Informal Session: Considering Lata: Hero of a Thousand Faces
Organizers: Heuionalani Wyeth and Marianne "Mimi" George
Lata, Laka, La'a, Rata, Ata, etc. are variations on the name of an Indo-Pacific culture hero. Today, the people of Taumako, SE Solomon Islands, describe Lata as the first person to build and navigate a voyaging canoe. They tell episodes of the story and assume the identity of characters in the story during the process of building a voyaging canoe and sailing to other islands. Maori of Aotearoa tell of Rata launching a voyaging vessel in a flood (Te Puke). Hawaiians honor Laka, Goddess of the Forest, and remember the story of cutting down a tree to make a voyaging canoe, and every night it became a tree again‚Ä¶and how little people (menehune) helped Laka build the voyaging canoe by doing the work. Amis of Taiwan honor Lakaa, a God of the seashore. Is Lata north of the equator a more feminine character? Is Lata a story of Austronesian origin? What peoples of the western, north Pacific told, or tell, this story? In this session we aim to locate, and consider relationships between episodes and stories of Lata as they are told or recorded throughout Oceania. By comparing and contrasting themes and presentations we aim to understand more about oral traditions about Lata, and how they may be lived experiences today, and may serve as archetypes for the future.
Marianne (Mimi) George, Vaka Taumaka Project <George.firstname.lastname@example.org>; Heuionalani Wyeth <email@example.com>