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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, September 4, 2002

Marquesas names rife with history

By Bob Krauss
Advertiser Columnist

TAIOHAE, Nuku Hiva — One intriguing connection between Hawai'i and the Marquesas is the Tamarii clan that must have become established on Nuku Hiva during the heyday of whaling. In Hawai'i, the family name would be pronounced "Kamali'i."

Big, gentle Teutu Teikiteetini of Taiohae is a Tamarii who names his children after Hawaiian royalty. He named his oldest son Kamehameha. Teutu wanted to name his third child Lili'uokalani but it was misspelled on her birth certificate as "Liliuokaulani." One of his grandchildren is named Kapi'olani.

Teutu told us his mother gave only him the right to give his children Hawaiian names.

He produced a genealogy in which Alexis Teoni Kaurau Tamarii was born in the Sandwich Islands in 1834, the first of the Marquesan Tamariis. The next entry has his marriage in Taiohae in 1883 to Anne Marie Teupoopihur. Alex died in Taiohae in 1892.

Let's say a young Hawaiian named Kamalii signed on as crew aboard a whale ship in Honolulu in the 1850s. Eventually, he landed at Taiohae on Nuku Hiva, a popular whaling port, settled down and married.

Lili'uokalani Tamarii was born in Taiohae in 1913. Why was she called Lili'uokalani?

It's just one of the delightful genealogical puzzles that the mixture of Hawaiians and Marquesans stirs up. Teutu believes that his family is connected to Hawaiian missionary Samuel Kauwealoha. There's a legend that Kauwealoha, upon landing at Fatu Hiva, was nicknamed Kamalii — which means small child — because of his small stature.

It gets more complicated on the female side. Teutu's wife, Ruita (Louisa), is a descendant of Hawaiian missionary George Laioha. That large Marquesan family now call themselves Raioha.

Sometimes, family names transmute dramatically. In the village of Vaipaee on the island of Uahuka, 85-year-old Hiotini Uu told us a lot about the Raioha line. She said that on one of the Marquesan islands, a Raioha was named Moke (for Moses) and this became the family name instead of Raioha.

Missionary James Kekela was in the Marquesas, but returned to Hawai'i to die. The Hawaiian progenitor left children behind who have populated the place with Kekelas, who are uniting with Tisos.

In Tahiti, the great-great-great-grandson of James Kekela, Eric Noble, is retired from the French army. He said Kekela descendant Alfred Tiso in Taiohae had the missionary's mementos in his store that was destroyed in a tsunami before World War II.

Noble is interested in celebrating the 150th anniversary next year of the 1853 arrival of Hawaiian missionaries in the Marquesas.

Reach Bob Krauss at 525-0873.