for tradition stated that two mythical brothers, the Taheeai, were cannibals but were finally killed through trickery by a Tahitian Hercules, greatly to the joy of all men then living. Also at the time of Cook's visit, the eye of the human sacrifice was placed within the lips of the high chief, and the original name of the late "Queen Pomare" was Aimata, "the eye eater."
As with the Aztecs, these sacrifices appear to have become more numerous immediately succeeding the coming of the white man. Criminals, or slaves who were captives taken in war, were immolated in times of public ceremony as upon the occasion of the inauguration of a new Ariirahi, but the common sacrifices were pigs whose bodies were left to decompose upon the altars as food for the gods who came in the form of carrion birds.
As elsewhere in Polynesia, the worshiped beings were the spirits of