The Maori - Volume I
V Myth and Folk Lore
V Myth and Folk Lore
Myth and religion inseparable—Superior myths and folk tales—Explanatory myths numerous—History and myth intermingle—Widespread myths-Evolution of myths—Examples—Symbolical myths—Confusion in Polynesian myths—Nature myths—Animatism—Rehua and inanga—The Maori and abstract thought—The primal offspring—Rongo-ma-Tane—Tane and the sun—Sun and moon personifications—Rongo and moon—Moon and agriculture—Rongomai—Rongo-nui-a-tau—Rongo-maui—Moon and water—Moon and fertility—Rona and the moon—Hina and moon—Hine-te-iwaiwa—The tiki pendant—The Waiora a Tane—Crescent symbol—Hine-korako—Maui and Tuna the eel—Ira the eel god of India—Puhi—The feats of Maui—Maui and the sun—Maui the fisher of lands—Maui and Mahuika—Maui slays the Fire Children—Maui and the Queen of Death—The Mokoroa-i-ata—Maui and Rohe—Deluge myths—Fire myths—Wind myths—The Wind Children—The Snow Children—The Cloud Children—Ocean myths—The Ocean Maid and her offspring—The Tide Controllers—The Plaza of Hine-moana—Rainbow myths—Uenuku and the Mist Maid—Origin of Rainbow—Celestial visitors to earth—The Rainbow Maid dwells on the plaza of Hine-moana—Lighthing myths—The rua koha—Controllers of the elements—The Cloud Maid—The Cloud House—Origin of stones—The Sand Maid protects the Earth Mother—The Greenstone Folk—Myths pertaining to greenstone—The Sandstone Maid assails the Greenstone Folk—Rata and the enchanted tree—Mataora visits the underworld—The Maori genius for personification—Personified forms of natural phenomena; of natural products; of qualities—Folk tales—Battle of the birds The Fish Tribes attack Man—The struggle between dogs and lizards—Taniwha or monsters—Folk tales introduced—The tuoro Sea monsters subservient to man—Ocean demons—Marakihau Tipua—The uruuru whenua rite—Tribal banshee—Tutaua, the singing tree—Mountain lore—Folk tales—Hinepoupou—Cæsarian operation—Rua-kapanga—River myths—Mythical forest denizens—Fables—Fairy folk—Superstitions—Omens—Dreams—The lizard—Right and left sides—Wairua protects man—Fear of spirits—Cause of degeneration—A watch viewed as a demon—Maori and European superstitions.
We have now to deal with one of the more interesting phases of Maori lore. It is true that we have, in scanning his cosmogony and anthropogeny, surveyed some of his most interesting myths, but then no true Maori will admit that they are myths. He looks upon them as being relations of actual occurrences, even as we still place faith in old Babylonian or Sumerian concepts of the origin of man and of sin. It is the mixture of myth and religion that forces the writer to treat these two subjects as being inseparable, when dealing with such a people as the Maori. Max Muller has well expressed this aspect in his preface to the Rev. W. Gill's “Myths and Songs from the South Pacific”: “Parts of mythology are religious, parts of mythology are historical, parts of mythology are metaphysical, parts of mythology are poetical; but mythology as a whole is neither religion, nor history, nor philosophy, nor poetry.” In describing the performances of Tane and his brethren we are dealing with myths, but this cannot be done without an explanation of the concept of the Supreme Being, his attributes, and the attitude of the Maori toward that deity. We must also bear in mind that Tane, Rongo and others who appear in these superior myths are themselves viewed as atua, or gods. They are the secondary or departmental gods of the Polynesian pantheon. It is when we come to deal with the folk tales of a people, that a line can be drawn between myth and religion.
The higher class myths of the Maori, such as those described in the previous chapter, illustrate a type not found among races of low culture. They bear the mark of a comparatively high plane of thought, and are the result of universal personification of natural phenomena, the higher phases of animism. Many explanatory myths are evolved by such folk as the Polynesians, and undoubtedly the religious spirit has entered into the higher conceptions of the mythmakers’ minds. We recognise, however, wide differences in native myths, for they range from superior cosmogonic concepts and interesting mythopoetic allegories, down to puerile folk and demon lore. The relation of secondary myths and folk tales found quite an important place in the social enjoy- page 126 ments of the people. Such stories are termed korero purakau, and korero tara. Some of them are tales or myths heard in far lands, others are of local origin. Many contain a moral in some form, such as the perils of transgressing the laws of tapu. An old sage has told us that the story of Hine-poupou swimming across Cook Straits is simply a tale related to children in order to render them fearless in the water.
We notice another attribute of some of these oft-told tales, namely, that genuine accounts of actual events, such as voyages, have become encrusted with myth. I deem it highly probable that the strory of the voyage of Rata is that of a genuine expedition from the eastern Pacific into Melanesia, possibly the Fiji group. Into this story the marvellous has entered, and so we have such impossible occurrences as the re-erection of the tree felled by Rata. In the accounts of the voyages of Whiro, Tura, and others, we note the introduction of weird folk who dwelt in trees and knew not the use of fire, of strange peoples among whom natural birth was unknown, but all infants entered the world through the medium of the Cæsarian operation.
The superior myths of the Maori have evidently been introduced from Polynesia, if not from still further afield. This may also be said of some of the folk tales which are encountered in northern isles. Attention will be drawn to instances of such transferences. Certain myths, such as that of the Sky Parents and Earth Mother, are of world-wide occurrence, and were probably evolved in different lands. On the other hand myths may have been carried long distances even in remote times by seafaring peoples. Indirect contact has effected much in past times. At a time when our forefathers dared not sail out of sight of land the Polynesian voyagers were carrying their language and unwritten literature thousands of miles across the Pacific area.
The evolution of myths has had a considerable effect on human mentality, and hence on such institutions as religion. We even see its effects in social laws and customs. Thus the attributing of life and personality to what we term inanimate objects has deeply affected the religious concepts and mode of thought of the Polynesian mind. Myths are, in many cases, attempts to explain phenomena, and the personifications of page 127 such phenomena were the gods of the Polynesian. Tylor's dictum that “What is poetry to us was philosophy to early man,” is assuredly a truth that demands attention from those who would understand the mentality of barbaric man.
Myths may come into existence by means of a love of the marvellous, and during a long residence among natives I have observed the genesis of weird tales on several occasions. When my very worthy friend, Rua Kenana, proclaimed himself as the true Messiah, many natives had faith in him and believed that he would, as promised, be the means of banishing all Europeans from these isles. Thus I was gravely informed that he was going to a place called Parae-roa, up the Whakatane River, in order to unearth an enormous diamond concealed at that place. This was to be utilised in abolishing the “mortgage” on New Zealand, after which all Europeans were to be deported. During a meeting of natives called together to discuss the matter, Rua is said to have performed the miracle of feeding some hundreds of hungry followers on two “fifties” of flour, a miracle that evidently hinges upon Christian teachings. Some of these miracles, or prophecies, seemed to hang fire. I observed some natives who lived a few miles from my camp, making a broad track through scrub and bracken up a hill adjacent to their village. This, I was informed, was as a means of escape for the local natives, whose hamlet was to be destroyed by a huge tidal wave that was ere long to sweep up the valley. That tidal wave, I may observe, has not yet arrived. A number of absurd acts, beliefs, superstitions and prophecies were the fruit of that strange craze. The end was not well, for much adulation so affected the “New Messiah” that he thought himself above all law, a state of things that led to a brief fight at Maunga-pohatu, in which his own son was killed.
