The legend of Maritipa & Teahiaroa
Once upon a time, on Kaukura atoll, lived a beautiful woman. Because she felt lonely, the gods granted her two children. But the woman dispised the gift and one day, she gave away to the ocean the earthy envelops inwhich the children’s bodies were placed. Maritipa and her brother Teahiaroa were carried away by the current, drifted for an endless time.
So when they reach adult size, Maritipa took the form of a shark, while Teahiaroa transformed into a magnificent ray. Both had however kept a human face. They would regularly returned to Kaukura island to visit their mother using a tunnel connecting the ocean to the lagoon going underneath the atoll.
One day, by chance, a fishermen discovered in the middle of Kaukura lagoon, in front of motu Vaivaitai, an underwater cave called Vaitomoana or more commonly « apo’o Marite » (= Marine hole), connecting the lagoon and the ocean via a tunnel of 800 meters long and about 30 meters diameter. Mapiri is the name of the entrance from the ocean side.
On a stormy night, while Maritipa and Teahiaroa were offshore, huge waves rushed into the tunnel, destroying everything in their path. In a thud, the rocks came off completely and blocked the cave. In the early morning, when Maritipa and Teahiaroa wanted to enter the lagoon, they saw a wall closing the passage. Maritipa and Teahiaroa cried so loud that all life on Kaukura atoll ceased for a moment.
Today these screams are still heard and announce a change in the weather conditions with a big swell.