Ethnology of Tongareva
The Biological Family
The Biological Family
The basis of Tongarevan society is the biological family, consisting of a husband, wife, and their children. The part played by the sexual act in the reproduction of children was well understood and the physiological paternity of the husband to his wife's children was not confounded with theories as to spirits and totems. The cessation of menstruation as an indication of conception and the period of gestation were recognized. The seminal fluid of the male was metaphorically regarded as seed which was planted within the female.
When the woman conceived, the human fruit was growing within her—expressed by the phrase, kua hua te tamaiti i roto. The fruit grew on the “land” within the woman, for when the child was born, it was accompanied by the afterbirth. The afterbirth, or placenta, was the portion of land upon which the child had grown, and it was quite rationally named the henua (the land). With this concept in mind, it is easy to understand that the subsequent planting of a coconut on the buried placenta is a natural continuation of the metaphorical idea into material reality. The child which grew on the hidden placental land reaches maturity on the external terrestrial land and the coconut tree also reaches maturity after being planted on the buried placenta. The coconut yields its fruit to the grown-up child and the circle is complete. The relationship of the boy to the tree is one of ownership combined with a certain amount of sentiment in that the tree marks the site where his henua was buried. There is nothing in the nature of a mystic bond between him and the tree that might be regarded as forming the basis of a plant totemism. Though elements in custom may resemble those of another culture, the psychological attitude toward the custom must be considered to be of extreme importance in deciding whether or not identity exists. This psychological attitude is entirely different from that which might exist in a totemistic society.
This digression is made to emphasize the full recognition by the father and mother that their relationship to their offspring is a direct material one, not arising from outside spiritual or mythical sources. It is realized that the child is of their bone and their blood and that he inherits the blood of previous fathers and mothers through his own father and mother. The family is, thus, bilateral.
Malinowski (17) has clearly demonstrated the position of the father in the matrilineal social structure of the Trobriands, among whom the physiological function of the male seminal fluid is not only not known but page 32 actively denied, impregnation being attributed to the entrance of a spirit child. The physiological father does not exist. The husband is only a social father to his wife's children, and he exercises a sphere of influence which is limited to those acts which the male members of his wife's family cannot carry out by reason of the brother-sister tapu. The father is eliminated from blood relationship with his own child, and blood relationship is, consequently unilateral through the mother's family. As the mother, by reason of her sex, is unable to carry out certain duties, these masculine duties and the exercise of male authority devolve upon her brother, who represents the closest male blood of her child. Unilateral blood relationship, which largely influences the structure of Melanesian society, if it resembles in detail that of the Trobriands, is based on the denial of physiological fatherhood. Such a psychological attitude probably encourages the introduction of mythical animal ancestors into their beliefs and directs the organization of society along certain lines. On the other hand, the full recognition of physiological fatherhood in Polynesia forms the basis of the bilateral family, and it creates a totally different pyschological attitude toward the part to be played by blood relationship in the social structure.
Pregnant women were exercised by swimming in the sea so as to make the child lie right. Labor pains have been known to come on while a woman has been exercising in the water, and the child has been born in the water. In a case of delayed birth the woman was taken to the lagoon and made to swim to bring on labor. She was then confined by the water side. Before labor set in the woman was given a large draught of roro to act as a purgative. The Tongarevans were acquainted with the sound principle of clearing out the lower bowel before labor. The position in which women were confined was the usual sitting position, with a rope tied to a rafter above to assist the patient in bearing down. When pains came on a binder was tied around the body above the fundus of the womb to prevent fainting (purehua). The cord was tied with the twisted prepared bark of a creeper (vavai), never with sennit fiber. The location for tying was some little distance from the abdomen. The afterbirth was buried and a coconut planted above it to be used by the child when they both came to maturity.
The dried-up piece of cord, on separating from the abdomen, was buried, if the parents desired the child to become a landowner. It was thrown into the sea from the outer edge of the reef if the parents desired him to become a skilled fisherman (tautai). The parent who desired his son to remain at home wrapped up the dried cord and kept it in the house.