Polynesian myths are often symbolical and allegorical. They often resemble those of Aryan peoples more than those of Semitic folk, especially with regard to such conceptions as supernormal beings, gods, personifications. We find a number of Asiatic-Polynesian parallels, cases in which similar myths have been evolved in the two regions, or have, in remote days, been carried from one area to the other by migrating peoples. Of such a nature are the myths connected with the primal page 128 parents, the origin or man and of fire, the waters of life, and the Mist Maid. It is unquestionably a fact that similar conditions produce similar institutions and concepts, and hence our parallels may not betoken borrowing or transference in past times. At the same time the resemblances in some cases are very striking. We are aware that, in New Zealand, are encountered a number of arts, artifacts and customs, that are not met with in Polynesia, and that were apparently introduced from Melanesia. It seems probable that the first settlers of these isles, the Mouriuri folk, were responsible for these introductions. In the case of myths and folk tales of the Maori that reappear in Melanesia and Indonesia, it is within the realm of possibility that such were carried eastward by migrating peoples of former times. There is a certain amount of confusion in Maori myths, as also in some other departments of knowledge, and this confusion extends to Polynesia to some extent. This may be due to racial admixture, or to the fact that the Polynesians are descendants of several bodies of migrants that reached the eastern Pacific area at different periods.
Many Maori myths are based on observation, hence the profusion of Native myths and personified forms. The Maori had ever an intimate fellowship with Nature, and this fact sprang from several causes. In the first place he lived in close contact with Nature; he was compelled to observe closely natural products and forces, in order to retain life. Thus he observed the habits of birds, of fish, of plant life, their functions and peculiarities. He also believed that all things possessed a life principle (mauri), an indwelling vital spirit, though not an apparitional spirit in the case of what we term inanimate objects. Above all, he held the belief that all things, animate and inanimate, are descended from a common source, the primal parents, Rangi and Papa. This belief had a considerable effect on the native mind, for, when the Maori walked abroad, he was among his own kindred. The trees around him were, like himself, the offspring of Tane; the birds, insects, fish, stones, the very elements, were all kin of his, members of a different branch of the one great family. Many a time, when engaged in felling a tree in the forest, have I been accosted by passing natives with such a remark as: page 129 “Kei te raweke koe i to tipuna i a Tane.” (You are meddling with your ancestor Tane). As a tree fell they would remark: “Kua hinga a Tane.” (Tane has fallen.) When old Pio, of the Awa tribe, was explaining to me the habits of the inanga, a small freshwater fish, he remarked: “When the star Takero is seen in the heavens, then the third migration of the inanga commences. They proceed to their ancestress Wainui (personified form of the ocean), and there produce their young. Inanga are descendants of Rehua (the star Antares, also apparently an old term for a forest). On the Turu and Rakaunui nights (16th and 17th) of the ninth moon they begin their first migration to Wainui. For, in the night of time, the inanga folk had enquired of Rehua: ‘What are we to do?’ and he had replied: ‘When you observe a red gleam in the heavens, that is a sign for you to hasten to your relative Wainui.”
As to explanatory myths it would appear that reflection, introspective thought, must be the mental condition that produces them, whereas in the matter of religion emotion enters largely into causes. As Tylor puts it: “Nature myths are the most beautiful of poetic fictions,” and the mythopoetic Maori has given full play to his imagination in that direction.
* “Maori Religion and Mythology,” by Edward Shortland, M.A., M.R.C.P., London. 1882.
Such occurrences as have given rise to myths in the past are still taking place in our midst, but our altered mentality does not make use of such opportunities. We have emerged from the myth-making plane of thought, and any newly-evolved myth that attempts to raise its head is met by many scoffers. The Vision of Mons is an example of this attitude. We passed through the Mythopoetic Age long centuries ago, while the Maori trod that path to the end. Even as Tane banished the Dawn Maid from the Ao Marama down the long descent of Tahekeroa to the under world, so has our changing mentality driven mythopoetic concepts into the realm of oblivion.
We have already scanned a number of myths pertaining to the primal offspring in dealing with Maori cosmogony and anthropogeny. There are, however, other concepts connected with the progeny of Rangi and Papa, or Sky and Earth, that must be dealt with in order to gain a comprehensive view of Maori myths. Those connected with Tane, Tu, Rongo and Tangaroa are especially prominent, not only in New Zealand, but also in the Polynesian area. In confining ourselves to local versions, we shall find that Tane and Rongo are the most interesting of these departmental deities. We have already seen that Tane is a personification of the sun, while Rongo represents the moon. Not only do we frequently encounter these names in native myths, as pertaining to two separate and distinct beings, but we also meet with a combination of the two names, in the form of Rongo-ma-Tane (Rongo and Tane). This title is known to the natives of the Society Group, where it appears as Ro'o-ma-Tane. The Maori folk make use of this name as though it denoted a single being, as in speaking of agricultural ritual, but it was evidently a case of combining two important names. This twain, moon and sun, were held to possess great influence over Nature, and they were appealed to in connection with many things.
It is of interest to note that, in Maori myth, there are two distinct personified forms of the moon, male and female, page 131 and that, in like manner, there are several names of the sun. The ordinary name for the sun in vernacular speech is ra, a widespread term throughout the Pacific area. Ra kura, the red sun, is a kind of honorific name for the sun among our Maori folk, while Tama-nui-te-ra is a title of its personified form. The name of Tane is, however, its most important title; Tane is assuredly the personified form of the sun, though he appears as one of the offspring of the Sky Father and Earth Mother. We find also, in native myth, that the sun itself, as distinct from its personified form, is said to be the offspring of Uru-te-ngangana, a brother of Tane, and a female being named Moe-ahuru. With regard to the moon, the ordinary name for the orb of night is marama; in mythologic recitals it is often alluded to as the marama-i-whanake, or waxing moon. The moon goddess is Hina; she is the female personification of the moon, and, as Hina, Ina and Sina she is known far and wide throughout Polynesia. One of her titles is Hina-keha (Pale Hina), though during the dark phase of the moon she is called Hina-uri (Dark Hina). Yet another of her names is Hina-te-iwaiwa; as the patron or tutelary being of women she is so termed. Inasmuch as iwa is the numeral nine, it is quite possible that we have, in this secondary name, an allusion to the period of gestation in women.
In Rongo we have the male personification of the moon. This name appears as Ro'o, Longo, Lono, Ono and Rongo throughout Polynesia, in sympathy with well-known letter changes. Among the Hawaiians Hina, when translated to the heavens, adopted the name of Lono, the Hawaiian form of the name Rongo. Rongo is the patron deity of the art of agriculture in New Zealand, and the moon was connected with that art in many old-world lands. In old mythologies the moon often appears as being older than the sun, and of more importance. In Maori myth Rongo is the elder brother of Tane. Thus we can understand why the name of the former comes first in Rongo-ma-Tane. In the Paumotu Group Tane appears as the husband of Hina, so that in this case the sun took the moon to wife. In the Chatham Isles, near New Zealand, Tama-nui-te-ra (the sun) has three daughters, Hine-ata (Morning Maid), Hine-aotea (Day Maid), and Hine-ahiahi (Evening Maid).page 132
Tane was not only the personified form of the sun, but also represented all fructifying power; he was essentially the fertiliser, the origion of life, animal and vegetable; the active male element in Nature. The passive force in Nature is represented by the Earth Mother and by the female sex generally. The myths pertaining to Tane are of a superior type, as pertaining to a demiurgic being, while those connected with the name of Tama-nui-te-ra are of a lower class. The latter name appears as Tami-te-ra at the Chatham Isles, where it was also applied to a charm repeated over a dying person. It was recited by an attendant while holding the head of the dying one in the hollow of the arm, the reciter pointing to the sun with his other arm.
