The Story of Lata or Rata and His Boat

LATA PO’O RATA

O Lata sa ola po’o le tausaga e 860 A.D. O ia o le alo o Fafieloa ma Tula. O le tamā o Fafieloa o Tavai. E foliga mai sa nofo lea tagata i Pago Pago. E fa’apea le tala, na tagatavaleina Fafieloa e se ali’i sa suafa i a Matu’uta’ota’o, ma e le iloa le mafua’aga. O lea tagata o Matu’uta’ota’o sa nofo i Fogātuli i Savai’i, i Samoa i Sisifo. Sa tonu ia Lata e taui ma sui le tagatavaleina o lona tamā. O lea na ia fausia ai se va’a. O le tala mai Manu’a e fa’apea, o lenei va’a na fausia lava e Lata ia, i Tafagafaga, o se nu’u i sasa’e o Ta’ū (po’o Manu’a). Ina ua mae’a ona fausia o le va’a, sa malaga ai loa Lata i Savai’i, ma o le nu’u na taunu’u i ai, na fa’aigoa ia Lata. O se nu’u lauiloa i aso nei i Savai’i; ma e le mamao fo’i ma Fogātuli, le nu’u sa lafi ai le tagata na fasiotia lona tamā.

Talu ai la, sa le’i maua e ia le tagata na mana’o na te fasiotia, o lea na malaga ai loa i Toga. O i’inā, e tusa i le tala a Manu’a, na maliu ai. Sa talai ai loa e tagata Toga ma tu’u ‘ese’ese vaega o le va’a, ona o lo latou fia iloa ona fausia o so latou lava va’a e foliga i ai.

Sa fauina ai loa e tagata Toga so latou ulua’i ‘alia, ma o si fale sa latou fauina i luga o le fata o le va’a, sa ta’ua o le “Fale Fa’amanu’a”. O ni tala tu’u a Sāmoa, e sapasapaia fo’i e tala a Toga ma Maori, e fa’apea o Lata po’o Rata pei ona fa’aigoaina e ni isi, na malaga atu i Savai’i, ma na lafoia ai lona va’a i luga o le a’au ma liu ma’a ai. Na taunu’u Lata i ie matāfaga i lona fia maua o Matu’uta’ota’o, peita’i, sa ta’u ane e tagata o le nu’u ia te ia, ua malaga le ali’i i se ‘alia saosaoa tele.

Ona o le naunau tele o Lata e tuliloaina loa le ali’i, na alu ai i le togāvao ma maua ai ni tamanu (lā’au) mānanaia lava se lua, na ia tu’uina ai loa i lalo. Sa saga’i loa ma galuea’iina i lona malosi atoa, ma ina ua goto le la, ua toetoe lava ona mae’a lelei itū va’a e lua. Sa ia fo’i atu i le nu’u, na fa’aigoaina fo’i o Lata, mo sana mea’ai ma mālōlō ai fo’i.

I le taeao po o le aso na soso’o ai, sa alu ai fo’i e toe galue i lona va’a. Ae pagā, e le o ni itū va’a na ia maua atu a’o la’au tamanu e lua sa tutū mai, pei lava ona ia maua atu ile aso muamua. Sa lūlū lona ulu talu ai, o lona manatu, o se miti lava lea uiga. Sa ia toe tago atu fo’i i lana matau, ma tatu’u i lalo nei la’au se’ia o’o ina pā’u’ū. Sa toe galue loa fo’i ma fa’amae’a lelei lava nei itū va’a e lua i lea lava aso e tasi.

O lona vaivai tele lava, sa ia toe fo’i atu ai i le nu’u. O le taeao na soso’o ai na ala usu atu ai fo’i i le vao, ma lona manatu o le a mae’a lona va’a i le aso lava lenā. Ae na matuā ofo lava o ia, ina ua taunu’u atu ma va’aia, ua toe tutū lelei mai fo’i ana la’au e lua, pei e femita a’i ma ona tuā’oi.

E ui lava i lenei fa’afitauli ua toe fa’afouina mai, sa toe galue fo’i ia ma le malosi e tu’u i lalo la’au. Sa vave ma mamafa tele fo’i lana galuega; na i’u ai ina mae’a lelei ona sali itūva’a ma saunia lelei a’o le’i goto le la. Sa ia le toe fo’i atu i le nu’u; na ia lafi i se pupuvao latalata ane talu ai, sa ia fia iloa lava po’o le a lenei mana na mafai ai ona toe fa’atutū ma ola nei la’au pei lava e leai se mea na tupu ai.

