Hao nao Tagaro i mekem Ambae – the kastom story of how Ambae was made

Ambae and red mat

This is a segment of a long story that explains the formation of Ambae told by Vanuatu Cultural Centre fieldworker James Ngwero, from the Ndui Ndui area of West Ambae. Tagaro is the deity traditionally considered to be responsible for creating the island of Ambae. The story is taken from the Vanuatu National History Curriculum textbook Histri blong Yumi long Vanuatu (Volume 1, p. 3).

Ambae aelan long fastaem hem i ston nomo. Nao Tagaro i sanem tufala man i kam daon i talem long tufala se, “Yutufala i go daon. Yu lukluk long ples daon.” Tufala man ia nem blong tufala i Vavarai Aho wetem Ngwera Kandiri. Taem tufala i kam daon i luk, be olgeta ples i ston nomo.

Ambae island was originally just bare rock. Then Tagaro created two people there and told them, “You two go there. You go have a look at the land down there”. The two people’s names were Vavarai Aho and Ngwera Kandiri. When they arrived on Ambae, they found only rock everywhere and nothing else.

Nao Vavarai Aho i sanem Ngwera Kandiri i go antap bakegen long Tagaro hem i se, “Yu go antap, mo yu talem long Tagaro se yumi luk ples daon be hem i olgeta ston nomo. Yu talem long Tagaro blong hem i givim sam samting i kam blong blokem ol ston ia long hem.”

Vavarai Aho asked Ngwera Kandiri to go back to Tagaro. “You go and tell Tagaro that we’ve seen this place and it is just bare rock. You tell Tagaro that he needs to cover up the rock with something else.”

Nao Tagaro i givim graon, mo graon ia i kavremap olgeta ston ia. Taem graon i kavremap olgeta ston finis, Ngwera Kandiri i go antap bakegen. Tagaro i givim ol gras i kam daon. Ol gras ia i gro mo i kavremap gud ol graon ia. Taem Tagaro i putum ol gras finis, hem i putum ol wud. Ol fas wud we Tagaro i putum hem i ol wud we mifala i kolem naoia ‘vui venue’. Mining blong nem blong wud ia, ‘stamba blong ples’.

So Tagaro made some land to cover up the rock. After the land had finished covering up the rock, Ngwera Kandiri went back to Tagaro to ask for more. So Tagaro put plants on the land. The plants grew and covered the land. After Tagaro finished with the plants, he created forests. The first timber species that Tagaro planted was what we on Ambae today call vui venue, which means ‘heart of the land’.