Nona

Not long after Tahiti was moved away from Ra’iatea there lived in the northern district of Mahina in Tahiti, To’erau, a fine elegant woman of high rank whose name was Nona.

She was a descendant of Veri Tuamaroa and Hine Raumaukuuku.

She had acquired the propensity for cannibalism and gained the name Kai Tangata.

Her husband, Whaitiri – awanuiarangi-, was a high chief of the house Tahiti, To’erau, and also had descent from Veri Tuamaroa and Ruatakina.

He eventually forsook Nona and she went to live alone on her hereditary land near the sea.

There she gave birth to a beautiful girl named Hina whom she brought up as befitting her rank, concealing from her the human prey which she procured for herself.

At the foot of the great projecting cliff of Tahara, conspicuous for its red clay, is a great cave bordering on the sea, forming a tunnel open at each end through which pedestrians can pass at low tide.

This place is famed as the hiding place of Nona where she waylaid passersby and slew them to eat.

As young Hina verged into womanhood she met and fell in love with Mono’ihere; clandestinely they meet at a spot called Orofara, where there is a spring called Rati, which watered the bathing pool of Hina called Te Hopura’avai o Hina.

Nearby is a cave which was sealed by a solid rock but which used to open and close at the bidding of the young couple.

Protecting the bay of Matavai is a broken line of reefs called To’a Tea, and there Nona frequently went to obtain fish.

While she was thus employed the two young ones would meet at the cave feeling safe and secure sharing food brought by Hina. As Hina approached these were her words:

Hina – Mono’ihere is the man, Hina is the woman.

Mono’ihere - Where is your mother with the long teeth?

Hina – She is on the long reef, the short reef catching fish for us my lover.

Mono’ihere - Oh, foundation of rock break open!

The rock would burst open and out would come Mono’ihere and they would wile away the hours until the time approached for Nona to return home, when Mono’ihere would either return to the cave or go to his home far away, as circumstances guided and always avoiding an encounter with Nona.

Eventually Nona began to miss the food wondering how her daughter could consume so much in her absence and determined to solve the mystery.

One day after cooking their usual supply of food Nona fiend indisposition and went to bed, pretending to be in the soundest sleep.

Finally, Hina made her move, approached the food, took the choicest morsels, put them in a basket and departed.

When Nona saw the course, her girl was taking she took a short cut, halting here and there to keep sight of her until she turned up at the shady nook; Nona arrived there before her and ascended a Pua tree where she could see and hear unobserved.

As Nona had never known of the existence of the cave, she was astonished at what she witnessed.

She kept motionless until the lovers had held their meeting and parted, when she quickly descended and returned home to bed while her unsuspecting daughter followed and found things as she had left them.

The following day after preparation of some food, Nona took leave of her daughter saying she was going to prepare torches for the night fishing, but instead she quickly went to the cave and standing outside it she spoke imitating Hina as nearly as she could.

But Mono’ihere detecting the fraud would not reply so Nona fiendishly said “Oh foundation of rock break open!”

The cave opened.

She entered seized the young man then killed and feasted on him.

She left his bones and vitals thrown together and left the cave which closed behind her and she returned to prepare her torches as she had planned.

Meanwhile, Hina went with her basket to the cave and encountered the spectacle of Mono’ihere.

What remained of Mono’ihere was still warm and Hina at once sought out and found his heart which was still beating.

This she placed next to her own heart and guided by it went home to act.

In the absence of Nona, she got a trunk of a banana tree and laid it in her bed to counterfeit her body and at one end she placed an ’a’ano for her head.

Then she covered all up in her Tapa sheet and fled in fear from the home of her childhood until she reached the adjoining district of ‘Uporu –haapapae or point venus-.

Still guided by the beating heart of Mono’ihere she stopped at the house of a fine young chief, named No’a –sweet odour- who was famed for his red hairy -though handsome- body, and who with all his household received her cordially and she was at rest.

When Nona returned home, she soon discovered Hina missing and early on the following day she set out to recover her daughter.

Ascertaining the course she had taken, Nona went on and on enquiring for Hina until she arrived at the house of No’a.

When she saw Hina she made a rush to seize her but No’a seeing how terror stricken Hina was and hearing her say Nona was a savage woman and would kill her, he intercepted Nona.

Nona grappled to strangle him but he overpowered and strangled her and so ended the life of the famous Nona of the cave of Tahara’a.

In the course of time Hina married her protector and gave birth to a son named Pu A’ari’itahi -cluster of first small roots-.

Another son Hema followed and she had no more children:

© Copyright 2007-2020 Auturoa - All Rights Reserved.