O le aso na soso’o ua mavae le masina atoa na ia fa’atalitali ai mo sina taimi. Ina ua oso a’e le masina i le tafatafa’ilagi, sa ia iloa atu ai loa se va’aiga uiga ese. E sefulu ma le lua ni aitu na fa’afuase’i ona fotu a’i ane ma sisiva fa’ata’amilo i lona va’a; a o latou pepese e fa’apea:
“Felelei fa’atasi, saliga ma tipiga; Ona tutū lea i luga, oulua o a matou penina; Fepi’ita’i ia, fepi’ita’i ia, ma mamau fa’atasi; Tāofimau, tāofimau oulua ia mau a’ia’i!
Felelei fa’atasi, saliga ma tipiga,
Oi, tutū ia i luga oulua, o ā matou penina!”

E le ma fa’amatalaina le māofa tele o Lata ina ua va’ai atu a’o faia pea pesepesega a nei aitu, o fasila’au uma, saliga ma tipiga, ua toe felelei ane uma ma fepi’ita’i fa’atasi, o le fasi la’au lava ma lona la tulaga tonu, ma, a‘o le’i uma nei pesega, ua toe tutū lelei mai lava nei la’au e lua i o la’ua tulaga i le vaomatua. Ona o le uiga ese o lenei va’aiga na ia molimauina, sa le’i ita ai lava o ia. Ae na ia fa’alatalata atu i la’au ma aitu ina ua mautinoa lelei e ia e le’o se miti na ia faia a’o le mea moni lava.

Ina ua ulufale atu Lata i totonu o le li’o a nei aitu, na fa’apea loa i ai se tasi ia te ia: “Ua e tu’uina (tatipi) aisea i lalo a matou pele? O ai na ave atua ia te oe le fa’atagaga e fai ai lea uiga? Na e aumaia ni sauniuniga e ave atua ai se taulaga ia Tane le atua o la’au? Ona o lou fa’atamala e uiga i lea aganu’u pa’ia, o le a le mafai ai ona e maua o nei la’au. E sili ai lou fo’i atu i lou aiga ma fa’agalo mea uma.”

Peita’i, ona o le naunau tele o Lata ia maua nei la’au, o lea na ia talosaga ma fa’atoga atu ai mo se fa’amāgaloga, talu ai lona le’i faia e tusa ma aganu’u pa’ia. E le gata fo’i i lea, sa ia folafola atu fo’i o le āia fa’amalieina lava le finagalo o Tane mo sana taulaga lelei o le a molia, pe a fai latou te fautuaina ina ia tu’uina atu nei la’au e lua e galuea’iina ai lona va’a.
Ina ua va’ai atu lenei aitu i le māfātia tele o le loto o Lata i le fa’anoanoa, sa ia fai atu ai loa e fa’apea, o latou lava (aitu) o le a fausia le va’a mo ia, ma o le a mae’a ma saunia mo le sami i le aso a taeao.

Sa fa’afetai atu Lata i aitu e tusa ma le latou folafolaga o le fesoasoani mo ia, ona fo’i atu ai loa lea i lona aiga. Ae o le mea na tupu, sa tau le mafai ona moe o ia talu ai nei mea ofoofogia na tutupu sa ia molimauina. O lea, i le taeao po lava, na ia ala usu atu ai i le vaomatua ma mafaufau po’o le mea ua māe’a ona fausia e aitu lona va’a, po’o se tasi fo’i o a latou fa’atausuaga ua fai mai ia te ia.

Peita’i, na matua maofa lava ma le fiafia tele ma le malie atoa fo’i o lona loto, ina ua va’aia e ia se va’a matagofie tele ua ta’oto mai le mea tonu lava sa tutū ai la’au e lua, ae ua leai nei se aitu e toe iloa atu.

Sa ia toe fo’i loa i le nu’u ma fa’atalanoa fa’atasi ma le taulaitu, mo se taulaga lelei ma le matagofie e feagai ma lana moliaga. Ina ua mae’a nei aiaiga, sa tu’uina loa lona va’a i le sami. Aue, na fa’amaonia lava le manaia o le va’a. Sa ia fa’aigoaina ia Pualele (“Pua”, e fa’amanatu ai lona tua’ā, ma “Lele” ona
o le saosaoa tele o le va’a (pei e lele)).