Puberty was judged, not by age entirely, but by the growth and quantity of the pubic hair. Up to this period the child usually went entirely naked, as his sex organs were regarded merely as part of his anatomical topography, so far not associated with any ideas of sexual function. At the stage of puberty, as evidenced by the pubic hair, the boy had to be instructed in sexual matters in a practical manner. The father appointed a woman of mature age to act as instructress and perform the ceremony of pressing back the foreskin of the penis. The purpose of this manipulation was “to snap the tie,” kia motu te sele. The snapping of the tie was not the rupturing of the frenum as the wording might imply but the stretching of the opening of the foreskin so that it might pass over the glans. For the custom the instructress and the victim retired to a hut where the coconut leaf wall sheets were lowered and only themselves were present. The ceremony of manipulation and instruction ended in coitus, which was regarded dispassionately as the practical culmination of the ceremony. The boy now knew from practical experience the use of the male organ from the viewpoint of sex. With the advent of knowledge, the sex organ could no longer be exposed and from then on the boy wore the maro loin cloth as a garment of concealment. He had eaten of the tree of knowledge and could no longer go naked. Beyond this ceremony, there seems to have been no other custom connected with the period of puberty. Though my informants did not mention it, probably a feast was given by the parents after the ceremony.
Girls also went about naked until the growth of the pubic hair indicated that puberty had been attained and that the sex organs could function. The parents prepared a feast and selected a man of another family to perform the required ceremony. The custom was to puncture the hymen digitally. The operation took place in a closed house and was not made public like the virginity test before marriage observed by the Samoans. The object was stated to be ei wahi i te maki wahine (to clear the way for menstruation). If the hymen was found to be already ruptured, presumably by previous sexual connection, the parents of the girl were shamed, and the festive celebrations to mark the occasion were a failure.
After the ceremonial rupturing of the hymen the girl had to wear the titi skirt as a garment of concealment. The ceremony was thus called hakatiti (to cause to wear the titi skirt).
The ceremonial rupturing of the hymen was a puberty custom which might precede marriage by a considerable amount of time. It was only a surgical operation, in accordance with the prevalent medical opinion, to remove what was considered an obstruction of the physiological flow of the page 34 menses. It differed from the Samoan custom, which was confined to the special class of village taupou and was carried out as part of the marriage ceremony for the purely social reason of adding prestige to the girl's parents.
The physiological attitude toward the custom must also be clearly distinguished from the attitude of the people of the Trobriands described by Malinowski (17, p. 155) that the hymen must be ruptured in order that the spirit child may enter and the woman conceive. Malinowski further points out that, owing to early sexual indulgences, there are no virgins at puberty, so that the story has no application except in myths. The hakatiti ceremony as a puberty rite is clear evidence that games between Tongarevan boys and girls did not all develop into the full sexual form that they did in the Trobriands, and when they did it was without the approval of the parents, who were shamed when the puberty ceremony was found to have been anticipated.
After the puberty ceremony, boys entered upon a period of sex activity upon which, evidently, there were no restrictions so long as they avoided those who were prohibited by the degrees of consanguinity or marriage. Girls, by the corresponding puberty ceremony, were also admitted to free sexual life. The girl could have love affairs with whom she fancied with the exceptions imposed by consanguinity or marriage. Sexual appetites could be satisfied without social stigma that would affect her prospects of marriage. Though freedom was not restricted in principle, Tongarevan girls are said to be much more reserved in granting favors than others of their race. It was regarded as immodest for a girl to make advances or to go to the house of a lover even upon his solicitation. The male must seek the girl at her house, and her self-respect having been thus considered, she could cohabit with her lover without losing her social status. Parents, however, never willingly agreed to the free intercourse of their daughters, and love affairs were conducted with a certain amount of reserve and secrecy. The custom of segregating the sexes, which exists in some cultures, did not exist in Tongareva. Young people slept in the houses of their parents, who thus exercised some direct personal control over their actions. However, it may be said that young people had no general sex restrictions until they were married.
