As a New Zealander I thought it was high time I posted some archaeology a bit closer to home.

A very important Pacific archaeological site located on the south eastern coast of Raiatea, French Polynesia -the Taputapuatea Marae.

For those of you who don’t know, a marae is a sacred religious gathering place in Polynesian societies. This particular marae was already established by 1000 AD, and was once known as the religious centre and central temple of Eastern Polynesia. Here, people such as priests and navigators would meet to share knowledge and preform sacrifices to the gods.

Member of the Moari iwi Te Rangi Hīroa (anthropologist, politician), upon visiting the site in 1929 was overcome with grief due to the state of the once great marae, and consequently wrote:

I had made my pilgrimage to Taputapu-atea, but the dead could not speak to me. It was sad to the verge of tears. I felt a profound regret, a regret for — I knew not what. Was it for the beating of the temple drums or the shouting of the populace as the king was raised on high? Was it for the human sacrifices of olden times? It was for none of these individually but for something at the back of them all, some living spirit and divine courage that existed in ancient times of which Taputapu-atea was a mute symbol. It was something that we Polynesians have lost and cannot find, something that we yearn for and cannot recreate. The background in which that spirit was engendered has changed beyond recovery. The bleak wind of oblivion had swept over Opoa. Foreign weeds grew over the untended courtyard, and stones had fallen from the sacred altar of Taputapu-atea. The gods had long ago departed.

(ref: D. Hanlon, Voyaging Through the Contemporary Pacific)

Fortunately, as of 1994, the archaeological remains of Taputapuatea has been restored, and is currently being pushed to become a recognized United Nations World Heritage site.

Photos courtesy & taken by Pierre Lesage.