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Stories From Kiribati


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The story of Nei Takarara

Posted by Amota Eromanga on October 13, 2016 at 5:35 AM

As the big tree known as 'Te Kaintikuaba' finally collapsed, Nei Takarara left the tree and went to the island of Nabanaba. She brought the seed of the tree with her. Arriving at Nabanaba, two men - Tauaba and Nakekea - met and married her. Nei Takarara soon gave birth to a daughter whom she named Tekanuea.

There was also a man by the name of Tearikintarawa who lived on the island of Tarawa. With him were his wife, Nei Tarawa, and only daughter Nei Terieri. Everyday, Nei Terieri would always go out searching along the shore for a special plant that she wanted to own. Her father didn't want her to walk about in the heat, so he said, "Don't ever go out again in the sun. It burns your skin. I will find a plant for you." And so the father himself searched throughout the whole island - but failed to find one.

His attempt finally brought him to the island of Nabanaba. The islanders sent him to Nei Takarara for she was the only person known to have brought a special seed from Tamoa. Having no other choices and knowing how customary embarrassing it would be, Tearikintarawa courageously went to the house of Nei Takarara. He explained everything to the family then politely pleaded if he could be offered the ownership of that particular seed. The reply wasn't too easy. The seed was more than an ordinary item, but a souvenir and an identity of Nei Takarara. Moreover, her own daughter Tekanuea, was the rightful future owner of the seed. Despite obstacles of such, Takarara finally offered the seed to Tearikintarawa. But another thing - Tearikintarawa lacked the skills and materials for planting and growing the seed well. To solve that, the daughter Tekanuea, agreed to go with Tearikintarawa for having the skills required in nurturing the seed. In addition, Tekanuea kindly offered another plant called Tekieburabura for Tearikintarawa's daughter as well. Gratified by the support, but above all the generosity of the family, Tearinkintarawa, in return, poured out heartfelt words of thanks. Just before they left Nabanaba, Tekanuea collected some black soil which she would be using when planting the seed. The two then set away to Tarawa. Unfortunately, Tekieburabura plant accidentally fell and disappeared in the sea - just before reaching its destination.

Both arrived on Tarawa at Buariki village and the spot they landed at was named after Tekanuea. Planting the seed began and of course the last thing Tekanuea added was the black soil she brought from Nabanaba. The seed easily popped into a young plant and later into a lovely stupendous tree never seen on the island before. As the tree bloomed, Nei Terieri climbed up to pick the flowers before someone else could. But while she was at the top, the tree instantly stretched upwards and within seconds, it was way up in the sky. Down on the ground and at the bottom of the tree, Tekanuea knew that she had finished the job so she married Nareau and soon had a son called Baretarawa. The islanders kept coming to watch this incredible tree and it had become their main story around their midst. The tree must have a name so people came up with 'Kaiekieki'. But many disagreed and instead proposed the name 'Te Abantiantongo'. In the end, the name everyone accepted was 'Te Uekera'.

At the top of Te Uekera, up in the sky, Nei Terieri became the wife of Taukarawa - the son of Raureningaina and Boinimainikuao. She bore two sons - Tabuarikiteang and the younger brother Tobwaia.

New and full moons came and gone - until a group of warriors from Tamoa came to Tarawa. The on-going and strange story of the tree made these warriors wanting to climb up - mainly for one purpose - to bring the girl down. Unfortunately none of them survived, for as soon as they were seen high up on the tree, the people on Nabanaba sent strong winds that violently blew them off. What lay below the climbers were multiple branches that stretched out unevenly - waiting to beat them up as they fell. And it was true - their bodies repeatedly crushed onto the branches severely killing them before reaching the ground. Some did not reach the ground but stuck dead up on the branches. However, the rescue of Nei Terieri went on by more stout-hearted men who came to the island - but none was able to do so.

By now, Baretarawa had grown into a young man. His motive to climb up the tree did not surprise Tekanuea. "I will bring the lady down," he exclaimed.

"You possibly can do it, since the tree truly belongs to your family," replied his mother. "But you need the help of your grandparents. Go to Nabanaba and ask them to prepare you."

At Nabanaba, Baretarawa was possessed with godly powers of protection, lightness and perseverance. He was told to ask his mother to gather the hair of the dead warriors scattered under the tree and to braid them into a rope. Baretarawa went back to Tarawa.

His mother, Tekanuea did as she was asked - collecting the hair then braiding them into a well-knit rope. When finished, she led her son to Tearikintarawa. "My son will climb the tree to bring down your daughter." she informed Tearikintarawa.

"What's under your arm?" Tearikintarawa asked the boy.

"A rope for climbing." the mother replied instead.

Tearikintarawa watched the boy as he climbed up. He changed the boy's name to Kairo.

As soon as Kairo was seen from Nabanaba, a strong wind called Nei Bainnano was sent to throw him off the tree. Knowing what's coming up, Kairo wrapped himself firmly to the main stem with the rope his mother made. Nei Bainano struck the tree and the boy vigorously but the job failed. When the wind eased, Kairo continued going up again. Those on Nabanaba saw him so they sent another wind called Nei Bannerere. Very strong wind indeed that almost all the leaves around Kairo were blown off from the branches. With the help of his rope, Kairo managed to stay up there. As the wind eased, the power of lightness helped him to go up quickly. But before he reached the top, the last and most powerful wind called Kareanteang finally approached. Securely tightening himself in his rope and with his legs twisting into a knot, Kairo covered his head with his hands. He did so to prevent his hair from being weeded off by Kareanteang. When the wind was over, he went all the way up to the top.

He found Nei Terieri to be alone. Everybody had gone to fetch water from the area called Tabera since the land had been hit by a drought and all the wells had gone brackish. Kairo also noticed the smell of strangeness and loneliness coming from Nei Terieri. They had to leave quickly otherwise people would come back. But just before they could escape, the people saw them therefore the chase began. As they climbed down they broke every branch above them so those chasing them couldn't go further. 

Down on the ground, Nei Terieri's name was changed to Nei Tereere; to remind people of the lady who broke the branches of Te Uekera tree. The two got married. They had a son called Kiratantarawa who married Nei Tekaotinimone and had a child named Beia.

Categories: Legends & Myths

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