Easter Island Tablets Deciphered

The Canoe of Rata Chant - Part 1

There is a portion of the Easter Island tablets called, The Grand Tradition, namely due to its appearance on four tablets, Text A, H, P & Q.  Rongorongo linguist Jacques Guy provides a comparative analysis of this portion of the tablets in his “On the Fragment of the ‘Tahua’ Tablet”, published in 1985. [i] Of the ages and types of wood used to carve the tablets, Guy writes:
Tablet A is engraved on a European oar of ash wood and is considered to date from the late 18th century of the first half of the 19th century, whereas the other tablets are inscribed on local woods (Metraux 1940:393). [ii]  
The newness of Text A might explain the noticeable abbreviated appearance and differences in relation to the other tablets. 
Through further structural analysis, Guy compares and contrasts five separate segments of the four tablet portions of this Grand Tradition (Guy. 1985. P. 377).  This research utilizes Guy’s segments due to their meaningful division.
An important pattern in this plausible decipherment occurs up to 10 times in sequence in the form of ‘AxB’ (Guy. 1985. P. 378), where A is glyph 8, x is a variable attachment to glyph 8 and B is glyphs 15-22f.  Text H, P and Q utilize this pattern (ie. 8+variable+15-22f), while Text A excludes glyph 15 (ie. 8+variable+22f) (Guy. 1985. P. 378).  Some variations to this pattern are pointed out by Guy, which has called for clarification below.
A second pattern that also appears to occur 10 times in form ‘Ax’ (Guy. 1985. P. 379), where A is glyph 65, 66A or 66B and x is a variable element. [iii]


After identifying the glyphs of the flying chips of the double-hull canoe, it became apparent that the Polynesian mythical tale of the Canoe of Rata was the chant of the Grand Tradition.
Inquiry: How do the four different versions of this chant contrast, compare and help to identify the various meaning of glyphs?  What are the known and plausible glyphs?  How does the triply line/canoe recurring pattern help unfold the meaning of the chant? 

Rower’s Timing Chant tentative word decipherment

2a-b from Tablet H and Q: Tuara-matara (Turi/Tura) Tuara-matara: from TU, to stand and A/ai, leg stretched as in lying with or procreating + RA/rama, a torch – to assist, support, to back up Turi and Tura – aspects of Rata; matara from MATA, eye + RA/rama, torch = release.  To assist the releasing of the canoe (from Tapu) in order to travel abroad.Turi and Tura are ancestral deities and chiefs of the early migration canoes whose mythical stories are akin to that of the Canoe of Rata.  Tuahiwi-o-te-rangi – the kauati or fire-raising sticks taken by Tura from Whiro, to first make fire among the fairies.  Tuwaerore – mother of trees (Rimu, Kahikatea and tanehaha) by Tane.  The Rimu is red inside and myth has it absorb the blood of Tuna-roa, killed by Maui.  Names of this deity also include: Tutuwaewae, Ku-ula (Tu-ura), Ku-kau-akahi (Tu-tau-atahi: Tu stands alone).

From Tablet P:  tua-rama tua-rama: translated as above apart from the torch being now more than an attached syllable.  Rama the torch appears here as an attached word to emphasize the torch itself.  Tua from TU, to stand + A/ai, leg stretched as a symbol to procreate = Tua, literally, to turn back.  It can mean a sacred ceremonial incantation intended to turn back to the ancestors for protection, for example, during the baptism of a new born or in tree felling and canoe building.  Tua-nui-te-ra is an early migrating ancestor that may be intended in these glyphs as the torch bearer or carrier of the flame to guide the canoe through the Underworld.  In early Polynesia there is a legend of Tua-nui-te-ra (Tregear. 1891. Tuanui) who travelled with captain Turi in the Aotea canoe from the ancient ancestral homeland of Hawaiki to New Zealand.  Tua-nui was thrown overboard for disobeying Turi, the leading Chief of the migration canoe.  When they reached the new land, they recognized the footprints of Tuanui who had one foot deformed.  This legend appears to confirm the translation of Tua-nui-te-ra due to one foot of the glyph appearing deformed.  The philosophy regards Tua as the one who, though he transgressed, arrived at the new land first because he was willing to carry the flame of enlightenment.  Such use of mythology to verify the script assists in the translation of these tablets.

Turi and Tura are ancestral deities and chiefs of the early migration canoes whose mythical stories are akin to that of the Canoe of Rata.  Guy’s statistical analysis points out a series of 5 consecutive double glyphs, making a common use of 10 in sequence occur (Guy. 1985. Ibid. P. 383).  The structure of the chant then follows a 2-2-2 (4)-2-2- 10 – 10 pattern.  This pattern confirms the presence of a chant, with a plausible counting pattern for timing rowers.

