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TRIBE OF DAN.

A TAHITIAN COMEDY

(By ERIC RAMSDEN.)

Less than a month ago I wae working in the study of Professor Peter H. Buck, of Vale University and the Bishop Museum, Honolulu (better known to Xew Zealanders as Te Rangi Hiroa, once member for the Northern Maori district), when a visitor was announced. We were examining old Tahitian documents at the time, and the professor was translating some of the communications of the last independent sovereign of Tahiti, Queen Pomare IV. '"Sit still," he said, as he examined the card of the newcomer. The visitor proved to be the radio engineer of the much-discussed Scth Parker, then in Papeete Harbour —an earnest young man with a small tooth-brush moustache, and a Middle-West accent. "I understand," he began, "that you arc Professor Buck, of Yale, and I have been referred to you for information concerning the Polynesian people." It was obvious that the association with Yale., where the New Zealander had been for the past two years, had impressed the young American: though it was equally obvious that he was unaware he was addressing the greatest living authority on the material culture of Polynesia. The professor bowed. "I have been informed." continued the visitor, "on very good authority by a resident of this island that the Tahitian people, in common with other branches of the Polynesian family, are descended from the ancient tribe of Dan mentioned in the Old Testament. . . ." Professor Buck did not by the flicker of an eyelid let his visitor know that, in common parlance, hir> leg had been well and truly pulled, but, with considerable patience, heard him out until the end. Then, in a few brief, polite sentences, he sketched the career of the Polynesian peoples, and rapidly summarised modern scientific opinion as to their origin. Then he gently suggested that the Tahitian who had told the visitor the story of the tribe of Dan had drawn the long bow. "I am very glad that you have told me this, sir," replied the earnest, young American, "for I am socking information for°our weekly broadcast from the Seth Parker to the States." After he departed we both pondered over the absurdity of the position, and wondered whether the broadcasts in regard to other islands visited had been based on similar material. We suggested, too, that a vessel detailed for such work should be equipped with a library commensurate with the importance of the task ahead. It appeared possible that if this young man had not called on Professor Buck the veriest balderdash would have been broadcast to the United States that week regarding Tahiti.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/AS19350227.2.33

Bibliographic details

TRIBE OF DAN., Auckland Star, Volume LXVI, Issue 49, 27 February 1935

Word Count
438

TRIBE OF DAN. Auckland Star, Volume LXVI, Issue 49, 27 February 1935

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