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Kon Tiki. Thor Heyerdahl and crew rode this raft from Peru to the Tuamotu Islands.

Pacific Island Guide  >  French Polynesia  >  Tuamotu Islands

General Information

Tuamotu (Low, or Dangerous) Islands. Composed of 80 coral atolls, of which 50 are inhabited, the name means Islands Under the Clouds. Once heavily populated, the population is now only about 5,200 because people moved to better jobs.

The islands include: Ahe, Ahunui, Amanu, Anaa, Anuanuraro, Anuanurunga, Apataki, Aratika, Akiaki, Arutua, Faaite, Fakahina, Fakarava, Fangatau, Fangataufa, Hao, Haraiki, Hereheretue, Hikueru, Hiti, Katiu, Kauehi, Kaukura, Makatea, Makemo, Manihi, Manuhangi, Maria, Marokau, Marutea, Marutea Sud, Mataiva, Matureivavao, Morane, Motutunga, Napuka, Negonego, Niau, Nihiru, Nukuhiwa, Nukutavake, Nukutepipi, Paraoa, Pinaki, Puamau, Pukarua, Puka Puka, Raivarae, Rangiroa, Rapa, Raraka, Raroia, Ravahere, Reao, Reitoru, Rekareka, Rimatara, Taega, Taenga, Tahaa, Tahanea, Tahuata, Taiohae, Taiaro, Takapoto, Takaroa, Takume, Tatakoto, Tauere, Tekokoto, Tematagi, Tenararo, Tenarunga, Tepoto, Tikehau, Tikei, Tiveru, Toau,  Tuanake, Tubuai, Tureia, Uahuka, Uapou, Vahanga, Vahitahi, Vairaatea, Vanavana

Historical Background

1543 Magellan’s Portugese fleet discovers Puka Puka, northeast Tuamotu
1616 Dutchmen Jacob Le Maire and Willem Scheuten reached Puka Puka, Takaroa, Takapoto, Manihi, and Rangiroa

1722 Dutchman Jacob Roggeveen reached Maketea of the Tuamotus and Bora Bora of the Leewards.
1765 Englishman John Byron reached Tepoto, Napuka, Takeroe, Takapoto, and Rangirao.
1767 Englishman Samuel Wallis charted and claimed the islands for Britain.
1768 The French claim the islands.
1806 Pomare II extends his power on the northern and central Tuamotu Islands. His wife, Tetua, dies.
1826 Tahitians who will not accept the Mamaia religion flee to the Tuamotos.
1831 Uprising of chiefs against Pomare Vahine IV, who is forced to condemn the Mamaia sect.
1833 First Catholic Vicar Apostolic in the islands. Defeat of the chiefs of the Taiarapu (supported by the Mamaia sect) heralds its decline.
1841 Last members of the Mamaia sect die because they refused vaccination.
1842 Establishment of a French protectorate on Tahiti.
1845 Mormon missionary Grouard has great success on the island of Anaa.
1852 Catholic persecution of Mormons on Anaa. They are forced to flee, die, or attend the Catholic Church.
1860 Raids of the Peruvian slave traders begin.
1862 Slave traders captured in the Tuamotus.
1903 Hurricane in Tuamotu.
1905 Phosphates discovered in Makatea, Tuamotu.
1908 Leprosy spread to the eastern Tuamotu Islands.
1918 Flu epidemic kills 20 percent of the population. Phosphates are exploited in Makatea, Tuamotu.

Research Tools

Use the Family History Library Catalog.

  • Go to the Internet at familysearch.org and click on the Library. From that tab, click on the Family History Library Catalog. We can type in French Polynesia to get a list of the islands and island groups and to see what records were made under this large jurisdiction. Then we should type in the name of each island group for records in that jurisdiction and then type in the name of the island that interests you. On Tahiti, records are listed under the name of the town. Also, we should do a keyword search on Tahiti. Over 220 items will appear.
    Note: All of these islands are a protectorate of France. The people of these islands are full citizens of France. School children must learn French history. French is the governing language, and the civil records are kept in French. Jurisdictions are organized the same way
    Births, marriages, and deaths are recorded by the government, and citizens are required to have an official government record. Tables are published by the government every ten years giving an index to the names in the records. This facilitates genealogical research up to the time when the French first came to the islands. They have been keeping records since the early 1800's.
    Notarial records are available from the year 1862.
    Large numbers of civil registration records are available from 1843.
    A large number of oral genealogies and land records are also available.
    Tahiti: 795887, 795889
    Tuamotos: 795889
    Tubuai (Austral Islands): 795889
    You can use a Film/fiche number search and look at the descriptions of the following microfilms, all of which contain French Polynesian records.:795887, 795888, 795889,181746 Item 7, and 1515054.
    Cole Jensen collection
    Some compiled genealogies from the Tuamotos were collected by William Cole and Elwin Jensen. This collection was microfilmed by the Genealogical Department of the LDS Church in 1984. The microfilms with the transcript of Tuamotuan genealogies are 1358007and 1358005.

Oral genealogies

  • During the 1970s the Genealogical Department commissioned people to go to the Pacific Islands and gather oral genealogies because they realized how fragile these important sources of family information are. They made arrangements for the interviews and the older people talked into the tape recorder microphone to get their genealogy on tape. Later, the gatherers typed transcripts of the interviews onto paper. The paper transcripts were microfilmed, You can use the table below to find the microfilm number of the transcript for the interview you are interested in.
    The tape recordings were later digitized onto compact discs. In the future, the CDs of the tapes may be put on the Internet and linked to this table so you can access them according to the tape number and listen to them.
Last Name First Names Residence About place
Tape mp3
Transcript
PAF
Allain Marae Papeete Tuamotu 38 795887 Item 27



 

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