Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Manahune Live in Taravao

As I've mentioned before, between living in a remote place where there's little night life and having two kids, Josh and I don't get out much. But Saturday night we got a last minute call from some good friends who invited us to go and see one of my favorite Tahitian bands, Manahune play live at my favorite new restaurant in Taravao, Terre et Mer. When you live in Teahupoo and there's something going on a mere 20 minutes away you go!

I've been a fan of Manuhune since I arrived in French Polynesia 15 years ago. The word Manahune in ancient Polynesian society meant "the common people" or "working class." Most Polynesians were and still are in this social bracket - today they are the farmers and fisherfolk who effortlessly retain their traditional culture, mixed with some beer and Coca-Cola. The band really lives up to its name. It's powerful music whether you understand the words or not - it's almost like Polynesian rap backed by rock and a bit of jazz. Listening to the forceful lyrics I couldn't help but think of the orero - strong poetic traditional speeches given by orators at Tahitian dance performances and, if you stretch the meaning of the Polynesian art to modern circumstances, political and religious meetings. Orero are what the common people listen to to guide them and Manuhune in essence, give an orero through song. The music is utterly modern yet purely Polynesian.

No one really danced at the show. We were all sitting at tables enjoying a delicious buffet of poisson cru, gratin-baked mussels, salads and assorted meat dishes. I drank an electric blue frozen cocktail that made me want to get up and dance, but the scene just wasn't right for it. A few guys with beers bobbed around in doorways and the only "scene" happened when a guy kept going up and trying to hug the lead singer/guitar player while he was performing. A bouncer finally had to bring the overzealous fan outside. It was actually kind of cute.

But better than explaining, here's a Manune video of one of their most popular songs "Motu":



  1. Hey, Celeste!

    To continue our conversation about Polynesian words morphing over geographical distance, in Hawaii the "menehune" are a mythical race of little people who magically completed the construction of temples, fishponds, etc., overnight.

    Some historians / archaeologists theorize that the menehune were actually an earlier wave of migration from the Marquesas, before the bigger population push arrived in Hawaii from Tahiti, establishing a working vs. ruling class system.

    Anyway, just thought you'd be interested in knowing more about manahune vs. menehune.

  2. Same word fer sure! Another thing with the manahune is that they were said to be much smaller than the ruling classes (who some people believe were around 7 ft tall). Being Polynesian, I doubt that made them exactly "little people" but I have no doubt they would have had the skills magically build all that stuff. They are also likely to have been the first people to set off looking for greener pastures. Cool! Thanks for the Hawaii connection.

  3. I just got lucky and wandered onto your blog. I've lived and traveled in many countries but have never been to Tahiti and would love to find out more.

    It's an interesting world out there and there's always one more place to learn about!

  4. Hi Miss Footloose. It's my luck too that you wandered onto my blog! Hopefully I'll help you vicariously visit French Polynesia - I'm always honored when well-traveled folks enjoy my site. Thanks for your comment :-)



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