Tahitian community groups try to save endangered sacred mountain

Tahua-Reva ... the controversial cliff face on the sacred mountain in Tahiti-Iti. Image: #ProtectTahuaReva

Asia Pacific Report newsdesk

A collective of community groups in Tahiti trying to preserve a historical-cultural icon at Tautira have condemned the Tahitian government for “deliberately trying to destroy our heritage”.

The iconic Tahua-Reva is the community’s sacred mountain on the southeastern tip of Tahiti-Iti, the smaller section adjoining the main island of Tahiti.

The community groups have appealed for help in their campaign to save the mountainside.

“All the government sees is [that] the mountainʻs cliff must be secured to protect against tumbling rocks, and they came up with no alternative other than dynamite [it] because they say itʻs a cheaper solution,” wrote Vaihei Paepaetaata, a voice of the community groups trying to save the mountainside, in a letter today to Asia Pacific Report.

Tautira on Tahiti-Iti
Tautira on Tahiti-Iti. Image: Google Maps

“Their experts say the danger arises from three stones, 50 tonnes each, which threaten to
collapse on the road at the foot of  Tahua-Reva mountain. But for us the danger is the
loss of our heritage, the loss of our history and identity.”

Cultural educator and linguist Paepaetaata said that was why she was seeking help in relaying information “as widely as possible” on behalf of her community of Tautira.

“It is absolutely unacceptable for us that such a decision be taken without any consultation with the population. This cultural site is of capital importance for Polynesian heritage in so far as its history is intimately linked to the marae Tapu-Tapu-Tea, which is registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

“These three stones carry a story and have a powerful energy. They are a resting place for
the departing souls before they rise to the firmament called Rauhotu No’ano’a.

“Tahua-Reva is a place of collective memory but unfortunately it is not registered, so no
law can protect her from being damaged by humans.

“Tahua-Reva allows me and everyone in my community from Tautira to claim our
affiliation to the land and to say:

I have a mountain, its name is TAHUA-REVA
I have a water, it is called VAIT -PIHA
I have a piece of land, it is called FATUTIRA-I-TE-TAI-PA’A’INA

“This chant is taught to young children from preschool. What will we show to our children if
our mountain is destroyed?

“What meaning will we give to this desecration? What legacy will we leave for them tomorrow?”

Paepaetaata has appealed to Pacific journalists to take up the issue and report their concerns.

Tahua-Reva ... sacred rocks.
Tahua-Reva … sacred rocks. Image: #ProtectTahuaReva
Tahua-Reva ... the sacred mountain
Tahua-Reva … the sacred mountain in Tahiti-Iti. Image: #ProtectTahuaReva


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