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The Material Culture of the Cook Islands (Aitutaki)

Water Containers, Taha

Water Containers, Taha.

Owing to the liquid contained in green cocoanuts being so largely used for drinking purposes, water was not in such demand as in New Zealand.

For storing water for the more immediate culinary needs, besides the large wooden vessels to be later referred to, the large leaves of the kape species of taro were sometimes used to form vessels. These leaves do not become saturated and hence will not leak.

Containers for carrying water were necessary for going out to the smaller islets in the lagoon where there were no springs, and also for the old-time sea voyages. The Polynesians are usually accredited with three types of water vessel—lengths of bamboo, cocoanut shells and calabashes.


The bamboo (kohe) growing in Aitutaki is not particularly large and my informants denied its use as a water container on their island.

(2.)Cocoanut shells.

The ordinary-sized cocoanut shells were used to contain the tai hakori sauce. Only the large shells, such as those that grew at Nukuroa, were used for water. A hole was pierced at the end containing the eyes of the nut and a wooden or leaf stopper used. These large cocoanuts when used as water vessels were termed taha.

page 48

The ripe mature gourd of a species of Laginaria had a hole cut into it near the stalk end. The contents were cleaned out and a perfect receptacle for holding water was thus formed. The first gourd the author saw growing was stated to have been introduced from Rapanui. There was, however, a native gourd known as hue kava. This was used as a water container and was called a taha.