Background on the Tuamotu Islands

The Tuamotu Archipelago is located east of Tahiti. Dozens of islands stretch in a gradual arc for 1200 km. Except for the island of Makatea, these islands are all atoll islands consisting a series of motus or sandbars encircling a central lagoon. Agricultural resources on these islands are poor.

The old Tuamotuans lacked good timber for canoe-making. Never-theless, they fashioned double canoes that were 15-18 meters long from planks that were sewn together with coconut fiber. Europeans marvelled at their ability to shape and fit planks when they generally only had shell tools to work with.

The Tuamotuans were a very literary culture. Thousands of pages of Tuamotuan poetry and legends have been recorded and are referenced in these stories.


Revised: June 13, 1996

Copyright © 1996 Daniel (Taniera) Longstaff