Culture of the Oan Isles

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The culture of the Oan Isles refers to the customs, traditions, and prevalent aesthetic tastes that pervade people who live in the Oan Isles. Because the Oan Isles is the ancestral home of the Oan people who in turn make up by far the largest ethnic group, their customs and tastes dominate the rest of society. Furthermore, Mauism, infuses rituals, customs and symbology into the culture of the Oan Isles due to being the majority religion as well as having being practices in the country for centuries. Before Mauism and Thaerism were introduced in the Oan Isles, there existed various folk beliefs. These led to the formation of superstitions, myths and legends that persist in the form of beliefs or aesthetic features and customs despite being persecuted starting with Ahua the Great.


An Oan couple wearing traditional Oan wedding clothing

Marriage (Oan: mārenatanga) is a fundamental right of all people guaranteed by the Kaupapa Ture Oa regardless of sexual orientation, gender or religion. Same-sex marriage is protected by law and same-sex couples do not face discrimination or barriers that heterosexual couples do not. Marital rites in the Oan Isles vary by religion and cultural background, however the law recognises marriages which are concluded in line with Oan marriage law, i.e., a marriage contract is signed by the couple in the presence of a lawfully appointed marriage officer and two witnesses. The marriage officer in turn registers them in the National Marriage Register and issues them with a valid marriage certificate. Marriages completed in foreign countries are recognised by Oan marriage law.

In the traditions of native Oan people, a variety of customs have emerged around marriage. Either of the people in the relationship make a proposal for engagement by asking their partner for marriage. If the partner accepts the proposal, they will notify their parents or guardians and/or closest relatives. In the past, when heterosexual marriages were dominant, males would pay a dowry to the female's family. This is a practice that remains to some degree among noble families. For instance, Rangitanga-a-te-Moana Oahoanu paid dowry for Aroha Putea. However this practice is not commonly practiced due to the end of patriarchy. Most people are not married in traditional or religious institutions. Instead they go through a civil ceremony and sometimes have a party with their relatives to celebrate the marriage. Usually family and friends will bring gifts for the couple concerned. Various games will be played anpeople will dance and sing.

In families that are adherents of Mauism, the couple will be introduced to the respective ancestors of their tribe. A ceremony is held at the family shrine where they light incense and announce to the dead that they are getting married and ask for good fortune. A married couple can also have a Mauist priest lay hands on their heads and pray to Thaer (Oan: Atea) and Maui on their behalf asking for them to bless and protect the couple.


The Oan Public Registration Act governs the naming conventions of children and naturalised citizens. The act forbids the use of special characters, symbols and numerals as part of names. Furthermore all names written in non-Staynish scripts must be transliterated into Staynish script and the Staynish script name shall be the official name of the person within the Oan Isles. Other restrictions exists which forbid the use of vulgarity and profanity in a child's name. A list of forbidden words is kept by the Minister of Home Affairs. There have been challenges to some forbidden words in the courts largely due to arguments that Oan customary and Mauist religious stereotypes play a large and discriminatory role in the selection of forbidden words.


Oan people make use of symbols called totems to represent themselved personally or as part of a larger group such as a clan, sub-tribe or tribe. Most groups use a fictional creature or living animal to distinguish their group from another. A standard of symbols has emerged throughout the ages. Guidelines exist for marine, air and terrestrial creatures.

Various body parts are assigned specific meaning. These include talons, tails, quills, scales, claws, paws, fur, markings, fins, flippers, Jaws, eyes, ears, horns and tusks. Thus, a chimera of various bodily features is formed to indicate a person or groups relation to other groups of people. Thus, these totem animals while being superficially based on some real animal are often never found in nature due to ascribing unique features for the purposes of identification.

A special certificate called a Certification of Totemage is issued by the Department of Home Affairs with a full description of the totem and the relevant relations it represents upon application by a person (or their legal guardians) and groups. Although the certificate is a relatively new contrivance designed to prevent repetition of totems, the totems are ancient and have increased in sophistication and complexity with time. Some families have the totem carved into wooden seal or a large statue outside their home. Totem designs are protected by copyright law.

