The Tokotoko guard the secrets of our land

“Bind life to other life”… was the call to our ancestors to set sail toward new islands.  Our women took the valuable seeds, the harvests of our future, and bound them to their bodies. Under each breast they would roll a cutting of Kumara (sweet potato).  Many dangers faced them out on the Pacific Ocean, but our women were careful and determined.  They kept alive the Kumara, the plant that we most appreciated, as well as Peru Peru (potato), Taro, Kamo Kamo, Uwha, Ti Kauka, Karaka, Poroporo, Hue, Raupo and Kowhai.

 

To settle new islands, we would take our Tokotoko which kept the knowledge of our land and our farms.  These wonderfully sculpted sticks of wood would talk to us from the sacred Marae and speak to the wet sand while tracing lovely designs over it, designs which come from the paths of the spirits of our ancestors and which will lead us toward the ancient sacred traditions.  The Tokotoko guards the sacred stars and the treasures which we carry to the new land.

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The Tokotoko is given, never taken.  Before it is given, the Varua (spirit) of the receiver must be consulted, as the Tokotoko would not want to stay in the hands of one who would use the knowledge offered for his own personal interests.  The Tokotoko passes from father to son or from father to daughter, depending on whose Varua calls most strongly.

 

This narration was extracted from the songs of the Waitaha, a peaceful pre-Maori tribe of New Zealand, which has recently opened their baskets of traditional lore.  (“ Song of Waitaha, The Histories of a Nation” de Te Porohau Peter Ruka Te Korako, 2006).

 

For some Rapanui, the Tokotoko is a scepter with a bearded face carved on the upper part similar to the walking canes used by the first Europeans which made a noise as they walked “tock, tock” that is the origin of the name in Rapanui.  Nonetheless, we also find the narration of Brother Eugene Eyraud from his first stay on the Island in 1864… “in all the huts, there are wooden tablets or scepters with hieroglyphics.”  Possibly Brother Eyraud referred to the Ao, wooden paddles which implied command which were carved with designs, but Etu´u Tuki, son of the elder wise man Benedicto Tuki, assures us that his father told him that in the past the Tokotoko really existed and carried in their carvings the knowledge of the earth and agriculture.

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