Tablet A uses a breathing head glyph instead of the head with the eyes:
Tuara or Tua-rama is still produced as above, however the emphasis is not on the seeing with the torch on the path of enlightenment in the journey through the Underworld, the emphasis is on the breathing of the deity.  Therefore, the early Polynesian meaning of Tuara as putting a canoe before the wind works into the chant (Tregear, 1891, Tuara).  There is a sense that the chant has several different verses as would a canoe-timing chant for a long distance migration.  The result is repeating verses with various meanings such as the following deities whose names begin with Tua (Tregear, 1891, tua…):

lit. Great Lord of the Sun
Tuapiko, together with Tawhaitiri,
the two pillars of the Underworld
Tuatara, Lizard and Ngarara-huarau,
Lizard-goddess of the underworld when defeated left only two scales behind
lit. Lord-human, deified-ancestors
(like Tau-ira, Lord-of-the-Blemish and first deified human who became model for children; in Rapa Nui, Ira is the husband of Ina/Hina)
Lord-of-the-Sky, Husband of Papa-the-Earth

3a-d: Uga, Uga, Uga, Uga-waho from U/ure, phallus + NGA/ga, to breathe + waho, outside/abroad = lead, lead, lead, lead-abroad (lead-forth).   
This chant enables rowers to keep time as they lead-forth for distance abroad, while chopping the waves with their paddles in time with the chant.  The waho glyph  as found in Maui’s Tattoo Soothing Chant on the Small Reimiro Tablet, is abbreviated on the uga glyph with the two markings.  In the mythology, the two markings represent the scales of Ngarara-huarau, Lizard goddess of the Underworld, burned by the flame of enlightenment and leaving behind only two of her scales.  Therefore, her two scales are a sign that the canoe of the Underworld can freely pass or as the glyph tells, to lead-forth. 

Guy writes these heads of glyph 200 and 300 as free variants along with glyph 445 in relation to 695 (Guy. 1985. P. 380).  This appears to be the case with glyphs that occur across the Grand Tradition of Text H, P, Q and A.  The purpose for these free variants may be to name the same deity using different adjective modifiers or to refer to a sequence of verses of the same chant. 
4a-b:  These two glyphs differ on all four tablets of the Grand Tradition.  However, these differences can be used to help decipher more than confuse.  Consider a much longer chant when rowing at sea and each of these glyphs could represent separate rhyming verses used after the timing chant, “uga uga uga uga-waho” added with the following:

From Tablet H:  
Turou from TU, to stand + RO/roa, long + U/ue, a support = Turou, a stick for reaching or Turo, to stoop down (in order to reach down the oar in rowing). Tuhou - from TU, to stand + HO/hoka, projecting sharply upwards + U/uenga, a support = Tuhou, the nine-foot giant deity whose bones are used in ceremony (Tregear, 1891, Tuhou), for the first time here equated with Rata’s father, Wahieroa.  Rata was eager to retrieve his father’s bones for ceremonial purposes. 

Tablet P has the support missing:
Turo from TU, to stand + RO/roa, long = to stoop.  Tuho - from Tu, to stand and HO/hoka, to project sharply upwards – to move.  There is a play on words intended in the abbreviation of the nine-foot deity.  To honour this ancestor, Tuhou, the clan must tuho, to move. 

From Tablet Q:  Turou-turo as above meaning a stick for reaching to stoop down: trust down the oar.  Ngaro – to hide, to disappear, as the effort of the rowers over the horizon or perhaps together in time as they stoop down.  The symbols for stand, project upwards and support are all present here.  Perhaps the mouth and the eyes symbols have a neutral aspect in certain words.  Usually they apply to NGA, breathing and MATA, the eyes. 
From Tablet A:
Tangaho tamaho ?  More likely Tangaroa, deity of the sea; tamaroa, a son.
Tu-mata-(roa)-uenga from TU, to stand + MATA, to see + UE/uenga, to prop up (+ ROA, long) = deity of war; Tanga-roa from TA/taha, side + NGA, to breathe + ROA, long = deity of the sea. 
Maro maro – from MA/maripi, reed knife + RO/hiro, thread (Guy) – to extend as a fathom distance of rowers reach. Also, Maha - from ma, knife + ha/haka, thread = to lift up, as the action of rowers in a canoe.
Raha rakau rere marama – extended tree of flying chips.
Raha rakau rere marama - raha from RA/rakau, tree + HA, four = extended; rakau = tree; rere marama = fly chips; together - the extended tree of flying chips.
These chips of Tane, also called the Ribs of Tane.  The wood chips fly serving as fuel, since they are saturated with combustible sap.  Also, Hawaiki from hawa, (chipped or broken) + iki (to pull up…a fish).  Hiki, means to fly or to lift up.  These two glyphs relate to the Polynesian chant sung by the Woodland Fairies to rebuild the sacred tree Rata fell:
Fly together, chips and shavings. Stick fast together. Hold fast together. Fly together, bits of branches. Stick fast together. Hold fast together. Stretch straight upwards. Look, the young green tree stands. Join the bones together. Join the blood together. Join the flesh together. Join the sinews together. Join them so they will be firm. Join them so they will hold fast. It is the heavens which join. It is the heavens which bind together. It is the earth which strengthens and supports.
Phrases like ‘Stretch straight upwards’ hint toward a rowers timing chant.  Such a chant also requires repetition given when Rata and the woodland fairies fell and fix the tree for the canoe over and over.  Like the chant below signifies, the tree is as sacred as the bones of the ancestors.
Shirres of the New Zealand maori, offers a related 'binding' karakia and calls it a hohou rongo or stick bundle, a peace binding karakia for healing wounds of battle and “wounds dividing us as peoples.”[iv]

