Stories From Kiribati

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King Kewe And Nei Aromaeao

Posted by Amota Eromanga on June 4, 2012 at 1:35 PM

There was once a king called King Kewe who lived at Buariki village. He was the first king whom greatly admired by his people on his island - Tarawa.

King Kewe was the grandson of Ten Tebau, the elder brother of Te Arikintarawa and the sibling of those early spirits Ngkoangkoa and Tabwakea.

The king had a wall which was built up from atirababa (hard flat rock). The wall was about sixty feet long, forty feet wide and three feet high. He had an average size mwaneaba and it was the second mwaneaba ever built at Buariki. He also had ruube birds which loved and listened to him so dearly.

One night, King Kewe could not sleep as he was feeling uncomfortable. He therefore went out to find a good place where he would sleep. As he slowly walked along, he came across the kainimaeao (big log) lying on the beach. The site was open, cool and so peaceful therefore the king decided to lie down on that big log. As he did so, he fell into a deep sleep.

Oooow! It wasn't an ordinary log but the witch, Nei Aromaeao who had drifted all the way from Nabanaba Island. Slowly and gently, the log crawled back into the sea and started drifting to a far destination. Poor King Kewe! He was being taken away by Nei Aromaeao. At Nabanaba, he would be killed and eaten by that wicked witch. Would he be able to see his home, family and people again?

Early the next day, and as usual, the servants came bringing water to the king. They could not find him so they asked, "Where is the king?"

"Is he not there? Mmmm ... he went out last night looking for a place to sleep!" The king's family answered and went to look for him. The king was not around. They also noticed that the log which had been there for few days was gone!

The news spread out, "Eeeei! The king is gone!"

Search began. Soothsayers and diviners were asked to find his whereabouts using their magical method known as Te Tie N Nareau (name of magical method used in prognostication). Unfortunately, the magicians failed to locate where the king was. The only reply they got off their magical search was buramatoa which means 'hard to tell'. In the end, they gave up searching ... for they believed they would never find King Kewe. Everybody missed their king and felt sad indeed.

The birds had not yet returned home, ever since the lost of the king. They were at far places looking for their food. Upon their return, they began to notice the absence of their king. Days passed and the birds became more restless and hopeless!

Now the birds began searching. They looked everywhere for King Kewe - in the north, south, east and west. Finally they came to Nabanaba Island and there they saw their master. Happy as a lark, they hugged him joyfully.


Nei Aromaeao was astonished to see such an assembly of birds. She couldn't believe what she saw - birds rising up together and the king with them! King Kewe was safe ... he was being taken back home by his birds.

What a happy day for everyone! Their king was alive and had come home safely. Everybody on the island was invited to a taemate (feast held for somebody who escaped death) for the king - thus nobody was allowed to stay behind at home except cats, dogs and pigs. They were also asked to bring food mainly bwabwai (taro), bwawe (dried coconut), tuae (food from pandanus pulp), kabubu (powered pandanus pulp) and fish. It was a national day of feasting which was accompanied by eating, dancing and singing.

A strange angimaeao (storm) suddenly blew! People looked puzzled, "Eeei, what a strange storm!?"

Others warned, "Mmm ... Nei Aromaeao might come back again."

Diviners explained, "It's the plan of the gods. They are returning her to meet punishment for what she had done to our king."

"Okay, cut her up into small pieces for firewood!" the elders ordered.

When the storm eased, the big log was seen on the beach. As axes and knives fell upon it, people heard somebody asking for life, 'Please, spare me!!"

Knowing it was really Nei Aromaeao, the men hurriedly cut her up into pieces. Blood flowed down and into the sand.

Do not be surprised if you happen to see reddish sand (beach) at Buariki village - it has connection to this legend.


Categories: Legends & Myths

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Reply Amota Eromanga
3:21 PM on May 13, 2013 
angi says...
I like the story of king kewe cause it's favourite

Hi Angi!
Thanks for visiting and commenting on here ... much appreciated. This story is also my favourite since I was in Primary schools :-).
Reply angi
5:06 AM on May 13, 2013 
I like the story of king kewe cause it's favourite