Theoretically, the freedom of unmarried people has been curtailed by missionary teaching. Public opinion has been educated to regard the sexual intercourse of unmarried people, whether adolescent or adult, as wrong and an offense against morals. Delinquents are tried and fined in court. The puberty customs are not carried out, and children wear clothes to cover their nakedness. The life of the adolescent is now one perpetual intrigue to avoid deacons of the church, policemen, and parents, to bring love affairs to what is still considered the only successful accomplishment.
The primary object of marriage, from the Tongarevan point of view, was the procreation of children to perpetuate the family. Young people had their sexual experiences dating from instruction in the mysteries of sex, and marriage was not the only means of consummating sexual love. Marriages, especially among people of higher status, were arranged as alliances between two lines of descent by the two families concerned, for pedigrees were jealously preserved, and the descent of the contracting parties was well known. Though occasional love affairs may have been protracted on into permanent unions, an attitude of acceptance of matrimonial arrangements had become ingrained by culture. Occasionally, however, a couple managed to make their own arrangements in spite of parental opposition. A few years ago a couple, whose union was resisted by the parents, eloped in a boat and, after setting a course for Tahiti, lost their sail and oars in a storm and finally drew up in American Samoa.
Unsuitability was usually strongly opposed, but the withholding of consent from a couple contemplating marriage was the prerogative of the family and not the prohibition of a law with severe punishments established by society. With senior families the question of rank and property in land influenced a decision. With the lower classes social and property restrictions disappeared to some extent, and marriages were consequently more readily realized by the individuals without family opposition. No prohibitions existed as to various branches of lineal descent; alliances have occurred between the main lines of Taruia, Purua, and both wives of Mahuta. (See p. 18.) Exogamy, involving compulsory marriage into another group, did not exist. The only restriction was that of consanguinity which, according to Lamont (15, p. 136), extended as far as second cousins. Unfortunately, I had no time to test the exact degree of prohibited relationship in the family pedigrees, but I take it that second cousins are in the third generation from the same grandparents. Most alliances between different lines of descent shown in the pedigrees are a considerable distance from the last common pair of parents. Thus, as shown in Table 3 (p. 24), the first alliance is 7 and 6 generations from the common parents, and the others are 9 and 9, 10 and 9, and 11 and 8 respectively. While these do not show the closeness of consanguinity allowed in marriage, they indicate that there was a strong tendency to let some time elapse before kindred lines were allied by marriage. Table 5 better illustrates the prohibited degrees of consanguinity.page 36
Rangisani and Sikutau are the common parents of three lines of descent which intermarry in the pedigree of Nasi, Rangisani being the ninth generation on a Mahuta line. The first generation from Rangisani consists of the two brothers, Pohatu and Kaiatia, with their sister, Tinonui. Takaiava, Tearoa, and Niukore, of the third generation, are second cousins to each other and cannot marry. In the fourth generation, consisting of Hakarere, Taranga, and Kauaia, the marriage prohibition ceases to function, although marriage may be impossible, because the persons are not contemporaries, or have an unsuitable disparity in age. Hakarere of the first line was evidently much older than Taranga and Kauaia of the same generation as herself, and she married Pasuatai of another family. Their daughter, Te Pou, of the fifth generation through Pohatu evidently belonged to an age that more nearly approached that of Taranga of the fourth generation through Tinonui, and a suitable alliance was therefore made by marriage. Their daughter, Hakerau, now in the sixth generation through Pohatu and the fifth generation through Tinonui was, in turn, of a suitable age to mate with Kauaia of the fourth generation through Kaiatia, and the marriage was accordingly made. The offspring of the last marriage united the three lines, but, owing to the different time spacing of the same generations in each line, Nasi counts seven generations through Pohatu, six through Tinonui, and five through Kaiatia. In Tongarevan collateral terminology, Te Pou married her matua and Hakarere married her tupuna. Translating this into the unsatisfactory English terminology so often used, Te Pou married her “father” and Hakarere her “grandfather,” which is absurd. If we used the terms “collateral uncle” and “collateral granduncle” we would have the exact meaning that the words matua and tupuna convey to the Tongarevan in this particular instance.page 37
After a marriage had been arranged by the two families concerned, the bride was brought to the groom's village by her people. A meal was partaken of and a great quantity of food consumed when it was available. Probably speeches were made, and the marriage might be recognized without any special ritual.
