Rapa - Kinship



Kin Groups and Descent. The modern ramage or 'opu is a nonexclusive cognatic descent group; that is, it is composed of all legitimate descendants of its founder, counted through both male and female links. So far as territory is concerned, ramage founders were individuals to whom land was awarded in a general land distribution in 1889. Founders of improvement-owning ramages are individuals who create the improvement: who make the taro terraces, build the houses, or plant the coffee groves. Depending on the activity of the founder, then, the ramage composed of his or her descendants may own one or more parcels of territory, taro terraces, coffee groves, houses, or any combination of these. The property of a ramage may be widely dispersed over the island. Because ramage membership passes through both males and females, the various ramages overlap in membership. Membership in some is counted through one's father, and others through one's mother. Most Rapans belong to eight to ten (or more) ramages. A ramage has no function beyond the ownership of property. Its limited affairs are handled by a manager, who is usually the senior male of the group.

Kinship Terminology. Kin terms are of the Hawaiian or generational type, with terms that mark the relative age of same-sex siblings and cousins.

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