Funereal rites

Funereal rites vary according to different groups, however Oan people have developed burial rites that combine their folk beliefs and Mauism. Mauism has a strong reverance for the ancestors and thus believes that the physical body should be handled with respect and care. To that end when a person dies, the body is washed and wrapped by the family in white linen or a similar fabric. The body is usually cremated and scattered in a sacred location. These locations are determined by decree of the Rangitanga-a-te-Moana and cannot be violated. They are legally protected cultural heritage sites and various rules exist about the kinds of ceremonies and activities that can be done there or in their vicinity. However, the head is removed from the body and mummified and preserved in a shrine. This allows the family members to continue commuting with the dead even long after they are gone. Modern methods of preservation such as through the use of plastic and modern dehydration have developed that have allowed shrunken heads to be preserved for hundreds of years. Oan people living in foreign countries must often repatriate the bodies of the dead to the Oan Isles as many countries do not allow dismembering or long term preservation of the bodies of the dead for non-scientific or forensic purposes.

For this reason, the Oan Isles lacks cemeteries. Thus, if people who are not of ethnic Oan descent want to perform other rites such as burials, they need to either form groups that administer such services and which acquire land used for that purpose. The practice of burying the dead was highly taboo and was illegal for many years. Thus, many Oan citizens and residsnts of non-Oan ancestry had to bury their loved ones in a foreign country that allowed burials. Because of its proximity, the Morstaybishlian West Pacific Territories has fulfilled this void. The island of Koroimotu has been a locus of such burials due to relative ease accessing land there because of being the only land border the Oan Isles has. However around 1943, burials were permitted. Burials remain stigmatised in Oan society.

In traditional Oan funereal rites, à ceremony is usually held by which the family, friends and acquaintances commemorate the death and life of the deceased. Mauists do not believe that human beings have any say over the souls of people or the afterlife. Thus ceremonies are usually entirely structured for the benefit of the living. They usually consist of people retelling old memories with the deceased, relatives and loved ones sharing words of encouragement, prayers for those left behind and incense and prayers to Atea, Maui and the ancestors for the successful execution of the funereal rites as mentioned in the preceding paragraph.


A ta moko of a manta ray totem

Permanent body markings called tattoos are important parts of the cultural expression of Oan people. Traditional Oan body markings are called moko. They involve specific rules are distinct from a esthetically similar markings used by people of non-Oan descent called kirituhi. Moko is created by using a sharp stelle to cause coagulation on the surface of the skin to create designs. The process is intense and time consuming. Furthermore, it is usually very painful. Thus, with the development of modern anesthesia, Moko is performed almost entirely by cosmetic surgeons. Cosmetic surgeons or Moko tattooists must receive a certification from the Department of Health before they can be permitted to perform such procedures. This certificate was developed with the Department of Cultural Heritage which regulates the designs, forms and symbols that can be used on ta Moko. Surgeons who fail to meet the cultural criteria will usually be banned and those who perform bad Moko can be sued for medical malpractice.

Kirituhi on the other hand can be performed by any registered tattoo artists. Kirituhi is considered an aesthetic concept that uses Moko style designs. It is usually produced using modern inking techniques. In the Oan Isles there are symbols reserved exclusively for Moko. People of non-Oan descent are forbidden from getting Moko by law. However, in Smith v Department of Cultural Heritage, the Supreme Court of the Oan Isles ruled that ethnicity testing was discriminatory and arbitrarily prohibited people with real but unverified claims to Oan ethnicity from accessing their cultural heritage. This was an issue especially for descendants of Oans who migrated to foreign nations over several generations. Thus, Moko procedures are performed without inspecting the ethnic heritage of a person. However designs which make use of totemic symbols reserved for tribes, clans or families of which they individual has no claim are forbidden and surgeons must verify the claims beforehand. A system called the National Online Totem Registry was developed by Cafe Net to assist in this verification process.

Etiquette and manners

In the Oan Isles, manners and etiquette have developed governing a range of activities from greeting people to visiting friends. Please be mindful that not all people take these etiquette rules and manners seriously, but nevertheless they remain part of the Oan culture.

Styles of address

In Oan media and conversation people do not address the Rangitanga-a-te-Moana by name. They are referred to by their title or by His, Her or Their Serene Majesty (Oan: Tona Kororia Rangamarie). However, once they pass away. They can be referred to by their regnal name. Other member of the Oan royal family are usually addressed by their title or their style even in informal situations out of reverance to Ahua the Great and the monarchy.