Lamont, who had three wives during his stay on Tongareva, furnishes some interesting information. His first wife, Haka Moe Kakara (15, p. 257), was brought from another island by his adoptive parents, without any preliminary warning to the prospective groom. On returning from bathing he saw her for the first time, sitting in front of his house. She was about 16 years of age and fled on his appearance. Lamont was then informed that she was his wife. No special feast is mentioned, and he accepted her with some hesitation. The union did not turn out to be a happy one, and the girl continued to be afraid of him. Before the second marriage he cured a young girl named Chera Puna (Tere Puna) of sickness, and later the girl's mother “presented her to me as my affianced wife, to be formally married when she was of proper age” (15, p. 265). Probably Lamont's stay was too short for the formal marriage to take place, but he speaks of her as his second wife. More details are given of his third marriage with Haka Puta. This girl belonged to Motu-nono near Tautua, and during Lamont's stay on the island they had become friendly. On his announcement of his departure for Motu-unga, the girl threw her arms around him and begged him to stay or at least to take her with him. To soothe her, he told her he would make her his wife and take her with him. Hakaputa expressed her delight by vigorously pressing her nose against his, and the people present announced the news to the others, who were attracted to the scene. The kith and kin of the bride assembled for a meal which Lamont says was “strictly an ordinary meal, the same as on any other day.” However, as Lamont was being treated as a distinguished visitor, he had already been feeding on the best that could be provided, and so probably could see no difference. The meal might not differ as to the menu, but the special occasion makes it important. The bride, according to custom, remained in retirement. Lamont (15, p. 297) describes the event.
After the morning meal, the different groups assembled round the chief's tent [hut], where the groom and his friends were already seated. The men formed in a row for the pehu, and the women, before sitting down, arranged their tichès [titi], that they might not crumple them, as they prepared to chant. The bride, meanwhile, had not appeared; and it was not till she had been angrily called, that from a closed tent [hut] some young girls appeared with what seemed to be a bundle of mats in the centre. This, however, was really the young bride, who, coming forth, ran towards the tent [hut] where I was seated, and then darting back was again enveloped in the mats, and withdrawn to the remotest corner of the house. The bride does not entirely disrobe herself of the matting for several days after the marriage, when she appears with the titchè [titi], which she page 38 wears constantly for the remainder of her life. Whilst the young lady hides her maiden blushes under the matting, and the gentleman sits demurely, but more confidently in front of the hut, the ceremony of the pehu commences, accompanied by rather an extra amount of crying, scratching, and bleeding, making a most melancholy affair of the happy event. The bride is then handed over to the oldest relatives or friends present for some further ceremonies; which over, the happy couple retire to their new abode.
Lamont's account represents very well three forms of the marriage arrangement. In the first marriage the selection and arrangement were made by the groom's family without consulting the groom. In the second, the betrothal was made by Tere Puna's mother or family, the girl being immature but the marriage suitable. The third marriage was the result of a love affair, and was accepted by the bride's family as a suitable marriage.
The wrapping of mats around the bride is a distinctive feature associated with the marriage ceremony. Once when, because of a quarrel, Lamont left his first wife behind him at Motu-unga, the Motu-ungan people brought her to him at Omoka with mats wrapped around her. Lamont (15, p. 261) thought the mat wrapping was a sign of mourning, but it was more likely a reminder that the marriage tie still held good.
