Polynesian Culture

by Sean N. Bennett

Tui Manu’a

Manu’a was the cradle of Samoan civilization. According to a Manu’a legend, Manu’a was the beginning of everything. The name Manu’a embraces three islands at the east end of the Samoan group. Manu’a means wounded. In the legend, the rocks and the earth married, and had a child, which when born, was covered with wounds; and hence the name of the small group of three islands.

The legend states that Tagaloa created Manu’a first and had his first resting place at Fitiiuta on the island of Tau. He then created Savaii where the western resting place of Tagaloa was in Samata in the malae of Alamisi. Then Upolu and Tutuila were created but only as resting places for the chiefs traveling from Manu’a to Savaii. Tagaloa then created Fiji, Tonga and all the islands of the sea.

The first beautiful Samoan house was subsequently brought to a place called Lefaga which is near Fitiiuta in Manu’a. It was where the Gods first lived on earth but later it became the Fale’ula of the Tuimanu’a.

It was also stated that the Tuimanu’a were direct descendants of Tagaloa. Lu, a son of Tagaloa, had a son, Moa, named after his preserve of fowls. This Moa became king of Manu’a and Moa became the family mane of the Tuimanu’a. From that time fowls were no longer called Moa on Manu’a but Manulele or winged creatures, out of respect to the name of the king.

Tuimanu’a Fiti’aumua was a very powerful man. Some of the legends said that he had a fleet of 200 canoes which he used to conquer all the different Polynesian islands. He succeeded in extending his power not only over the whole of Samoa but also over Tonga, Fiji, Rarotonga and Tahiti. All of them had to send him yearly tribute consisting of fish, foods, fine mats, etc. They all paid homage to him. People would come from Tonga, Tahiti and Western Samoa to pay him tribute on a certain date and time.

There are also legends that he was so mighty because he was the spiritual leader of this area and this was his kingdom. Tuimanu’a Fiti’aumua domination over Samoa ended about the year A.D. 900 when Upolu was politically organized by Pili and his sons, who were descendents of Tui Manu’a.

The above information was taken (as written) from the MCKAY-FALE located in Sauniatu (on the island of Upolu) Western Samoa.

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