Added: 2017-02-22  Mofified 2018-06-19

Routledge (1)

He timo te akoako

Routledge has recorded several variants and fragments of the chant called He timo te akoako after its beginning line. According to her informants it was a genuine rongorongo text (Routledge 1919:248). Other versions, some of which merely fragments, have been collected by Estella, Métraux, Englert, Heyerdahl, and Campbell. Fischer who has published all these versions, has identified He timo as a text connected to the neru (1994b). Unfortunately, his attempt to reconstruct it into a "vivid and ingenious jeering or taunting song whose purpose is to entertain and teach the young rongorongo males, through rhetorically making merry with the young neru females, their social counterpart" (1994b:437) has produced a confused and in part nonsensical text which has been forced into a hypothethical metrical scheme and has little to do with the original sources (1994b:434).


(8) he: Fischer (1994b:425) reconstructs the chant's "title" to E timo te akoako, replacing the verbal marker he (generalized present) by imperative e.

(10) e: agentive e: by using the VOS construction full emphasis is placed on the enumeration of the girls' miseries through the repetitive e te; tena: Roussel (1908:184) translates it as "cela", "celui-ci". According to Fischer (1994b:426) tenā: "this", "that", "the following", was part of Old Rapanui. If this interpretation is correct it can only refer to the food the secluded girls were expected to eat in great quantities.  

(12) staggering ones: Churchill (1912:219): kuikui: "to stagger". Alt.: "the ones huddled together" (cf. Englert 1974:181: ku'iku'i: "agolparse", "aglomerarse gente").

(13) herehua: as here means "to tie", "to ensnare", the neru are apparently compared to hens that are tied up to be killed or cooked. Roussel (1908:229) has moa herea: "poule attaché", which means "tied up chicken" (and not "sitting hen" as Fischer (1994b:427) suggests). It has been assumed that the second part is actually hue (cf. text H1), possibly meaning "together", "into a bunch". Cf. also: MAO: herea: "to be predestined to death"; MAN: tamaherehere: "a son or daughter kept in the house to make them fair and fat" (Tregear 1891:62-63).

(14) kapa-kapa: the word does not appear in the Rapanui lexicons, but PPN *kapakapa is "to flap wings" (Biggs et al. 2015). Possibly, it is (also) a reference to the fact that the neru's eyesight is impaired: PN: kapa: "stretch out hands", "reach for"; NIU: kapa: "to struggle with the hands (as in travelling through the bush etc)"; TAH: 'apa: "mimer avec les mains"; TON: kapa: "to stretch out the arms toward", "to try to reach", "to reach for"; TUA: kapa: "gesture with the hands and fingers" (Biggs et al. 2015).

(15) manu vae eha, "four-legged birds": the girls had to go down on their hands and knees to crawl into the cave and thus they became "birds with four legs". They would have done the same to reach the fresh water sources deep inside the tunnel system. Fischer (1994b:434) sees the phrase as proof "that this chant was composed after La Pérouse's visit in 1786 when, for the first time, the Rapanui beheld four-legged creatures." This is a curious observation, as it assumes that the Easter Islanders failed to notice that the Polynesian rat (which was on their menu) and the lizard (which played an important role in their sculpture) were quadrupeds.

(16) pangoro: the word is not understood here as a species of fish but atua panguru is glossed as "god rumbles" (cf. ngorongoro: "to grumble", "to snore"). In the translation of another text, also collected by Routledge, the fish is identified (and drawn) as an "eel". The text also reveals that this "god of the pangoro" is Hiro, brother of Tangaroa and Tane (cf. text R6). This association resembles Tane's (Makemake's) association with the paroko-fish.

(17) Te Vao: it has been assumed that this name derives from one of Tane's signature manifestations, namely the forest. Although the term vau is not found in Rapanui vocabularies, it seems cognate with the word for "forest" or "wilderness" in other East Polynesian languages, e.g., MQA vao; TUA vao; MAO wao (Biggs et al. 2015).

(18) karera: Fuentes (1960:756): karéra: "to shine", "to glare", "to glow", "flash".

(19) e'a: Fuentes (1960:711): é'a: "to rise", "to reach a certain height"; Churchill (1912:245): raa ea mai: "sunrise". Alt.: ko ia Te Vao: "He is Te Vao".

(21) Tonga: the text is referring to the Poike peninsula as "Tonga" (cf. texts R4; R5). In Ure Vaeiko's Apai text, Tonga is also used to refer to the eastern part of the island (cf. De Laat 2014:33, comment on line 165). It is therefore possible that the name Tongariki originated as "Tonga Minor".

