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Te Pito Te Henua, or Easter Island, by William J. Thompson, [1891], at


In the time, of Atua Ure Rangi, the Seventeenth king, the image-makers were exempt from all other kinds of work, and the fishermen were taxed for their chief support. The fish-hooks in use were made of stone, so hard that many months of chipping and grinding were required to fashion one fit for service, and the most perfect hooks, even in the hands of expert fishermen, permitted the escape of a large proportion of the fish. A youth named Urevaiaus, who was descended from a long line of fishermen, living at Hanga Pico, became prominent as one of the most skillful fishermen on the island. His outfit contained hooks bequeathed to him by his forefathers, but he became discouraged by the want of success which he thought his labors demanded, and much time was devoted to a consideration of the subject. One day, after a number of large and choice fish had escaped from his hooks, he determined to spend the entire night in the worship of the god Mea Kahi. About midnight, while he was still at his devotions, the spirit of an ancient fisherman named Tirakoka appeared, and made known the fact that his want of success was due to the inefficiency of the hooks. The spirit directed him to go to the cave in which his father's remains had been interred, and secure a piece of the thighbone, out of which a proper hook might be constructed. Urevaiaus became so much frightened by his interview with the spirit, that he failed to remember fully all the instructions that had been given, but he went to the cave the next day and secured the thigh-bone of his paternal parent. For many days he went out in his canoe regularly, but instead of fishing his entire attention was devoted to the manufacture of an improved hook. During this period his boat returned empty every evening, and his want of success excited the open ridicule of his companions and the concern of his friends, but he persevered until he had fashioned a bone-hook with barbed point.

When ready to test his new invention, a place was selected at a distance from his companions, and his boat was quickly filled with the finest fish. The extraordinary success of the young fisherman, in time excited the envy and jealousy of his companions, and his persistent refusal of all inducements to part with the secret led to a serious quarrel and bitter enmity. A sudden attack was finally planned upon Urevaiaus while at work upon the fishing-grounds; in effort to preserve his secret the youth lost his life; but the new form of hooks was found in his boat and the invention became known to the fraternity.

Next: Genealogy of the Kings of Easter Island