Sina and Her Eel (tuna)

A Polynesian lady holds a coconut.
A Polynesian lady holds a coconut.

NPS / Bryan Harry.

Coconut Tree
Coconut tree

The broken-hearted tuna died and Sina carefully planted its head. Soon a plant grew there and it became a tree like no one before had ever seen. This was the first coconut tree**. Notice when you next eat a coconut--look for the eyes and mouth of Tui Fiti on the end of "Sina's tuna."

* The very common freshwater eel (or tuna) of the South Pacific islands inhabits many island streams. Young larval eels spend their early life adrift in the sea, and return to freshwater when adults.

** Indeed, the coconut is not a native plant in the Pacific islands. Botanists and anthropologists conclude that it was brought by human beings. Thus, as much as stone adzes or pottery, in the Pacific coconut trees are signature plants marking human occupation. Coconuts document, wherever they occur, as a human occupation site.

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