Briel? Gauguin? Hiva Oa, Fatu Hiva

So the pillars were raised on Ua Pou and the roof is completed on the islands of Hiva Oa and Fatu Hiva. As the ship arrives , a convoy of  4 WD descends down the hill to the relative flat are of the wharf. Goods are delivered and collected. Mattresses, food, a car, water and food supplies of all types are exchanged. It all happens in an orderly fashion as the barge goes back and forth to the ship. It is only at the bigger ports like  Ua Pou that the ship can actually dock.














Making Tapa. This is a type of fabric that is made from the inner bark of a tree. It can be a Banyan, breadfruit or Indian Mulberry. The bark is pounded over a rock until it is three times the original size. Then it is soaked in water. Sometimes Tapioca is added to make the finished fabric smoother for drawing . In the past people wore clothes of the fabric before cotton was introduced



 Noni fruit. When this is ripe it is shipped to America and changed into a pleasant tasting drink for the herbalist industry. In its natural form,it smells like fermented cheese. It and the juice of the green mango are used as medicine by the islanders.

Hiva Oa is a small community. It is famous for two foreigners who chose to live and be buried there. Jacques Briel was a Belgian singer not unlike Michael Buble’ . He was famous in the 70’s . Paul Gauguin was of course a painter who brought the colours of Polynesia to the world. His life was brief ,by our standards ,and not always happy…….the problem of many artistic types.  There is a museum outlining his life and work in prints ,since no actual paintings are still in the islands.

On one side of the island is Atuona , the home of Gauguin, and on the other, Puamau and Vaitahu. Famous for the archeological site at Puamau and bone carving at Vaitahu. Traditionally bone carving was done on fish and whale bones, however,in the past it was not uncommon to take a leg bone from a dead relative and use it. This was considered to be honouring the dead as was keeping the skull in a container in the house. Animal bones from pigs, cows, goats, and of course sea creatures are now used.

Puamau is the site of a famous tribe that was defeated and the site eventually has the largest Tikis on the islands. Those that did not escape would have become the slaves of the victors


These are symbols of the people and their beliefs. Their eyes are big look beyond to the sea.

Many of the islands now have small populations, 600 people in Hiva Oa and 200 in Fatu Hiva . It is noticeable that there is no rubbish and everyone has a beautiful garden with Taro, Mangoes or other fruits growing.

In this region, the main religion is Catholic. The churches are simple, no windows ,so air can pass freely , and beautiful wooden carvings or drawings to reflect the lives of the people.More next time I have Internet.


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