The significance of the titi skirt must be remarked upon. Lamont regarded it as being worn only after marriage. Thus of his first wife he said,
There was one thing that puzzled me about her; she had evidently been married before, for she wore the tichè [titi], and was certainly a very youthful widow, not more than sixteen. I was informed that she had only just been married, and, disliking her husband, had never lived with him.
Knowing the obedience paid to nuptial arrangements, it is hard to believe that a young girl would refuse to live with her husband so soon after marriage. Lamont probably misunderstood his informants and has confounded with marriage the custom of rupturing the hymen at puberty and the subsequent wearing of the titi. This first wife evidently had gone through the hakatiti ceremony and was entitled to wear the titi without actually having been married. Lamont's later description of his third wife wearing the titi only after the marriage ceremony shows that, though she had probably reached puberty, the hakatiti ceremony had not been performed. This is supported by his statement that after the pehu ceremony of crying and cutting the flesh, the bride was handed over to the oldest relatives or friends present for some further ceremonies. It was after the further ceremonies that the married couple retired to their new abode. Lamont does not specify what the further ceremonies were, but there is little doubt that it was the hakatiti which entitled the woman to wear the titi, as the marriageable age, and not the marriage itself, demanded. In the marriage with Haka Puta the wedding was sudden and unexpected so the hakatiti ceremony had to be page 39 performed on the wedding day before the bride could be handed over to her husband. It merely coincided with the wedding period but was not an integral part of the marriage ceremony itself.
The family pedigrees show that monogamy prevailed, but polygamy, in the form of polygyny, was practised by some of the leading chiefs. Not all multiple wives shown in the pedigrees are polygynous as subsequent wives have been taken after death or divorce from previous ones. On the other hand, the fact that only one wife appears in a pedigree does not always denote monogamy, for the name of a barren wife may in time be omitted. Two of the chiefs mentioned by Lamont, Opaka, ariki of Hakasusa, and Mahuta-nui of Te Puka, had more than one wife.
In the polygynous marriages all the wives lived with the husband, but usually in different establishments. Lamont (15, p. 216) mentions “Opaka's house, or rather houses, in Haka Shusha, over each of which one of his wives presided.” The houses were built in relation to a central gravelled space and accommodated the multiple household of the biological family of Opaka. Mahutanui had three wives, but they lived in separate houses some distance apart on Mahuta's land.
The term for wife is wahine, which is also the general term for woman. No confusion exists in the native mind as to the meaning of the term, as the local knowledge of the relationship in the community and the context of speech clearly indicate what is meant. The genealogical term used for marriage is noho (to stay with). The idea conveyed by noho is that the staying together is of some duration, as in marriage, and it does not apply to the temporary association of lovers.
In Tongareva the custom is for the wife to take up her residence in her husband's house. A young husband who has hitherto been living in his father's household may continue to live there with his wife in one of the spare huts, or they may share the hut with others. He may build a new hut in the immediate vicinity and thus add to the extent of his father's household. When children are born or when crowding takes place the husband may build a separate establishment on land indicated or allocated to him by his father. The household is thus patrilocal.
If the married couple remains with the husband's father, the birth of children places three generations in the one household. It often happens that the father's aged parents may live with him, the household thus consisting of four generations. If the first family is large, the first sons to marry usually break away to relieve the overcrowding and establish their own households on page 40 paternal land. The daughters, as they marry, go off to their husbands' houses, and the junior members of the family are left at home. There is thus a constant ebb and flow of succeeding generations. Grandparents die as great-grandchildren are born, and the household, though based on a single biological family, may consist of members of two, three, or even four generations.
