This short lament (Métraux 1940:357) is significant because it is clearly composed from the viewpoint of a secluded girl. Furthermore it designates the menarche as marking the end of the seclusion and confirms the taboo on eating sweet potatoes that was mentioned to Englert by Arturo Teao and Juan Tepano (1939:208-209). The place of seclusion is uncertain, it could either be a special hut or a cave like 'Ana O Keke.

Added: 2016-08-23  Modified 2017-07-18

Métraux (1-4)

Text 1

O "birds", until (my) blood is spilled,

this gloomy place will be mine!

In this darkness, o "birds",

I am not eating the sweet potatoes

prepared by the old folk!

This beautiful girl has grown pale!

E Manu e, ka pari mai toto /

Hare keri ena aaku

i te po, e Manu e. /  

E au tae kai i te kumara /

O tau korohua nei

ko, Maea-te-renga







e manu e ka pari mai toto

hare kere ena 'a'aku

i te po e manu e

e au ta'e kai i te kumara

o tou korohua nei

ko mae a te renga

Text Métraux



The text as published by Métraux (1940:357) requires only minor adjustments to be understood in a neru context. The "love" detected by Métraux is that of parents for a secluded child. Interestingly, the neru is twice addressed as "fish". While the term probably had its origin in metaphors like that of the paroko, in later times it was only understood as "victim", "sacrifice". And after the neru context was entirely lost, as is the case in Métraux's translation, it was often taken literally. The loss of this context was also responsible for reinterpretations of key words such as ahu, "swollen", and koro Miru, "Miru festival", as "platform" and "toromiro-tree", respectively, The "topknot" referring to the neru's long hair is also found in text 4 below.   

Text 2

You make (us) sick with longing!

(You) are left down there until (you) grow fat, my beautiful girl!

(You) will become a "fish" with a bristling topknot

if you stay down there!

O (my) beloved "fish" girl, (destined) for the Miru festival!

That place (you) are sitting in is not visited by (your) parents!  

Those high cliffs are separating (you)!

E mau koe i te mate o te manava /

E tupa ki raro ki Ahu Akurenga. /

E ika tuutuu pukao /  

Mo raro koe, /

E, ika, uka hoa e. / Mo toro-miro  

tae hahati / Hare-pepe a matua

vaai a / Toka roaroa








e mau koe i te mate o te manava

e topa ki raro ki ahu 'a'aku renga

e ika tuutuu pukao

mo raro koe  

e ika uka hoa e mo koro Miru  

tae hahati hare pepe a matua

vahi a toka roaroa

Text Métraux



Although the last line of this text clearly identifies it as belonging to the neru repertoire, Métraux went with the fanciful explanation that it was "supposed to be recited by a girl whose younger sister loves the same man as she does" (1940:356). However, if it is interpreted as a neru chant in dialogue form, it appears as a coherent whole that is relatively easy to translate. A neru girl (N) is addressed by a friend (F) who is concerned for her wellbeing – either an admirer, a caretaker, or a relative, At the time of the recording of the chant, the relation between the neru and the pangoro-fish was no longer understood. The word was therefore changed to panioro, "Spaniard", even though this made little sense in the proposed interpretation.  

Text 3

O fair one, (your) body must be aching and ailing!

For both the mild and the severe (pains),

(your) flowers give (me) support, friend!  

How (they) smell, o how (they) smell,

(but) what a stench there is in here!

These flowers are blooming, friend,

(but) how colorless this face of mine is,

alas, alas!

(I) am worried (about you), o noble maiden!

Where are the bandages for (your) wounds,

lest (you) will be shedding tears?

Because (you) took (them) away,

(your) eyes will be shedding tears!

(And) where is your sister, o fair one?

There is (too) much sunlight,

so (my) pangoro-sister is far away,

in the back of this cave that hides the neru!

E Mea, a tino mamahi rua e   

ki te iti, ki te nui e. /   

He tonga, te pua, repa hoa /

Ka eo, ka eo,  

ka kava nei. /

He hora, te pua, repa hoa, /

Ka mariri mai tooku aro nei,  

aue, aue. /

Ku mataku mai a i te vie honui e, /   

He te kotaki mo haroa  

o te rei,  

o too

rei mata nei. /  

He tou taina, e Mea e. /  

E Mea a te raa e. /  

Taina panioro roa. /

I tua i te Ana-heu-neru e.


















e mea a tino mamaki rua e   

ki te 'iti ki te nui e

he tonga te pua repa hoa  

ka eo ka eo  

ka kava nei  

he hora te pua repa hoa   

ka mariri mai to'oku aro nei  

aue aue  

ko mataku mai a e te vi'e honui e  

he te kotaki mo haoa  

'o te rei   

o to'o  

rei mata nei  

he to'ou taina e mea e

e mea a te raa e

taina pangoro roa   

itu'a i te 'ana hue neru e

Text Métraux








The first three neru texts were collected by Métraux in 1934-1935 and published in 1940 as "love songs" with awkward explanations and curious translations. The fourth was only published by Barthel in 1960.

This chant was collected by Métraux (1934-1935; NB 5rb:14) and published – with some alterations – by Barthel (1960:844-845) as text k. It is interesting because it mentions 'Ana O Keke as Hiva and refers to the neru's long hair, obesity, and mental condition.

The word atarangi is absent in Rapanui vocabularies, but it is explained in the field notes of Métraux as "couleur de crepuscule", "mordoré" (1934-1935; NB 5rb:14). The term tito for the neru's quarreling is consistent with the bird analogies of other texts as it refers specifically to the fighting among fowl (Fuentes 1960:864). It is used in the same metaphorical sense in a song about competing birdmen collected by Routledge (cf. Fischer 1997:334-335; De Laat 2014:33). When the neru context was lost, the meaning of most of the chant became unclear. For example, ahu, "fatness", was taken as a reference to a stone platform.

In the transcription below, Métraux's segmentation of the text has been maintained but his metric scansion has been left out. The first sentence appears to serve as an introduction.

Text 4

The girls Torio and Hoiata have ended up in Hiva!

"Why should (I) comb (my) red-brown topknot

if that beautiful topknot has to disappear in Hiva?

In this crevice, I have ended up!

I am finished with swimming!

I am finished with bathing!

In the back (of this cave), I have ended up!

Because (my) slenderness has swollen,

(I) would easily surpass the moai!

(I) do not like (it),

(but) (I) will not scream or quarrel!

(I) will leave with tearstained eyes  

when (I) disappear into Hiva!"

i hiva oti ŋa uka a torio a hoiata /

eaha ana e uruuru pukao ata raŋi

ana / e tomotomo pukao veri hiva ana /

i te motu oti au /

kau kau oti / au /

hopuhopu oti au /

i tua oti / au

i ahu rikiriki e   

e haka hiŋahiŋa / ana i te moai

e ko haŋa

e ko vohu e tito ke

tere mata pea /

kaŋaro ki hiva














i Hiva oti nga uka a Torio a Hoiata

heaha ana e uruuru pukao atarangi

ana e tomotomo pukao veri i Hiva na

i te motu oti au

kaukau oti au

hopuhopu oti au

itu'a oti au

i ahu rikiriki e  

e haka-hingahinga ana i te moai e

eko hanga

eko vo'u e tito ke

tere matapea

ka ngaro ki Hiva

Text Métraux