Les contes de Tokelau contiennent de nombreuses références à des personnages et événements mythologiques trouvés dans des contes d’autres parties de la Polynésie. De nombreux mythes mentionnent des voyages aux Fidji et les gens qui s’y trouvent, une caractéristique commune des contes samoans. Voici le conte Tokelau de Pupunatavai (en).
Once there was a married couple of the same name, Pupunatavai. With them lived a spirit, Matapula, who noticed that Pupunatavai, the woman, was pregnant; and he began to count her months. At the approach of the last month, Matapula sent a message to this woman: “When you give birth to your baby, you must send it to me to eat.” When the child came, she did as Matapula had ordered and sent the baby to him; and he ate it.
Some time later Matapula noticed that Pupunatavai was pregnant again, and he counted the months of pregnancy until it was about time for the child to arrive. Again he sent his servants with the message, “Pupunatavai, if you are going to have another child you must send it to me to eat.” The child was born not long after Matapula’s servants had delivered the message, and Pupunatavai sent her second child to Matapula, who ate this one also.
Her pregnancies continued, and each time Matapula sent his servants with the same message and each time the child was sent for Matapula to eat, as soon as it was born. This went on until Matapula had eaten nine children of Pupunatavai.
When the tenth child was about to be born, Matapula sent his servants as usual to Pupunatavai with the demand for the child. But the child still in its mother’s womb heard what the servants had told her and sang to her:
Punapunatevae … e
Auma ia ko te tamaliki.
Ke faiai ko te kava.
Fakatali mai koe.
Ke fano ifo au.
The swelling of the child.
Make the kava.
You wait here,
I shall come down.
Then the child said to his mother, “Where is the place to go down?” The mother answered, “Come straightway from my foot.” But the child replied, “No, I do not wish to come from the foot because the legs always stand in the excrement of birds and in dirty things.” And he shouted, “Where is the way to come out?” Then the mother replied, “You must come out from my hand.” But the baby answered, “No, I do not wish to come out from your hand because the hand always smells of the eggs of the lice in the hair.”
And again he asked loudly, “Where am I to come out?” Then his mother said, “You had best come out as all people are born, from between a woman’s legs.” Then the child was born and a tall man stood before Pupunatavai.
This son of Pupunatavai asked the two servants of Matapula, “Are you the two who came with Matapula’s message? You know I am a strong man and can break you two into pieces in no time. I can even break your legs.” And with that he broke the legs of one servant and the jaw of the other servant and sent them away. The servant with the broken jaw ran to his master, while the other crawled. When the first arrived, Matapula asked him, “Where is the child I sent you to bring here?”
The servant tried to reply, but all he could do was to make unintelligible sounds. Then the second servant arrived, dragging himself along with his hands, and he told his master all that had occurred—how the child had talked to them from his mother’s womb and how, when it was born, there stood before them a giant who broke the legs of one of them and the jaw of the other.
Upon hearing this, Matapula beat his log drum and summoned all his people. They assembled at his house, and the giant child came with them. Matapula stood before his people. To show them his strength he seized a great stick and brandished it over his head, but no stones moved where he stood, and the people saw that he was weak in his legs.
Then Vaea, the newly born giant, took the stick from Matapula and told him to sit down. He brandished the stick and all the stones flew away. Matapula became alarmed and shouted, “No giants in the world or in the sky will come and fight with the strong man, Vaea.” Matapula’s people abandoned him, and Vaea returned to his mother.
That evening Vaea asked his sister to go and catch some fish for him. The girl took her torch and went down to the sea where she saw a canoe approaching. The canoe contained Malokilafulu, a giant, and his brothers, Tauaputuputu, Tauatiniulu, Talofialekava, and their sister, Apakula. They came up to the reef but could not beach their canoe. Vaea’s sister ran back to tell Vaea and fell weeping. Vaea said to her, “Do not cry for me or be afraid.”
The giants thought that no one had seen them arrive in the dark, so they anchored their canoe and went to sleep in it. Vaea went down to the sea, picked up the anchored canoe by one finger, set it on the shore, and slept beside it. During the night one of the sleeping giants was awakened by a dream.
He aroused the rest and said, “My dream is that we bailed our canoe on the shore and not on the land.” When he finished, his brothers told their dreams; each one had dreamed the same thing. Malokilafulu said, “We are still in the night, but tomorrow we shall eat the liver of Vaea.”
With the rising of the sun they found that they had been taken into Vaea’s house. They were very frightened and pleaded with Vaea not to kill them. Malokilafulu promised their sister, Apakula, to Vaea if he would let them live. Vaea married Apakula.
After he had been married for some time, he said to the four brothers, “I want to go and look at some other islands. You wait here and live with your sister.” Then he said to his wife, “If you have a son born to us while I am away, you must give him my name; but if you have a daughter, you may name her as you wish.” Apakula lived with her brother, Malokilafulu, who was angry when she named her baby boy Vaea. He went to his brothers and told them that Apakula had a son whom she had named Vaea and that they must plan to kill him.
When Malokilafulu was not with them one day, the brothers told their sister all that Malokilafulu planned against her son. When Malokilafulu returned to her house, Apakula said, “If you are angry with me and wish to kill my son, you must bring me his heart.” Malokilafulu immediately went out of the house. He prepared some fibers of coconut husk to make a sennit rope and spread them out on the ground.
Then he poured water from a coconut shell over them and returned to his place in the house of the brothers. “Did Apakula’s baby break my fibers?” he asked them. But their answer was that no child had come near the fibers. Then he ordered them to bring the baby to him, saying that he wished to kill it, for if he did not, the child would go to its father. The baby was brought, and while the brothers were sitting in the house, Malokilafulu beat the child to death with a club.
Apakula came to the house and asked for the heart of her baby. They wrapped it in tapa and gave it to her. She carried it out and went to the reef, where she cried:
Mau kau fakalava
Ko leo lauatau
O laku tama.
Kai ke ko puakina atu
Takumea nei fatu manava
Namaumau ete mea te alofa.
She dived into the sea and swam to the place where Vaea had gone to live. She related to him the story of her child and gave him the heart. Vaea restored the child to life. Then Apakula told him that all her brothers loved her except Malokilafulu, who had been very cruel and angry with her. Vaea said, “We shall return to our land and fight.” So he, his wife and child, and three boys—Fakataufili, Vakataufiki, and Lae—whom he had taught to be clever in fighting and quick in running, set out for home.
When they came to their land where the giant brothers were living, Apakula pointed out to Vaea the brothers who had been kind to her and then Malokilafulu. Vaea and the three boys went to the house of the giants and started to fight. Apakula hid under a rough coconut leaf on the canoe.
Malokilafulu ran away from Vaea to the place where the canoe was and stood by the mat under which Apakula was hiding. She recognized her brother’s legs and slashed at them with an adz. He cried out, “Apakula e lofuatini.” His sister replied, “Ko koe tena na e te pofepoa.” Then she killed him with her adz.