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Ethnology of Manihiki and Rakahanga

Men's Garments

Men's Garments

The men's garments consisted of two forms of perineal band. The perineal band is known generally as a maro, but the shorter form received the specific name mahere and the longer one, taoa.

1. The short band (mahere) was plaited in lauhala. It was 1.5 arm spans (maro) in length and 1 finger span (ngahonu) in width. The band was passed between the legs and the front and back ends were held in position by a sennit belt (tukaha), the ends falling over it. (Ka huru mai i mua, ka huru mai i muri.) If the band was long enough, it was passed around the waist after passing between the legs.

2. The long band (taoa) was from 4 to 7 yards long and about 2 finger spans wide. (See fig. 48.) The specimen of taoa owned by Tupou-rahi was made of fine plaiting with 10 wefts to the inch. Overlaid plaiting in thin papa material stained with native nenu dye was used for decorative effect. Twill strokes were used to relieve the ordinary check plait, and a colored fringe of tou bast was attached at either end.

The plaited taoa was a well-made garment and a marked advance over the coconut stipule maro of Tongareva. Being long, it was wound around the waist besides being passed back between the limbs. The long taoa with colored wefts and end fringes was used by people of higher status on festive or ceremonial occasions, whereas the short mahere was used as ordinary clothing.