Sa tau lava lona fiafia i lenei va’a folau manaia tele, talu ai, ua mautinoa e ia o le a vave ona maua atu ai lona fili o Matu’uta’ota’o.

O le aso atoa lava sa ia sauniuni ai mea uma e aoga mo lana faigamalaga umi. Ona ia malaga loa lea mai le tasi motu i le isi, i le sā’iliga lava o le na fasiotia lona tamā. Mulimuli ane, na maua atu o ia i le tasi motu la’itiiti o le atu Toga.

Sa lu’itau loa o ia e Lata mo sa la taua i ni uatogi. Sa vevela tele lea taua peita’i, na pu’upu’u fo’i; talu ai o Lata, e sili mamao lona malosi ma na ia fasiotia lava lona fili i se tā malosi i lona ulu. Ma, ina ia fa’ailoa atili lona lava malosi i lea taua, na to’ese e Lata lona fatu ma ‘ai. Ona o lenei mea na tupu, sa fa’aigoa ai o ia e tagata Maori, o “Rata-aitu.” O le ate o se tagata ua fasiotia, e le tagofia e se tasi ona o le talitonuga, e na te fa’atupuina le pala’ai. O lo’o fa’aaogāina pea e tagata Sāmoa i aso nei ia upu: ate’ai, atesū, ma le ‘ai ate; o fa’ailoga uma lava ia o le ‘ai ate, ma o lo’o fa’amaonia pea lea talitonuga.

A’o le’i uma le ola o Matu’uta’ota’o, sa ia fetu’uina le va’a o Lata, ona o le aumaia o Lata ma maua mai ai o ia. Ona o lea fetu’u, na lafoia ai ma malepe le va’a manaia o Lata a’o le’i tu’ua e ia Toga. Peita’i, sa u’una’ia pea o ia i lenei mana’o le malie o le sa’ili i ni mea fou, o lea na ia toe fausia ai loa se isi va’a, sa ia fa’aigoa ‘o Riwara.’

O lenei la va’a, sa ia sopo’ia ai le Pasefika i le sa’iliga o ni lau’ele’ele fou atoa ma ni mea fou e tutupu. E tele ni uiga ma ni amioga o lona loto tele sa feagai ma ia i motu ‘ese’ese na ia asiasi atu i ai.

E fa’apea se tala, sa mafai e ia lava ona liua o ia i so’o se itu’āiga o manulele. Tusa o le tausaga 875 A.D., na ia taunu’u atu ai i Niu Sila, ma talu ai lona fiafia i lea atunu’u, na nofo mau ai loa lava. A tonu o ia o le ulua’i Polenisia na ainaina le Motu i Saute o Niu Sila.

The Story of Lata or Rata and His Boat

Lata (also know as Rata) builds a boat at Manu’a with the help of the fairies’ magic, sails to Savai’i to avenge his father’s murder, and settles in New Zealand.

Lata, who lived about A.D. 860, was the son of Fafieloa and Tula. The father of Fafieloa was Tavai who lived in Pago Pago. Fafieloa had been killed by a Chief named Matu’uta’ota’o who lived in Fogatuli on the southwest coast of Savai’i. Lata resolved to avenge the murder of his father, but first needed a boat. The Manu’a legends say that this boat was made by Lata himself at Tafagafaga, a place to the east of Ta’u (or Manu’a). When finished, Lata sailed for Savai’i, and the place where he landed was called “Lata”. This is now a well known village in Savai’i and not far from Fogatuli where the murderer of his father was supposed to be hiding.

As he did not find the man he wanted to kill, he sailed to Tonga. Here, according to the Manu’a legend, Lata died without successfully completing his mission. The Tongans then took his boat asunder in order to learn how to make a similar one. Thereupon, the Tongans built their first alia and the little house constructed on the platform between the two canoes was called Fale Fa’amanu’a. (the Manu’a type of house).

Lata, or Rata as the others called him, sailed to Savai’i where his ship was thrown upon the reef and changed into stone. Lata went ashore to find Matu’uta’ota’o, but was told that the man had sailed away on a swift, large outrigger boat.

Lata wanted to pursue him as soon as possible, and, since needing a new boat, he went into the forest picked out 2 fine tamanu trees and cut them down.

