Iniations on Tetiaroa awaiting Matari’i i ni’a *.

In the Ancient Polynesian traditions, the « ‘Arioi » cast were opening the season of abundance « Te Tau ‘Auhune » with dances, music, songs, royal feasts, etc. But before the start of the season which falls around November 20th with the appearance of the pleiades constellation « Matari’i » in the East, the atoll of Tetiaroa was a high place where iniations, rituals were held for the ‘Arioi elite.

‘Ari’oi was a special group of iniated to the cult of « Oro », god of fertility and abundance. Arts, dances, navigations, art of war, spirituality, all kind of topics were within their reach. They were closely selected and trained to become expert in their field of competence. You were not born as an ‘Arioi, neither your rank nor bloodline could serve only your skills or beauty. This society carried a message of Hope for the common people and as for the « Ari’i » cast, they were entertainers, good company and advisers and were also the voice the people. They were free and didn’t abide by the king’s rule. They formed their own rules and had special privileges.

Archeological structures, objects and certain species of plants they used, bear witness to the strong presence of ‘Arioi and cult of Oro on Tetiaroa island. It is said that they were spending time in « Matari’i i raro » or « Te Tau ‘Oe » ( dry-resting-food shortage season) to getting prepared physically and spiritually. « Te Ha’apori » was a fattening and whitening ritual for the young ‘Arioi. They would hide from the sun staying inside the « fare » (: house) and get fed many times a day with food supply they had prepared for the occasion. They would also make tapa cloth, perfect their dance and « otero » (: poem declamation); they would practice their art to get ready for the festivities of the season of abundance. Spiritually, they would connect to their god Oro and channeled messages, prophecies, guidance for their group and the rest of the population.

Part of their responsibility was to act as repositories of the mana of the god Oro, they were the bridge between heaven and earth. They had chosen Tetiaroa, particularly, to connect with their god because it is said that the location made it easy to be in a stance of heightened receptivity. They would leave Tetiaroa plentiful of mana and in shape for the royal season.

‘Arioi’s landfall in Tahiti marked the come back of Matari’i in the Polynesian sky along with a hopeful beginning.

*Matari’i i ni’a refers to the time period of the year when the pleiades constellation « Matari’i » are visible in the Polynesian sky, which also marks the season of natural abundance.