The complex household with its sleeping huts, cooking houses, and open gravelled space is yet a single domestic unit, united by close blood relationship through the male line, the members of the household working together in harmony in supplying the small family group with food. In a household of four generations the old grandparents bask in the sun and do such light tasks as are within their scope. They look after the grandchildren. The aged grandfather relinquishes the household rule and the direction of active operations to his son. The son of the second generation has become master of the household and his wife assumes control of the domestic management. The grandson of the third generation who has elected to remain with his father's household takes an active part in procuring food supplies and in doing the heavy work of the household, but he defers to the authority of his father. The great-grandchildren of the fourth generation assist in the work of the household, carrying out such tasks as are assigned to them by either parents or grandparents. Four generations in a household is probably the extreme.
In a bilateral family the wife who comes of a family rich in food lands retains her rights to a share in her father's lands. She and her husband may visit her land from time to time to obtain the crop from her coconut trees. Her rights as an heiress are not questioned. If her husband comes of a poorer family, or if his share in his paternal estate is small, the couple may elect to settle on the wife's land, and the household becomes matrilocal. Though the husband is an outsider, perhaps but distantly connected with his wife's family by blood, he is usually welcomed by his wife's father, as a male addition to the family and another warrior to aid in resisting attack. The husband thus becomes an integral part of his wife's family division.
Through matrilocal residence the children may drop their active connection with their father's kin and become incorporated and naturally absorbed into their mother's family and the organization to which it belongs. Theoretically, however, the matrilocal household only survived for one generation. Of the family born to it, the daughters married and went to their husbands, and the sons established their households on their mother's land. These households may be considered transitional between matrilocal and patrilocal households for, though the land was the mother's during her lifetime, upon her death the respective shares passed to her sons who were in residence. page 41 In the next generation the sons inherited from their fathers and the households again became strictly patrilocal. In the first matrilocal family a younger son might return to his father's people and be brought up by them by adoption. He thus passed out of the district like his sisters.
Although patrilineal descent and patrilocal residence form the background of the social structure, matrilineal descent links up family pedigrees which might otherwise spread out, and it carries practical advantages. Every fourth generation women available for marriage within the district, being outside the prohibited degree of consanguinity, can marry within the district to strengthen the ties of blood kinship. Also, in a biological family which has daughters and no sons the parents may insist on the daughter's husband coming to live on their land in order that the grandchildren may inherit the land.
Adoptions used to be common and a few led to complications, although most adoptions were made within the branches of the same family, so that the adopted child was really of blood kin to the adoptive parents. People with no issue of their own were naturally anxious to adopt children, whereas parents with large families could not well refuse to give up some of theirs. Parents were also influenced to promote the welfare of their children by consenting to adoption by people of rank or wealth in food lands. Also, natural love of children probably led to adoptions by people who already had children of their own. Adoptions were also particularly desired by older people whose own children had left them after marriage, and who desired sons or daughters to assist them in securing food supplies and to help in the work of carrying in coconuts, of fishing, lighting fires, and cooking food.
Complications concerning succession to the land of adopting parents have arisen. Some parents, neglected in old age by their own children, have, in revenge, left their lands entirely to adopted children. I purposely started a heated argument in Tautua by asking if it were right for adopted children to succeed to land and thus disinherit the true children. Part of the assembly maintained that land could only go to the nearest of blood. One old man, however, was vehement in asserting that the adopted child should take precedence. Pointing to his open mouth he said:
To whom should I leave my land but to him who fills that? If my own children leave me when they grow up and then do not send me food to fill my empty stomach, should I consider them? Should I not consider my adopted child, who has cared for me in my old age and fed me when my own children failed to do so?
With a grunt, he again pointed to his empty mouth. I concluded that the practical filling of his stomach with food overcame all theoretical considerations as to blood kinship. The adopted child is thus regarded as a real son or daughter and may be given property by the adoptive parents in preference to real children who have been guilty of neglect.page 42
In adopting by native custom no special formula was followed. The adopting parents asked for or took a child and brought it up in their own home. The desire to adopt children was so prevalent that after European contact illegitimate, white, or partly white children from other districts were adopted, to the detriment of the real kin. To prevent abuse of the custom the Cook Islands Act now demands that proposed adoptions shall be properly investigated and registered before they become legal, that the child shall be native or the descendant of a native and under the age of 15 years, that the adopting parent shall apply for the adoption and shall be a fit person to have custody of the child, and that the natural parents shall consent. The adoption may be annulled by the Court on the application of the adopting parent or child.
