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Otaua e Hikaroa

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In the world of cultural oral history there are many successful unions as well as the tragic love story.

The story of Otaua and Hikaroa begins in their island of Uea when Otaua’s husband, Hikaroa, who loved dance and entertainment, had heard of a house of dance in the island of Ararua-enua-o-Ru-ki-te-moana (Aitutaki) known as Te Are Karioi. Promising his wife he would return after satisfying his desire to better the local dancers Hikaroa sailed to Aitutaki in search of this renowned place.

After many weeks and no sign of her husband, a distraught Otaua also decided to sail to Aitutaki to seek her husband. It wasn't difficult for Otaua to locate the Are Karioi after her arrival at Aitutaki, hearing the drumming she found her way to the large building where she immediately saw Hikaroa dancing and cavorting with the local women.

Otaua attempted to gain Hikaroa’s attention, but he pretended not to recognise his wife, spurning Otaua’s advances at every turn distancing himself between the many local female dancers. Stricken with grief at her betrayal, a sobbing Otaua wandered down toward the shore where She climbed a large coconut tree and threw herself to her death.

At the dawn her body was discovered, but not being a local no one recognised Otaua until one of the female dancers remembered her attempts to gain Hikaroa’s attention.

At this Hikaroa drew closer and to his regret, he saw the unmistakable identifying mark unique to his wife, a birth mark upon her thigh. This story is shared in not only story form but in song and pe’e (traditional chant).

Materials: Stretched Canvas, Oil paint, varnish.
Size: 36 x 24
Date: 2021

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