Elected members of government, and judges are usually addressed by name in informal situations. In formal situations they are addressed by their title, or style (which is usually The Esteemed). Similarly, peers of the Realm also known as nobles are addressed by their title and style depending on their rank. When the style or rank is unknown people will conventionally use the term Ariki meaning Lord (also used by females and gender non-conforming or non-binary nobles). Although it is not taboo to refer to nobles by name in informal situations, people prefer not to.

Other than that, people in the Oan Isles address each other by various terms to show respect for one another. These terms are similar to honorifics used in other countries such as Mr, Mrs or Mx. Gender neutral honorifics exist depending on the person's relationship with you such as Teacher for a superior at work, or an educator or any other person who commands similar respect and significance in a person's life. People also refer to each other as peer if they are strangers of equal social status, colleague if they work together, or comrade if they belong to the same political party, trade union or ideological movement. Oan people usually use given names for reference or if they are familiar with one another. Members of the military have entire convoluted systems of rank, salutations and honorifics that are listed in the article on the Oan Defence Forces.


Two people greeting each other in the traditional hongi greeting

When people greet each other, they typically press their foreheads and nose against one another. Some people go so far as to shake hands or embrace depending on their level of intimacy. This style of greeting applies to everyone including nobles and members of the Royal family. Usually, one will bow to member of the Royal family first before greeting them in this way. When greeting each other from a distance people typically wave. Young people tend to embrace including strangers much more often than their elders. People tend to use the term Kia ora regardless of who they are greeting. Kia ora can be used as a substitute for Dear in Oan letters.


When dining out at a restaurant, people do not usually give tips. Dining out in the Oan Isles is a treat because the meals there are usually very delicious and difficult to prepare. Furthermore, waiters are often well-paid. Oans believe in excellent service and see providing a great dining experience as part of their job. Thus, there is no expectation for patrons to pay a tip. Nevertheless, it is not a taboo, it just may be awkward for a waiter to accept it. When eating out, Oan people like to pay for the table. So, usually the person who initiated the experience will explicitly inform everyone before the dining starts that they will be paying for the meal.

When eating a traditional Oan restaurant, people commonly eat by hand. Oan people rarely use utensils. To some people, using utensils when they are unnecessary is an affront to the cook. Many people believe that eating by hand allows you to indulge in the experience more viscerally. Oan people tend to sit on pillows or low stools or on the floor when dining out rather on chairs. Oan meals are often served in multiple courses and feature multiple dishes that are shared by everyone. It is customary to thank Thaer, Maui and the ancestors before eating. This is not said like a prayer but like a salutation and everyone cheers. When done eating, it is customary to thank the cook and compliment the meal. Thus, Oan chefs will often be found walking around the restaurant and asking people if they are enjoying their meal.

Through the advent of modern technology and alternative means of accessing food such as fast-food and deliveries some slight changes in the eating experience have occurred. Fast-food caters to working or busy people who do not have the luxury of preparing food at home or going to a restaurant. Deliveries are popular among young people because they allow them to enjoy the convenience of staying at home and enjoying food there. Furthermore as more cultures come to the Oan Isles and share their food, Oans love trying out their food and are open to new dining experiences including ones that may be unusual or strange like sitting in a chair. Given the uniqueness of the Oan Isles many foreign restaurants have to adapt. For instance, restaurants that would otherwise have a "no shoes, no shirt, no service" policy must accept that Oan people wear neither shoes nor shirts.

Visiting homes, shrines and schools

In the Oan Isles, it is customary to take off one's shoes when entering someone's home, a school or a shrine. The shoes are usually left at a threshold between the main entrance to the building and a secondary entrance that leads inside the abode. Usually people will walk barefoot, with socks or wearing slippers. Taking off ones shoes shows respect to the people living there. Furthermore, it reduces the need for people to clean the floor. Large public spaces or places where walking with socks or barefoot is impractical will naturally be fine for people to where their shoes as they walk around. Some people walk around barefoot regardless of where they are. Many Oans have mixed feelings about this practice, but will not obstruct or comment on someone who chooses to do so.

Clothing and fashion

Oan people rarely if ever wear International Style clothing. They are almost always found wearing native Oan styles of clothing. Due to the heat of the country, Oan clothing is often very loose and very revealing. Males especially but not exclusively tend to have their buttocks completely exposed even in formal or professional spaces. It is often very jarring if not altogether uncomfortable for many foreigners when they enter the Oan Isles and find them so vividly and unabashedly exposed. Nevertheless, Oans take pride in their unique clothing style.

