This short dialogue (Barthel 1960:844; text j) between two neru (N) and possibly a parent (P), may have been part of a longer question-and-answer type text. The text is important because the "fish" imagery of the neru is elaborated with them being captured in a net. Possibly, this referred to an existing method of lowering children to the ridge of 'Ana O Keke's entrance. This typical neru lament is also significant because ot the presence of the term timo in the last line. Alternative interpretations of hau marumaru (line 5) could come from haumaru, "cool", "cold" (Churchill 1912:201) or hau'maru, "quiet", "tranquil" (Fuentes 1960:735).

Campbell (1971:120) has published a version of this chant which starts with E nua! E koro! Ta-takaure tangi-tangi; Ko-Vie-Moko, Ko-Vie-Kena; Ko-Vie-Kena tea é and ends with ki to maua ha ana (line 4).  According to him it is a passage of the legend of the Lizard Woman and the Gannet Woman (published by Vives Solar 1920:25-33; Métraux 1940:367-368). However, if we take into account that these phrases contain the key elements of Atu'a Mata Riri, vs 16-18, they can be reconstructed to e nua e koro / takaure tangitangi ko vi'e moko ko vi'e keva ko vi'e tea e, "O mother, o father, the buzzing flies are accompanying the women living underground, the blind women, the pale women!" This suggests that the legend – or part of it – had its origins in a neru chant and this in turn would explain its puzzling enumeration of ahu. For example, Métraux's translation of A hara (sic) ka Hanga-nui no mai kia au, ki te uka maitaki ko vie Moko, ko vie Kena (Métraux 1940:367), "What is Hanga Nui to myself and to two beautiful women, the lizard woman and the gannet woman?" could be changed into "What is Hanga Nui to me, to the beautiful girls, the women living underground, the blind women?"

Added: 2016-09-0  Modified: 2017-07-18

Barthel (1-4)

Text 1

How those little mourners just go on crying!

Up there in that crevice, (they) have been crying!

Why are you crying like that?

Because of our cave,

this isolated shelter, drafty and gloomy!

(We) were let down in a net

with wide meshes

Because of  this capture, these "fish" are mourning!

ka tatangi no /  nga heva rikiriki /   

i runga i te opata / i tatangi ai /   

heaha korua e tatangi ena /

mo tomaua haana / a

pare kivakiva / a hau marumaru /   

hakaturu hai kupenga /   

mata patapata /  

mo rarau mai / o te ika timo ena  









ka tatangi no nga heva rikiriki   

irunga i te 'opata i tatangi ai    

heaha korua e tatangi ena

mo tomaua 'ana a

pare kivakiva a hau marumaru    

haka-turu hai kupenga   

mata patapata   

mo rarau mai o te ika timo ena

Text Barthel



Text 2


Barthel collected these four neru texts in 1957-1958 and published them in 1960 without connecting them to the initiation rite of the secluded girls. The awkwardness of the resulting interpretations is explained by him (1960:842) as the inevitable result of the difficulties presented by the source material: "Bildhafte und verkürzende Redeweisen, Mehrdeutigkeiten und das Vorkommen archaische Ausdrücke, zum Teil aber auch eine allmähliche Sinnentleerung wirken sich hemmend auf eine wirklich befriedigende Übersetzung aus." [Graphic and abbreviating locutions, ambiguities and the occurrence of archaic expressions, partly also a gradual loss of meaning inhibit a truly satisfactory translation (my translation)]. As is demonstrated below, interpreting these texts in the context of the neru and 'Ana O Keke elucidates many of the problematic passages and it requires only minor alterations to make them fully understandable.



Published by Barthel (1960:845) and Campbell (1971:410). Maiho is located south of Rano Raraku, between Hanga Mahiku and Hanga Tuu Hata (Ojeda 1947:146). The latter name may have been confused with Hanga Tavake on the northern coast of Poike peninsula as Barthel's text has hanga tuu tavake. Campbell's version has the variants uka, "girl", for uha in line 6 and ka here, "get trapped", for ka rere in line 7.

Barthel's accompanying translation fails to make much sense: "How colorful is the yellowroot in Maio. The powder of the colored earth is shaken out at Hanga Tuu Tavake. She goes, jumps, floats, the little girl Tino Rere. Go! Jump! Float overthere! Blink your eyes! Grow strong!" This incoherent interpretation is further worsened by the remark that in this version of the song the "jumping body" of the girl apparently originates from the earth that is used for bodypainting (Barthel 1960:845; fn. 12).

Text 3

How fair that pretty girl was in Maiho!

How (she) poured out

the fine dust of that kiata powder!

In Hanga Tavake,

she left, she ran away, she became a recluse,

that little “hen”, that running body!

Go ahead, leave! Run away! Become a recluse!

Sit tight (in that hole)! Get fat!

ka mea era te renga i maio /

ka paringi era /  

te hunga o te kiata /   

i hanga tuu tavake /  

he oho he rere he ranga ia /

uha iti-iti a tino rere /  

ka oho ka rere ka ranga /

ka kamo ka hiohio









ka mea era te renga i Maiho

ka paringi era  

te hunga o te kiata

i Hanga Tavake

he oho he rere he ranga ia

uha ‘iti‘iti a tino rere  

ka oho ka rere ka ranga  

ka kamo ka hiohio   

Text Barthel



This text is important because it refers tot 'Ana O Keke as hue, which could have been meant as place of "gathering" or "hiding", but may also have been a reference to the cave as "gourd" (i.e., as "womb"). Furthermore, it correctly gives the location of the cave as "behind Puakatiki", Poike's main peak, it mentions "juice" as the source of the fattening (affirming the use of sweet foods such as banana flower and sugarcane juice found elsewhere), and it hints at the reason for the seclusion as being "for the family (or clan)" and "for the gods". Barthel gives this text as variant 3 of the last part of a longer text (1960:849-850), but is not sure this is correct (1960:850, fn. 26) as the longer text was published separately by Métraux (1940:318).

Go up, o Mati, to the "swollen ones"!

(You) will join the beautiful girls

in (their) gathering place behind Puakatiki!

(You) must lap up your food,

o juice-sucking beauty,

for the family, for the gods,

with those "hatchlings", o exiled one!

ka iri e mati e / ki te ahu  

titiro korenga /

i vai nga hue / i tua te puakatiki /

ka amo taau kahi /

e renga mitimiti a vai e /

mo te hare / mo te atua /

ma punua e toi e








ka iri e Mati e ki te ahu

titiro ko renga

i vaenga hue itu'a te Puakatiki  

ka amo ta'au kai   

e renga mitimiti a vai e  

mo te hare mo te 'atua

ma punua e tui e

Text Barthel