Tuutakina i te iwi. 
Join the bones together.

Tuutakina i te toto. 
Join the blood together.

Tuutakina i te kiko.
Join the flesh together.

Tuutakina i te uaua. 
Join the sinews together.

Tuutakina kia uu.
Join them so they will be firm.

Tuutakina kia mau.
Join them so they will hold fast.

Teenei te rangi ka tuutaki.
It is the heavens which join.

Teenei te rangi ka ruruku.
It is the heavens which bind together.
Teenei te papa ka wheuka.
It is the earth which strengthens and supports.
E Rangi e, awhitia.
Heavens, embrace us.
E Papa e, awhitia. 
Earth, embrace us.
Naau ka awhi, ka awhi
What you embrace, is indeed embraced.
Naau ka aaka, ka aaka.
What you cherish is truly cherished.
Naau ka toro, ka toro.
What you stretch out and join stays stretched out and joined.
Tupu he toka whenua, 
It grows, a rock of the land,
tupu he toka Mata-te-raa.
a rock like Mata-te-raa.

Shirres comments on this chant as follows:
To use this karakia is to go back to the beginning of creation, when all was still dark and Rangi and Papa, the spiritual powers
responsible for the heavens and the earth, were caught up in an embrace so close and so strong that no light could come through to their children.  So we call on the strength of their love for each other to bind us together. [v]
Notice that the former chant of the Canoe of Rata, resembles the Karakia to a remarkable extent.  ‘Join the bones, the sinew and flesh,’ used in the karakia chant, draws reference to the canoe of Rata.  That is, Rata is one of the central deities of Polynesia and certain incantations (ie. Join the bones...) in Rata myth are applied to this karakia for the dead to regenerate.
Rata is dismantling the tree without permission. He must learn the chant of the woodland fairies to give the proper homage. In the spiritual realm (of the birdmen), Rata is part of the spiritual tree of all people. To cut this tree for a canoe is to find a mediator or a reminder of the relationship between the land and the ancestors.  

Raro Rata-marama-raro.  The underworld table of Rata, first chip of the underworld.  This naming of raro Rata raro resembles the naming of kopako Uenuku-kopako whose name is surrounded by the same adjective modifier. 
7a: Raro from RA/rakau, tree and RO, hiro (Guy), thread (from bottom of glyph pointing upward) = below, a name for the Underworld (Tregear. 1891. raro).  Rarotonga is the house of Hine-nui-te-po and Tonga-nui at the bottom of the Underworld.  Maui hooked the roof of this house to pull up the islands.  Rata’s wife was Tonga-rau-ta-whiri.  The Table of Rata was the Underworld sea floor that once pulled up allowed all the fish to escape, making Rata’s table synonymous with the roof of Rarotonga.   
In the mythology of the Tuamotu archipelago, Rata is orphaned at the hand of Puna, shark king of the Underworld.  Rata as an aspect of Nganaoa (Tregear. 1891. Nganaoa) here in this legend actually defeats the shark of Puna to revive his parents.    
7b. Rata-marama – from RA, rakau, tree and TA/mata, eyes; MARA/marama, chipped = means Rata, who chipped at the ancestral tree.  Rata is our Underworld Canoe Hero and Guide.  The marama chip may also be a designation for Hawaiki from HAWA, chipped + IKI, raised up = Hawaiki, the original homeland on the other side of Rarotonga.  Supporting the translation of Hawaiki: the glyph Rata is surrounded by two trees, the first has no branches, the second with branches due to the chip ‘raised up’ and restored to the tree.
7.c. Raro = below or to intercede (Tregear, 1891, raro).  Rata travels below on behalf of spirits’ trapped in the Underworld house of Rarotonga.  He intercedes and rescues them from the house of death.

