Tunuieaaiteatua POMARE, known as Pomare II, was the son of Pomare I, the first “king” of Tahiti. Born around 1782, he reigned from 1791, the year of his investiture as arii (king), until his death in 1821.|
His early reign was marked by the arrival of the missionaries of the London Missionary Society. Landing at Venus Point in March 1797, they were welcomed by his father, while he himself did not
hide his hostility. Pomare I died in 1803. Pomare II tried to impose himself in his turn ari’i rahi (great king) of Tahiti but encountered opposition from the coalition of other leaders of the island, dissatisfied with his authoritarian behavior. After bloody battles, he had to leave Tahiti in 1808 for Moorea. There, the missionary Henry Nott settled permanently in his entourage. From 1812, he
made a public profession of Christianity. By marrying Teriitaria, daughter of King Tamatoa III of Raiatea, Pomare II created alliances with the chieftains of the Leeward Islands, allowing him to
return to Tahiti and win the decisive battle of Fe'i Pî in november 1815, in the township of Paea.
Pomare II, finally recognized ari'i rahi (great king) of Tahiti, established an absolute and Christian
monarchy. In 1817 he took part in the printing of the Gospel of Luke. In 1819 he promulgated the first code of laws, the Pomare Code, strongly inspired by the missionaries. Then, on 16 June, he received the sacrament of baptism from Pastor Henry Nott, before thousands of people who were soon converted. Protestantism became the official religion. This austere code would disrupt the Polynesian tradition, imposing the wearing of clothing covering the whole body, prohibiting dances and profane songs, tattoos…
The last two years of his life were marked by his frequent stays on the islet of Motu-Uta, where was
his study, which became a place of debauchery against a background of alcoholism. Suffering from
elephantiasis, he died of dropsy on December 7, 1821, at the age of 39.
Relieved by his death, the missionaries were able to hope to realize their dream of a theocracy because the heir, his son Pomare III, was only one year old…
Fare Rata, French Polynesia Post Office, wishes to pay tribute to this character whose conversion to
Christianity changed the life of Polynesian society.
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