This short neru text was collected by Kapitänleutnant Wilhelm Geiseler of the SMS Hyäne during the German scientific expedition to Easter Island in 1882 and published without translation under the heading: "Ein Freuden- (Spiel-) Gesang, genannt kai-kai" [A song of joy (singing game) called kai-kai] (1883:46).

Geiseler's notations are the most detailed of the early researchers as they record emphasis (with an accent) and short vowels (with a breve) (cf. fig. 1)

Corrupt and/or incomplete versions of this text were published by Barthel (1960:843-844), Campbell (1971:429), Felbermayer (1972:270), and Blixen (1979:50-51).

Added: 2016-08-23


A "kai-kai song"

"Sugarcane and sweets, sugarcane and sweets!"

(They) are very annoyed in that cave,

(but) (they) cannot reach Apina or Hangaroa!

The girls who are crying very loud (are) neru!

Will (they) reach Apina or Hangaroa?

Surely the misery of that crying will not reach (there)

as long as (they) are exiled from the inland?

Surely (they) cannot climb up the way (their) bodies are

since the sugarcane envelops (them)?

Because (they) obey

(they) have the misery of oedema,

getting fat, fatter and fatter!

Tóă kúrŭ, tóă kúrŭ  

tĕ táki ĕ rói te róă

tă ĕ / Túŭ Apína, túŭ Hăngăróă. /

Tĕ úkă hákă ĕkĭ nárŭ /

Túŭ Apína, túŭ Hangaróă /

Ŏ Rérĕ mŏríŏ, táñgĭ  

kăráñgă mai íntă /

Ŏ hékĕ mákau

mai háhĭ / Tŏ

mŏ hángă

mŏríŏ, púti

ĕ pútă etc.













toa kuru toa kuru

tatake ro i te rua

ta'e tu'u Apina tu'u Hangaroa

te uka haka-eki neru

tu'u Apina tu'u Hangaroa

'o rere more o tangi

ka ranga mai uta

'o eke makua

mai ha'i toa

mo hanga

more o puti

e puta e puta e puta

Text Geiseler



Fig. 2

SMS Hyäne

(1) kuru: this term, which is absent in the Rapanui vocabularies, means "breadfruit" in other Easter Polynesian languages. As the breadfruit tree did not grow on Easter Island, it may have remained in use for another type of sweet or fermented fruit. This could be evidence of an old provenance of the text.

(3) Apina: a location near Hangaroa. These two place names referred to the inhabited region farthest away from 'Ana O Keke.

(7) mai: in the reconstruction the marking of the vowel combinations ai and au as contracted has been omitted.

(8) makua: the term appears to be synonym with mata, "physical appearance", "figure", used in other texts.

(10) mo hanga: other possible interpretations: "because (it) is necessary"; "because (we) want (them) to".


Fig. 1

The chant as originally published