No one knows with certainty the exact origin of the first Maori people and no one knows for sure what reasons forced those extraordinary navigators and undeniable masters of the seas to migrate and settle permanently on the different Islands of French Polynesia aboard their masterly crated double-hulled canoes, probably more than two thousands years ago.
According to the present day historians and archeologist, their mysterious migrations could have been the result of a food shortage which probably drove those unknown men and women away from their native land or perhaps the unfortunate out come of tribal wars which forced the vanquished warriors into exile and in search of more auspicious lands.
No one knows either who first thought of combining the local tiare flowers with coconut extract to obtain a mixture just as exotic as its Polynesian name, MONOI, which in r'eo-maohi, their ancient language, literally means "scented oil".
What we know for sure is that several ancient documents dating as far back as the 18th Century, when the first Europeans navigators like James Cook came to visit the Polynesian Islands, already mention MONOI and its regular cosmetic use by the natives. Those documents also relate how, according to traditional oral legends gathered by the new visitors, MONOI always played an important role in the Polynesians' long standing traditions and culture and how it was so well intergraded in their daily lives that they even brought it along in their famous crafts to protect their bodies from the elements during long journeys of discovery at sea.
Mixed with Tiare petals for example, (or even with some other local flowers) which were soaked into unrefined coconut oil for several days, Monoi was preserved by the natives into various recipients for daily cosmetic use or for personal care, for popular cures and even for religious rites.
In traditional medicine, MONOI was the most popular remedy, which the natives used to soothe a variety of ailments such as earaches, headaches or even mosquito bites. But the Polynesian used it especially in the refined art of therapeutic massages to which they attributed great healing powers. Nowadays, the undeniable benefits of MONOI are still much appreciated by the Polynesians who really enjoy using it to help relax their muscles and soothe their restless minds, before undertaking world-famous canoe races.
In the ancient days, before the native Polynesians were converted to other religions, MONOI was an integral part of their religious rites. During those spectacular ceremonies which took place in the "maraes", the sacred open air stone temples, the Maoris priests, dressed in their magnificent ceremonial attires, used MONOI to anoint the sacred objects and to purify the offerings that were carefully placed over the stone altars to honor their various Gods.
At birth, babies were covered with MONOI from head to toe and that simple ritual protected the newborns from most certain dehydration during extremely hot spells while it also served as the best natural antiseptic against mosquito bites. At death, the body of the deceased was carefully embalmed and perfumed with MONOI to help him accomplish this last great journey surrounded by the comfort of a familiar odor & In popular tradition, MONOI has followed the Polynesian people throughout their lives and apart form the religious rituals which no longer exits, it remains an integral part of their rich culture heritage...