Traditional Oan clothing is made from plants, bird feathers and animal skins. However, modern variations of native clothing styles are made from materials such as polyester, silk or satin, cotton, cashmere etc. However, the fine quality of traditional Oan materials is a sign of wealth and thus people will wear traditionally made clothing at formal or fancy events. Traditional materials include dog (kuri) and seal skins, bird feathers, Oan flax (harakeke) etc. Traditional Oan clothing is hand made by a skilled craftsman, but modern variations are made by machines.

Cloaks are often used as a sign or status. The higher quality, the more dense the feathers, and the more intricate the flax weaving, the more prestigious the cloak tends to be. Cloaks are typically unisex. People tend to wear sandals to protect their feet. With the advent of cattle, people enjoy wearing leather or pleather. People tend to adorn themselves with jewelry such as necklaces, pendants and haircombs made from gems or animal bones. Cheap modern variations have arisen, but the traditional materials remain a sign of wealth.

Although traditional approaches to clothing remain prevalent, various modern native designers are challenging customs and norms by integrating international clothing concepts. This can range from the use of modern prints and colors to entirely new structures. Oan clothing tends to be highly adventurous because Oan clothing customs are less restrictive than their foreign counterparts. Clothes that foreigners may consider haute couture or risque or even costume-like are perfectly normal in the Oan Isles. Thus, many foreign designers who want to be adventurous tend to come to the Oan Isles to try out new designs that may otherwise be frowned upon in foreign nations.

Daily routine

Every person has a different personal schedule depending on their circumstances and needs. However there are some basic habits that affect most people due to cultural, geographic and economic reasons.

People often start the day very early. Thus, people's schedules usually start at 3 in the morning. This is because the country is often hot and humid during the day. So people often wake up early to get the day started. Thus, many business that are not 24 hours will often open very early in the morning, around 5 am. Many foreigners are alarmed by these strange times. The benefit comes in the fact that in the afternoon when the sun is too hot and weather is too humid, most work places allow people to sleep or go home. Thus, the work day tends to end around 3pm and usually there is a generous sometime break time between 9am and 12pm.

They day often resumes around 6pm to 7pm. Thus, some people especially those who work in corporate will continue working. Students will continue studying and businesses will reopen, closing very late usually well after midnight. Because there is virtually no crime in the Oan Isles people often feel very safe and comfortable being out and about shopping, exercising etc., late at night. Some government services are even open until 10pm. Oan people do not usually sleep in a solid 6 to 8 hour block as most other countries recommend. The day is structured in sections with sleep, work and recreation facilitated in both. People usually sleep twice, at night and in the afternoon when the sun is hottest.

People in the Oan Isles usually live in a small to medium sized apartment because housing is expensive and amenities are more readily available in densely packed cities. There are many services such as cleaning and laundry that alleviate many of the domestic duties that people in other countries do for themselves. Furthermore because shops are close-by, vending machines are abundant and delivery services are widespread, people tend do shopping for groceries fairly frequently especially when it comes to fresh meat, fruits, vegetables and dairy because these spoil quickly and people want to avoid using large refrigerators and freezes because they use up valuable living space.

There are no gender norms surrounding domestic duties such as chores and child rearing. Males and females are equally responsible for these tasks. They may vary their distribution depending of their living circumstances rather than arbitrary factors like gender roles or age etc. Because children or often encouraged to be independent at early age, they tend to take on domestic duties fairly early and/or be responsible for themselves early on. This is made especially easy because the Oan Isles is perfectly safe, everything is conveniently located and technology is widely distributed and readily available to make life easier. This is especially relevant because in most households both parents have to work and thus child rearing is difficult.

Family planning

Most Oan people prefer to start families fairly late in life by human standards usually between 30 and 40 and few couples have more that 3 children. People prefer to study at a university or college are take up training in a craft. Then they want to establish their careers and improve their income. Most people also want to enjoy and indulge their hobbies and interests. For this reason, Oan people reserve having children for after their 20s.

Although traditional Oan homes were multi generational, this is no longer feasible for most urban people. People find work opportunities far from their home towns in most cases. Furthermore, the towns they live in tend to be expensive and accommodation is scarce and child expenses are high. Many couples especially queer couples tend to adopt children instead of having their own. Although surrogacy is a viable option, it is expensive. Barriers to having biological children are diminishing as poor women from foreign nations are often hired by middle income to upper income couples to have their children for a fee. Because surrogacy is non-commercial in the Oan Isles, they often have to let the pregnancy play out in that woman's country. There have been reports of babies from foreign nations being stolen or bought from their parents so wealthy Oan couples can have children.

