origin stories
The story of Hemoana and Fenu

In days long ago or at the beginning, there was the spirit of Nukunonu named Hemoana. Then there came a day when the spirit of Fakaofo named Fenu came to steal away the fresh water in Nukunonu for Fakaofo. When Fenu -the spirit of Fakaofo- was coming, Hemoana already knew it because of her great spiritual powers. She knew that Fenu would come to steal away the fresh waters of Nukunonu. So she went up to the well and changed into a stone so that Fenu would not see her. Fenu arrived, grasping in her hand a clam shell so she could take the water with her. When Fenu crept up to the well, she kept looking around to see where Hemoana was, because Fenu knew all too well that Hemoana was a strong and clever spirit. Fenu was afraid for this very good reason. Fenu went down into the well, bending down to dip up the fresh water in the clam shell and she still kept looking around. Hemoana suddenly came up to at the well. Just when Fenu stood up to race away with the fresh water to Fakaofo inside the clam shell, Hemoana leaped out and shouted out: "Got you, you tricky one."

Immediately the wild chase began, and the clam shell dribbled over the southern islets. Fenu arrived at Motu Akea and was surprised to see Hemoana there. Hemoana reached out and hit the clam shell full of fresh water in Fenu's hand, which again spilled more down there. This is said to be the reason why Motu Akea has a well. Then Hemoana raced off with great speed to Fakaofo and stole away the Pandanus tree and planted it again in Nukunonu. The story goes that Fakaofo is blessed with that fresh water taken from Nukunonu; but Nukunonu also has a well, due to the foresight of Hemoana. Hemoana is also responsible for the Panadanus tree which thrives Nukunonu.

In Praise of Hemoana

Hemoana to nau ka tau
E tau kae nofo atu au
E fehulufaki te tiale matala
To nau e tu ma tauhala
E fepunufaki te tiale matala
To nau e tu ma tauhala
Hemoana to nau

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