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The Sin at Awarua

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Title:The Sin at Awarua
Authors:Finney, Ben
Keywords:cultural revival
invention of tradition
oral traditions
Pacific Islands
show 2 morePolynesia
show less
LC Subject Headings:Oceania -- Periodicals.
Date Issued:1999
Publisher:University of Hawai'i Press
Center for Pacific Islands Studies
Citation:Finney, B. 1999. The Sin at Awarua. The Contemporary Pacific 11 (1): 1-33.
Abstract:By focusing on the invented, socially constructed aspects of cultural revival in the
Pacific, analysts have slighted the right of indigenous peoples to recall their remembered
past and employ elements from it for contemporary purposes. The
article contextualizes this issue by examining a ceremony conducted at the ancient
temple of Taputapuâtea on Ra‘iâtea Island, in which reconstructed voyaging
canoes from around Polynesia came together in 1995 to commemorate the recent
revival of canoe voyaging. According to oral traditions, centuries before Taputapuâtea
had hosted meetings of a “Friendly Alliance” of peoples from around Polynesia.
However, that alliance had been broken when a local chief killed a visiting
priest, and the canoes ceased sailing to Taputapuâtea from Rarotonga, Aotearoa,
and other distant islands. By inviting canoes from all over Polynesia to come together
once more at Taputapuâtea, and then having a tribal elder from Aotearoa
chant words of forgiveness for the long ago murder of their priestly delegate, the
planners sought to create a new alliance of voyaging peoples. Although this event
did not exactly follow ancient protocol, it nonetheless effectively served to dramatize
the current renaissance in Polynesian voyaging and how it is bringing longseparated
Polynesian peoples together again.
Appears in Collections: TCP [The Contemporary Pacific], 1999 - Volume 11, Number 1

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