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Matavai Bay

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Longitude Min 145.7 W Latitude Min 17.5 S
Matavai Bay is situated on the northwest coast of Tahiti. It was the scene of the earliest cross-cultural encounters between European voyagers and Maohi.

Matavai Bay was used by the first European voyagers to Tahiti because it was found to be relatively open to the sea and provided shelter from winds blowing from southwest through south to northeast. Also, the Bay was found to have a sandy bottom below 8 to 16 fathoms of water with the exception of a submerged ridge that came to be known as Dolphin Bank due it being hit by HMS Dolphin when seeking anchorage in June 1767.

It was gradually discovered that Matavai was less than a perfect anchorage, and could be extremely hazardous in west and southwesterly winds.

On his arrival aboard the Dolphin, Samuel Wallis named Matavai Port Royal Harbour. Cook was to call it 'Royal Bay'.

At the time Europeans first visited Tahiti, Matavai lay largely within the tribal territory of Ha'apape. Douglas Oliver (1974: 1179) tells us that the highest ranking Maohi of this district appear to have been largely overshadowed by the chiefly families of the districts to the southwest (Arue, Pare and Fa'a'a). Cook was to observe in 1774 that the highest ranking local he met, a man whom he called 'Tee' was obliged to defer to chiefly men and women who choose to visit the Bay.

Related Entries for Matavai Bay
Places: Great Canoe Bay | One Tree Hill | Dolphin Bank (Matavai Bay, Tahiti) | Point Venus | Fareroi (Marae) | Fort Venus
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Prepared by: Paul Turnbull
Created: 26 February 2002
Modified: 28 June 2004

Published by South Seas, 1 February 2004
Comments, questions, corrections and additions: Paul.Turnbull@jcu.edu.au
Prepared by: Paul Turnbull
Updated: 28 June 2004

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