The Ngati-Awa tribe gives a different form of some of these old myths, and makes Hina-te-iwaiwa a daughter of Tane, which is not generally accepted. At Samoa Rongo appears as a son of Sina (Hina) and Tangaroa. At Mangaia Island, Rongo and Tangaroa are the twin children of Vatea (Maori Watea), Space, and of Papa. In Hawaiian myth the home of Rongo is said to be on the waters; and this probably accounts for his secondary name in New Zealand, where he is often called Rongo-marae-roa, Rongo of the far-spread expanse. Marae-roa, or Vast Expanse, is an expression employed to denote the ocean. It is also termed Marae-nui-atea (Vast Open Expanse). Moon worship was often connected with water worship in olden times, as in Babylonia. In that far land the moon was regarded as the parent of the sun and stars, and there, as in some other lands, moon worship was older than sun worship. It was the moon that caused crops to grow in Babylonian belief, and this also was the Maori belief. In both lands seeds were sown during a certain phase of the moon, while the moon was the measurer of time and controlled the seasons. The double stone image set up by the Maori in his cultivation grounds seems to have been called Rongo, but probably represented Rongo-ma-Tane. One of these images is in the New Plymouth Museum. This double name was specially prominent at Tahiti, Rarotonga and New Zealand. Another dual form is Rongo-ma-Uenga, but this I cannot explain; it occurs as the name of a god in Rarotongan lore.page 133
Rongo seems to have been also known as Rongo-nui (Great Rongo), and the twenty-eighth night of the moon was called Orongo and Orongonui (O-Rongonui=pertaining to Rongonui), as the twenty-seventh night was termed Otane (O-Tane). The Maori planted his sweet potato crops during these two phases of the moon, a most suggestive fact. The Rev. W. Gill tells us that Rarotongan myth places the home of Rongo in the shades, even as the Maori alludes to the underworld as the “hidden home of Tane.”
The name of Rongomai appears frequently in native myth and story. In the first place it is the name of an atua, which god is apparently the personified form of meteors, and this being was appealed to in war time, and in connection with other matters. But, like the name of Rehua, it seems to have another application. Thus Rongomai is spoken of as a being of very early times who was translated to the moon. Certain markings on the surface of the moon are called Nga Umu o Rongomai, the ovens of Rongomai. Rongomai is mentioned in a formula recited when the kumara crop was being planted, as also were Kahukura and Uenuku, both personified forms of the rainbow. One version makes Rongomai the father of Kahukura. It is possible that there is a connection between Rongomai and Rongo-marae-roa.
Another name met with in Maori myth is that of Rongotau, or Rongo-a-tau, or Rongo-nui-a-tau. This being is said to abide in the heavens with Tane and Rehua (the sun and the star Antares). Apparently these are variant forms of the name of Rongo-marae-roa, for Rongo-tau is shown to be connected with the sweet potato and with Pani, who is spoken of as the mother of that prized tuber. In Vol. I. of White's “Ancient History of the Maori,” p. 163, appears a sentence stating that Kahukura (the rainbow) and Rongo-nui-a-tau were seen standing in the heavens. Again, Rongo-maui, the husband of Pani, is apparently the same being as Rongotau. He is said to have been a brother of Whanui (the star Vega), from whom he obtained the kumara tuber. The heliacal rising of that star was awaited by the Maori as a sign of the crop-lifting season. It would be of interest to learn that, in some other land, there is a connection between the star Vega and agriculture. There is a considerable amount of con- page 134 fusion among the numerous moon names, or of names of the personified form of that orb. It is noticed, however, that the connections between the moon and agriculture, the moon and women, the moon and water, are most consistent, and these connections are very ancient Asiatic concepts.
The Maori has some quaint ideas concerning the moon. Natives have told me that, in olden days, the rising moon was at times greeted with the remark: “The husband of all women in the world has appeared.” An old native once remarked to me: “According to the knowledge of our ancestors, the marriage of man and woman is a matter of little moment; the moon is the true husband of woman.” It will be observed that in these various myths and beliefs the sex of the moon changes. In one version the moon appears as a male with two wives, Rona and Tangaroa. In popular myth Rona is the woman in the moon, translated thereto from earth in punishment for having insulted that useful orb by applying an offensive expression to it. She was going to procure water at night, when the moon was obscured by a cloud, which fact led to the unfortunate incident. When seized by the moon she grasped a ngaio tree, which was torn from the earth, and to which she still clung. Rona is still seen in the moon with her calabash, and the tree. In the South Island Rona appears in myth as a man, and the father of the Echoe Children. He fled to the moon to escape from his wife.
In dealing with Hina, the female personification of the moon, we have again to deal with a number of names, and a certain amount of confusion. In local myth Hina usually appears as a sister of Maui, but in a South Island version she is given as the mother of Maui, and the daughter of Mahuika (personified form of fire). In an ancient and mythical genealogy she is called Hina-i-te-po, in allusion to her appearance at night. One story makes Hina a daughter of Tangaroa. She also appears as the wife of Maui. The names of Hina-kai-tangata and Hina-whakapau-tangata are said to pertain to her, thus connecting her with death, the destroying of man. The moon is certainly connected with death in one way, as denoted in the expression mate a marama, which implies temporary death, the death that comes periodically to the moon, but from which she always recovers.page 135
In the Paumotu Group Hina appears as the wife of Tane, that is, the sun takes the moon to wife. At Samoa Sina is “the woman in the moon.” At Manihiki Isle she is sister of the Maui brothers, at Mangaia she occupied the same position, and became the wife of Tane, though in another version she is taken by Marama, the moon. In yet another she appears as the daughter of Rongo. At Niue (Savage Island) the heavens are “the bright land of Sina,” and in the Marquesas Group she was the wife of Tiki, the first man. This latter position connects her with reproduction. The moon is concerned not only with the growth of crops, the fertile earth, but also with fertility in women. At Tahiti Hina appears as the first woman and the wife of Tiki. At the Hawaiian Isles her husband was “Man Eater”; he broke one of her legs when she ascended to the heavens, where she took the name of Lono-moku (Rongo-motu, or Crippled Rongo), thus connecting her with Rongo of New Zealand and other isles. In Maori myth she became the wife of Tinirau, who is the origin and tutelary being of all fish, and the son of Tangaroa.
At Mangaia isle Rongo was said to be black-haired, and so we hear of “the dark haired children of Rongo,” as all dark-haired folk are termed. The few fair-haired people among them are called “the fair-haired children of Tangaroa.” At Tahiti this Tangaroa was the most important of secondary gods, and he it was who created the first man, Tiki, whose wife was Hina, who, we are told, had two faces. Tangaroa and Tiki sought to destroy man and all the waters of the earth, but Hina saved man and brought the waters back. It is this Great Hina, the Watcher, who is invoked by the natives of Tahiti when performing the famous fire-walking ceremony. She is the being who causes high tides. Always Hina has some connection with water, even as Isis of old was a water goddess.
The myth of Hina and Maui, two personifications of light, is known in New Zealand and some isles of Polynesia; in others the two names are not apparently connected. Our local version makes Hina the sister of the five Maui brethren. She was taken to wife by one Irawaru, who was transformed by Maui the mischievous into a dog, and who has since been looked upon as the parent or tutelary being of dogs. When page 136 Hina went in search of her husband, and called to him, a dog came running to her, wagging its tail. So grieved was Hina that she resolved to abandon her home, and so called upon the monsters of the ocean to bear her away. So it was that Hina drifted across the great ocean until she came to the Sacred Isle of Tinirau. Here she was found on the beach and taken before the chief Tinirau, the Lord of Fish, who took her to wife. She was sought by Maui-mua, her eldest brother, who visited her in the form of a bird, the rupe or pigeon, hence he acquired the name of Rupe. He carried Hina and her newly-born child away from Tinirau. In this myth Hina is spoken of as Hina-uri, or Dark Hina, and evidently the story accounts for the absence of the moon for three nights during the hinapouri or dark phase of the orb. When Rupe was in search of Hina he ascended the heavens in order to enquire of Rehua as to her whereabouts. Rehua arranged that food should be provided for the adventurous visitor, and, when the oven was heated, he loosed his bound hair, from which flew forth a flock of koko (parson birds) that were to be utilised as food. This is one of the stories that connect Rehua with the forest.
