Pukapuka - Marriage and Family

Marriage. Reflecting a relaxed attitude toward sex, it is not uncommon for couples to live together in informal unions, though if these unions endure formal marriage usually occurs eventually. Monogamy was and is the rule. Other than restrictions on marrying a relative three generations removed and, in earlier times, on marrying within the smallest matrilineal unit, no formal prescriptions or proscriptions exist regarding marriage choice. Hecht intriguingly observes, however, that more than half of all marriages appear to be endogamous within a five-generation span of a cognatic Descent group, and about a quarter are endogamous in respect to village membership. Initial postmarital residence follows a bilateral pattern with a patrilocal bias. Later choice of house sites is flexible depending on the options open to the couple.

Domestic Unit. The immediate nuclear family constitutes the basic household unit, though it is also common to have an extended family share the same household. Formal adoption ( tama kokoti ) involves about 20 percent of the population; fosterage ( tama wangai ) involves 8 percent.

Inheritance. According to the Beagleholes, the traditional system of double descent involved children inheriting land, sections of smaller taro swamps, and burial sites through their fathers and sections of larger taro swamps through their mothers. Today inheritance is cognatic, with all children—in principle, at least—receiving equal shares.

Socialization. Multiparenting—involving a number of adults and older siblings—is common on the atoll. The general Polynesian pattern exists in which an indulgent, nurturing period is followed by a separation from the parents and the child's increasing affiliation with his or her peer group. The learning of everyday activities is mostly done informally, through observation rather than direct instruction. In learning, both cooperation and competition play important roles. Other themes include repetition, ridiculing mistakes rather than praising successes, and learning through performance. While parents beat their children for a variety of offenses, this practice rarely manifests itself in later adult violence. Violent crimes are extremely rare on the island.

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