For the people of Pa’ua Nawahiti, it was no legend that their five islands were made up of the heads of giants who rested on the ocean floor and could rise up at any moment. This was accepted as purest fact. When the outside world finally found this particular sliver of paradise, and the men in loud boats exchanged enough language so that a conversation could be halfway had, they found themselves laughed at and pitied by the locals. The gist of their response was unanimous: “Your explanations of pressing plates and erupting volcanoes, that may be how it works for you, but here it’s giants.”
Without exception the islanders were hospitable, polite, and gracious. Perhaps it was fair to attribute their genial attitudes to the omnipresent threat of sudden death from a capricious brotherhood of giants – if one could die at any moment, there was no time to spend on pettiness. Of course, the outsiders took full advantage of this.
Agreements were made. The island peoples were happy to welcome others to their beautiful home. The rules were simple: the outsiders had to live as the people of the Pa’ua did. The people on every island of Pa’ua Nawahiti took all they needed from the plants and animals they found naturally around them.
They ate many kinds of fish, alongside fruits, but they never planted anything. Nor did they dig out areas for their villages. If the floor of a hut was a bit uneven, so be it. While on the island chain, the outsiders and the natives alike were forbidden from ever breaking ground.
This arrangement worked for a time. Tourists loved the experience of “going native.” Then one of the initial explorers died, and his son had grand ideas for developing an unparalleled resort on the biggest island. When they heard dynamite blasting open a construction site, the people of Pa’ua Nawahiti screamed and wept as they ran for the beaches.
But the legends had been wrong. Five giants did not rise out of the ocean that day. It turned out that the translation had been lost over generations, and the islands were not five giants’ heads. They were one giant’s knuckles.