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Stories From Kiribati


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Nabureiwa and the traditional dance known as Te Karanga (Part 2)

Posted by Amota Eromanga on March 25, 2016 at 4:35 PM

Tetaake and Nabureiwa swam out to the ocean. Suddenly Nabureiwa felt being falling into a deep hole of water. Shortly and as Tetaake assured, they had landed now at Tetaake’s father’s island in a world beneath the sea. The name of this beautiful island was Moone. Together the couple walked to their father Bakoa whom delighted to see them. Bakoa was the king of Moone. Nabureiwa was stunned to know his wife was more than an ordinary lady - the princess of Moone and the only daughter of king Bakoa.

The traditional dance mainly performed by those at Moone was Te Karanga. It was a standing dance in which performers moved and sang loudly while rhythmically beating their sticks together. The main song of this particular dance proudly praised and talked about princess Tetaake. It went like this: E tiku te man Tetaake i aon ngaona .. (meaning: Tetaake ascends onto her rightly throne ..)


Nabureiwa wanted to learn and to be able to perform this kind of dance. So one evening, he asked permission, “Tetaake, I want to learn te karanga dance. Can we go and join those dancing?”


“You go alone as I’ve never been in the mood.” she replied.


“Are you okay if I go?” he added.


“Yes, but promise not to love someone else beside me. Be also warned that most of the dancers are my aunts and they are very beautiful like me.” she sounded firm and clear.


“My dear, don’t worry as I will always love nobody but you,” and he went to the dance held inside the maneaba (traditional hall).


At the maneaba, the dance went on. Nabureiwa could see his mother-in-laws and words of their mantrap beauty caused him nodding in agreement. Not long, a dancer, Nei Tenaotari, caught both his eyes and mind. She danced matchlessly well and together her voice and laughter were not only appealing but inviting as well. Nabureiwa tried to put aside his emotion knowing it disturbed his concentration and learning.


Nabureiwa had become very fond of the dance now. He would not want to miss it and therefore, nothing could stop him from going every night. Then a night came when he finally became Tenaotarai’s dance partner.While dancing together they became overpowered by attraction; so when they reached the end of the line, they sneaked out of the maneaba and started dating outside. With witchly power of vision already bestowed upon princess Tetaake, she could see from the distance where and what her husband was now doing.


Anger, hate and jealousy made her majesty the princess walked alone to the maneaba to join the dance. Nabureiwa recognised the voice of his wife among the dancers inside so he said to Nei Tenaotarai. “Hey, something terrible is about to happen. I think Tetaake has come to the maneaba to join the dance, so what shall I do now?”


Nabureiwa walked quietly back into the maneaba and there he saw his wife dancing. He slowly went closer to her, uncertain of what she might do to him. When Tetaake saw her husband, she ordered, “Don’t come any closer. You didn’t listen to my words and had broken our promise. Go, stay with her.”


He tried to fix his wrong doing but Tetaake neither listened nor cared. How sad Nabureiwa was since his wife was indeed right deep in his heart. It was not anyone’s fault but his own so he personally had to accept facing whatever consequences awaiting.


When king Bakoa heard of this, he ordered all the men on the island to a death sentence promulgation. The conch shell horn was blown sending an urgent call for all the men in the villages to come at once to the king’s maneaba. Among those coming were deadly guys - Na Tababa (tiger shark), Na Rokea (snout pointing shark) and Na Unuun (double teeth shark). Nabureiwa shook with fear as he watched things going on around him. When all the men had arrived, they politely addressed the king, “Your majesty, speak now as everyone is listening.”


The king began, “Nabureiwa will die for his offense. You must kill and eat him. He is quite small but I hope everybody gets a share.”


“Great king, please command us to begin,” the men responded eagerly.


“Have patience, for tomorrow, early in the morning, he will be in your hands,” said the king.


The men replied, “As you said, your majesty. We will wait for tomorrow.”


That night, fear caused Nabureiwa to stay awake for hours. He knew for sure that nothing could change and had no choices either. As he happened to fall asleep Nei Tituabine (the goddess of his island) came to him in a dream, “Nabureiwa, get up and go to the guy at the end of the maneaba and ask him to help you.”


When he woke up, his dream did not convinced him therefore he went sleeping again. After midnight Nei Tituabine came back again, “Nabureiwa you took no notice of my advice. Look, daylight is few hours away and if you take your time, things will get worse.”


Nabureiwa finally got up and walked straight to the guy whom told of. As he came nearer, the guy moved away to let him pass since he was the husband of their princess. Instead of passing on, Nabureiwa stopped and asked for help. The guy’s name was Na Anoi (hammerhead shark).


“No problem, get onto my back as we need to hurry.” said Na Anoi and the two dashed upwards to the surface. As they reached half way, they met a guy called Na Kua (whale). When asked to take Nabureiwa further, Nakua kindly agreed so the journey home continued. The third and last guy to take Nabureiwa, this time, all the way to the beach just beside his home was Na On (turtle). At last, Nabureiwa had safely reached his home and families.


Back at Moone, the amusement of Nabureiwa’s escape instantly turned everyone into anger which then followed by a thorough search in every part of Moone. Unfortunately, nobody found Nabureiwa. Upon returning they informed Bakoa of their failure. They also begged their king to allow them to look for those involved in Nabureiwa’s escape. At the end of their investigation, Na Kua and Na On were found guilty while Na Anoi was lucky as he came back to the maneaba well long before dawn. The punishment for Na Kua and Na On was that they should forever go up to the water surface every time they needed to breathe. (And that is why, to this very day, Na Kua (whale) and Na On (turtle) come up to the water surface for air.)


Nabureiwa began teaching his people Te Karanga dance which he had learned from Moone. He also taught them the main songs of the dance and one of them was: E tiku te man Tetaake, e karara iaon ngaona …(meaning: Tetaake ascends and comfortably sits on her rightly throne) and the last words of the final verse was: kai abam riki Kauake (meaning: your home is Kauake).


So up to these days, the people of Aranuka island will always say that Te Karanga dance belongs to them.

Nabureiwa and the traditional dance known as Te Karanga (Part 1)

Categories: Legends & Myths

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Reply Amota Eromanga
4:57 PM on September 8, 2019 
Lydia Teatao says...
Ko bati n rabwa Amota n am posts aika rang kakaongora man educational naba ibukira n tainako ngaira I-Kiribati. Tekeraoi te waaki.

Te raoi naba ao tekeraoi naba ngkoe.
Reply Lydia Teatao
5:01 PM on March 10, 2019 
Ko bati n rabwa Amota n am posts aika rang kakaongora man educational naba ibukira n tainako ngaira I-Kiribati. Tekeraoi te waaki.