Hanapaaoa’s Tikis, part one


This story starts with a bag of coffee in the Galapagos. “Take this gift to Alec Mu in Hiva Oa,” said Diego, our Ecuadorian friend who had worked in Marquesas on a big yacht.

When we arrived in Hiva Oa we asked around for “Mu”, as he is known, and had him over to the boat with his son. He’s a jovial, stoutly built Tahitian with Chinese ancestry. For a living he trims trees along the roadside (to keep them off electrical wires). He came to Hiva Oa for his two year army service, met his wife, and never left. 


When we sailed to Hanaipa, on the north coast of Hiva Oa, we were surprised to bump into Mu at the local BBQ. “My wife is from Hanaiapa,” he explained, and introduced us to his brother-in-law. 

We were looking to rent a car to visit the Tiki sites on the north coast, and Mu suggested: “If you pay for the rental, I’ll drive you there.”

It was arranged. The five of us jumped into a 4×4 Toyota, bumping with Polynesian tunes, and hit the pavement, climbing out of the steep valley in extremely circuitous roads. 


Mu knows Hiva Oa like the back of his hand. He drove us up random muddy tracks, crawling in four wheel drive, leading to vistas of the island. 

Our first major stop was the village of Hanapaaoa. Mu changed music on the stereo, then said: “This song is about the Giant Pig. During ancient times, the people of another island did not have enough food, so the king of Hiva Oa sent the Giant Pig swimming across the ocean, where it collected many fish, and brought it to the hungry islanders. After they finished the fish, the islanders also ate the Giant Pig. You can still see the foot print of the Giant Pig here in Hanapaaoa as he was climbing into the water,” explained Mu. 


Sure enough, the massive footprint was in the rock by the seashore. The Giant Pig reflects the spirit of gifting and sharing, so integral to Marquesan culture. 

Uploaded via wifi in Hiva Oa