Tefana with burning hands

Deux grandes mains géantes en pierre trônent sur l’esplanade de Hotuarea. Elles font référence à la legend de Faa’a : Tefana aux mains brûlantes. Informations recueillies auprès de papa Matu par le Comité Culture de Faa’a.

Tefana with burning hands

Tefana with burning hands

Faa'a's original name was "Tetaha", a name which means sunrise and sunset and refers to the great warrior named Tetaha. Formerly, the district of Tetaha was governed by chiefs and an assembly of priests.


At that time, King Pômare liked to indulge in the organization of one of the most prestigious festivities: the preparation of the Tahitian oven. ahi'maa.

On Place Tarahoi in Papeete, this competition attracted an innumerable crowd determined to encourage their respective champions:

  • Tetaha associated with Manotahi (Punaauia today),
  • Manorua for Paea, which represented the region of Teoropaa.

To reach the place of competition Manotahi and Manorua had their own double canoe where the food and articles for the competition were carefully sheltered. On arrival in the bay of Tauaa, they dropped anchor for a moment of respite then headed for the place called Tefana near Tipaerui, where Tetaha was waiting for them to open the doors to the competition.

Before the start signal the king addressed a message of encouragement to all the delegations. He noted with pleasure that the regions competed in the quality of their products. It showed that everyone took their preparation for victory very seriously.

This event was punctuated by three horn sounds:

  • the first announced the preparation of the Tahitian oven.
  • The second, the placement of the stones in the oven. As for the last, he advised of the preparation of the dishes for their cooking.
  • Finally, the sound of drums and percussion announced the beginning of the tasting of the dishes: it is this crucial moment that will determine the champion.

All the participants competed in terms of taste and presentation of the dishes. The winner was selected by his speed of execution. So, without any hesitation and animated by an exemplary assurance, Tetaha plunged his hands into the oven in order to extract the hot dishes to be the first to present them to the king.

Tetaha was proclaimed winner of the Tahitian oven competition by the king who gave him a new name: “Tefana i te rima veavea”, Tefana with burning hands”