National symbols

National haka

A performance of the National Haka with choreography

The lyrics of the official national haka of the Oan Isles (titled the Boy and the Sea also known as Te Tamaiti me he Moana in Oan) were written by Uma Te Puru, a poet and writer, in 3 AU (1003 CE) to celebrate the unification of th3 Oan Isles by Ahua the Great. It is chanted in various occasions such as sporting events. At the time it was one of many war chants or haka. However, the version used by the Nga Toka was official declared the national haka in 120 AU (1120 CE) by decree of Apauhana II. It remains one of the oldest national chants/anthems in the world. It is chanted without instrumentation with a fixed rhythm and beat. There is an official choreography but it is not compulsory. Different tribes, subtribes and clans use different choreographies. If it is being performed by one person or a group of people who have rehearsed, they can make up their own moved.

Official Oan lyrics Official Staynish translation
Nana, ka karanga te manu kahurangi ki a koe
He reo whatitiri tana korero
"Waiho nga mata o te whawhai"
"Kua tohua e ahau taku mea motuhake"
"He tama parahi ona huha"
"Ka whakakotahi ia i a koutou i runga i te ingoa o te Oa"
"Maranga nga tangata o nga Motu"
"Hinga te tauhou, ma ano he mate"
"Tangohia o waka, ka noho ahau ki a koe"
"Kua hoatu e ahau te tamaiti me te moana ki a koe"
Behold, the blue bird calls to you
He speaks with a voice of thunder
"Put aside the blades of war"
"I have chosen my special one"
"He is a boy with thighs of bronze"
"He will unite you in the name of Heaven"
"Rise people of the Isles"
"Defeat the barbarian, white as death"
"Take your canoes, I will be with you"
"I have given you the boy and the sea"

Royal haka

The Royal haka was written in 1321 following the Mauist victory over the Thaerists. It was written by Upake Tupuni. It was written to celebrate the triumph of Mauism over Thaerism. The song featured symbology and mythology that was associated with Mauism. Although it is similar to the National haka in that it speaks about the role of Ahua the Great in uniting the country, it places heavier emphasis on legitimizing the Royal line through its descent to Ahua the Great and its links to Maui. The Royal haka is specifically interesting because it is narrative as opposed to being a long quotation like the first haka is. It is usually sung in ceremonies that pertain to the Oan monarchy and the Royal family. It is written in the form of praise poetry. In the reign of Rangitake the Great, Opehana Taukuna added the last five verses to indicate that unlike his father Tamatea II, the monarch must be willing to sacrifice himself for the nation as he believed his father was unable and unwilling to do.

Official Oan lyrics Official Staynish translation
Te wikitoria o nga tangata moana me nga taniwha o te moana
Te wikitoria o nga rewera ma me te tauhou
Ko te rangatira o te ope nui o Oa
Na te Ariki Maui koe i whiriwhiri, te karere a Atea
I whakahoroa e koe nga rangatiratanga iti, i hanga e koe te iwi kanapa
I hanga e koe he whare e kore e hinga
I tenei ra ko to uri te rangatira o nga moana
I tenei ra ko to iwi te rei o nga moana
Kua peia e matou te tangata tinihanga, kua hinga i a matou te tangata tinihanga
Ma te rangi e manaaki te Rangatiratanga
Kaua ia e tinihangatia e te hoariri
Ia paruru oia i to tatou basileia i te haamouraa e eiaha roa ’tu e mǎta‘u i te pohe
Ka whawhai tatou mo tana ope, ka mate mo nga Moutere o Oa.
Oa makaaki te Rangatiritanga
Conqueror of sea people and sea monsters
Conqueror of white devils and barbarians
Commander of the great armada of Oa
You were chosen by Lord Maui, the messenger of Atea
You destroyed the petty Kingdoms and built the shining nation
You built a house that will never fall
Today your descendent rules the seas
Today your nation is the jewel of the oceans.
We have expelled the traitor and bested the deceiver
Heaven bless the Sovereign,
Make him wise and strong
Let him not be deceived by the enemy
May he defend our realm from destruction and never fear to die
We shall fight for his army and lay out lives for the Oa Isles.
Heaven bless the Sovereign.