Huahine island tour

Phil May and Andrea Twigg
Mon 7 May 2012 08:58
Huahine is one of the lesser visited islands, but it is significant in Polynesian history.  It is called Huahine (fruit of woman) because the image when looking back from Bora Bora is one of a pregnant woman.  However that is just the most recent name.  In the past it was known as Gentle Breeze (or the equivalent name in Polynesian) because it had the status of being a neutral island where the families could meet up to settle disputes,  Because of this, each family would have a morae (sacred area paved with rocks) where they could meet and settle disputes in a setting where all parties were on neutral ground, but all still bound by their beliefs to speak the truth and honour their agreements.
Today we went on a round island tour with an outfit called Huahine Explorer. Daniel, our guide, gave us a lot of information about the island and its history.
Vanilla is a major export of Huahine.  A kilo of dried vanilla pods sells for $250.  The pods grow on orchids which have to be manually fertilized to ensure a crop of vanilla.  Here you can see a vanilla orchid in the wild growing up the trunk of another plant. 
Huahine's most recent name has to do with the image of a pregnant woman from a distance.  In the background you can see her head in profile on the left and and her breast and belly on the right.  
Copra used to be a major export, and you can still find placed where coconut is being dried, but nowadays it is for private consumption only.  Huahine cannot compete with other islands for copra.
Morae on the shore were built from large slabs of coral to warn invaders that the inhabitants were strong and would put up a good fight to defend their territory.
Huahine is home to some large sacred eels in the rivers.  The eels are "tabu" (forbidden) not because of some religious significance but because they have an important function in keeping the aquafers clean and the island's water supply pure.
The Polynesians used stone fish traps in the rivers in order to maintain a captive food supply.
We got back to the hotel bar just in time to watch the sun setting behind Anastasia while drinking our beer/cocktails.