Prior to European influence, Maeva village, about 7km east of Fare, was the seat of royal power on the island. It’s mostly famous for its concentration of pre-European archaeological sites, including a host of marae (traditional temples) scattered along the shoreline and also up the slopes of Matairea Hill.
Excavations and restoration of the site commenced in 1923; nearly 30 marae have since been located, more than half of which have been restored. The exceptional density of marae on the hillside has led to a theory that it was entirely inhabited by nobility and the families of the chiefs.
Situated on the water’s edge on the Fare side of Maeva, the Fare Potee is a replica of an open traditional house, which now holds a lovely little museum and is tended by the lovely Maui, who can answer questions and explain more about the site. Around the site are 10 or more marae, some of which may date back to the 16th century. Flagstones cover a wide expanse of land along the shoreline.
In the village, look for the Maison de la Vanille, a family-run outfit that sells sweet-scented vanilla pods.
Beside the bridge coming off Motu Ovarei are a number of V-shaped fish traps, made from rocks. They have been here for centuries and some are still in use. The tips of the Vs point towards the ocean, the long stone arms emerging above the water level. As the fish are pulled towards the sea by the ebb tide they become trapped in the circular basin at the point of the V, where they are easily caught, usually by net or harpoon.