I’ve been a very long time fan of French Polynesia and take a eager curiosity in its cultural legacy, particularly when in comparison with Hawaii, my house state. On a current go to to Tahiti a pal urged we go off the overwhelmed path to soak up some “hidden” heritage sights. (On this case I might say they have been virtually invisible).
“I guess you’ve by no means seen what I’m about to point out you,” he stated. Because the writer of Fijiguide and two journey guides to Tahiti — the unique Lonely Planet Journey Survival Equipment to French Polynesia and Hidden Tahiti, he was certainly throwing down the gauntlet.
After all, I used to be .
Many of the websites he had in thoughts have been about quarter-hour outdoors of Papeete, within the Arue district. The opposite attraction was within the coronary heart of the capital.
First cease, the Royal Pomare Cemetery in Arue
The primary leg of our hidden heritage tour was the Royal Cemetery (Cimetiere Royal Pomare) populated by the Pomares, Tahiti’s Royal dynasty. My pal was right. I’d by no means seen this cemetery, which is situated solely about 5 kilometers from Papeete.
There’s a turnoff with loads of parking so it’s simply accessed. There’s signage that marks that spot, however you received’t see it simply from the street. The large landmark close by is the Ecole Arue1 Ahutoru (college) which is adjoining to the cemetery. (See beneath).
The Royal Pomare Cemetery has the stays of Kings Pomare I, Pomare II, Pomare III and Queen Pomare IV, in addition to their descendants. Every royal tomb is marked by two sacred stones, oriented to the rising solar, which based on the Tahiti Heritage web site, “permits the mana to determine a hyperlink between the earth and the cosmos.”
From the car parking zone, it’s a must to stroll just a few steps, throughout a patch of grass to get to the doorway of the graveyard which you strategy from the right-hand facet, coming from the street. There’s a weather-worn gate with no lock so it’s straightforward to enter.
It’s not one of the best maintained cemetery which puzzled me. In spite of everything, this was Tahiti’s Royal Household.
In distinction to Tahiti, Hawaii’s Royal Mausoleum State Monument on Oahu (operated by the State of Hawai’i) which incorporates members of the Kamehameha and Kalakaua Dynasties, is a powerful and properly maintained construction. (An incredible useful resource on this attraction is Mauna Ala: Hawaii’s Royal Mausoleum by Don Chapman).
Hawaiians categorical admiration, if not some nostalgia, for the dynasties of Kamehameha and Kalakaua.
Tahiti clearly has a distinct historical past. One commentator speculated that up to date Tahitians aren’t fairly as enamored of their former rulers.
His idea is that the Pomare dynasty by no means produced a larger-than-life personage reminiscent of Kamehameha the First. What’s extra, the Tahitians by no means established a steady, world famend kingdom just like the Hawaiians did. Their final ruler, Pomare V, ceded the land to the French on 29 June 1880 for a stipend, and drunk himself to demise.
Within the meantime, independence fighters died in an effort to maintain out the invaders. Elements of Tahiti archipelago, such because the Island of Huahine, remained impartial for a number of many years.
Bligh Breadfruit Tree
We subsequent visited the Bligh Breadfruit Tree which is conveniently situated throughout the road from the cemetery. After all, we’re referring to the enduring Captain William Bligh of “Mutiny on the Bounty” fame.
To get there merely take the crosswalk over to the other facet of the road. It’s a busy thoroughfare with no cease signal or pink gentle so take care. There’s no median both. Luckily if you’ll want to cross the automobiles usually (however not at all times) will flash their lights to sign that it’s okay to take action.
The breadfruit tree is simple to see–it’s simply the opposite facet of the crosswalk however there isn’t a signage indicating this traditionally vital website. I’ve been visiting Tahiti since 1978 and didn’t know this monument even existed!
When you’ve crossed the road, you’ll see a non-descript, white gate adopted by just a few steps that descend right into a small enclosure, strewn with breadfruit leaves and even branches. Subsequent to the tree is a pretty stone sculpture and a boulder with bronze plaque, with an outline in French.
The plaque explains that the breadfruit tree was planted from a shoot from one of many three surviving authentic timber introduced by Bligh to Jamaica. It’s one in all these fascinating full circle tales.
In 1792 Commander William Bligh of the English Navy got here to Tahiti to assemble breadfruit timber to transplant within the West Indies. The slaves working the plantations wanted to be fed and breadfruit, being each nutritious and straightforward to develop, was the ticket.
