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A whale chant practiced many centuries ago in Niue
“Ulu ulu ta pekelei, Liti hake e tama kula, liti hake e tama kula, ke kitia…u oi.”
• Niueans call it AMU-AMU TAFUA! which really means they are chanting to the whale to toss their baby whale (or calf) out of the water for them to see.
• Modern terminology for this would be our calls for the whale to “breach”
The Legend of Mataginifale
• Legend goes a woman called "Mataginifale" was swallowed up by a whale at Oneonepata, Avatele, a village in Niue and taken to Tonga where she was said to have taught the art of child birth to the Tongan people.
• It is by our Niuean heritage that whales continue to be of cultural and spiritual significance to our people.
• Not only have we historically protected our whales but we continue to share modern values with our whales such as whale watching where we welcome their journey and watch them play, rest, breed and mate in their home – our waters.
• Whales are considered harmless creatures and are regarded as such by Niueans as a good omen. This is because:
– It’s believed there’s an abundance of fish (e.g. wahoo –a very prized ocean resource especially for a really good ota) during the whale season;
– Also, seeing a mom and calf presents good luck for pregnant woman.
A Pacific Island colleague once said that “these whales (referring to “Humpback Whales”) are more Pacific Islander than the Pacific Islanders overseas. Not only are they born back home (the islands), but if nothing stops them they continue to come home.” And we want them home.
• Whales thus
– Are an iconic symbol of the Pacific and a mana/taoga of Niue.
• Has taught us what is important which, as Rawiri Paratene said so eloquently “is our long standing relationship” with our Oceans and Resources.
• It is this culture which has taught Niueans Respect and Custodianship of our Ocean and Whales.
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