 7a-c. Raro Rata-hawaiki-raro – Intercessor (at Rarotonga) Rata our Intercessor from Hawaiki (where our bones are raised).
7d. Rakau kouru – from rakau, tree + kouru, tree-top (uru means hair on the head) = tree joining together. 
In the Canoe of Rata mythology, the incantation calls for the chips to join together (uru), akin to the symmetry required to work the canoe.  Urutonga is the name of the woman taken by the Ponaturi fairies to watch the door of the Underworld house, called Manawa Tane.  Tawhaki rescues her and retrieves his father Hema’s bones, just as Rata recovers the bones of Wahieroa.

8a-d.  Rakau koiwi rakau rakau – tree, trunk, tree, tree.
In the myth of the Canoe of Rata, the woodland fairies, the birdmen of Tane, fell the tree.  The woodland fairies know the incantation for felling the Sacred Ancestral Tree and how to hewing out the canoe in proper ceremony.  Koiwi means the trunk of a tree, or skeleton, synonymous with the bones of Rata’s father, Wahieroa.  When the birdmen fell the tree, the hope of Rata is stirred, as if he already has the sacred bones in his possession.  Perhaps intended here is kite-koiwi, a great vision or prophesy of the ancestral realm.  Permission is required from above, and an offering must be left as ‘utu’ (incantation payment) for the tree.

9. Hourua waka – double-hull canoe. 
Hourua (haurua) is a possible combination of the words for tree and two. As well, the glyph appears to be the logograph of a double-hull canoe, hourua waka.  Hourua is a possible combination of the words for tree and two. In Hawaiian mythology it is noteworthy to mention that Laka, (Rata), is given two outriggers which he binds together. It is confirmed that Easter Island was a destination before Hawaii and New Zealand. And now we know that certain aspects of this greater Polynesian mythology came from Easter Island itself.
Guy’s research in finding this double glyph is an important clue in verifying this tentative decipherment.  That is, glyph 100 is optionally preceded by a pairing or a single occurrence of glyph 66A (Guy. 1985. P. 379).  If the glyphs are a double-canoe, it makes sense that a single or a double ‘tree’ would precede it to indicate that the tree(s) is(are) a required item for hewing the canoe. 
Wolfe sources Thomson regarding the association of the double hull canoe in the migration of Hotu Matua (who might therefore be considered an aspect of Rata or at least a faithful imitator of his deified ancestor where Rata’s story to retrieve his father’s bones ties into Rapa Nui funerary ceremonies):

Hoatumatua, the first king, was a deified ancestor and considered a mediator between heaven and earth; unlimited power was attributed to him. Thomson reports a chant, given by his interpreter as a translation of a wooden tablet (ea ha to rau ariiki ke te): “What power has the great king in the universe? He has the power to create stars, the clouds, the dew, the rain, and the moon”…. “The island was discovered by King Hotu-matua, who came from the land in the direction of the rising sun, with two large double canoes…”[vi]
Further proof of the use of double canoes in Rata’s chant is confirmed in the Hawaiian version of the Rata (Laka) myth where Laka uses a double-hull canoe.  It should be mentioned that for such a long expedition to te pito te henua (the end of the earth), the single canoe with a side-rigger was preferred by wayfinders, since the double hull was not as stable and known to break up in rough seas.
10b-c: Ramaku from RA/Rakau, tree + MA/rama, torch + KU/hiku, tail = a great torch; Raha(ku) from RA/Rakau, tree + HA/haka, work + KU/hiku, tail = a great expanse, a great increase.
 Text H, P and Q15.22f  ara waka/rakau, a pathway for the canoe
Here lie the bones of Wahieroa, these bones are the pathway of the canoe and a medium to the heavens.  Stand the canoe up, as it rots stand a stone as a perpetual pathway to heaven.  So goes the chant: E ara rakau e!  E ara rakau e! …  (see above).     
In section three, Rata embarks to avenge his father and in section four the canoe of the war-god, Tu, is finished, the bones, canoe and/or stones are erected as a pathway to heaven. 
Shirres offers the following karakia chant of the sacred canoe (Marerei-ao & Taotao-rangi are mentioned places in the ancient Hawaiki).[vii]

E kau ki te tai e, e kau ki te tai e,
Swim on the sea, swim on the sea,

E kau raa, e Taane.
Swim now, oh Taane.

Waahia atu raa te ngaru hukahuka
Split the foamy waves of Marerei-ao;

o Marerei-ao Pikitia atu te aurere kura o 
Ascend the sacred current of Taotao-rangi.