Bligh’s first voyage in 1787 nevertheless led to catastrophe with the well-known mutiny aboard the Bounty. His second voyage to Tahiti (August 1791-Agusut 1793) was profitable. Bligh “sourced” his breadfruit timber largely in Arue and arrived with them in Jamaica by February 1793.
This tree is a shoot from one of many three surviving originals introduced by Bligh to Jamaica, all of that are the progenitors of the breadfruit timber now present in tropical America.
Quick ahead 168 years to 1962, and a reproduction of the unique Bounty voyaged to Tahiti and introduced this very plant again to its land of origin. It was planted by the Nationwide Geographical Society appropriately sufficient in Arue from the place Commander Bligh gathered his crops.
My pal subsequent directed me just a few steps from the Bligh Breadfruit Tree, subsequent door, to a dilapidated former elementary college now often called Fare Hotu, which serves as a Crimson Cross storage depot. He led me by way of a parking space illustrated with graffiti, to the again of the old-fashioned. The concrete basis of the constructing spilled right into a path that had turn out to be a type of moat stuffed with just a few inches of rainwater. Maybe 10 ft from this wall was a fence coated with foliage. The bottom was carpeted with a luxuriant progress of weeds from which additionally sprang a withering palm tree.
Close to the fence line have been two shiny black boulders.
My pal waded by way of the weeds to the boulder closest to us and with the swipe of his hand, brushed the weeds away to show a petroglyph. On the opposite boulder was the same petroglyph.
In response to Tahiti Heritage, these petroglyphs are related to Hiro, the legendary warrior to whom the gods had gifted their energy.
Tahiti Heritage notes: “These symbols had actual energy. Even immediately, divine forces emanate from these stones. Nonetheless, solely the pure-hearted and God-appointed folks really feel their mana (energy). As well as, we discover that these figures have been taken up in numerous fields reminiscent of tattooing or portray…”
On to the Queen’s Residence
We left Arue and headed to Papeete, to Maison de la Reine Marauas or “Queen Marau’s Previous Bungalow” as labeled on Google Maps. Positioned on Av. du Normal de Gaulle, equidistant from Boulevard Pomare IV which runs alongside the waterfront and the Territorial Meeting, it couldn’t be extra centrally situated.
Surrounded by a excessive fence, coated with a tarp, the homeowners don’t appear to be anxious for publicity.
Too unhealthy. It’s a wonderful instance of nineteenth century, colonial structure and except for a church or two, there’s treasured little left in Papeete.
In a passage from Tahiti Heritage, Princess Takau, daughter of Queen Marau described the home as follows:
My mom lived in Papeete, in a giant picket home which she had had constructed, based on her personal plans, by a Tahitian carpenter. We needed to cowl it with corrugated sheets. Pandanus roofs have been now not licensed in Papeete, because of the hazard of fireside. It’s a disgrace as a result of these Pandanus leaves stored the interiors cool.
This home, situated on the outdated “Broom street” between the Pomare Palace and the ocean, changed the home constructed with whitewash and coated with foliage that had lengthy lived in ariimatai (the mom of Queen Marau).
The home was very spacious, with two extensive verandas at its ends, one going through the outdated palace, the opposite going through the ocean. It was surrounded by warm-colored shrubs, tiare and jasmine plantations. which enveloped him of their candy fragrance. These verandas sheltered you from the reverberation and the warmth, in order that one lived little or no within the rooms. My mom most frequently stood going through the ocean; it was there that she obtained her shut mates, whereas the massive lounge with its partitions coated with household portraits and furnished with what she had been capable of save by shopping for again a number of the palace furnishings when it was bought at public sale, was solely used to obtain distinguished guests. Dealing with the lounge, there was the massive eating room in continuation of the veranda, to the proper of which was one other smaller eating room; open to the backyard; on the opposite facet a small veranda which gave entry to the backyard and thru which one entered the place my mom most frequently stood »
I used to be capable of take just a few pictures by knocking down the tarp and the constructing has clearly seen higher days. Termite harm is clear from the outside.
The household has bought the home–they couldn’t afford the maintenance. In response to Tahiti Heritage, there have been a number of makes an attempt through the years to guard this historic home and switch it right into a museum. Most not too long ago, a undertaking was undertaken to categorise the home at “the fee for pure monuments and websites, however the file remained unanswered, the homeowners asking for an exorbitant value.”
A number of Tahiti residents I spoke to agreed that the house may very well be right into a museum. Very similar to Iolani Palace in Honolulu, it might turn out to be a beautiful attraction.
The jury remains to be out on that one.
Rob Kay has simply revealed a revised version of Suva, A Historical past and Information and covers Fiji in FijiGuide.com