(23) the big "birds", the large "birds": the adults.

(28) they: second person plural korua, "you", has been interpreted as a rhetoric means to connect with the subject of the text. For Rapanui this has only been described for singular koe, followed by a vocative construction (cf. Kieviet 2016:137).    

(29) shadows: possibly these "shadows" should also be interpreted as "incarnations", as the neru became "fish" of Hiro and/or Tangaroa.

(35) aroha ... toraua: conform the "prelude" version which has aroha and torau, respectively; their land: the use of the term henua is appropriate as 'Ana O Keke and similar places were seen as part of the "land" of Hiva.   

(36) aue: conform the "prelude"; maia: Churchill (1912:222): maia: "to grow weak".

The parental god is the great god!

(He) resides in the darkness,

in the shadows

from the deep, the parental god!

The blood flows from the deep

(where) (they) are hiding, Tangaroa

and the disciples of the supreme god!

This swallowing brings (them) grief,

(but) it must be swallowed

by the "expanding ones",

the "bending ones",

the "staggering ones",

the "ones tied together",

the "wing-flapping ones",

the "four-legged birds"!

The god of that place is the god of the pangoro-fish,

(whereas) Te Vao is the god of the land!

Te Vao shines down!

After Te Vao has risen,

(he) shines down on the sand of the hills,

the big hills of Tonga,

the small hills of Tonga,

(and on) the big "birds", the large "birds"!

(He) is on the lookout

– Te Vao, the god of the land,

Te Vao who shines down – for the young "birds"!

As long as (they) are young ones,  

they will remain below in the cave!

(They) must stay in the shadows,

in the darkness!

These "birds" here have fled

into the shadows of the king

because the disciples of Tangaroa will become white!

How the family laments!

How the family pities their land!

Alas, the cries of those girls are growing very weak!

te Atua nui te atua matua,

he noho ana itua te maru maru

itua te ata ata.

ohe rara te Atua Matua

Kotetoto paripari oterar.

Na ana TangaRoa

te RongoRong na te Atua Metua.

he timo te ako-ako /   

he ako ako téna /   

he te túú /   

e te táha /    

e te kuia /   

e t hére hua /   

e te kappa kap /   

e te manuvaeeha /   

atua panguru / atua te háré /

atua kahinga te vau /   

karea te vau /    

kuia te vau /    

karea orne mahunga /   

te mahunga nui otonga /  

te mahunga titoi o tonga /

te manu nui / te manu roa /  


(Atua káhinga te vau.   

karéa te vau) te manu punua /  

ka punua

iraro yana korua /

e noho ana itua te ata ata /  

itua te maru maru /    

i te manu íhopo (-)  

hía te ata te ariki /   

o tea te rongo orongo a Tangaroa /

ka tagni veka  

karoa veka ki te rato henua   

a mahia hia rangauka

te 'atua nui te 'atua matua

he noho 'ana 'i tu'a te marumaru

'i tu'a te 'ata'ata

o te raro te 'atua matua

ko te toto paripari 'o te raro

na'a 'ana Tangaroa

te rongorongo 'a te 'atua matua

he timo te akuaku

e akuaku tena   

e te tetu     

e te taha    

e te kui     

e te here hue   

e te kapakapa      

e te manu va'e eha   

'atua pangoro 'atua 'a te hare

'atua kainga Te Vao      

karera Te Vao    

ko e'a 'a Te Vao   

karera one maunga    

te maunga nui o Tonga  

te maunga 'iti o Tonga  

te manu nui te manu roa   

ko tiro 'a   

('atua kainga Te Vao   

karera Te Vao) te manu punua  

ka punua   

'i raro i 'ana korua

e noho 'ana 'i tu'a te 'ata'ata   

'i tu'a te marumaru   

'i te manu i opo   

ki 'ata'ata 'a te 'ariki   

o tea te rongorongo 'a Tangaroa

ka tangi vaka    

ka aroha vaka ki toraua henua   

aue maiaia rangi o uka   

Texts Routledge








































(1) The others were Porotu and Jotefa Maherenga (Routledge 1914-1915 reel 2:0752).

An unpublished "prelude"

Most of the published He timo texts start rather abruptly with the statement that the "swallowing" (i.e., of sugarcane juice and other fattening food) is deplored without mentioning the children who are submitted to this regime. The explanation for this can be found in a short Rapanui text in Routledge's fieldnotes that to the best of my knowledge has not been published before (1914-1915 reel 1:0526). Its underlined header reads "Koho Rong oRong 'OTE ATUA MATUA' ", i.e., "Kohau rongorongo of the parental god". The informant is identified as Kapiera. The importance of these verses is revealed by a brief remark under the glossed verses: "This forms prelude + is recited then begins the chant 'He ako ako Timo' ".