Taotao-rangi. Tapatapa ruru ana te kakau o te 
The foam of Tangaroa is standing in crests,

hoe,  E auheke ana, e tara tutu 
is descending

ana te huka o Tangaroa I te puhi whatukura, i te puhi marei
On the sacred plumes of my canoe,

kura o taku waka. Ka titiro iho au ki te pae o uta,
I look down on the inner

ki te pae o waho. 
and outer rows of surf.

Piki tuu rangi ana te kakau o te hoe;
The handle of the paddle is lifted to the sky,

Kumea te uru o taku waka 
The head of my canoe is pulled forward

Ki runga ki te kiri waiwai o Papa-tuu-a-nuku    
Onto the skin of mother earth lying here,

E takoto mai nei; Ki runga ki te uru tapu nui o Taane
With the sacred head of Taane standing above.

E tuu mai nei. Whatiwhati rua ana te hoe a Pou-poto,
The paddle of Pou-poto breaks in two.
Tau ake ki te hoe naa Kura,
And the paddle of Kura is taken, A great

he ariki whatu manawa.
chief and high-priest, of very great heart.       

Too manawa, e Kura, ki taku manawa;
Your heart, oh Kura, bound to my heart,
Ka irihia, ka irihia ki Wai-o-nuku,    
Lifted, lifted up in the waters of the earth

Ka irihia, ka irihia ki Wai-o-rangi,    
Lifted, lifted up in the waters of the heavens

Ka whiti au ki te whei ao, ki te  ao maarama.      
I cross the mortal world, to the world of light 

Tupu kerekere, tupu wanawana 
Let it grow in deep wonder and awe.

Ka hara mai te toki 
Bring here the axe,

E Haumie Huie Taikie!
Come, gather in full force, it is done!

Shirres also includes Tuuaatuaa i te orooro which is a karakia with fragments of the canoe of Rata chant indicated here in boldface:


He hohou rongo. Tuuaatuuaa. I te orooro, i te oromea, i tukituki ai koe, i taitaia ai koe, oi kiri Tangaroa.  Tere te nuku nei, tere angaia. Tuutaria ki tenei maanuka, tuutaria ki teenei ngahoa.  Kaapiti hono.  Purua too taringa kia turi, kia hoi. Kei whakarongo koe ki te koorero iti. Ko te koorero iti, ko tahu-huna ko tahu-rere, ko te hau-aitu.  Rere mai te maramara (Fly chips together to renew the tree Rata felled inappropriately with this karakia incantation) koi hopiri, koi hotau. Rere mai te mangamanga, koi hopiri, koi hotau.  Torotika! E tuu te maota, hee! Tuutakina i te iwi. Tuutakina i te toto. Tuutakina i te kiko. Tuutakina i te uaua.  Tuutakina kia uu. Tuutakina kia mau.  Teenei te rangi ka tuutaki. Teenei te rangi ka ruruku.  Teenei te papa ka wheuka.  E Rangi e, awhitia. E papa e, awhitia. Naau ka awhi, ka awhi.  Naau ka aaka, ka aaka.  Naau ka toro, ka toro.  Tupu he toka whenua, tupu he toka Mata-te-raa.  Na wai i hoomai? Na te pakanga i hoomai.  Na te riri i hoomai. Na ngaa taangata i hoomai.  I hoomai ki a wai?  I hoomai ki te kikokiko.  Kei te kikokiko, kei te tini honohono, he manawa ka irihia nei e Tuu-matauwenga.  E Tuu-ka-riri, e Tuu-ka-nguha, e Tuu-ka-aaritarita! E tuu i te korikori, e tuu i te whetaa (waving and brandishing, standing firm in the waves, standing firm in the brandishing – reference to feeding the hau warparty rite), e tuu i te whaiao, e tuu i te ao maarama.  Ko maiea.  Maiea ngaa atua.  Maiea ngaa patu.  Maiea ngaa taangata. Ko maiea. He Hohou Rongo.  Tuatua i te orooro i te oromea i tukitukia ai koe i aitaia ai koe Ooi Kiritangaroa: tere te nuku nei tere angaia tutaria ki tenei manuka, Tutaria ki teenei ngahoa kapiti hono. Purua to taringa kia turi kia hoi kei whakarongo koe ki te korero iti ko te korero iti ko tahu-hunu ko tahu-rere ko te hau-aitu.  Rere mai te maramara koiho piri koiho tau, rere mai te mangamanga, koi ho piri, koi ho tau torotiki e tu te maota hee; - tutakina i te iwi, tutakina i te toto tutakina i te Kiko tutakina i te uaua tutakina kia uu tutakina kia mau tenei te rangi ka tutaki tenei te rangi ka tutaki tenei te rangi ka ruruku tenei te Papa ka weuka (on of the many patterns).  E rangi e awitiia nau kawi kawi nau ka aka ka aka nau ka toro ka toro, tupu he toka wenua tupu he toka mata-tera.  na wai i ho mai na te Pakanga i ho mai, na te riri i ho mai, na nga tangata i ho mai, i ho mai kia wai i ho mai ki te kikokiko kei te kikokiko kei te tini honohono he manawa ka irihia nei e Tuu-matau wenga. E Tuukariri e Tuukanguha e tuu karitarita e tu i te korikori e tu i te wetaa e tu i te waiao e tu i te Aomarama ko mai ea, maiea nga atua, maiea nga patu, maiea nga tangata Ko Maieea