A social or honorary adoption is described by Lamont, who states that all the members of the crew of the wrecked Chatham were adopted by different families. The people took the strangers in as permanent guests and gave them the same rights to their food lands as their own families possessed. This hospitality could be expressed only by adoption. In thus adopting them into the family the same relationship terms were used as if they were true blood kin. Thus O Pai Tangata became Lamont's father (matua); his father's wife, “Moshishe,” became his mother, or “matua oahine” (matua wahine); and their sons, his brothers. After descriptions of a ceremony conducted in a marae on the second day after the wreck and the subsequent “shukai” ceremony outside the marae, Lamont (15, p. 125) states that he learned that the ceremony through which they had passed was a form of adoption, “each of us becoming from that time forth the chosen child of some leading man in the place; standing in the same position to all his relations as his own children, and even enjoying some additional privileges.”
The ceremony, as I see it, was not part of the ordinary procedure of adoption. The chiefs had already selected them as members of their household on the preceding day, and the simple mechanism of adoption ended with that. The ceremony on the marae and the subsequent wailing constituted a formal reception into the Tongarevan community in accordance with established custom. The marae ceremony removed any tapu and foreign influence that accompanied them as strangers and brought them into accord with the religious ritual and spiritual influences that prevailed in the country. The weeping, chanting, and dancing which followed, and which the women shared, was their formal reception and welcome into the community, of which they were then a part. Though their position was thus established in the community, neither ceremony can be regarded as an integral part of the simple mechanism of adoption. In this adult adoption, as Lamont remarks, they stood in the same position to their adoptive parents page 43 and their relations as if they were their own children, and they naturally came under the laws applying to the prohibited degrees of consanguinity in marriage.
Not only is marriage prohibited in this relationship, but sexual intercourse and advances of an amorous nature are also prohibited as a matter of course. Thus Lament found that, though he could press noses with his aunts, sisters, and cousins, any attempt at a European kiss was resisted, the person flying from him in horror and calling out her relationship as the bar to such action. The attitude is quite clear. The pressing of noses together was the orthodox social greeting of the culture, but immediately the lips came into play it was regarded as an erotic approach to forbidden sexual intercourse. Chiefs and old women adopted Lamont on the other islands he visited, and he increased his circle of relations. His attempts to express his friendship with his close female relations by means of the European kiss were always received with embarrassment and repulsed.
The following avoidance customs were recorded by Lament (15, p. 136), but I did not check up on them.
In these relationships they have some strange observances. A mother can kiss her son, but he must not embrace his mother; a sister and brother on meeting after a long absence, cannot fondly rush into each others arms, but must sit down facing each other, and nod their heads, one to one side, the other to the opposite; and the adopted child may not touch the food the parents have to eat, as in that case they dare not use it.
The name for the household group is not clear. In New Zealand the mechanism is definite. The ancestor who linked all the biological families together as indicated by their pedigrees was treated as an eponymous ancestor, and his name, with a plural prefix signifying “the descendants of,” was used as a term to include the family group that had originated from him. The name became the distinctive proper name of the family group, but such a group was designated as a hapu (pregnant) or whanau (birth). These terms cryptically denote that all people belonging to such a group are descended from one pregnancy and one birth. In Tongareva, although the term hanau, which corresponds to the New Zealand whanau, is used in the genealogical recitals to denote birth, it is not used as a classificatory term to denote a group derived from one ancestral family. However, the same principle of attaching importance to descent from a common ancestor as to locality and grouping applies, and it implies cooperation in public functions and in defense and attack.