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Tutaha (Ha’amanemane; 'Hercules') (1708? - 1773)

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Born: 1708?  Tahiti.  Died: 1773  Tahiti.
Nicknamed ‘Hercules’ by Joseph Banks, Tutaha was a member of the principal title-holding family of Te Porionu'u, the name by which the people of the districts of Pare and Arue were known by the 1760s.

Career Highlights
Tutaha’s father was also known as Tutaha. His mother, Tera'iatua, was a woman of chiefly rank in the Puna'auia people of the district of Atehuru.

He was nicknamed 'Hercules' by Joseph Banks because like most men of the highest chiefly families of the Society Islands he was at least six feet tall and possessed an imposing physique.

According to the official Puna'auia genealogy of the Pomare family, the power of the chiefs of Te Poreonu'u flowed from the union between the elder Tutaha and Tera'iatua. The elder Tutaha had powerful ancestral links with the marae Tarahoi on the promontory known Utuhaihai at the south-western end of Matavai Bay. By the mid-eighteenth century, Tarahoi was the most sacred marae in the Pare and Arue districts. By virtue of earlier dynastic marriages, the elder Tutaha also had strong ancestral ties with the principal marae in the Ha'apape, Fa'a'a and Fa'ahiti districts, and the island of Mo'orea.

Tera'iatua, wife of the elder Tutaha, had strong ancestral ties with the Te Potuari marae in Atehuru.

Tutaha the younger was the second son of Tutaha and Tera'iatua. Their eldest son, Ta'aroa Manahune, had an unassailable claim to the kin-title Tu nui ae i te atua of Pare-Arue by virtue of his parents’ lineages. However, in accordance with Maohi law, this powerful kin-title passed in turn to Ta'aroa Manahune’s eldest son, Teu, from the moment of birth (Oliver estimates that Teu, who was to be the father Pomare I, must have been born between 1748 and 1752).

As a second son, Tutaha was overshadowed by his elder brother and nephew. However, the Endeavour journals of Cook and Banks suggest that the younger Tutaha enjoyed considerable power in the Pare and Arue districts until his death in battle in 1773. Banks recorded that his 'court' was the

'...most splendid, indeed we were inclined to think that he acted as Locum tenens for Otou [Tu Pomare I] the Earee rahie [ari'i rahi], his great nephew, as he lived upon an estate belonging to him and we never could hear he had any other public place of residence.' (Banks, Journal, I, page 434).

Such was the authority Tutaha enjoyed across the north west districts of Tahiti that Cook presumed he was the “chief man of the island (Cook, Journal, 18 April 1769).

According to the reminiscences of Marau Taaroa compiled by Henry Brooke Adams, Tutaha capitalised on the political turmoil caused by Amo, chief of Papara, and his wife, Purea, who sought to make to make their eldest first son, Teri'irere, paramount chief over all Tahiti. According to these reminiscences, Amo and Purea audaciously proclaimed a Rahui over the island and invested Teri'irere with a feather girdle at a new imposing marae they had built at Mahaiatea point.

This greatly angered the ruling families of neighbouring districts, but what caused the downfall of Amo and Purea was the offence taken by the ruling dynasty of the Taiarapu Peninsula (whose title-holders bore the name Vehiatua i te Mata'i). Such was the entanglement of politics and marriage in mid-eighteenth-century Tahiti that Purahi, the wife of the ruling Vehiatua, was a grand-daughter of the elder brother of Amo's father. She and her husband therefore saw their eldest son as having a far stronger claim to rule in the Papara district than Teri'irere.

Vehiatua invaded Papara sometime in late 1768. Warriors from Taiarapu overwhelmed the supporters of Amo and Purea, who escaped what Banks' journal suggests was a terrible conflict (see his journal entry for 29 June 1769). They were never to regain their former power, although Purea sought to restore the fortunes of her son as best she could through establishing tayo, (formal friendship) with Cook and Banks.

Tutaha's involvement in these events is unclear. According to one narrative of Marua Taaroa recorded by Adams, Tutaha took the sacred standard and feather girdle of Teri'rere to Marae Maraetaata in Pa'ea. In another account recorded by Adams, said to have its origins in the testimony of Tupaia, the Oro priest who sailed with Cook, Amo and Purea did not antagonise other northern districts. Rather, it was Tutaha who sought to advance the cause of his grand-nephew by provoking war between the northern districts and Taiarapu.

According to testimony heard by the missionary Robert Thompson, the districts of the north had found new unity through the adoption of the Oro cult, and that the marae at Mahaiatea was built to house his image.

Some eight or so years after the marae had become the centre of the Oro cult, Amo and Purea sought to establish their son as the most powerful title holder under the protection of Oro. The Vehiatua dynasty of Taiarapu was antagonistic to the Oro cult and Amo and Purea’s claims. They broke up the standard of the young Teri'rere that in line with tradition Amo and Purea had paraded through the districts over which they sought to establish their son’s right to rule. Amo and Purea sought to avenge the insult, but before they were prepared for war, Vehiatua attacked Papara. According to this version, Tutaha was an ally of the Vehiatua title-holder.

Finally, Moerenhout records that Amo and Purea believed their influence was threatened by the proximity of other chiefs to Wallis and Bougainville. This led them to demand the submission of the chiefly families of the northern districts, only to be have Tutaha encourage Vehiatua to invade Papara.

Whatever the true course of events, the politics of the island from late 1768 to 1773 appear to have been dominated by the rivalry between Tutaha and the Vehiatua dynasty – a rivalry which was to end in the death of Tutaha at the hands of warriors of Taiarapu.

Related Entries for Tutaha (Ha’amanemane; 'Hercules')
Places: Tarahoi (Marae) | Great Canoe Bay
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Structure based on ISAAR(CPF) - click here for an explanation of the fields. Created: 2 March 2002
Modified: 24 April 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
To cite this page use: http://nla.gov.au/nla.cs-ss-biogs-P000204

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