Taylor offers the chant of the chief of the Aotea canoe, almost 1000 years old.  The voyage from Raiatea Island in the Eastern Pacific to New Zealand required the chief to encourage his crew as follows:[viii]

Ko Aotea te waka,
Aotea is the Canoe,

Ko Turi tangata ti runga,
And Turi is the Chief.

Ko te Roku-o-whiti te hoe
The Roku-o-whiti is the Paddle.

Piri papa te hoe!  
Behold my paddle!

Awhi papa te hoe! 
It is laid by the canoe-side,

Toitu te hoe! 
Held close to the canoe-side.

Toirere te hoe!   
Now ‘tis raised on high – the paddle!

Toi mahuta te hoe!  
Poised for the plunge – the paddle!

Toi hapakapa te hoe
We spring forward!

Kai runga te rangi.
Now, it leaps and flashes – the paddle

Ko te hoe nawai? 
It quivers like a bird’s wing

Ko te hoe na te Kahu-nunui;
This paddle of mine!

Ko te ho nawai?
This paddle – whence came it?

Te hoe na te Kahu-roroa.
It came from the Kahu-nunui,

Ko te hoe nawai?
From the Kahu-roroa,

Ko te hoe no Rangi-nui-e-tu-nui. 
It came from the Great-Sky-above us.

Tena te waka,
Now the course of the canoe rests

Ka tau ki Tipua-o-te-Rangi,
On the Sacred Place of Heaven,

Ki Tawhito-o-te-Rangi, 
The dwelling of the Ancient Ones

Nga turanga whetu o Rehua 
Beneath the star-god Rehua’s eye.

Hapai ake au  
See! I raise on high

I te kakau o taku hoe, 
The handle of my paddle,

I te Roku-o-whiti.Te Roku-o-whiti.
Whiti patato, rere patato,       
I raise it – how it flies and flashes!

Mama patato, 
Ha! the outward lift and the dashing,

Te riakanga, te hapainga,
The quick thrust in and the backward sweep

Te komotanga, te kumenga, 
The swishing, the swirling eddies,

Te riponga, te awenga 
The boiling white wake

A te puehutanga 
And the spray that flies from my paddle!

O te wai o taku hoe nei.
Lift up

(flag words for glyphs surrounding the pathway for the canoe glyphs)
Kei te rangi, hikitia!
The paddle to the sky above,

Kei te rangi, hapainga,          
Kei te aweawe nui no Tu.
To the great expanse of Tu,

Tena te ara ka totohe nui,      
There before us lies our ocean-path,
The path of strife and tumult,
Ko te ara o tenei Ariki, 
The path of this chief,

Ko te ara o tenei matua iwi,  
The danger-roadway of this crew;

Ko te ara o Rangi-nui-e-tu-nei,   
‘Tis the road of the Great-Sky-above-us,

Nguaha te kakau o taku hoe nei, 
Here is my paddle,

Ko Kautu-ki-te-Rangi.

Ki te rangi, hikitia;
To the heavens raise it;

Ki te rangi, hapainga;
To the heavens lift it;

Ki te rangi, tutorona atu,
To the sky far drawn out,

Ki te rangi, tutorona, mai.
To the horizon that lies before us,

Ki te rangi, tu te ihi,
To the heavens,

Ki te rangi, tu te koko, 
(Flag words for a pathway for the canoe and the sky chant rangi-ngari glyph presented in this chapter)              
Tu te mana, tu te tapu 
sacred and mighty.

E tapu tena te ara
Before us lies our ocean way,

Ka totohe te ara 
The path of the sacred canoe, the child

O Tane-matohe-nuku,
Of Tane, who severed Earth from Sky.

Te ara o Tane-matohe-rangi, 
Ko te ara o te Kahu-nunui,    
The path of the Kahu-nunui,

Ko te ara o te Kahu-roroa, 
the Kahu-roroa,

Ko te ara o tenei Ariki,
The pathway of this chief,

Ko te ara o tenei tauira,
the priest.

Tawhi kia Rehua,
In Rehua is our trust
, (the star, Sirius, deity of 10ths Heaven)
Ki uta mai, te ao marama;
Through him we’ll reach the land of light.

