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PAPEETE, Tahiti (Tahitipresse, April 11,) - Tahiti hikers received a special treat over the long Easter weekend as two cultural associations reopened sacred footpaths that were once used in ancient times to reach Fare Hape, a worshiping site in the center of the island.

Hikers from the cultural associations Pereaitu (West Coast) and Haururu (East Coast) walked all over the mountain during the three-day weekend, meeting at various ceremonial and historic sites that are found along the paths.

"The crossing from Orofero to Papenoo hasn’t been done since Tahitians accepted Christianity," Jean-Claude Teriierooiterai of the Pereaitu Association told Tahitipresse. "Long ago tribal chiefs would meet in the center of the island, which was a sacred place protected by a taboo. Whomever took refuge on the large ceremonial platform, the Fare Hape "marae," was untouchable."

The Fare Hape archeological site in the center of the island of Tahiti is very big and has nine archery platforms, this having been a sport reserved only for Tahitian princes before the first Europeans arrived, according to members of the Pereaitu Association.

The crossing, made April 9-10, started at Orofero on the north coast of Tahiti and followed the river Vaiatu until the hikers reached the Tahuaiti plateau, which has an altitude of 600 meters (1,968 feet). They then walked around Mount Tahinu in the upper Papenoo Valley.

The objective during the Easter weekend was to organize a gathering in the center of the island for all those wishing to revive the memory of their ancestors. Some hikers were forced to make the crossing from Papara because the footpaths in the Punaauia Valley were impassable due to big landslides at Mount Orohena.

April 13, 2004

Tahitipresse: www.tahitipresse.pf



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