe-iu taught them how to do all these things.

Pepe-iu became pregnant and said to Tau-me-tini, “We will have to have breadfruit to feed the child. You must go to Hooumi and bring back some to plant.” (According to my informant all the breadfruit were formerly in Hooumi, a valley on the southeast end of Nuku Hiva. There were no breadfruit trees in Taiohae.)

Now Tau-me-tini was a younger son. He had only two hundred and eighty men under him. Ohe-popo was his older brother; on his half of the island he had twenty-eight hundred men. Ohe-popo went to Hooumi before his younger brother was ready and brought back m any branches of the breadfruit tree. These grew rapidly at first, and then died. [Breadfruit will grow only from young root stocks, or shoots.]

Pepe-iu instructed Tau-me-tini to make a canoe. This was finished in three moons.

She also instructed him to carry seven amakiko (kernels of candlenuts mounted on the midrib of a coconut leaf, the native house lamp). These were to be used to keep awake the woman who owned the breadfruit trees until she was so sleepy that she could keep awake no longer.

Tau-me-tini arrived at Hooumi. For six successive nights he burned his amakiko, one each night. On the seventh night the woman fell into a heavy sleep. Tau-me-tini and his men, following Pepe-iu’s advice, filled their canoe with roots and young sprouts of breadfruit. They were gone when the woman woke up. Tau-me-tini planted the roots on his side of Aotoka. The breadfruit trees grew and bore fruit.

The older brother, Ohe-popo, angered by his own lack of success with the breadfruit and at his younger brother’s success, attacked Tau-me-tini and drove him with his woman and his two sons into the mountains. They had no food and sent their two sons down to steal some breadfruit. The trees were guarded by two tuhuka, named Otu-puou-hooa and Ima-poka-haoa. These men caught the older of the boys up in a tree and carried him to the feast place. The boy was asked why he was stealing the chief’s fruit. “For my mother,” he said. “We have no food.”

The two tuhuka then fell into an argument, one desiring to kill, the other to save, the boy. Finally he was brought to the chief who ordered an oven built on the feast place. Then the chief strangled, cooked, and ate the boy. Meanwhile Pepe-iu knew what w as happening, so she told Tau-me-tini to go to Nukuhiva again, using the humu of Taka-oa as his canoe. She taught him her genealogy.

Tau-me-tini came back to Taiohae on the humu and recited the genealogy to Pepe-iu’s people, thus identifying himself, and told of their unhappy plight. Toni, who was a tau'a (priest), had gone to Hakamoui, on the island of Ua Pou. Tau-me-tini went seeking him but when he reached Hakamoui, Toni had gone on before him to the next valley. So they went from valley to valley until at last, when they had made the complete circuit of the island, Tau-me-tini came up with the elusive inspirational priest.

Tau-me-tini and Toni built the canoe Tia-te-ani for the expedition to Aotoka. Six other war canoes went with them with two hundred and eighty warriors in each. Toni’s power (mana) supplied their food: on the first day out, they speared and captured a grea t skate. So it was with other fish every day.

In Aotoka, Pepe-iu saw one day a man’s skull lying in the sand, moving from side to side; she knew by this sign that her father was coming. When they arrived at Aotoka, the tuhuka who had recommended that Pepe-iu’s son be killed when he was caught in the b readfruit tree, came out in the water, seized Tau-me-tini’s canoe and attempted to pull it ashore. They caught him, dragged him out to sea, and cut off his head. The head was given to Pepe-iu’s other son to wear on his loin cloth. (The wearing of heads or parts of heads of slain enemies on the loin cloth was the custom in war times.) Pepe-iu’s people joined forces with Tau-me-tini’s and attacked and defeated the warriors of the older brother, Ohe-popo, whom Tau-me-tini killed.

NOTE: The story of Pepeiu is from Taiohae, Nukuhiva. It appears in E.S. Craighill Handy’s Marquesan Legends (Honolulu: Bishop Museum 1930); pp. 127-129.