E Rongo-ma-Tane, 
O Rongo and Tane!

We raise our offerings!

(Those in the canoe, wave twirling poi/balls over head to  imitate old custom of  priests raising up kumara offering to Rongo).

Pua ara-taire tuata: the flower pathway sweetly scented (by the flowers) for the Tuata – canoe tapu removal ceremony.

Since the dead, decay, they require a purification rite that enables a sweet scent to replace the foul odour.  Such a purification process can only occur with the assistance of the divine bird, Tavake or Tane, who knows where the elevated pathway is.  Shirres presents the canoe opening karakia rite called, Wanganui, to fell a tree which becomes the canoe rod or pathway of Taane:[ix]

Tena te ara,
That is the pathway,

te ara ka iri,
the pathway which is suspended,

te ara o Tane.
the pathway of Taane.

Such a Standing Up Rod in the Rata mythology is prepared in one night as a canoe and is transported through the air and set into the water.  This coincides with the Wanganui karakia ritual where a ‘rod’ is placed in the water and Toko koi te poo (Pole reaching into the night) is recited for the dead person (Shirres. 1996. Website).  A second pole is set up for the living and Toko koi te ao (Pole reaching into the light) is recited for the living to return to te ao marama (the world of light; lit. the day light) and land of the living (Shirres. 1996. Website).  Interestingly, the Canoe of Rata on the tablets uses the two trees to hew a double-hull canoe or canoe of two poles.  Therefore, the sweet scented pathway provides a way for a return to the living from the dead, enabling the deceased to become a deified ancestor and spirit medium for the community.

Tu wae(ri) Tu-poi-poi[1] mate reigna po: Stand at the sacred screen (the mark of sacredness preventing common entry), stand firm (war deity) with the wave offering of the dead of the Underworld of darkness.
Shirres offers two karakia prayers for inaugurating a canoe

Ko te rakau na Hapai....    
It is the weapon belonging to Hapai. . . .

Ko te rakau na Toa....       
It is the weapon belonging to Toa. . . .

Ko te rakau na Tu,            
It is the weapon belonging to Tuu,

Tu-ka-riri, Tu-ka-nguha.  
angry Tuu, raging Tuu.[x]


Tuku tonu, heke tonu, 
Let the fish drop straight down, descend directly,

te ika ki te po,  
to the night [the world of the dead],

Tuku tonu, heke tonu,
Let the fish drop straight down,

te ika ki Te Reinga.
descend directly, to the leaping off place [the place where the spirits of the dead leap off to their abode].

Also according to Shirres, the weapon or stick used to pure the canoe was called, raakau, which lifted up or caused haapai (belonging to or na) Tuu, na Maru, na ngaa tupua (the great spirits).  The weapon is an atua destroying stick or he raakau patu atua.  The priest hits the canoe and chanting the karakia calls the harmful atua to drop of or a death dropping (he taka mate).[xi]

1- Tautoru (Poaka whiti) Hine -2- Tua-rama Tua-rama-3- uga uga uga uga-waho -4- turou turou -5- maro maro / -6- Raha rakau marama rere  -7- raro Rata-marama-raro rakau kouru -8- rakau koiwi rakau rakau (ratorua) -9- hourua waka -10- ramaku raha(ku) ranga(ku)
1- Orion (Rigel – pass over) Night Maiden -2- light our journey back (to the ancestors), light our turning back –3- lead (ahead), lead, lead, lead-forth -4- the reaching stick, the reaching stick, -5- extend one fathom / -6- extended tree of flying chips -7- intercessor Rata-the-Intercessor of flying chips joining together at the tree-top -8- the tree (hewn) to the bone or trunk, the tree, the tree (Ratorua – the name of the battle when Uenuku defeated Whena in Rarotonga) -9- the double-hull canoe -10- (with) a torch of long light, (over) a great expanse, rise high (this canoe).
Translated: Night Maiden, Hina, pass over Orion (for a good journey) and light our way back to the ancestors; lead, lead, lead, lead-forth; with the reaching stick, with the reaching stick, extend, extend one fathom; on this long tree of flying chips; of the intercessor Rata-intercessor of flying chips joining together at the tree-top; the tree hewn to the bone at the battle of Rarotonga; where the double-hull canoe; with long-lasting torch; over the great expanse; rise up this canoe.

