The legends of Vaitupu contained many stories of how the island was created, but in regard to the settlement of the island, however, they generally agree that the first settler was Telematua, who arrived from Samoa by canoe.
There are six large family groups on Vaitupu that claim descent from Telematua. In addition to their membership of these, the Vaitupu people are also divided into three principal clans; namely Tua, Lotoa and Kilitai. Telematua and his lines of descent are depicted in the following table:
Captain Davis visited Vaitupu on the 19th May 1892 and 30th July 1892, and made the following comments in the proceedings of the H.M.S. Royalist. The name of the chief was Tuputa and the name of the trader was Henry Nitz, German, who was trading on his own account. At this time Davis recorded the population of Vaitupu as 456.