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The art of living - Polynesian Style

"Ia Orana", "Maeva" et "Manava"... are three words of greeting that Polynesians will welcome you with.

Capitale de la Polynésie française

Proud of their islands, the Polynesians are happy to share their natural joie de vivre (joy of living) with their guests. It is a joy expressed in dance and music of all kinds; polyphonic chants from a religious, sacred music group along with the rhythm of percussion from traditional instruments, the pahu and toare. There may even be harmonies from guitars or ukulele that liven up local orchestras. It is a joy that Polynesians express through their leisure and indulging in their favourite pastimes such as fishing, surfing and traditional outrigger sailing, or through va’a, the emblematic sport of the archipelagos.

> Also read: Our rich heritage

Testimonials from the past

Bougainville (1768) ‘The character of the nation appeared to us as gentle and kindly. It appears that there has never been a civil war on the island nor any specific hatred of any sort although the country is divided into small villages, each with an independent lord; we are convinced that the Tahitians bear good faith to each other and that they never question this. Whether they are in their homes or not, the houses are open day and night. Each person harvests fruit from the first tree they find, takes it into the house and goes in. It appears that for the necessities of life, there is no ownership and everything belongs to everyone.’

James Morrison, second boatswain on board the ‘Bounty’ (1789) ‘The young women wear their hair long, falling in waves down to their waists and decorated with the white leaves (hinano) of the fara (pandanus or screw pine) as well as with scented flowers. They also make necklaces with fara seeds and flowers that are beautifully arranged. This is not only very flattering but is a bouquet pleasing to themselves as well as to all who are seated near them. All in all these are the most beautiful women that we have seen in these seas...’

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