National Geographic : 1962 Apr
Twenty Fathoms Down for Mother-of-Pearl Each night under a cloud of stars, the boys of Takaroa gathered near the Mormon Church. They carried their French guitars or ukuleles from Rangiroa Island - carved from a single piece of hardwood, with goatskin or sharkskin stretched over the hollowed-out sound box. The songs told in brisk tempo of gods fighting each other; of the arrival of the first white man, and how hairy he was; of the charm of a woman on Pukarua Island. The words of some songs changed often, repre senting the latest gossip. The slower rhythms, I remembered, belonged to songs of farewell. "Aue e ra tau here" was such a tune, with a rhythm like the waves. "Alas, the sail of my beloved...." My reverie ended as Takaroa came in sight once more. There is a good passage into the lagoon, and soon we were easing alongside the wharf. A welter of brown faces and wavy hair surged toward the Marie Celine. Someone shouted, "Aue! E taupoo api na Vinivini!" ("Alas! Winnie has a new hat!") The crowd burst into laughter, and I spot ted my old friend Ramana. We secured our lines and distributed the bananas and papay as and the mail we had brought. The village on Takaroa Island was still dominated by the bell tower of the red-roofed Mormon Church (page 514). A coral-sand street stretched some 300 yards from the wharf to the church; a branch led past the Chinese store to the opposite end of the vil lage. Some houses were a patchwork of corru gated iron. Others, of stone or wood, gleamed in whitewash. But most walls were woven palm leaf, proclaiming newness or age by their color, from succulent green to cigar brown. I noticed an innovation at once. Two girls cavorted inside yellow and blue Hula Hoops. KODACHROMESBY NATIONALGEOGRAPHIC PHOTOGRAPHERBATES LITTLEHALES( N.G.S.