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Tupura'a i Tamaita ('Toobouratomita'; 'Lycurgus')

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Born: Tahiti
At the time of Cook's arrival in Tahiti, Tupura'a i Tamaita was ari'i rahi (paramount title-holder) of the Fa'a'a district. He was also known by his title, Te Pau i Aharui, which was associated with that district's most important marae, Aharui (Memoirs of Arii Tamai: 41).

Career Highlights
Tupura'a i Tamaita was the eldest son of Teri'i Vaetua i Ahurai and Te Vahine Airoroau'a, and the brother of Purea. He forged a close alliance with Tutaha, chief of Pare-Arue and one of the most influential men in Tahitian politics during the 1760s and early 1770s. Tupura'a i Tamaita was also related by the marriage of one of his younger brothers to other high ranking families in Pare-Arue, and also enjoyed significant influence in Fa'a'a (Oliver, 1974: 1187).

During the Endeavour party's stay at Matavai Bay, Tupura'a i Tamaita was quick to establish friendship (Taio) with Cook and Banks. He helped facilitate trade and sought to protect the voyagers' property ashore. This led to Banks light-heartedly nick-naming him Lycurgus, after the semi-legendary Spartan lawgiver, with whose supposed virtues eighteenth-century patricians were well acquainted from an early age through reading Plutarch's Lives.

Sydney Parkinson described Tupura'a as having been middle-aged and ‘of a chearful, though sedate, countenance, with thick black frizzled hair, and a beard of the same kind.’ He also thought ‘his behaviour and aspect had something of natural majesty in them.’

Tupura'a i Tamaita died with his ally Tutaha in 1773, fighting invading warriors of the Taiarapu Peninsula led by the paramount chief of the peninsula, who held the title of Vehiatua i Mata'i. According to the traditions of the Teva clan recorded by Henry Brooke Adams, the death of the two chiefs profoundly changed the course of dynastic politics on Tahiti (See Memoirs of Arii Tamai: 91).

Related Entries for Tupura'a i Tamaita ('Toobouratomita'; 'Lycurgus')
Concepts: Taio, Friendship in the Society Islands | Te Pau i Ahurai

People: Terii Vaetua i Ahurai | Tutaha (Ha’amanemane; 'Hercules') (1708? - 1773)

Places: Ahurai (Marae)

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Structure based on ISAAR(CPF) - click here for an explanation of the fields. Created: 15 September 2003
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-P000313

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