Under the names of Hina-te-iwaiwa and Hine-te-iwaiwa, the moon was viewed as the patroness of women. Hina presided over childbirth and the art of weaving, even as the moon goddess of Egypt did. The first tiki known was one made for Hine-te-iwaiwa by her father. This tiki is the grotesque image, usually fashioned from intensely hard nephrite (green-stone), worn by Maori women as a fructifying symbol.
Inasmuch as Hina-te-iwaiwa is shewn, in one version of the myth, to be the daughter of Tane, then the making of Tiki, and of the tiki by him, is a matter that can be explained, and that explanation is given in the account of Tiki as a personification. In another version, however, Hina-te-iwaiwa is said to have been a daughter or descendant of Uru-tengangana.
The above is, of course, an old, old myth in many lands. From Tane of Polynesia to the fountain of healing of Babylonian myth; from the waters of life of Alexander to Ponce de Leon of Florida, we note the persistence of this concept of healing or rejuvenating waters. Hewitt remarks in his “Primitive Traditional History,” that the Fountain of Youth myth probably originated in India, and that of the Waters of Life is said to be of Semitic origin, it having been traced to Assyria. At the Hawaiian Isles this myth was very prominent, as shown in Fornander's writings. At Tonga the water of life is represented by a lake called Vaiola, and we meet with the same name at Samoa. At the Chatham Isles the name was Wai-oro nui a Tane, according to Mr. Shand. At Rarotonga the life-giving waters are spoken of as a pool, and this version mentions that Hina dived into it to regain youth. She is here spoken of as the mother of Tiki, a curious and suggestive position. The Hawaiian tells us that the life-giving waters have three outlets, one each for Tane, Tu and Rongo, so that both sun and moon seem to gain renewed life thereat. Our Maori myth of the moon and the waters of life is clearly paralleled by that of Babylonia, wherein Istar is washed in the water of life, and so restored to glory.
Such is the widespread myth concerning the Waiora a Tane, but the inner meaning thereof has yet to be given. The word vai (Maori wai) of eastern Polynesia, means “to be, to exist,” and vaiora means “to survive.” The Maori word waiora has a general meaning of “welfare,” and is allied to ora and toiora. The waiora of Tane is light, sunlight, which is the welfare of all things. Tane-te-waiora is Tane as dispenser of life-giving sunlight. The dying moon bathes, not in water, but in this life-bringing light, and in this esoteric page 139 version we see that the Maori of yore hit upon a scientific truth. With this knowledge waiora must be written as one word, and not as wai (water) ora (life, living).
The crescent symbol is by no means common in Polynesia. It is seen cut in rocks at Hawaii, and in the rei miro of Easter Island, a breast ornament worn by women, a wooden crescent with a face carved on each cusp thereof. This crescent form is also seen carved on the rocks at Orongo (O-Rongo) at that island, and we have seen that Rongo represented the moon. In New Zealand we find a crescent carved on the upper end of the shaft of the old wooden spade (ko) formerly used by the natives. This is suggestive, when we remember that Rongo was the patron of the art of agriculture. That crescent-shaped apex is called the whaka-marama, wherein we have marama=the moon, and whaka, a causative prefix. This old symbol of the moon and fertility was thus employed by the Maori husbandman. Where did he bring it from?
In Hine-Korako, the Fair Maid, we have a personified form of the lunar bow, or halo. She occupied quite an important position, and was looked upon as a kind of guardian spirit. One Tu-korako is, however, a rainbow personification, and has nothing to do with the moon. We also hear of one Hine-Korako of popular folk lore. She is a supernatural being who is said to dwell under the falls of Te Reinga at Te Wairoa; she was looked upon as a guardian spirit and even as an ancestress of the local natives. It is not improbable that she personifies the iridescent display of colours occasionally seen at the falls. In the far-off Hawaiian Isles we are told that Hina's home was in a large cave under the Rainbow Falls near Hilo.
In Hina or Hine-te-iwaiwa, and Rongo, we have mild and benevolent beings; the moon spirit is viewed as a mild-natured power, as the source of fertility, and as a protective being, a guardian of woman.
In dealing with the stories of Maui, Hina and Tuna, we encounter sun, moon and phallic myths, for Maui certainly represents some form of light. In the myths of barbaric folk we note that light and life are practically synonymous terms, and, knowing the common Polynesian a to o vowel change, it page 140 is not surprising to find that moui means “life, alive, to live” at Tonga and Niue. Parallel forms are mauri and mouri, which bear the meaning of “life, to live, life principle” in many Polynesian dialects, and are encountered far westward in Melanesia. In Egypt Moui was a personification representing the splendour and light of the sun. The contest between Maui and the Queen of the Underworld was one of light, or life, against darkness or death.
This second line is repeated in each couplet, and one is tempted to connect this Ira with Ira the eel god of India. The line may be rendered: “It is Ira, it is Ira, it is Ira of the waters.” This concept of an eel assaulting a woman is a very peculiar one, but it appears again in the myth of Tiki, the so-called first man. It seems to hinge upon the Asiatic concept of the phallic eel, which is connected with the phallic serpent known of Mother Eve. The symbol of the eel god of India is a linga with a lunar crescent on its head, which points to the symbolising of fertility. But the eel god of Ira of India is one and the same being, we are told, as Indra, who, in Persian myth, is the fell serpent. Here the phallic eel and serpent coalesce, as it were, and the old myth of Eve and the serpent reappears in the Polynesian myth of Tiki and the first woman, and that of Tuna and Hina. The eel appears as a generator in Celtic (Irish) myth, and it was a sacred creature in Egypt. Several forms of this Tuna myth appear in Polynesia, as in the Cook, Samoan and Paumotu Groups. In the Rarotongan story of Hina she is said to have led about an
“Mata Tuna ki te rango tuatahi
Ko Ira i! Ko Ira i! Ko Ira i! to ro wai.”
* As Hina was patroness of women, and connected with fertility and reproduction, can these nine skids refer to the period of gestation?
It seems probable that the Maori atua or god called Puhi is a personified form of the eel. Near Tauranga is a place named Te Rua o Puhi (The Pit of Puhi) whereat, in a hole, lived a huge eel that was looked upon as a supernatural being. It seems to have been viewed as an ancestor, or as representing one, and a local saying was “The descendants of Puhi do not eat eels.”
The position of Maui is not an easy one to define. He is not treated as an atua, or god, by the Maori, but rather as one of the heroes of antiquity. He is described as performing all kinds of marvellous tricks, and rejoiced in the name of Deceitful Maui, Maui the Trickster. Yet he apparently personifies light, or day, and is credited in many places as having drawn up lands from the depths of the ocean. It is thought by some that the attributes and feats of two different individuals of the name have become mixed, that the more modern Maui was a voyager in Pacific waters who discovered a number of islands, and so gained the reputation of having drawn them up to the light of day.
In Hochstetter's work on New Zealand a statement is made that Maui was the creator of the world, but no Maori myth exists that makes any such claim. A further remark by the same writer to the effect that Maui, “as god of the atmosphere and lord of the deep, as god of the creation in page 142 heaven and on earth, is identical with the cosmogonic supreme deities of other Polynesian islands,” is utterly incorrect in all particulars.
