School Papers

Tahiti islands in French Polynesia, it is often

Tahiti is part of the Society Islands in French Polynesia, located in the South Pacific Ocean. Although Tahiti is one of 118 islands in French Polynesia, it is often regarded as the cultural and political center of French Polynesia, as it is home to its capital; Pape?ete. Tahiti is known worldwide as a tropical paradise, with its beautiful beaches and warm climate. However, similarly to other areas in Polynesia, Tahiti faces some problems adapting to population growth and development. Overall, Tahiti is a beautiful place that is very similar to Hawai?i and other places in the Pacific, with rich literature, hidden social and political issues, and a history that dates back to ancient times. Similar to its neighbors around the Pacific, Tahiti boasts a long history of myths, legends, and stories, some of which have recently translated into works of literature. One such myth from Tahiti dates back to the time of ancient Tahiti. This story is about the life of a Tahitian man named Hiro, who is a trickster and manipulator who possesses great power and strength. The story of Hiro is similar to the Hawaiian story of Maui, another trickster in Hawaiian mo?olelo. The story of Hiro was one of the stories that were translated and written as works of literature by Teuira Henry, who was born in Tahiti in 1847 and was the granddaughter of an English missionary. Her books; Ancient Tahiti and Voyaging Chiefs of Havai?i, feature numerous Tahitian stories which were passed down orally from generation to generation, before being written down and compiled into these books to keep them alive. Her other stories include Ru and Hina and Tafa?i. Although Teuira Henry is famous for her books about ancient Tahiti, there were other authors who also translated ancient tales to preserve them for future generations. One such author was S. Percy Smith, who was an ethnologist based in New Zealand. He translated the story Tangiia and Tutapu, told to him by the high priest of Rarotonga. In addition to its many works of literature based on ancient stories, Tahiti also has a lot of modern literature. (ANOTHER PARAGRAPH ABOUT MODERN LITERATURE HERE) People first arrived in Tahiti around 500 BC, migrating from Southeast Asia, Samoa, Tonga, and the Marquesas using double-hull canoes and the nature around them as their compass. Tahitians later migrated to Hawai?i, therefore there are many Hawaiian mo?olelo about Tahiti or “Kahiki” and migrations between the two places. In 1767 Captain Samuel Wallis of the British Navy became the first documented European to visit Tahiti, which he named King George III Island. In 1768, Louis-Antoine de Bougainville visited the island and claimed it for France. The first permanent European settlers were a part of the Protestant London Missionary Society, they arrived in 1797. They also helped the Pomare family (Tahitians) to gain control of the island, resulting in the reign of the family until Tahiti was proclaimed a French colony in 1880. The arrival of Europeans led to many changes in the landscape and Tahitian way of life. These changes also led to bigger problems down the road. Another similarity that Tahiti shares with its counterparts around the Pacific are some of the issues that it faces. When people think of Tahiti or any Pacific island, they often think of beautiful beaches, sunsets, and overwater bungalows. But behind the paradise facade, there are deeper issues. Since Europeans first visited Tahiti in the 16th century, there have been significant changes in the native landscape and culture of Tahiti. After it was colonized by France in 1880, even more problems began to arise. In the early 1960?s, France?s Nuclear Testing Program was moved from Algeria to French Polynesia. In regards to the contradictory images of Tahiti, Miriam Kahn, author of “Tahiti: Behind the Postcard” wrote, “Those images of blue lagoons and attractive people could divert attention from the nuclear testing program by creating a veil behind which the dire consequences of the testing could be hidden” (61). There is an ongoing struggle in Tahiti between the less-represented natives and the rest of the population. Nuclear testing, development, tourism, and population growth have led to jurassic damages in the native environment and people of Tahiti. Also stated in Kahn?s book, “As is the case for most Pacific Islanders, a Tahitian?s sense of cultural identity is rooted in the land” (63). Therefore, the desecration of the land also means the desecration of the cultural identity of the Tahitian people. This is extremely relevant to the problems that are going on in Hawai?i. In both places, there is conflict between the Native people, many of whom want to care for and respect the land, and the foreigners, who generally want to change the landscape to suit tourists and foreigners looking for a tropical paradise to live. Tourism not only brought unemployment, poverty, and traffic, but the exploitation of native culture as well. When a French woman named Paulette Vienot began Tahiti?s first travel agency, she soon realized that Tahitian dance and music was a great source of entertainment, so much so that it became the most popular form of tourist entertainment. Vienot was a very influential figure in the creation of the fantastical image that Westerners have of Tahiti. As more and more tourists began to flood into Tahiti fueled by the idea of a paradise, the harder it was for the tourism industry to maintain the pristine beauty that they had come to see. This resulted in more changes in the landscape and more work for those in the tourism industry. Other social issues in Tahiti are those that include the decline of the Tahitian people. With the employment of a new system, some could not adjust, and therefore lost their land. Urban Tahitian youth face high unemployment, malnutrition, disease, and overcrowding. This is also the case in many other Pacific Islands, because once they are taken over by foreign countries, many of the native people have trouble adjusting and thriving under a new system, and little is done to help them. According to an article by MT Danielson, “The most serious health problem is irradiation caused cancers: leukemia, thyroid infection, and brain tumors. There are also high levels of miscarriages” (1). Even though the Tahitian people are struggling to survive in their native land, it seems that little is being done to help them, and anti-nuclear groups have had little effect.

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