He then set to work with all his energy, and, when the sun went down, his 2 hulls were nearly finished. So he returned to the village (now called Lata) to get some food and rest. Early next morning, he set out to work on his boat. But instead of finding the two boat hulls, he saw the same trees standing and growing just as before on the preceding day. He shook his head, for he thought that all must have been merely a dream. So again he took his axe and with a few angry strokes, he brought the two trees down to the ground. Immediately he set to work and finished the two hulls on the same day.

Tired from his great exertion, he returned to the village. The following morning, he proceeded again to the forest, convinced that this time he would finish his new boat. Great, however, was his amazement when he saw his two trees once again standing erect and proud among their neighbors with no boat anywhere in sight.

Notwithstanding this renewed disappointment, he again took his axe and cut them down. Working hard and rapidly, he had hollowed out the hulls and shaped them before the sun had set. But instead of going home, he hid under some bushes nearby, for he wanted to see for himself by what magic charm or words the two trees had been restored to  stand upright and to grow as if nothing had happened to them.

It was a day after full moon; so he had to wait for some time. When the moon rose above the horizon he beheld a wonderful sight. Soon a dozen fairies suddenly appeared, dancing around his boat hulls, while they sang:

“Fly together, chips and shavings;
Then stand up, you two, our darlings;
Sticks ye, stick ye fast together;
old ye, hold ye fast together;
Fly together, chips and shavings,
Oh, stand up, you two our darlings!”

Imagine the surprise of Lata, when he saw that, while the fairies were singing, all the cut-off chips from the boat flew together, each piece to the exact place it had been, and before the song had come to its end, his two trees stood once again upright in the forest! So wonderful was the feat he had witnessed, that he did not grow angry at all. Instead, he approached the trees and fairies reverently to convince himself that he was not dreaming.

As soon as Lata had entered the circle of fairies, one of them said to him: “Why did you cut down these our darlings? Who gave you permission to do so? Did you bring any offering or sacrifice to Tane, the god of trees? Having neglected the sacred custom, you cannot have these trees. Better go home and forget your mission.”

Lata, however, needed the trees, so he begged pardon for not having acted in accordance with the old sacred customs. Furthermore, he promised to appease the angry Tane with a valuable offering, to induce the fairies to allow him to use the two trees for the boat he needed so badly.

Lata thanked the fairies for their promised help and went home. However, he could hardly sleep, for the amazing events of the previous days kept him awake. So early in the morning he returned to the forest, wondering all the while if the fairies had really built a boat for him or if they were playing another of their pranks on him.

Great, therefore, was his joy and satisfaction when he found a beautiful boat on the very place that the two trees had stood. But the fairies had gone.

He then returned to the village to arrange with the taulaitu (priest) for a suitable offering. This done, he put the boat into the sea and it proved to be a wonderful craft. He gave to it the name of Pualele (“Pua” -in honour of his ancestor , and ” lele” (flying) because it was so swift. Lata was confident that such a fast-sailing boat that would enable him to overtake his enemy Matu’uta’ota’o.

Lata spent a day assembling provisions, then off he sailed from island to island in pursuit of the murderer of his father. Finally, he discovered him on a small island of the Tongan group.

Lata immediately challenged him to a club fight. The fight was fierce but short. Lata, who was by far the strongest, killed him with a mighty blow on the head. Then, as was custom, in order to take the strength of the slain man into himself as his own, he cut out his victim’s heart and ate it. From this feat, he was always called by the Maori “Rata-aitu”. He avoided the liver of the slain man, since that was never touched, since to do so was believed to produce cowardice. This trait is today considered shameful and Samoans still use many words for it, such as: ate’ai, atesu, and ‘aiate, all synonyms for a coward, which still testify to this belief.

Unbeknownst to Lata, before Matu’uta’ota’o died, he had cursed the ship that had brought Lata upon him. Due to this curse, the fine boat the fairies made for Lata was wrecked before he left Tonga. Urged on, nevertheless, by an irresistible desire for new adventure, he had soon built himself another one. To this boat he gave the name of “Riwara”.

With this third boat he crossed the Pacific in search for new lands and adventures. Many are the daring deeds he performed on the different islands he visited.

It is even said of him that he could change himself into any kind of bird. At about A.D. 875 he reached New Zealand, and, as he liked that country, he remained there. He was perhaps the first Polynesian who settled in the South Island of New Zealand.