NUNA’A E HAU – DANCE

THEME : PEOPLE AND NATION.

According to the legend Pastor Orsmond recorded from King Pomare II shortly before his death in 1821, Tahiti would have been the fishpond of Raiatea. The allegory of Tahiti the Fish refers to a period when the Manahune people were under the ruling of Raiatea. The High Priests of Opoa demanded their share of sacrificial victims for their marae. These victims were symbolically called « fish with long legs. »
But the time of the revolt came for Tahiti. The legend tells that a young woman named Terehë violated the prohibitions the priests of Opo imposed, during a period of « rahui » (severe and sacred restriction) while bathing in a river. The angry gods struck her with epilepsy, and she drowned.

Her lifeless body was floating under the surface of the water, but her spirit was alive. From a spring hole, Tuna, a giant fish-eel, climbed and swallowed Terehë. The latter’s spirit of revolt then possessed Tuna and made its way through the depths of the Earth, moving eastward to a symbolic region from which light emerged every day. The Fish Tahiti had finally freed itself from the hold of Raiatea, and the people relished its recovered liberty.
But not for long. For the rancorous gods sent Tafa’i, whose name meant « Act to cut off, » to slash the fish tendons to immobilize it. According to the generally accepted version, that was how Tahiti stabilized itself … once and for all.

However, as our storyteller, the recitative Haerepö Terehë in Parauhuna, says, there is a story within the story, a hidden word within the word.

For Terehë a Paraurahi, destiny, the fulfillment of Tahiti is always beyond the horizon, over there towards the east, from where the light always emerges. One may compare Tafaì’s blows to prevent Tahiti from fulfilling itself to the vagaries of history: Tahiti was a free kingdom-nation under Pomare II, when the Protectorate was imposed on Queen Pomare IV in 1842, and when Pomare V son of the latter « surrendered his states once and for all » to France.

The vision of Terehë Parauhuna, the one who holds the hidden word, constitutes the second part of the Nunaa e Hau show. Tahiti must rise and walk again eastward, where it will again be a free People and Nation.

One should note that the name of Terehë is itself allegorical since it first means « deviant mission » – according to Raiatea’s assessment – but also means « Mission entrusted to the Caterpillar, » which then becomes a butterfly. In a way, Terehë is a metaphor of the « Tahiti fish with long legs » which first is a caterpillar will later become a butterfly … symbol of freedom.
But the speaker Terehë to Parauhuna-Terehë, who possesses the hidden word, goes even further: Terehë is the allegory of Tahiti itself, just as it will be the head of the People.

That is how the prophecy will come to pass: People and Nation.