Traditions and customs French Polynesia

Traditions and customs French Polynesia

A society steeped in taboos

Over time, each Polynesian group has developed its own social rules, its own forms of art and thought. But a unity shines through: everything in the Polynesian world is imbued with sacred. The relaxation observed by European discoverers is only apparent. In truth, Polynesian societies are governed by countless social and religious rules based on a rigid system of casts and taboos (prohibited).

The holy mana, their spiritual power, and that of their tribe.

This importance even passes at the stake.

Lifestyle and modernity

Today's Polynesians are like everyone else: subject to the dictates of consumer society, with work as an immediate corollary. Gone are the days when a family could be content with fishing and what its tarodière and coconut grove produced. Conclusion: those who do not find a job in tourism (generally as unskilled employees, poorly paid), migrate to Tahiti.

Innumerable islanders have left their remote islands to come to the suburbs of Papeete, each day contributing more to increasing the mass of traffic jams ... Often, life does not live up to expectations: unemployment is high (20%), the jobs are sometimes low-skilled, and the extraordinarily high cost of living, even though you can no longer count on your piece of land for cheap food.

The closure of the Pacific Experimentation Center (nuclear tests) in 1996 was seen by some as a trauma: no more guaranteed work and good wages. It is sometimes a bad for a good: the separatists do not cease to point out that. Fortunately, there are still many jobs in the administration.

But how can you achieve personal fulfillment with this one horizon? It is this question which, in Tahiti as in the whole Pacific, promoted a formidable cultural renaissance in the 1980s.

From identity renaissance to political demands, there was only one step. And it is quite naturally that independence gradually asserted themselves, finally managing, in 2004, to chair the Territorial Assembly for the first time. However, the transition was not made on a purely independence credo (this possibility was postponed until Greek calendars) than on the defense of democracy in the face of the excesses of Flosse's party. The fact remains that if it were not for the economic factor, and the fear of a deep recession caused by the end of French subsidies, independence would have been demanded for a long time by a majority of Polynesians.

In some districts of Papeete, it is no longer good to be popa'a (white): the insults of the kids rain down, sometimes stones.



The Church (or rather the churches), together with the family, remains the main social pillar of the territory. Protestant missionaries (evangelists) and Catholics fought in the early XNUMXth century for the control of Polynesian souls. For a long time in the majority, Protestants saw their clientele crumble over the proliferation of American sects, Protestant too, and nevertheless competing.

While there are no longer any official statistics on religious affiliation, it is now estimated that the number of Protestant "Historic" at around 38%, roughly as much as the Catholic. The remaining quarter is disseminated between Mormons (official and Reformed) to the tune of 10%, Adventists (5,8%), Jehovah's Witnesses (2%), Pentecostals (1,5%), and other religions which are not very significant in number ( Asian especially, more Bahaï).
Let us add to this that Catholics are by far the least practicing, with the exception of the fringe engaged in charismatic renewal, which is more “demonstrative”.

If you cross paths with a group of young people sweating under their white shirts and black ties, know that they are Mormons, whose commitment includes a phase of active proselytism generally lasting at least a year ...

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