THE TAHITIAN ROYAL FAMILY
 
 

The year 1791 saw the kingdom of greater Tahiti came into being, It was in that year, a junior chief, Out Vairatoa, succeeded in uniting the disparate chiefdoms of Tahiti, Moorea, Meetia and the Tetiaroa group into a single entity. He assumed the title of King of Tahiti, and was known by various names, history finally settling on Pomare (little cough). Pomare I's descendants eventually succeeded to the other High Chiefdoms through successful political marriages and inheritance. Pomare IV inherited the Ra'iatea chiefdom in 1857. She had already married the hereditary Chief of Bora Bora, and united his domains with her own, on his death in 1860.

         

Prior to that, the ancient Kingdom of Tahiti originally comprised four separate principalities. Tahiti proper, consisting of Tahiti, Moorea, Meetia and the Tetiaroa group. Huahine, comprising Huahine proper and Tupemanu. Ra'iatea, comprising the islands of Ra'iatea and Tahaa. Bora Bora, comprising the islands of Bora Bora proper, Motuiti, Maupiti and Mapateia. The High Chiefs of all these islands descend from the High Chief Hiro. He had two sons, Hoatatama of Ra'iatea and Haneti of Bora Bora, founders of the dynasties of Maro'ura (the Red Centre) and Marotea (the White Centre). The island of Tahiti was divided into three great chiefdoms, Papara, Pare and Attahuru, the most powerful ruler of which was also king of the entire island. As soon as a male heir was born to one of these rulers, he became Chief, and his father became regent on his behalf.

Tahiti King Pomare III, 1833

The attempt at colonization by the Spaniards in 1774 was followed by the settlement of thirty persons brought in 1797 by the missionary ships "Duff." Though befriended by Pomare I. (who lived till 1805), they had many difficulties, especially from the constant wars, and at length they fled with Pomare II. to Eimeo and ultimately to New South Wales, returning in 1812, when Pomare renounced heathenism.

Prince Hinoi Pomare and island view, 1910

 

In 1815 Pomare II regained his power in Tahiti, for a time the missionaries made good progress and a printing press was established (1817), and coffee, cotton and sugar were planted (1819); but soon there came a serious relapse into heathen practices and immorality.

Pomare II. died of drink in 1824. His successor, Pomare III., died in 1827, and was succeeded by his half-sister Aimata, the unfortunate "Queen Pomare (IV.)." In 1828 a new fanatical sect, the "Mamaia," arose, which gave much trouble to the missions. The leader proclaimed that he was Jesus Christ, and promised to his followers a sensual paradise. In 1836 the French Catholic missionaries in Mangareva attempted to open a mission in Tahiti. Queen Pomare, advised by the English missionary and consul, Pritchard, refused her consent, and removed by force two priests who had landed surreptitiously and to whom many of the opposition party in the state had rallied. In 1838 a French frigate appeared, under the command of Abel Dupetit-Thouars, and extorted from Pomare the right of settlement for Frenchmen of every profession. Pritchard opposed this, and caused Pomare to apply for British protection; but this was a failure, and the native chiefs compelled the queen, against her will, to turn to France.

 

 

Pomare IV, 1870

 

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Tahiti Royal Palace of Pomare V

A convention was signed in 1843, placing the islands under French protection, the authority of the queen and chiefs being expressly reserved. Dupetit-Thouars now reappeared, and, alleging that the treaty had not been duly carried out, deposed the queen and took possession of the islands. His high-handed action was not countenanced by the French government; but while, on formal protest from England, it professed not to sanction the annexation, it did not retrace the steps taken. Two years spent in reducing the party in the islands opposed to French rule; an attempt to conquer the westerns islands failed; and at length, by agreement with England, France promised to return to the plan of a protectorate and leave the western islands to their rightful owners.

Pomare IV died in 1877, and her son Ariane (Pomare V.) abdicated in 1880, handing over the administration to France, and in the same year Tahiti,  was proclaimed a French colony. In 1903 the whole of the French establishment in the Eastern Pacific were declared on colony, and the then existing elective general council was superseded by the present administration.

This is a portrait of Marau Taaroa - the "Last Queen of Tahiti"
who dictated her memoirs to Henry Adams.  This illustration is the original
cover of the 9 March 1884 French magazine "Le Journal Illustré" and an
article concerning the queen is complete on verso.  She is said to play the
violin passably well and to love cigarettes

    

The Tomb of Pomare V

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