Piwakawaka Mini Te Māra Reo ~ The Language Garden


Tumanako Aerial View
Areal photograph of Area SC-56 (early 2009)

Tumanako Aerial View

Hue (Lagenaria siceraria) [Stage 9, Proto Eastern Polynesian] maturing, March 2005

Sector SE-56 Permanent Residents

Besides the hue, the other occupants of this sector with heritage names, but ones originating in other periods, are the houhere (Hoheria populnea) and kōwhai (Sophora tetraptera), both pictured below, and the mānuka (Leptospermum scoparium). During the summer, kūmara (Ipomoea batatas) vines will be the groundcover along with some runners from the gourds.

Tumanako Aerial View
Kōwhai opposite the hue garden.

Tumanako Aerial View
Houhere under attack by a grape vine.


Sector SC-56

The northeast (top right) corner of this area is where the hue seem to thrive best, possibly because of the reflected heat from the aluminium shed, although in the afternoon this sector is relatively shaded. We have grown excellent heritage hue (Lagenaria siceraria) here for about ten years, although for the 2008/9 season we did not get around to planting any early enough, and that plot was temporarily abandoned to kūmara (Ipomoea batatas), another "waka plant". There is more about this below. However, normally from November to about May most years the hue will be in residence, and some of the dried gourds are available for inspection all year round. The other plants of note in this little area are a houhere (Hoheria populnea), the tree directly opposite the hue garden (its indistinct image occupies the right foreground in the aerial photograph -- the area of greenery in the top left corner has been cleared and there is a greenhouse with a bamboo frame wrapped in plastic there now), and a kōwhai (Sophora tetraptera) a little further along the grape-covered fenceline. The other plants in this area, persimon trees, grape vines, etc. are exotic fruits which arrived after Polynesian settlement was complete.

"Time travel walk" - Stage 9

Proto Eastern Polynesian (about 1,800 years ago)

Sometime towards the end of the second century AD explorers from the Polynesian settlements in Samoa discovered and began to settle in the islands of what is now "French Polynesia", well over 2,000 kilometres distant from their homeland, probably landing first in Tahiti and the other Society Islands, but quite soon settling also in the Tuamotu archipelago and the Marquesas. Again, a new Austronesian speech community developed as contact with the linguistic milieu of Samoa was lost. This language is called "Proto Eastern Polynesian", and is the source of all the Eastern Polynesian languages in a triangle from Hawaii at the apex to the Cook Islands and Easter Island at the base, and also Aorearoa, 3000 km southwest of the Cooks. This was too vast an area to remain united linguistically for long. The first break would have taken place after the loss of regular contact with the people who eventually settled Rapanui (Easter Island), almost 2,500 kilometres distant from Tahiti. Easter Island was once thought to have been settled around 350 AD, but more recent evidence suggests a much later date, about 1200 AD (see the paper by Roger Blench, listed in the bibliography). The linguistic differences would suggest an earlier separation from the rest of Eastern Polynesia, so the settlers may have stayed for some centuries on another island which they later abandoned. However, before this happened it is highly probable that several further forays to the east were made which reached Peru, about 4,000 kilometres to the northwest, and possibly other parts of South America, securing seeds of the hue, our plant name representing this period, as well as kumara tubers.

Click on the links below for more information about both the history of the word hue, and a little about the plant itself.

*Hue (Proto-Polynesian form)

Hue (Modern Maori & Te Mara Reo)

The expedition which obtained the gourds probably set out from a Rapanui base, because this plant, like the kumara, was known in Oceania only in Eastern Polynesia, including Rapanui, before the arrival of the Spaniards in the Pacific more than 1,000 years later. A Rapanui-based expedition may also have secured the kumara, but if so, this vegetable shared the fate of much of the island's indigenous flora, as nether the word nor the plant survived there. However, the hue was cultivated throughout this wider Eastern Polynesian region, an arc from Hawaii through what is French Polynesia and the Cook Islands, including both Easter Island and Aotearoa, but excluding Samoa, Tonga and other parts of Polynesia to the west..

Tumanako Aerial View

Regular contact with Easter Island soon ceased, and the language there would come to develop independently of the rest of Polynesia. For another century, however, a common language flourished in the centre of this region - Tahiti, the Tuamotus and the Marquesas, about a thousand kilometres from end to end. The next section brings us to that Proto Central Polynesian phase.

Going on to Stage 10.

To leave the Easter Islanders to do their own thing and settle down in Central Polynesia for another hundred years, head diagonally across the mixture of ornamental, native and fruit trees away from the wider path leading to the gingko tree casting its shadow in the middle distance in the second picture below.

Tumanako Aerial View

Tumanako Aerial View

When you get to the gingko, look right -- there you will find the representative of Stage 11 highlighted against the skyline. From the hue garden, it's about 45 metres away, and you can take proxy steps by clicking the appropriate link below.

To go on to Stage 10 (Proto Central Eastern Polynesian --
just 100 years or so away in time), click here!

To return to Stage 8 (Proto Nuclear Polynesian,
a couple of thousand kilometers to the west), click here.


Hue flower

Te Mara Reo, c/o Benton Family Trust, "Tumanako", RD 1, Taupiri, Waikato 3791, Aotearoa / New Zealand
Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 New Zealand License.