Legend of the Anthropophages

La Bajada de los Tu a Poi

In the past, there were places all around the Island where people could descend to the sea with their reed boats to go fishing.  When they returned, the fishermen would take their boats out of the ocean so that the sea salt wouldn’t corrode them.  For this purpose, they  made ramps that were carefully paved wtih Poro, smooth rounded stones.  One of these places was called Topa Inga o te Tu a Poi, the ramp of the Tu a Poi, as Napoleón Tepano-Hotu tells:

The Tu a Poi were a tribe which lived in the sea on a giant mother canoe.  Some nights they would come near the Island in small reed boats to look for sweet potatoes, taro and, especially, human flesh. The people on the land began to notice that the fruit of their plantations was disappearing, along with some people. One night, a fisherman who lived nearby pulled in at the Topa ingawith all of his fishing gear to nap for a while and go back to sea the next morning.  He was quickly asleeep, but he woke up suddenly when he heard movement and voices and thought: “how nice that some people are coming to accompany me fishing early tomorrow.” When he saw them, however, he realized that they weren’t people from this vicinity. They weren’t even people that he knew. As he heard them giving orders to get sweet potatoes, taro and humans, he understood that they were the ones robbing the food and causing the disappearance of the people. The next morning, he went home and told what he had seen. Everyone gathered that night to verify what the fisherman had told them. They waited several nights and finally saw the strangers. They caught them at the base of the Topa inga, tied them up and began to interrogate them to find out from where they had come. That very night, the local people went to the mother canoe and killed them all and ate them. Vengeance in those days was an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. 

This legend was told to Napoleón Silverio Tepano-Hotus by his great-grandmother, Victoria Atamu Niare, also known as Rutoviko, who was born in 1894.