Analogues of the Maui myths, or some of them, have been noted in the ancient lore of India, Babylonia and Egypt. It is stated in Maori tradition that Maui pertained to the original homeland of the Maori. The Maui of whom so many stories are told was one of five brothers, whose names were Maui-mua, Maui-pae, Maui-taha, Maui-roto, and Maui-potiki. The latter was also known as Maui-tikitiki-a-Taranga, and this, the youngest of the brothers, is the one around whom so many marvellous stories cluster. We hear but little concerning the other brothers. Some curious statements occur with regard to Maui; one such is to the effect that one of his eyes was like an eel, and the other was like greenstone. One of his names is Maui-matawaru, which may be rendered as Eight-eyed Maui, but then the Western Pacific word matavaru means “wise,” or “wisdom,” and this is probably the meaning in the above case. But a Rarotongan account of Maui states that he had eight heads, which should endow him with a fair number of eyes. Yet another Polynesian story is that Maui came by way of the rising sun to the Marquesas Group, which, in conjunction with other evidence, seems to support the view that he personifies day, or light.
The name of Maui's mother is usually given as Taranga by the Maori, his father's name appears in many forms throughout Polynesia. Maui-potiki was an immature birth and was wrapped by his mother in her girdle (tikitiki) and cast into the sea. But Maui did not perish in the waters, for the sea denizens befriended and nurtured him. The Wave Children of Hine-moana, the Ocean Maid, succoured him. Their names are Ngaru-nui, Ngaru-roa, Ngaru-tiketike, with many another. The Cloud Children, Ao-nui, Ao-roa, Ao-pouri, and others, bore him on their backs. The Whanau puhi, the Wind Children, came from the rolling plaza of the Ocean Maid to gambol with him. Tangaroa, the Tide Controller, and Rongomai-tahanui of the vast expanses, were as parents to him. Hine-moana sent the seaweed to clothe him as with a garment. When Maui had developed into a fair and stalwart youth, then the Wind Children brought him to land, where page 143 he made his way to his mother's home. Taranga declined to recognise him as her son, until reminded of the circumstances connected with his birth. Maui soon began to show his daring disposition and capacity for marvellous adventures. He soon discovered that his mother never remained at home during the day, but always descended to the underworld ere the dawn came.
Maui resolved to seek the realm wherein his mother spent the day, and so, by a stratagem, he prevented the dawning light being seen inside the house, and so detained his mother until it was broad daylight. He then assumed the form of a bird, the pigeon, and followed his mother down to the underworld. The passage thereto was disclosed by pulling up a bunch of rushes. Maui found both his parents in the underworld, and there met with a number of adventures. Doubtless there is some hidden meaning in this story. Maui is in some versions said to have been the son of Hina, who represents the moon, and we are told that the home of the moon is in the underworld. These stories are assuredly of an allegorical nature.
Maui acquired the powers of magic and was able to destroy life by that means, and in present-day speech the word maui denotes witchcraft. One of his most notable feats was his great task of lengthening the day. At that period the days were so short that man could not find time in which to perform his daily duties, hence Maui resolved to capture the sun and cause it to move more slowly. He and his brothers proceeded to the edge of the world, to the rua or pit from which the sun appears when it emerges each morn from the underworld. There they laid in wait, some concealed on either side of the aperture, around which the nooses to catch the sun were arranged. Ere long the sun, like a fierce, flaming fire, appeared, its head and limbs were ensnared in loops of stout rope, the Maui brothers ran to control the captured sun. Maui-potiki then attacked the sun, wielding a strange weapon, the jawbone of his grand-parent, and beat it so severely that it cried for mercy. He then compelled the sun to move more slowly in its daily journey, that the day might be lengthened for the tasks of man. This feat of Maui's is told by natives from New Zealand northward to the Hawaiian Group. At page 144 Mangaia, Maui is said to have plaited his snare from the hair of his sister Hina.
Another of Maui's feats was that of drawing up the land from the depths of the ocean. The North Island of New Zealand is said to have been so pulled up by him, hence its name of Te Ika a Maui (The Fish of Maui). In this task he used the jawbone of his grandparent as a hook, and, having no bait therefor, he smeared some of his own blood on it. That hook is now represented by the curved coast line of Hawke's Bay on the eastern coast of the North Island, its point being the cape known as Te Matau a Maui (The Fishhook of Maui). When the island appeared above water it was seen to be occupied; houses were seen upon it, and fires were burning; people were engaged in their daily avocations. Again it is related that, when drawn up, the island was in a very soft condition, and the brothers of Maui, by walking over it, caused its present rough surface, the valleys, ranges and mountains. The island groups of Tonga, Cook, Hawaii, also Manihiki, Mangareva, etc., are said to have been so fished up by Maui, a truly wide-spread myth. It has apparently been carried as far as the New Hebrides; if indeed it was not brought eastward. In some of the isles of Polynesia Maui is said to have lifted the heavens up to where they are now, a task credited to Tane in New Zealand.
The other two trees referred to are the mahoe and totara (Melicytus ramiflorus and Podocarpus totara respectively). These also were utilised in fire generation.
“E Ira E! Whakina mai te ahi.”
(O Ira! Reveal to us the fire.)
In one version of this myth Maui is said to have transformed himself into a hawk in order to escape from the pursuing fire, but even so he got scorched by the heat, hence page 146 the colour of the hawk's plumage even unto this day. It is a curious fact that, in Egyptian myth, the hawk was connected with fire. In Mangaian myth Maui is said to have cured Hina of blindness, that is to have restored light to the moon, which certainly seems to connect Maui with the sun. Mauike (Mahuika) is there said to be a denizen of the underworld, where Maui's mother also dwelt. Maui descended to the underworld to procure fire, and met with a similar experience to that related in the New Zealand version. In the Samoan version Mahuika becomes Mafuie, the “k” being dropped, and Maui is called by his second name of Tikitiki, which there becomes Ti'iti'i. At Niue the name of Maui appears. At the Hawaiian Isles Maui is assisted by Hina, his mother, in his quest for fire; she also assists him in the Tahitian version. With a few differences and transposition of names we find this far-spread myth preserved in many lands, and, in a number of cases, birds are connected with the desired fire, or with the procuring of it.
Maui is credited with many feats, great courage, and superior cunning, also with cleverness in many ways. Thus we are told that he was the first to make and use barbed fish hooks and bird spears, and the first to construct an eel pot fitted with a retracted entrance that prevented the escape of the eels. He was an expert dart thrower and kite flier; he invented the game of whai, or cat's cradle, and was renowned in many ways. He was not, however, deemed an atua, or god.
The final and most remarkable of the adventures of Maui was his contest with Hine-nui-te-Po, the female janitor of the underworld. In this adventure he strove to disable Hine and gain eternal life for man. Evidently this is a myth concerning a contest between light and life on the one side, and darkness and death on the other. It is, in fact, another such myth as that of Tane and Whiro, already explained. It is not clear as to why the Maori should possess two distinct myths pertaining to this subject. The Maui versus Hine-nui-te-Po story is based on the popular native belief that this Hine, the ex-Dawn Maid, is actively engaged in destroying man; she stands for death, and drags man down to the underworld of death and darkness. The higher teaching concerning her is of quite a different nature.page 147
The enmity between Maui and Hine originated in the death of the Fire Children at the hands of Maui. For Mahuika (personified form of fire) was, we are told, a sister Hine-titama, though other versions do not agree with this. Hine resolved to punish Maui for having destroyed the Fire Children; Maui was to be slain by magic arts. It was necessary to procure a medium through which such spells might affect their objective, and so Hine despatched Kahukura (the butterfly) to procure a drop of Maui's blood to serve as an ohonga, or medium. But the messenger failed in his errand through feebleness and his conspicuous appearance; he was slain by Maui. Hine then despatched Waeroa, the mosquito, but he was too noisy; Maui heard him approach, humming as he came, and destroyed him. Hine then chose Namu, the silent sandfly, as a messenger. Namu succeeded, and bore back to Hine a drop of the blood of Maui. The end was now assured, through Maui knew it not. The hero who had conquered the sun and performed mighty deeds, the fame of which had struck against the heavens, was doomed to meet death at the hands of Hine of the Dark Underworld.
