The Rahui

The Rahui

Legal pluralism in Polynesian traditional management of resources and territories

Edited by: Tamatoa Bambridge

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This collection deals with an ancient institution in Eastern Polynesia called the rahui, a form of restricting access to resources and/or territories.

While tapu had been extensively discussed in the scientific literature on Oceanian anthropology, the rahui is quite absent from secondary modern literature. This situation is all the more problematic because individual actors, societies, and states in the Pacific are readapting such concepts to their current needs, such as environment regulation or cultural legitimacy. This book assembles a comprehensive collection of current works on the rahui from a legal pluralism perspective. This study as a whole underlines the new assertion of identity that has flowed from the cultural dimension of the rahui. Today, rahui have become a means for indigenous communities to be fully recognised on a political level. Some indigenous communities choose to restore the rahui in order to preserve political control of their territory or, in some cases, to get it back. For the state, better control of the rahui represents a way of asserting its legitimacy and its sovereignty, in the face of this reassertion by indigenous communities.


ISBN (print):
ISBN (online):
Publication date:
Mar 2016
ANU Press
Pacific Series
Arts & Humanities: Cultural Studies; Law; Science: Environmental Sciences; Social Sciences: Anthropology, Politics & International Studies
North America: Hawaii; Pacific: French Polynesia, New Zealand

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The Rahui »

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Part I – Tapu and rahui: Traditions and pluralistic organisation of society

  1. Political power and rahui in ancient Polynesian society (PDF, 197KB) – Bernard Rigo doi
  2. Ancient magic and religious trends of the rāhui on the atoll of Anaa, Tuamotu (PDF, 1.1MB) – Frédéric Torrente doi
  3. Tapu and kahui in the Marquesas (PDF, 131KB) – Pierre Ottino-Garanger, Marie-Noëlle Ottino-Garanger, Bernard Rigo and Edgar Tetahiotupa doi
  4. I uta i tai — a preliminary account of ra’ui on Mangaia, Cook Islands (PDF, 2.2MB)Rod Dixon doi
  5. Technical exploitation and ‘ritual’ management of resources in Napuka and Tepoto (Tuamotu Archipelago) (PDF, 473KB) – Eric Conte doi
  6. The law of rahui in the Society Islands (PDF, 185KB) – Tamatoa Bambridge doi

Part II – Rahui today as state‑custom pluralism

  1. Protection of natural resources through a sacred prohibition: The rahui on Rapa iti (PDF, 468KB) – Christian Ghasarian doi
  2. From traditional to modern management in Fakarava (PDF, 414KB) – Lorin Thorax doi
  3. European contact and systems of governance on Tongareva (PDF, 143KB) – Charlotte N. L. Chambers doi
  4. Traditional marine resources and their use in contemporary Hawai‘i (PDF, 294KB) – Alan M. Friedlander, Janna M. Shackeroff and John N. Kittinger doi
  5. Providing for rāhui in the law of Aotearoa New Zealand (PDF, 197KB) – Jacinta Ruru and Nicola Wheen doi
  6. Uncanny rights and the ambiguity of state authority in the Gambier Islands (PDF, 163KB) – Alexander Mawyer doi

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