Teri’itari’a II

Drawing of Teri’itari’a II on HMS Daphne by l Edward Gennys Fanshawe (1849). Image Credit: National Maritime Museum/WikiCommons.

By Catherine Capel

During her lifetime, Teriitaria (Teri’itaria) II ruled over Huahine as regnant queen and served as a regent in Tahiti. Born in around 1790, Teri’itaria was the eldest daughter of Tamatoa III of Ra’iatea.

In 1808 her father arranged a marriage between her and Pomare II of Tahiti where she was given the title of Ari’ipaea Vahine.

In November 1815, Teri’itaria and her husband fought to consolidate their rule in Tahiti.

William Ellis, an English missionary, reported that Teri’itaria, appearing as though she was “a daughter of Pallas, tall, and rather masculine”, was dressed in armour and armed with a musket and spear.

She fought in the battle, commanding a body of troops.  Teri’itaria also supported her niece Aimata Pomare IV from the threat of invading forces in 1845-1846, a threat which then made its way to Huahine shores.

The queen gathered her army and twenty of her own European allies to defend her kingdom from French forces.

Thanks to the advantageous terrain, the victory was decisive for Teri’itaria and the French fled. This was a particularly damning defeat for the French because other Europeans had fought against them.

In 1852, civil war broke out in Huahine and Teri’itaria was deposed and replaced by Ariimate.   She died in 1858 at Papeete, Tahiti.

Recommended Reading

Colin Newbury, “Resistance and Collaboration in French Polynesia: The Tahitian War: 1844-7,” The Journal of Pacific History 82 (1973): 5-27

Colin Walter Newbury, Tahiti Nui: Change and Survival in French Polynesia, 1767–1945 (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 1980)

Colin Newbury, “Pacts, Alliances and Patronage: Modes of Influence and Power in the Pacific,” The Journal of Pacific History 44 (2009): 141-162

Niel Gunson, “Sacred Women Chiefs and Female ‘Headmen’ in Polynesian History,” The Journal of Pacific History 22 (1987): 139-172

William Ellis, Polynesian Researches, during a residence of nearly eight years in the Society and Sandwhich Islands, Volume II, Second Edition (London: 1831).

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