Archaeologist Emory is the first to notice these small marae, which he names “shrine”.These structures are the most numerous on Tahiti and Mo’orea (more than one hundred have been listed in the ’Ōpūnohu valley).
They probably are the oldest form of marae, before men built larger and more complex temples, such as marae Ti’i-rua and Ahu ō Māhine.
Their architecture is simple : a small pavement, one or several upright stones, and no built ahu. A ti’i would frequently be placed at the centre, between upright stones. Its function could be that of guardian of the marae.
with various functions...
when located near an important marae, they may have been used as marae dedicated to rituals aimed at protecting an affiliated clan ;
associated to simple dwellings, they are supposed to be small marae tupuna (family marae) ;
when located near agricultural complexes, they may have been used for fertility rites ;
There were also small tahu’a marae for specialists : healers, fishermen, navigators,
These platforms (tahua) are located whitin large ceremonial complexes.
They served as assembly places on which the power elite (chiefs, priests, and warriors) held coucils and discussed political, religious, and social issues governing the life of the community.