Maui was distressed by the presence of death in the world. He wished men to die as does the moon, that is, for a brief period only, and then return to life. But Dark Hine of Rarohenga said: “Not so. Let man die for all time, and return to the Earth Mother, even that he may be mourned and wept for.” Thus it was that death became permanent in the ao marama, this world of life. Then the thought grew with Maui—why should he not slay or disable the Goddess of Death, thereby destroying her influence, and so bring about the condition of temporary death.
Thus it was that Maui set off to seek Hine-nui-te-Po and overcome her. As companions he took with him several birds. When they arrived at Kautere-rangi they came upon Hine lying asleep at the house called Potaka-rongorongo, on the door frame of which had been smeared the blood of Maui obtained by Namu. Maui proposed to enter the body of Hine, destroy her vitals, and so abolish death by destroying the author of death. He assumed the form of a rat in which to essay his desperate venture, but Tatahore (a bird, the whitehead) told him that he would not succeed in that form. page 148 Maui then took the form of an earth-worm, but Tiwaiwaka (a bird, the fantail) condemned his appearance, so Maui transformed himself into a moko-huruhuru, and wriggled about in a manner that vastly pleased his companions, so much so that that form was decided upon as the best. The moko-huruhuru was explained to the writer as being a species of caterpillar, or grub, possessing phosphorescent qualities, though it is said in “The Whare Wananga” to be a hairy lizard. This latter definition is probably a literal rendering of the two words composing the name; presumably a hairy lizard would be somewhat of a rara avis.
Maui now warned his companions to remain silent, and above all not to laugh at his actions. His aim was to extract or destroy the heart of Hine, and to pass through her body, whereupon eternal death would be vanquished, and man would live for ever. So Maui entered the body of Hine by way of the Paepae o Tiki, and passed into the puapua. The sight quite overcame the companions of Maui; Tatahore laughed outright, while Tiwaiwaka fled to the plaza and danced about with delight. But Maui of the many lands was doomed. Hine was startled and awoke; she felt Moko-huruhuru and slew him. Thus died Maui the hero, and so near was man to grasping immortality here on earth.
Maui is said to have had an encounter with a huge monster named Mokoroa-i-ata or Mangoroa-i-ata, an encounter credited to Tangaroa at Rarotonga. This monster is now represented by the Milky Way, usually called the Mangoroa. It is alluded to as an eel in Vol. 24 of the Polynesian Journal.
At the Chatham Isles Maui is said to have taken to wife one Rohe, a sister of the sun. She remarked upon his ugly face, and so he forced her to change faces with him, and finally he killed her. Her spirit attacked and destroyed Maui, and so death entered the world. Here Rohe takes the place of Hine-nui-te-Po of the Maori version; she became queen of the underworld, and personified form of darkness and evil, as is Whiro in Maori myth. The Maori knows little of Rohe, so far as we are aware, but both Maori and Rarotongans have preserved the name.
Such are the Maui myths that are known across so vast an area of the Pacific Ocean. The various stories are here page 149 much abbreviated, but serve as an illustration of the popular myths that were so much appreciated by the Maori.
It seems to be a recognised thing that no land is complete without a deluge myth, and many such have been placed on record in anthropological and other works. We do not find anything of peculiar interest among our Maori folk, however, concerning a past cataclysm of this nature. There is a lack of detail and precision in native references to a former deluge. Some refer to the Hurihanga a Mataaho as a deluge, but that name merely denoted the overturning of the Earth Mother by command of Io. Another so-called deluge mentioned is that known as the Tai-o-Ruatapu. This was quite a modern affair, having occurred but about twenty generations ago, according to a popular story. Possibly the tale is based on such an occurrence as the tidal wave that swept across the Pacific in 1868 (if my memory serves me). The persons mentioned in the story lived in the isles of Polynesia, about the time that the Arawa and other vessels sailed for New Zealand, or a little before that time. One Ruatapu, wishing to bring trouble on his friends because his father Uenuku had belittled him, resolved to drown certain male members of leading families. He induced them to go afishing with him, and, when well out at sea, he secretly pulled the plug out of the hole in the bottom of the vessel, and so allowed it to fill with water. There are several versions of this popular story. One has it that Ruatapu and his brother Paikea (alias Kahutia) were the sole survivors of this tragedy. As Paikea made for the shore Ruatapu called out to him: “When you reach land prepare for the future. Assemble all the people at Hikurangi, for when the long nights of winter arrive, I will be with you.” When the time came Ruatapu returned to his home in the form of a deluge of waters, and only those who had ascended the mount of Hikurangi escaped perishing in the flood.
We have seen that one Mahuika is the personified form of fire in Maori myth, and that Maui obtained fire from her when he destroyed the Fire Children. This, in popular story, was the ultimate origin of fire, but a less widely known myth takes the origin of fire back to the sun. In this wise:—
The sun on high wished to confer a boon upon mankind in days when the world was young. Even so Ra pondered as to what that boon should be, and at last resolved to send them fire, that man might possess the blessing of fire for all time. He therefore commanded his son Auahi-tu-roa (personified form of comets) to come down to earth bringing with him the seed of fire as a gift to mankind. This command was carried out, and, on arriving in this lower world, Auahi took Mahuika to wife, their offspring being the five Fire Children, whose names are those of the five fingers of the human hand. Their sad fate at the hands of Maui has already been related. Another name for the personified form of comets is Upokoroa, or Long Head, as seen in the saying: “ Me oioi ki te ringa ka puta te tama a Upoko-roa,” an allusion to the method of kindling fire by friction. The ignited dust was placed in some dry fibrous material which was waved to and fro, when the fire blazed up, or, as the Maori puts it, the child of Upoko-roa appears.page 152
A Matatua version of the Manuika myth has it that one Hine-i-tapeka, a sister of Mahuika, represents subterranean fire, and is responsible for all the charred timber seen in volcanic deposits. Subterranean fire is called the Ahi o Tapeka (Fire of Tapeka).
At Mangaia Island we find that Mauike, the conserver of fire, dwells in the underworld, whither Maui went to procure it. At Samoa Mafui'e also abides in the underworld, and at both places the sex changes. At the Tokelau Group we have the form Mafuike, and the sex becomes female again. In many other isles the name is met with, carrying certain letter changes, according to the dialect.
In Maori myth the winds in general are personified in Tawhiri-matea and Tawhiri-rangi, two members of the offspring of the primal parents. Each wind has, however, its own personified form. The winds are said to have come from Rangi-tamaku and Rangi-parauri, the second and third of the twelve heavens. All phases and forms of wind, snow, ice, etc., are the offspring of one Huru-te-arangi, a supernormal being, and of Tawhirimatea. This Huru was taken to wife by two beings, and produced all the Wind Children, the Snow Children, and Frost Children.
Here we have the origin of these phenomena in clear tabular form. Huru was taken to wife by Te Ihorangi, the personified form of rain, and brought forth twelve children, who personify different forms of snow, ice, frost and hail. She was also taken by Tonganui-kaea (Tonga=south) and had Parawera-nui, the cold south wind, who mated with Tawhirimatea and gave birth to the Wind Children. A recital of the names of all these young folk would be tedious and unprofitable.
