Inspired tales of Matariki 2011


Foneua was an old blind woman of Salega, Savaii (Western Samoa). Her only child was a girl she named this child Salofa. A great famine spread all over the villages around them. Starvation was upon Salega.

One day the family of Fonuea and Salofa engaged themselves in baking soi (dioscorea bulbifera, a type of baking), which was gathered from the forest the day before. Fonuea, with the help of her daughter, followed up the progress of the cooking, from a distance where they lived. When the smoke disappeared Fonuea figured that the stones were then heated and that the food was then covered for steaming. Fonuea waited for about two hours when she asked Salofa if she could see anybody coming to them with some food. The answer was No. For hours Fonuea continued the same question and Salofa repeated the same answer. Fonuea was soon convinced that their family had left them to die starving. After all patience Fonuea ordered her daughter to lead her to the cliff over the ocean. Fonuea at the edge of the cliff held her daughter's hand tightly and told her to accompany her as they jumped into the sea. The hungry and stressed mother and her child immediately turned into a turtle and shark. From there they swam east so they could be away from their relatives and village.

They swam hundreds of miles east away until they reached Vaitogi, a village in the island of Tutuila, now part of American Samoa. At the sandy beach of Vaitogi they transformed themselves again and became human, in order to meet High Chief Letuli and his people. Letuli courteously received his guests and treated them with the best of food and clothing in his guest house. Fonuea and Salofa soon regained their normal strength which they had lost during the famine in Salega and swimming in the ocean for hundreds of miles. In order to show their great appreciation of Letuli's hospitality and cordial receptions in Saitogi, Fonuea approached High Chief Letuli and expressed her sincere gratitude in which she vowed to the Chief that she and her daughter would return to the ocean and live just below the Vaitogi cliff. "It is there," she continued, "that we would come to the water surface and dance to entertain you. ”Fonuea then recited to Letuli a chant, which when sung would immediately make them appear. Letuli expressed his great appreciation of the honour bestowed upon him. He immediately proclaimed to the people of Vaitogi that it was a serious offense to destroy, disturb or to disrespect his guests, the turtle and shark over the cliff. Fonuea and her daughter returned to live in the sea in the forms of a turtle and shark. They have lived there for several centuries and never failed once to appear, as they promised, when Letuli's chant was sung over the cliff.


Room 9 was invited by the Newtown Library in Wellington to participate in a project to celebrate Matariki. We were asked to retell our favourite Maori and Samoan legends or to create a legend of our own. We read many stories and legends and then wrote them in our own words. The tales inspired some artwork and along with the completed stories we sent it all the library.

After the holidays we were invited back to the library for our very own Book Launch. Our stories and art had been made into a beautiful hard cover book. Two copies were made, one for us to have at school and one to go into the library collection, which means that anyone can issue it, and take it home to read.

It is very exciting to see our work published in such a professional way and to know that anyone in Wellington can read our stories.