1: Tautoru, Orion; Poaka, Rigel : from the appearance of Orion’s belt = Tautoru, Orion; or as syllables PO/poipoi, balls + AKA, root or ancestors = Poaka, Rigel; Hina, moon goddess from Moon glyph arching left as in the Mamari Tablet moon calendar.  The overall intended result may be Hine-nui-te-po – Underworld Night Maiden of the Moon; (And/or) The moon passing over Orion as a good omen for embarking out to sea.  That is, since Orion by itself is regarded as a bad omen, the moon opens the door or raises the tapu which formerly restricted entry into the sacred star house (Orion) where the ancestors reside. Also, Hine-nui-te-po, moon goddess of the underworld, is identified as the sister of Rata and daughter of Tane.
Rapanui chants for further study regarding the ara pathway for the ancestors:

Ramon Campbell chant 10
Aku Aku de Vinapu

E te barua era, o te aro era; o Hanga
Hoon, o Maunga O-Pipi; ira te poki
ta-tairunga i te hoi; e te Aku-AKU.
Haka i matua mo taana poki
mo taana poki ngaro vai e...
Pore nui eri ngaro e...
Kai too koe e taina e,
i te poki haka eke hokotahi noo
tata ora noo mai e te hoi...
Kai toe koe i te poe maharo
mataki mo a ki toou aro
Pore nui eri ngaro e...
I te era ana koe e taina ere...
te tau'a e hoki e...
Ararua-rua aro e...
Ka tomo Manu-Nihi-Nihi kiraro
ka hahati Mata-Tutuma,
Mata-Tutuma, A-koe-koe,
Mata Tutuma, A-koe-koe...
E... tangi mo te poki tata
Ora ai i runga i te hoi e...

Ramon Campbell Chant 13
Cantos – Tuu-maheke

E Tuu-maheke, te Ariki nui, kapiri mai ki tangi-tangi, ia matua e: Ena e, tangi nei. Ena e. Tangi-tangi nei. A te ara hapaina, pakapaka kina era, taua e taina e, a runga te ngaruhoa e: Ena e, tangi nei, Ena e. Tangi-tangi nei. Ka tangi a tai a hare manaba beabea o taina e, o te ngaruhoa e: Ena e, tangi nei. Ena e. Tangi-tangi nei. Ihea te ngaruhoa ngaro mai nei? I tahatai i menema behi tiare! ngaro mai nei: Ena e, tangi nei, Ena e. Tangi-tangi nei. E riu-tangi no te ngarukoa e... e...

1- rangi-tokotoko ara waka -2- rangi-ngari kohuhu ara waka -3- Hikurangi-ri koko ara waka -4- rangi-ngari (Hikurangi-ri) tokorua ara waka -5- rangi-ngari Tu ara waka -6- raro(tonga) ara waka -7- ra-matara ara waka -8- ra-haka ara waka -9- ra-mana ara waka -10- ra-mama (ga-rauhiva) ara waka

The ray’s of dawn are the pathway for the canoe; with the chorus to pull the rowers together to the well spring on the pathway for the canoe; to the Holy Mountain well spring on the pathway for the canoe; hear the chorus of canoe timing (to the Tapu Mountain) on the Sun and Moon’s (day and night) pathway for the canoe; hear the chorus for canoe timing and stand fast with the deity of War, Tu on the pathway for the canoe; at the Underworld house pulled up by Maui’s fish hook on the pathway for the canoe; the Sun loosing the dawn on the pathway for the canoe; the working Sun on the pathway for the canoe; the powerful Sun on the pathway for the canoe; the nimble Sun on the pathway for the canoe.

Related Chant:

E ara rakau e!  E ara rakau e!     
A pathway for the canoe!  A pathway for the canoe! 

E ara inano e.                              
A path of sweet scented flowers. 

E kopukopu te tini o kupolu.        
The entire family of the birds of Kupolu. 

E matakitaki, kareko!  Oo           
Honour you (Rata) above mortals.

There are 10 sections or verses to this portion of the Canoe of Rata chant that contains the pathway for the canoe:

Continued to Part 2


[1] Guy, J. B. M. (1985). On a Fragment of the ‘Tahua’ Tablet. The Journal of the Polynesian Society. Vol. 94. No. 4. Pp. 367-388.
[1] Guy (1985). Ibid. P. 367.
[1] Guy (1985). Ibid. P. 379.
[1] Shirres (1996). Ibid. Website: Maori Theology.
[1] Shirres (1996). Ibid. Website: Maori Theology.
[1] Wolfe (1945). Ibid. 30. Thomson, W. J. (1889). Te pito te henua or Easter Island. Smithsonian Report. Pp. 447-552.
[1] Shirres (1996). Ibid. Website: The Karakia for the canoe.    
[1] Taylor, R. (1855). Te Ika a Maui, on New Zealand and its Inhabitants. Wertheim & Macintoch.


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Views: 3591      Comments: 1

Comment Thanks for the highly interesting and educative article.

BS Murthy
19-Jan-2013 10:46 AM

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