By Gabby Storey
Born Maerehia, princess of Raiatea and Tahaa in 1824, she was the only surviving daughter of King Tamatoa of Ra’iatea and his wife Mahuti of Vaiari.
She married Prince Ari’imate in 1840. In 1850, a civil war deposed her aunt, Queen Teri’itaria II. Ari’imate, who was grandson of Teri’itaria’s predecessor Mahine Tehei’ura, was chosen by the chiefs to succeed Teri’itaria, and was crowned king of Huahine on 18 March 1852.
Together Maerehia and Ari’imate had twelve children, including the future queen Témari’i Teururai and Crown Prince Marama Teururai, father of Teha’apapa III.
Ari’imate was deposed in a second civil war in 1868, and Maerehia succeeded him as queen regnant. Upon her succession, she took the name Teha’apapa II.
Teha’apapa faced continued encroachment by the French as they attempted to rule over the islands, and by 1888 they had succeeded in annexing Raiatea, Huahine and Bora Bora, although resistance was to continue until the late 1890s.
Her daughter, Témari’i, was proclaimed queen in 1888 during resistance against French forces, and Témari’i fled to Tahiti in 1890. Teha’apapa accepted the French annexation of Huahine the same year, and reigned as queen until her death in 1893.
Bruno Saura, Huahine Aux Temps Anciens (Papeete: Ministère de la culture de Polynésie française, 2005)
Niel Gunson, “Sacred Women Chiefs and Female ‘Headmen’ in Polynesian History,” The Journal of Pacific History 22.3 (1987): 139-172.