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Pōmare I

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Pōmare I
Painting of Pōmare I by John Webber
King of Tahiti
Reign1788 – 13 February 1791
SuccessorPōmare II
BornTu-nui-ea’a-i-te-Atua-i-Tarahoi Vaira’atoa Taina
c. 1753
Pare, Tahiti
DiedDecember 3, 1803
Matavai, Tahiti
Pōmare Royal Cemetery, Papaʻoa, ʻArue
SpouseTu-ra’i-Ari’i Te-ra’i-mano
Tetua-nui-rei-a-ite Ra’iatea-i-Nu’urua
Pateamai Vairareti Teano
Pepiri (junior wife)
IssuePōmare II
Teri’i Tapa-nui Vehiatua V
Te Ari’i-na-vaho-roa
A son
A daughter
HouseHouse of Pōmare
FatherTeu Tunuieaite Atua

Pōmare I (c. 1753 – September 3, 1803) (fully in old orthography: Tu-nui-ea-i-te-atua-i-Tarahoi Vaira'atoa Taina Pōmare I; also known as Tu or Tinah or Outu, or more formally as Tu-nui-e-a'a-i-te-atua) was the unifier and first king of Tahiti and founder of the Pōmare dynasty and the Kingdom of Tahiti between 1788 and 1791.[citation needed] He abdicated in 1791 but remained in power as the guardian regent during the minority of his successor Pōmare II from 1791 until 1803.[citation needed] He is best known in the western world for being the ruler of Tahiti during the mutiny on the Bounty in 1789.


Outu is the phonetic English rendering of ʻO Tū, Tū being the name, ʻo the nominal predicate meaning that is. Older literature writes his family name as Tunuieaiteatua, which leaves incertainties about the proper pronunciation as Tahitian usually did (and does) not write macrons and glottals. Barring this incertainty, in the current proper orthography would be Tū-nui-ʻēʻa-i-te-atua meaning Great-Tū,-road-to-the-god. Tū (standing straight up) was a major Tahitian god.

Ariʻitaimai claims that this Tū is a contraction of atua (god), but that is unlikely. The name Pōmare was adopted later. Pō-mare means "night cougher", a nickname he took, as was common in that time, in honor of his daughter Princess Teri’inavahoroa who died from tuberculosis in 1792.[1][2] Because "Pō" was used as part of his name as the king, the Tahitian word for "night" was replaced by "ruʻi".


Tu was the son of Teu, chief of Pare-'Arue, and his wife, Tetupaia-i-Hauiri (Tetupaia). Tetupaia was the granddaughter of Tamatoa II of Raiatea. Tu's great uncle was Tutaha, who acted as his regent.[3]

Born at Pare, ca. 1753, he initially reigned under the regency of his father and succeeded on the death of his father as Ariʻi-rahi of Porionuʻu on November 23, 1802. Pōmare further succeeded in uniting the different chiefdoms of Tahiti into a single kingdom, composed of the islands of Tahiti itself, Moʻorea, Mehetiʻa, and the Tetiʻaroa group. He thus became the first king of unified Tahiti in 1788.

One year into his reign as Tahiti's king, Pōmare hosted the crew of HMS Bounty who had visited Tahiti to collect breadfruit plants for transportation to the West Indies. The subsequent mutiny on the Bounty caused the mutineers to return briefly to Tahiti, where they were under Pōmare's protection, until leaving the island and eventually relocating to Pitcairn. A small number of mutineers stayed behind and were later located by HMS Pandora, to which Pōmare accepted British authority and allowed the mutineers to be arrested and taken back to England for trial.

Pōmare's service as the first king of unified Tahiti ended when he abdicated in 1791. He was succeeded by Tū Tūnuiʻēʻaiteatua Pōmare II, who reigned from 1791 until 1821: however, though no longer monarch, Pomare remained regent of Tahiti during the minority of Pomare II, from 1791 until 1803. In 1792, HMS Providence visited Tahiti and Pōmare was reunited with William Bligh, the victim of mutiny four years earlier. Bligh interviewed Pōmare regarding the mutineers and subsequently wrote an account of where he suspected the mutineers may have escaped to following their departure from Tahiti.[4]

Pōmare married 4 times and had three sons and three daughters. He died from thrombosis.


Due to Pōmare's role as King of Tahiti during the Mutiny on the Bounty, he has subsequently been portrayed in various dramatic films about the Bounty. In both the 1935 film and the 1962 version, he is known as "Chief Hitihiti" and played respectively by Bill Bambridge and Matahiariʻi Tama. In the 1984 film The Bounty he is known as "King Tynah" and is portrayed by New Zealand actor Wi Kuki Kaa. Historically, Tynah may have been a different individual from Pōmare, as he is mentioned in the Bounty log as a "Paramount Chief", a title separate from monarch.



  1. ^ David Stanley (2003). Moon Handbooks Tahiti: Including the Cook Islands. David Stanley. p. 85. ISBN 1-56691-412-4.
  2. ^ Historie.assemblee.pf
  3. ^ Salmond, Anne (2010). Aphrodite's Island. Berkeley: University of California Press. pp. 135-136, 249. ISBN 9780520261143.
  4. ^ Tobin, George, "Captain Bligh's Second Chance: An Eyewitness Account of His Return to the South Seas", Naval Institute Press (April 2, 2007)
  • Teuira Henry; Ancient Tahiti / Tahiti aux temps anciens
  • Henry Adams; Memoirs of Arii Taimai / Mémoires d'Arii Taimai
Regnal titles
New title King of Tahiti
Succeeded by