Tale Tokelau: Matilafoafoa

The tales of Tokelau contain many references to mythological characters and events found in tales from other parts of Polynesia. This is Matilafoafoa's Tokelauan tale.


The Story of Matilafoafoa

Matilafoafoa, the king of heaven (tupu o lunga) saw a women from his place in the sky. She was picking up rubbish on the earth below. Matilafoafoa sang, “I am king above and below. Let a wind come and carry me to the woman below.” Immediately a wind and a strong rain came and carried him down to earth and set him down beside a woman named Sina. 

She turned to Matilafoafoa and asked, “Who are you, a man or a god?” Matilafoafoa replied, “I am a man.” He stayed with Sina on earth until she became pregnant. Then he wished to return to his home in the skies. When he left his wife he told her that if she gave birth to a son she must call him Limaleimakoloa.

Sina later gave birth to a son and named him as his father had desired. Not long after Matilafoafoa had left, Sina married Punga, and by him she had many children. Punga went fishing every day, and when he beached his canoe on his return at evening, all his own children ran to carry his fish; but they drove off Limaleimakoloa, because Punga was not his father.

Limaleimakoloa, angry at the taunts of the other children, asked his mother why Punga was not his father. Sina told him Matilafoafoa was his father and sent him to his father in the sky, but Punga called him back. Limaleimakoloa shouted at him, “Punga, you like your own children but you do not love me”, and he proceeded on his way.

During the journey, Limaleimakoloa met many spirits and evil creatures who tried to prevent him from reaching the sky. As soon as the boy told them that he was the son of the king of the sky, they fled from him. Beyond these beings he came upon two women, Limalei and Makoloa, sisters of the king of the sky, who struck at him and cut his flesh. 

When he reached Matilafoafoa, he told him of the treatment he had received from the two sisters of his father. Matilafoafoa sent for these two women and killed them. Then he took the son of Sina and put him in his own high place.