Piwakawaka Mini Te Mära Reo ~ The Language Garden
*Pua, *Puapua
Fagraea berteroana [Loganiaceae], Guettarda speciosa [Rubiaceae] & some other species with showy, sweetly-scented flowers; Puapua, in Proto Polynesian referred especially to Guettarda speciosa.
From PROTO OCEANIC *burat "Fagraea berteroana [Loganiaceae]" through PROTO POLYNESIAN *pua "Generic name for plants with showy, scented flowers, including F. berteroana & Guettarda speciosa [Rubiaceae]"; *puapua from PROTO CENTRAL PACIFIC *buabua "Guettarda & Fragraea species", PROTO POLYNESIAN *puapua Guettarda speciosa.


While in its infancy this name seems to have referred primarily to the tree known botanically as Fagraea berteroana, it seems soon to have functioned as a generic name for other trees and shrubs with sweetly scented, especially white, showy blossoms, particularly Guettarda speciosa, which became referred to by the reduplicated form *puapua in much of Polynesia, while the meaning of *pua was extended (and in some places contracted) to signify buds, blossoms and the process of flowering in general in that group of languages.

Fagraea berteroana is a forest tree with a strong, durable wood, widely used in the places where it grows for building houses. The flowers are also used in Samoa and other parts of Polynesia for leis. Its flowers are white when they open, then gradually become deep yellow. Guetarda speciosa is a smaller tree which grows naturally near the coast. It also has a durable timber, used for construction in some places, and the flowers are used in the Cook Islands for scenting coconut oil. Not all the uses of the reflexes of the word *pua and its derivatives in reference to specific plants are confined to those with initially white flowers. For example, the introduced climber Allamanda cathartica, a native of South America but widely grown throughout the tropics, is known as pua in Tahiti and has spectacular yellow flowers from the start.

It is the flowers and the aroma that have carried the name to Aotearoa, where it is associated with climbers and herbacious plants rather than trees. In Hawaii, there are many plant species whose names include pua as an element, but only one, the olopua, Nestegis sandwicensis, which is known as pua without any further qualification. Its primary link with the original referents of this name is probably its being particularly valued as a source of timber for building houses. Fagraea berteroana is not native to Hawai'i but is now widely grown there, and known as pua kenikeni "the ten cent flower", because of its usefulness in making expensive leis.

Reflexes: *Pua
Tongan: Pua (Fagraea berteroana [Loganiaceae] & Plumeria spp.[Apocynaceae])
Niuean: Pua. (F. berteroana)
Samoan: Pua (F. berteroana [Pua lulu]; Gardenia taitiensis [Rubiaceae])
Tahitian: Pua (F. beteroana & Allamanda cathartica [Apocynaceae])
Hawaiian: Pua (Nestegis sandwicensis [Oleaceae])
Rarotongan: Pua (F. berteroana)
Maori: Pua (Clematis paniculata [Convolvulaceae], Pua wänanga; Cordyline australis [Agavaceae], Tï-pua, and others -- see linked page).

Tongan: Puopua (Guettarda speciosa [Rubiaceae])
Samoan: Puapua (G. speciosa)
Maori: Puapua (Clematis paniculata [Convolvulaceae]; Cordyline pumilo [Agavaceae -- köpuapua]).

Related Word: *pua "blossom, flower, the process of flowering". This word is derived from the older meaning of *pua, and seems to have originated in Eastern Polynesia. It is used in this sense in Rapanui, Tahitian, Marquesan, Hawaiian, Tuamotuan, Rarotongan, Maori, and most other languages in this group.


Fagraea berteroana inflorescencePua (Fagraea berteroana)

Guettarda speciosa
Puapua (Guettardia speciosa)

Pua (Olopua, Nestegis sandwicensis)
Kahanahäiki Forest, Oahu, Hawai'i

Pua Wananga
Pua (Puapua, Pua Wänanga, Clematis paniculata)
Te Mära Reo

Photographs: Guettarda speciosa from: http://tidechaser.blogspot.com/2009/04/other-side-of-st-johns-island.html; Fagraea berteroana (taken in the Lyon Arboretum, Honolulu) from http://herba.msu.ru/shipunov/h-album/h2_lyon20070302/original/img_5778.html; others by R.B.
Further Information. There is information about both Fagraea berteroana and Guettaria speciosa on the Bishop Museum's Cook Island biodiversity website.

Hue flower

Te Mära Reo, c/o Benton Family Trust, "Tumanako", RD 1, Taupiri, Waikato 3791, Aotearoa / New Zealand
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