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22-10 FDC 250th anniversary of the arrival of ths Spanish in Tahiti
Fare Rata, the Polynesia Post Office, celebrates the 250th anniversary of the arrival of the Spanish
in 1772-1775 in Tahiti, by issuing two stamps illustrating their first contacts in Tahiti at the end of the 18th century.

On the orders of the viceroy of Peru, Manuel de Amat y Junyent, two e x p e d i t i o n s
(1772 and 1774) were led by Captain Don Domingo Bonechea, aboard the frigate Aguila. They first
had to verify the English presence on the island of Tahiti, following Cook’s first voyage; they then collected information on the topography of the Polynesian islands and the lifestyles of the indigenous population in order to evangelize the Tahitians. But it was during the second voyage, on his return from the recognition of island Raiatea, that Bonechea died on January 26, 1775, at the age of 62 and was buried in Tautira.

Of these brief Spanish stopovers, there remain various logbooks written by the officers and missionaries and especially by Maximo Rodriguez, a bilingual soldier-interpreter, who, during his ten month stay in Tautira and during reconnaissance around the island of Tahiti, was able to establish
privileged relations with the Tu (Pomare 1er) and Vehiatua chiefs of the area Tai'arapu; he tells in
particular how Pomare 1er offered him this vessel or “‘Ūmete” in black dolerite, made in island of
Maurua (now Maupiti), which was in the marae of Taputapuatea in the district of Atehuru (now Paea
and Punaauia) and how he managed to get it on board in November 1775 for Lima; this object is
now in the Anthropological Museum of Madrid.

It is also the existence of this unique ethnographic
piece preserved by Spain that Fare Rata, the Polynesia Post Office, celebrates today.

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