Kin Groups and Descent. The Beagleholes describe traditional Pukapukan kinship as a case of double descent. Matrilineal groupings were subsumed under two overarching moieties ( wua ). Major subdivisions ( keinanga or momo ) existed within these. None of the units were localized. In contrast, patrilineages ( po ) were localized. Ngake had two patrilineages, Loto three, and Yato three. An individual's burial site—a status marker with important symbolic significance—was traditionally traced patrilineally. Recent Studies (Borofsky and Hecht) question the degree to which Pukapukan kinship actually constituted a case of double descent. Both suggest traditional kinship groupings involved a more fluid situation than described by the Beagleholes, with cognatic ties playing a significant role. Modern groupings are now cognatic. Today burial-site affiliation is based on cognatic ties to a deceased relation. Still, while a person may in principle join any village, a patrilineal bias remains regarding who actually becomes a member of which village. A patrilineal bias also remains in the selection of chiefs.
Kinship Terminology. Hecht suggests Pukapuka has an Iroquois-type cousin terminology for opposite-sex cousins; the Beagleholes report an Eskimo-type cousin terminology. Terminology for same-sex cousins and siblings involves a Simple Hawaiian-type pattern.