Commonly Used Terminology

kastom customary ways and ritual observances – such as what people do for the occasions of for birth, marriage, death, reconciliations, etc.
Lata the first person to build and sail a voyaging canoe – a pan-Polyesian culture hero
The Story of Lata an oral history that tells how Lata was born, became orphaned, grew as a precocious child, built a canoe, selected a crew, and what happened on his voyages to other islands
Te Matua Father/Mother/Ancestor
Te Aliki Chief or Royal
Te an article that is conventionally used before any noun to show respect – usually  translates as “the”
Te Vaka voyaging canoe
Te Vaka o Lata The Vaka made by Lata (and those who are the heirs of Lata)
Te Puke largest type of voyaging canoe made by Taumako artisans – at last 6 fathoms long, has a house and a riser in between the main hull and the outrigger beams, massive outrigger structure.  The smallest Te Puke can carry 8 or more people and several tons of cargo
Te Alo Lili smaller type of voyaging canoe made by Taumako artisans – up to 5.5 fathoms long, no riser, may or may not have a house on it, faster and lighter, less members to outrigger, normally carries 3 to 4 people.
Taumako literally “strong cultural knowledge/arts”

Characters from the Story of Lata

Te Ube the bird in the Story of Lata, who helped Lata to build the first voyaging canoe
Hina/Hinora/Sina the woman in the Story of Lata, who at first objected to Lata cutting down her tree, then gave him permission to cut it down

Canoe Parts & Construction

Tamanu a species of hardwood tree (Callophylum) used for the main hull of Te Puke
Ulu a stringy, soft hardwood tree called Breadfruit in English, used for the main hull of Te Alo Lili
Foe steering or paddling blade
Ama the main float on the outrigger
Lakahalava outrigger beam
Matae front and back boards/members of the riser box on a te puke
 ??? side boards of the riser box on a te puke
Lou front and back structural members of the outrigger
Te Papa solid wood platform fronting the haehale  – has a breakaway lashing in case of capsize
Li’i windlasses
Te Alunga the pillow piece that holds up the leeward platform of a vaka o Lata
Utongi additional float(s) that are lashed to the ama to form the outrigger, and in the case of a Te Alo Lili having too little buoyancy in the hull, utongi may be lashed onto the sides of the main hull.
La sail, as in the distinctive sail of Lata (Te La o Lata)
Laula sail panel(s) woven from pandanas (laufala) strips
Haehale the house on a voyaging canoe
Sa canoe bailer
Sa Moana oceanic vaka bailer (with the handle inside)
kaha cordage


Te matangi wind
noho to sit or position or be based
anga to make or do
kainga land division
Te Moana ocean
fetu/hetu/fitu star(s)
Te Mahina moon
Te La sun
hokohua swells
Hokohua Loa big swells that come from afar
poroporo/poporo reflected swell (bounced back from land)
te lapa light flashes from distant land to the deep sea
Kahula the kaina (traditional land division) on the windward side of Taumako, the birthplace of Lata and of Kruso Kaveia
Tahua the artificial island built on the shallow lagoon on the east side of Taumako
Tohua the natural islet on the lagoon off of Kahula.  Tohua is known as the birthplace of Lata

Community & Kastum

memea children
wahine femaie
tangata / kane male
imua forward
halau sacred house, house dedicated to a special purpose
mangiangi to create/control/influence wind
lakau piece of wood
tupa adze
manu bird
ihu nose
talinga ear
niho teeth
moe sleep
makemake die
malo barkcloth clothing
ehu light hued or reddish
mahila knife
Te Ua rain
Te  Ngatae trade wind season
Te Angeho cyclone season
malino calms and very light, variable, wind, fine weather
Ndeni/Nendo local names for Santa Cruz Island
Taumako old name for Duffs Group
Nohono Reef / Outer Reef Islands
komburo cyclone
panna yam
kalo taro
kumara sweet potato
niu boho drinking coconut
niu coconut
plaka lawyer cane or rattan
one sand or sand-beach
maunga mountain
ai food or eat
Puu grand parent or grand child
pu conch shell trumpet
tanga basket
ika fish
limu seaweed
umu earth oven in very shallow pit
peu/feu fire
inu drink
inu wai drink fresh water
Tangaloa God of the sea