One Raka-maomao is also connected with winds, and the south wind is called the Child of Raka-maomao. At Raro- page 153 tonga this being appears as representing all winds, but at Samoa La'a-maomao represents the rainbow. At Hawaii one Hema personifies the south wind.
We are told that the four toko (poles, props) by means of which Tane supported the heavens are the four winds, though another version states that they were rays (also termed toko) of the sun. The personified forms of the four winds are Parawera-nui (south), Tahu-makaka-nui (west), Tahu-mawake-nui (east), and Hurunuku-atea (north). From these winds all things acquire the breath of life. The Wind Children it was who bore Tane to the heavens, and defeated the hordes of Whiro. They dwell in the Wind House, but emerge therefrom to gambol on Mahora-nui-atea, the vast plaza of the Ocean Maid, and to assail the Cloud Children in the vast region of Watea (space personified). They are known collectively as the Whanau puhi (Wind family) and as the Tini o Matangi-nui (Multitude of Great Winds).
The wise men of yore were believed to possess the powers of raising and laying winds. Hence wind charms were an important part of the equipment of seafarers. A simple method of laying a violent wind is to procure a piece of dead ember, proceed to a stream, and stand therein while you pass the ember under your left thigh with your left hand, repeating at the same time an appropriate charm.
The wind calabash of Polynesian myth is a quaint fancy, a symbolical conception employed in a practical manner. Holes formed in the lower part of a calabash represented the wind apertures on the horizon, whence come the various winds. When ceremonially demanding a certain wind the operator left open the aperture pertaining to that wind, and closed the others.
The superior creation myth shows that sea and land were brought into being by Io-matua, the Supreme Being, but popular myths tell a different story. Thus we are told that waters collected and so formed an ocean, out of which the earth appeared, developed, gained maturity, and was taken to wife by Rangi. Another story is that Rangi took to wife one Wainui-atea (Great Open Space of Waters, or Great Expanse of Water), and to these was born Moana-nui (Great page 154 Ocean). Among the Matatua folk of the Bay of Plenty the ocean is personified in one Wainui, but the best-known personification of it is Hine-moana, the Ocean Maid. These personifications sometimes appear in genealogies as the progenitors or forerunners of man, but this was condemned by experts. The Ocean Maid is spoken of as constantly assailing the Earth Mother, ever she attacks her; all bays, gulfs, inlets we see are “te nganunga a Hine-moana,” the result of the gnawing of Hine-moana into the great body of Tuanuku, our universal mother. This aggression was noted by the Whanau a Rangi (Offspring of Rangi), who appointed Rakahore, Hine-tu-a-kirikiri, and Hine-one (personified forms of rock, gravel and sand) to protect the flanks of the Earth Mother from being swallowed by Hine-moana. When the serried battalions of the Ocean Maid roll in, rank behind rank, to assault the Earth Mother, gaunt Rakahore faces them fearlessly, and they break in fury around him. Still they rush on, in wavering array, to hurl themselves in vain against the rattling armour of the Gravel Maid, or upon the smooth but immovable form of the Sand Maid. They budge not, but ever stand between Papa the Parentless and the fury of Hine-moana.
This table shows the origin of the three personifications mentioned. They sprang from the line of Tane and the Mountain Maid.
Hine-moana was taken to wife by Kiwa, the guardian of the ocean. The first wife of Kiwa was Parawhenuamea, who produced the waters of the earth. The ocean is known as Te Moana nui a Kiwa, the Great Ocean of Kiwa.
The Ocean Maid is a descendant of Tane, as shown below:— page 155 The offspring of Hine-moana consisted of shellfish and seaweed of many species. These young folk were conveyed by their parents to Rakahore and Tuamatua (personified forms of rock and stones), and placed under their charge to be fed and reared. Tuamatua and two others were appointed by Tane to assemble and keep in order these offspring of Rakahore, Hine-moana and Parawhenuamea. The offspring of Kaukau and Te Arawaru (cockles, etc.) were placed with Hine-one, the Sand Maid, to be cared for by her.
Kiwa, Kaukau and Takaaho, the guardians of the ocean, dwell in the “house” Tahora-nui-atea, and ever guard the bounds of Hine-moana. The name Tahuaroa is occasionally applied to the great expanse of ocean. The words tahua and marae both denote a plaza, and both are applied to the ocean (Marae-nui-atea) which is compared to a vast plaza. Used in this sense we also encounter the word marae in the full title of Rongo (Rongo-marae-roa), for, like all lunar deities, he is connected with water. Another name for the expanse of ocean is the Raorao nui a Watea, The Great Plain of Watea (personified form of space). The Chatham Islands natives call it Te Hiku Watea.
All shellfish are termed Te Whanau a Te Arawaru (The Offspring of Te Arawaru), and they are divided into many families. The two clans of Pipi and Kuku (cockle and mussel) were at war at one time, and the former folk were driven to dwell at the one tahua (sandy or sand and mud beach between high and low water).
Tangaroa is the personified form of all fish, and his son Tinirau is also connected with fish. He it was who took Hina (personified form of the moon) to wife when she went across the ocean to the Sacred Isle, Motu-tapu. He is connected with Te Puna i Rangiriri, a mythical spring or place in the ocean where fish are said to originate, or come from. The frost fish, river eel, and conger eel have, however, a different origin, as they are said to have sprung from Te Ihorangi (per- page 156 sonified form of rain). These came down from the heavens to earth. The inanga also is said to have sprung from Rehua, and the shark from Takaaho, another member of the offspring of Rangi. Whales originated with Tinirau.
All seabirds are personified in Hurumanu, one of the primal offspring, and some species have a special personification of their own.
Tane it was who arranged that the waxing moon should control the tides of Hine-moana. Rona and Tangaroa assist in this task, hence their secondary names of Whakamau-tai. At the same time the Tuahiwi nui a Hine-moana (The Ridge, or Backbone of the Ocean Maid) was located in the ocean and assists in the regulation of tides. The popular story concerning the origin or cause of tides is that they are produced by the inhalations and exhalations of a huge monster named Te Parata, who dwells in the depths of the ocean.
There are a number of personified forms of the rainbow in Maori myth. Such are Kahukura, Uenuku, Haere, and some others. The ordinary vernacular term for a rainbow is aniwaniwa; it is sometimes called atua piko, or “curved atua,” the latter word denoting something supernormal. The most interesting myth connected with the rainbow is that concerning the adventure of Uenuku with the Mist Maid. In this story Uenuku is introduced as an ordinary mortal living with his relatives the ordinary village life of the Maori people. In his walks abroad one day he encountered two women of surpassing beauty. These were Hine-pukohurangi and Hine-wai, two sisters who abode in realms celestial. The former is the Heavenly Mist Maid, to render her name literally; she is the personified form of mist and fog, to be hereinafter referred to as the Mist Maid. Her sister, Hine-wai, is the personified form of light, misty rain, such as is often connected with mist. In one version we are told that these two maids came down to earth in order to bathe in the waters of this world. Whatever their object may have been it is clear that Uenuku was deeply enamoured of the charms of the beauteous Mist Maid. He succeeded in inducing her to look on him with favour, and so was the Mist Maid taken to wife by Uenuku of the world of light. There was, however, page 157 one harassing restriction imposed upon his intercourse with his bride, for she would not remain in this world during the day. Every night she descended from the sky and proceeded to the abode of Uenuku, but always left him at early dawn, and returned to her home in the heavens. Ever she was accompanied by her sister Hine-wai, the Rain Maid, who remained outside the abode of Uenuku in order to give warning of the coming of dawn. When the Long Fish of the heavens, the Milky Way, swung round, and the first sign of dawn appeared, Hine-wai would call to her sister: “O Hine! The day cometh.” Then the Mist Maid would emerge from the dwelling of Uenuku, and the sisters would together ascend to their celestial home. The Mist Maid is often so seen ascending in early morn. Her aria (form of incarnation of a deity, visible form) is the white mist seen rising from the body of the Earth Mother when Hine-ata, the Morning Maid, comes to us.
