By Katia Wright
Queen Teri’i-maeva-rua II, the daughter of Ari’ifaaite a Hiro and Pomare IV, Queen of Tahiti was born in May 1841. In July 1860, at the age of 19, Teri’i-maeva-rua became queen of Bora Bora after her step-father, King Tapoa II, died.
Unfortunately, very few sources survive detailing Teri’i-maeva-rua’s life. However, the surviving diaries of the British Captain Frederick Byng Montresor do record the difficulties Teri’i-maeva-rua experienced in gaining her throne. According to Montresor, many of the chieftains of Bora Bora refused to accept Teri’i-maeva-rua as queen, as she was not the direct descendant of Tapoa II.
Despite Bora Bora and Tahiti remaining under the French Protectorate, it was impressed upon Montresor the need to make it clear to the population of Bora Bora and Tahitithat ‘the Great Queen’, referring to Queen Victoria, was keen to see Teri’i-maeva-rua become queen. Montresor hosted a meeting on his ship, the ‘Calypso’, of the different chieftains, Teri’i-maeva-rua and her mother, Queen Pomare.
At this meeting Montresor reminded the gathering of ‘their duty to support to the new queen and to stay united if they were to remain independent of foreign interference.’ After private deliberation, they finally agreed to support their new queen. A painting of the ‘Calypso’ can be found at The Royal Museums, Greenwich.
After succeeding to her throne, Teri’i-maeva-rua married Temauari’i a Ma’i. Though little information survives of their marriage, including even the date, we do know that they remained childless and adopted Teri’i-maeva-rua’s niece Ari’i-Otare.
Teri’i-maeva-rua died in 1873, and was succeeded by her niece who ruled as Teri’i-maeva-rua III.
Image of HMS Calypso leaving Bora Bora at Royal Museums, Greenwich -https://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/102937.html
Karen Stevenson, “Aimata, Queen Pomare IV: Thwarting Adversity in Early 19th Century Tahiti,” The Journal of the Polynesian Society Special Issue: Extraordinary Polynesian Women: Writing Their Stories 123.2 (2014): 129-144
Niel Gunson, “Sacred Women Chiefs and Female ‘Headmen’ in Polynesian History,” The Journal of Pacific History 22.3 (1987): 139-172