Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/79

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
iii.]
57
Chiefs in New Hebrides.

things, and hand over his means for using it; he will buy him up high in the Suqe society, and give him and leave him property; so the younger man is ready to take the place of chief when his father dies or fails through age. If a man has no son competent he may take his nephew; sometimes, the son perhaps being too young, a chief's brother will succeed him; sometimes a man will set himself up when no successor is acknowledged, or the people will choose some one to lead them. Some years ago Mairuru, the chief of Walurigi, was a very great man; he sent his son, a young boy, to be educated at Norfolk Island, and it was at once understood that a Christian education which shut out belief and practice of mana, shut him out from succession as a chief. If this son had settled in his father's village before the old man's death, he would no doubt have succeeded to some of his property and some of his consideration, but he was absent. When Mairuru died without an apparent successor, a certain man attempted to take his place; he went into the late chief's sacred haunt, his tauteu, in which he used to have his intercourse with the wui, spirits, and he declared that he heard some one whistle to him there. He told the people also that afterwards in the night he felt something come upon his breast, which he took in his hands, and found to be a stone in shape like the distinguishing part of a valued kind of pig[1]: then Mairuru, he said, himself appeared to him and gave him the mana, the magic chant, with which he was to work the stone for producing abundance of those pigs. When he showed the stone the people believed his story; but in the event nothing came of his mana, and Mairuru had no successor. It appears, therefore, that in Lepers' Island and in Araga, as elsewhere, the real ground on which the power of a chief rests is that of belief in the mana he possesses, with

  1. In certain breeds of pigs in the Banks' Islands and New Hebrides, which are much valued on this account, there occur individual females which simulate the male sex. These are in the Banks' Islands rawe; they furnish the finest tusks. Dr. Shortland has observed that the word rawe has in the Maori of New Zealand a sense which accounts for its application to these pigs.