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PUAKONAKAI ( The Flower of the Calm Sea in Polynesian Language), is a small island of approximately two square miles in size. The tip of a sunken mountain is sticking up out of the ocean 295 feet. It was identified on British Sea Captain Maps as OCEAN ISLAND, and wrongly called BANAPA (Pa'napa) by an Englishman named Ellis in May 1900. The island was discovered by a band of lost fishermen from Polynesia that had acquired some women (wives) in Ha'amoa, Samoa. The men were from Aitutaki island in the Cook Islands. This band of Polynesians arrived at Puakonakai on the south tip of the island approximately 1790. They were all in their late teens, probably 18 or 19 year of age. There may have been a small group of inhabitants on the island upon their arrival, however, this is unconfirmed.
Polynesians were a much larger race of people than the Micronesians. The arriving Polynesians from the east probably had little or no resistance from any inhabitants that might have already been living on the island. They simply set up their own polynesian type government. The new government consisted of a King and Queen ruler with various chiefs and kahunas. The King was the most fierce and strongest warrior amongst his people. His woman was the Queen. The best navigator and fisherman would be the Chief of fishing. The best farmer would be the Chief of farming. There was also a Chief of Medicine, the Kahuna. Each of the three villages had their own Chief of the village.
Many events took place in the South Pacific. At first, came the occaisional explorer (English or Spanish). Following the explorers were whalers, merchants who were searching for coconut oil, traders and missionaries. The missionaries came to subdue and the convert the wild natives into good, docile Christians, much to the pleasure of the Blackbird slave traders and pirates that roamed the Pacific pilfering for profit. Spanish explorers were the first to search for riches, then the Germans and British. Many were seeking trade products such as coconut oil, herbs, handy-crafts, guanu (Phosphate), dead coral life, and bird dung for high grade fertilizer. Americans came along desiring all the whales. They brought even more missionaries with them.
After the great American Civil War, the American slave trade mostly ended and other countries took note of this event. There was for the most part, a halt of the open slave trading business. The traders and pirates roaming the South Pacific seas however, devised a new way of obtaining slaves by calling it “cheap labor” for the mines in South America and large plantations in Australia. They would try to coax the islander to board the ships with promises of good pay on long term contracts (contract laborers). If this failed, they simply rounded up young men and women, hauling them aboard the ships. When possible, the elders (old) were killed. These new breed of labor collectors took any type of natives they could locate. Some times, it was whole island populations, leaving only the old and sick natives in hiding or death. As the missionaries began to convert total populations to Christianity, making them docile. These pirates soon discovered that the converted native brought more money and worked harder with little complaint for the plantation and mine owners. The pirates looked for islands that had missionaries on them as they could take the more valued natives from that island.
On islands with small populations, the missionaries would attempt to convert some of the King’s highest ranking officials by impregnating their minds with only certain parts of the Bible, like “ it is better to give than to receive”, “There is only one King, he is the King of Kings”, “You must give 10% of your income to the church”, and so forth… In reality, they were gaining control of the people, collecting up large chunks of land and eroding the government. They constantly told the native to reject their old rulers and replace them with those that joined the church such as elders and deacons. As soon as they were trained well enough, they were promoted to preacher or pastor, making them more powerful than King or Queen. In some instances, the King or Queen could be converted, making it much more easy to obtain lands and wealth. If a King could not be converted, the population was pushed to reject that King. If the King was strong or the people would not reject him, the next step was to assert the power of a Sea Captain who had crews with guns. They would depose the King by either killing him or removing him from the island. They simply had to be the power in charge on the island in order to obtain complete and total conversion. If you couldn’t be converted, you were removed. It was that plain simple.