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Huahine (Leeward Islands, French Polynesia)

Matairea

Last modified: 2015-12-28 by ivan sache
Keywords: huahine | leeward islands | matairea |
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Presentation of Huahine

Quoting the website of the Presidency of French Polynesia (page no longer online):

Huahine is the easternmost island of the Leeward Islands. It is located at 151ºW and 16º45'S south. Huahine is made up of two mountainous islands separated by Maroe Bay and Port-Bouraigne Bay. The two islands are Huahine Nui and Huahine Iti, which cover a combined area of 74 square kilometers. Both were formed by an ancient volcano whose center collapsed, allowing the ocean to enter. The edges of the remaining volcanic cone create a chain of peaks, the highest of which are Mt. Turi, with a height of 669 meters, and Mt. Puhuerei, with a height of 456 meters. Many radial valleys have been formed by intense erosion of both islands. Several small volcanic domes complicate the island's relief. They are like outpourings of trachytic lava that traversed the mountain and ended up in the many faults. Mt. Moua Tapu, Mt. Paeo and Mt. Vaihi, which have formed an isthmus and the Tiva peninsula. Bordering Huahine's north and east coasts are big coral motu that hem in the inlet from the sea at Maeva.

According to Dr. Yoshihiko Sinoto of Hawaii, the oldest populated sites date back to 850-1100 AD. The island has a wealth of remains of dwellings and marae. Huahine has some 280 archeological structures that have survived natural and anthropic destruction. These include remains of dwellings, horticultural developments, religious and ceremonial monuments.
According to legend, eight chiefdoms were created by Princess Hutuhiva, who had fled to Huahine from Raiatea hidden in a musical drum. The Manunu marae was built on the place where she first set foot on Huahine. The island's political division is best demonstrated at the Matairea Rahi marae, where eight stone backrests symbolize the place where the eight chiefs had the right to sit. When Lt. James Cook arrived at Huahine in 1769, the island was under the rule of Pomare II on Tahiti. Huahine resisted French rule for a long time. After some 40 years of skirmishes, the regent Marama signed a document in 1888 establishing the French Protectorate. France's annexation of Huahine was announced in 1897, but French citizenship was not granted to the islanders until 1946.

The 1996 census recorded a population of 5,411 persons on Huahine, which had experienced a steady demographic growth since 1971. Agriculture remains the main activity on the island, providing work for a good part of the employed islanders. Most of the agricultural work is in the districts of Faie and Fitii, where taro, sweet potato, the plant tarua, vegetables and vanilla are grown.
Maeva farmers cleared large portions of land on several motu. This land is devoted to the growing of cantaloupes and watermelons, with most of the harvests shipped to the public market in Papeete. Oyster farming, which involved part of the Tefarerii lagoon, was destroyed by a parasite. There is a lot of fishing, which has gone professional. The new Port of Fare is served by a variety of boats and ships. Huahine's airport is served by regular flights from Papeete, Raiatea and Bora Bora, which produced 77,286 passengers in 1996.

Ivan Sache, 21 August 2005


Huahine, 19th century

[Old Rurutu flag]

Old flag of Huahine, 1847-1889 - Image by Ivan Sache, 21 August 2005

According to the Flags of Paradise chart [brt96], the old flag of Huahine (that is before the establishment of the Protectorate) is horizontally divided white-red-white.

Ivan Sache, 21 August 2005