The text of this "prelude" reads (glosses in red): te Atua nui the god great te atua matua, the god father he noho ana itua te maru maru is sitting in the shade itua te ata ata. in the twilight ohe rara nk te Atua Matua Kotetoto blood paripari flow oterar. name Na ana to you TangaRoa te RongoRong na you te Atua Metua.

This can be reconstructed to: te 'atua nui te 'atua matua / he noho 'ana 'i tu'a te marumaru 'i tu'a te 'ata'ata o te raro te 'atua matua / ko te toto paripari o te raro na'a 'ana Tangaroa te rongorongo 'a te 'atua matua, and translated as: "The parental god is the great god. The parental god resides in the darkness, in the shadows from the deep, The blood flows from the deep (where) Tangaroa and the disciples of the supreme god are hiding."  

This means that this text introduces Tangaroa as a "parental" god, i.e., as one of the great Polynesian creator gods who sprang from the union of Sky and Earth, and locates his realm in the shadows and the dark. As the menstrual blood of the neru, the "disciples of Tangaroa", is said to emanate from this dark place, it not only firmly connects the cult of the neru to Tangaroa, but it also shows that places like 'Ana O Keke were seen as a pathway to and an extension of Po, the spirit world that was located in the dark depths of the ocean and the earth.

Immediately below this introductory text, we find a separate text of some difficult to read lines with the header Koho katacni vek., followed by: kaaroha goodbye veka. ki te hunu veka all the relatives auwé sigh mahia-hia fanning (?) fanning (?) ragni uka fine woman torau hénua. my place auwé mahia fanning (?) Ragni uka.

This can be tentatively reconstructed to: kohau / ka tangi vaka / ka aroha vaka ki te henua / aue mahiahia rangi uka i toraua henua / aue mahiahia rangi uka, and translated as: "kohau text: How the family laments! How the family pities (their) land! Alas, the cries of those girls in their land are growing weak! Alas, the cries of those girls are growing weak!"

The version of He timo which best fits this introduction is the variant that was produced for Routledge (1914-1915 reel 2:0754) by three old men, one of whom was Kapiera (1). It was published by Fischer as version E (1994b:416-417). The last 10 lines of this text are very similar to the "prelude" and the kohau ka tangi vaka-segment. The fact that version E has these two texts at the end seems to contradict the statement that the first one was a "prelude" to He timo. However, the important difference is that the introduction of Tangaroa as the great god residing in the dark is missing. Instead it is stated that the "disciples of Tangaroa" are protected by their 'ariki in the shadows of the cave. It is therefore proposed that the introduction was partially reprised in the second part of the chant. This would also provide an explanation for the fact that in the first session Kapiera recited the kohau ka tangi vaka part immediately after the "prelude" but at the same time presented it as a text separate from it. Knowing He timo, and therefore the repeated part of the "prelude" at the end, it must have come to him as a natural follow-up.

Apart from Tangaroa, version E has preserved references to two other ancient dieties which do not appear in the other texts. Line 16 mentions a "god of the pangoro-fish", who is identified in another text as the chtonic god Hiro (cf. text R6), and lines 10-12 and 18-19 mention a god by the name of Te Vao who is associated with the land and the sun. This is likely one of the Easter Island incarnations of Tane, such as Teko and Makemake. He is pictured as the enemy of the "young birds", i.e., the neru, likely because they have withdrawn from his control and gone over to the side of his opponent Tangaroa.  

The use of the term vaka – spelled by Routledge as veka – is also interesting as it was glossed in the first session as "all the relatives" and in the second as "all anyone". It therefore seems to be a remnant of the time when the occupants of a hare vaka or hare paenga were referred to as vaka. This would be in accordance with Métraux's observation that the term paenga was used for "a large family (probably extended family)" (1940:98).

As is made clear by the glosses of the main text, the chant was very poorly understood by the informants. They however assured Routledge (1914-1915 reel 2:0754) that He timo te akoako was "a prayer to God with no bad words like some of the others, and the Pre[s]byters said it was good". This may provide an explanation for the fact that the "prelude" with its references to a great god other than the catholic one and a phenomenon surrounded by taboos was no longer included in the recitation.  

He timo te akoako (version E)