National Geographic : 1974 Dec
Ru selects astaP and discovers anew land CALM AND COURAGEOUS in the midst of a storm, the navigator Ru, arm outstretched, asks the sea-god Tangaroa (below) to clear away the clouds so he can see his guiding star and set a course toward a new island. Descendant of seafarers, Ru was chief navigator of Raiatea at one of the times when population had outstripped food re sources. "The valleys are thick with people," he told his family. "I have selected a star, and beneath that star there is a land that will provide us with a new home." Ru's brothers and wives protested that they feared the perils of the sea. "That is woman's talk," he responded. "I, Ru, know the ways of the sea. The winds and the currents are open and known to me. Fear not and I will take you to a larger and better land than this." Legend does not record how Ru knew that he would find land, but his confidence calmed his family's fears. The clan departed in a newly built canoe called Te Pua-ariki "The Chiefly Flower." With Ru and his relatives went twenty maidens chosen for virtue, strength, and beauty. At sea they encountered a storm that raged for three days and SOCIETY ISLANDS GORDON ROBERTSON, o0 COURTESYBRITISHMUSEUM / RAIATEA oo AITUTAKI 55 S O COOK ISLANDS nights. With his crew near panic, Ru finally invoked the aid of Tangaroa to return his guiding star to view. The clouds parted (right) and three days later, so the story goes, Ru and his company landed at Aitutaki, whose inhabitants still celebrate the achievement of the island's legendary discoverer in song and dance.