Now Uenuku was extremely proud of his fair bride, so lovely was the celestial Mist Maid, but she would not allow him to show her to his people, or even to speak of her to them. She said: “When our child is born, then you may take me before your people; until then I must not be made known. Should you disobey me, then I will forsake you, never to return.” As time passed Uenuku became so eager to exhibit his bride to the village folk that the desire was too strong to resist. For the Mist Maid possessed a loveliness never seen in the women of this world. Thus was it that he told his people of his mysterious love who nightly came down from the heavens to visit him. Then it was resolved to deceive and detain the Mist Maid, so that all might see her. All crevices in the walls, doorway, and other parts of the house of Uenuku were carefully filled, so that no ray of light might enter the interior when day dawned. Then the coming of the Mist Maid was awaited. She came as usual, and, when dawn approached, her sister, the Rain Maid, called to her: “O Hine! The day cometh.” The Mist Maid was about to depart when Uenuku detained her, saying that dawn was yet distant, as shown by the lack of any ray of light in the house. The Mist bride thought that her sister had been mistaken, and so did not depart. Again the gentle Rain Maid called her, but again Uenuku deceived and detained her. Then the light page 158 became so strong that the rain sister was compelled to return to the sky, and the broad, clear light of day flashed across the body of the Earth Mother.
The time had now come when Uenuku could exhibit his marvellous bride to the people. The open space before his abode was now occupied by all the village folk, who eagerly awaited the appearance of the Mist Maid. Uenuku opened the door of his house, the light of clear day entered therein, while without Tama-nui-te-ra, the rising sun, banished the gloom of Whiro and greeted the advent of Hine-aotea, the Day Maid.
The betrayed Mist Maid rose. She looked at Uenuku, she saw the gleaming sunlight, the people assenbled on the plaza, and knew that she had been deceived by man, that her sojourn on earth was over. She came forth from the house into the porch; her long hair covered her as a cloak covers the form of the wearer; the assembled people marvelled at the superlative loveliness of the fair Mist Maid. She ascended to the roof of the house, to the ridge thereof, and took her stand on the apex of the gable at the front. All eyes were turned on her as she stood there gazing upward, with upraised arms, her form enveloped in such hair as no mortal had even seen. Silence reigned as she raised her voice and sang a song of farewell to Uenuku, upbraiding him for his deception, and announcing that nevermore would she return to him.
Then a strange thing happened. For the people saw, descending slowly from the heavens, a column of fleecy mist. As the Mist Maid sang her farewell song, so the mist pillar descended, until, just as she concluded her song, the mist enveloped her and concealed her from the view of the people. Then the mist column slowly ascended again, and finally disappeared in the boundless realm of Watea; but there was no sign of the lovely Mist Maid. Gone was she, never to return.
Now the penalty of disobedience was felt by Uenuku, and deeply he mourned for his lost bride. Impelled by grief and desire he set off in search of the Mist Maid. Over far lands and through many regions he wandered long, but never again did he look upon the face of the lost one. But, ever seeking, ever hoping, he fared on, until, in a far land, old page 159 age, decay and death came to Uenuku the Seeker. Then the gods who live for ever translated Uenuku to the heavens, and when you see the rainbow spanning the sky, you know that it is Uenuku, he who sought his loved bride in far lands.
Never again did the Mist Maid come down to earth in human form, only her aria comes to greet the wise old Earth Mother, and so, when brave Tane springs above the eastern horizon, we often see the white mist rising from vale, and plain, and mountain range, to return to the abode of Hine-pukohu, the Mist Maid.
Uenuku, as personified form of the rainbow, is one of the more important of the third-class Maori deities. He was especially favoured as a war god, and offerings were made to him, placatory gifts. Many omens were drawn from the appearance of rainbows. Uenuku-rangi (rangi=the heavens) is a name often applied to this personification. At one time he visited this world and begat a female child, daughter of one Ihu-parapara, wife of Tamatea-ariki-nui of famous memory. This was a case of immature birth, and the child was supposed to be lifeless, hence its body was taken, away and deposited at the tuahu. Uenuku simulated the form of Tamatea when he visited this world, and so Ihu-parapara was deceived. When he left her, however, she noticed that his feet left the earth as he walked, and so he rose from earth and gradually disappeared in space.
In after days, when the tua rite was about to be performed over Kahu-ngunu, another of the children of Tamatea, a strange visitor reached the village. This unknown visitor was a young maid of fair presence. She walked into the village, approached the house of Tamatea, entered it by way of the window space, and seated herself upon the tapu sleeping place of Tamatea. This bold and unusual act caused astonishment and resentment to be expressed. Ihu-parapara demanded to know who she was. The maid replied: “I am thine. I was abandoned by you at the tuahu. Uenuku came and took me far away across the ocean, to the far region where the tides divide, where I was tended and cherished by the folk who dwell in vast open spaces, they who occupy the great plaza of Hine-moana [the Ocean Maid].” On hearing page 160 this strange tale Tamatea conducted the sea maid to the sacred tuahu, and there the pure and tohi rites were performed over her, while she was given the name of Uenuku-titi. As these rites were being performed the people saw a vivid rainbow standing over the tuahu, and knew that Uenuku was present. Then the special foods that had been prepared for the ritual feast connected with Kahungunu were utilised for that held in honour of Uenuku-titi, his half-sister of celestial origin.
We are told that the maid Uenuku-titi remained with her mother's people, but that ever and anon she would leave her home on land and sojourn a space with the strange folk who dwell in the vast ocean spaces known as Mahora-nui-atea. Her descendants for some generations showed these strange ways, and would disappear at times, but gradually they grew reconciled to the land-world, and so became entirely land-dwelling creatures. The importance of this line of descent from Uenuku-titi lies in the fact that it is one of the links that connect man with the gods. The lines of descent from Tane, Uru, and Roiho are other such links.
Kahukura is another famous personification of the rainbow, and two names are included in this case. The upper and darker band of the rainbow known by that name is called Kahukura-pango, and the lower one Pou-te-aniwaniwa; the former is viewed as a male, the latter as a female. Weather signs are derived from the appearance of these bows. Kahukura is said to have been a son of Rongomai, a being already alluded to in these pages, and to have come to New Zealand with Rongo-i-amo, when the latter introduced the sweet potato into these isles. Kahukura adopted a novel method of reaching New Zealand. He utilised his mother, Hine-te-wai, as a bridge, placing her in the form of an arch, with her feet planted in Hawaiki and her arms supporting her in New Zealand. Apparently she also represents the rainbow, though Rongomai seems to personify meteors. Rongomai was then placed on Hine-te-wai, presumably to strengthen the arch, when Kahukura and his companion were enabled to cross dry shod to New Zealand over a resplendant bridge some two thousand miles in length.page 161
The appearance of Kahukura was held to denote the nearness of rain. If such rain were not wanted the Maori would address Kahukura in most insulting terms, which would, naturally, deeply offend him, and cause him to withhold the rain.
In the Cook Group the rainbow is spoken of as being the girdle of Tangaroa. By this path he came down to earth when charmed by the beauty of Hina (personified form of the moon). Fair people are said to be the descendants of Tangaroa, because he married fair Hina-Keha, Pale Hina, and their offspring were fair, light-haired folk, the “whanau kehu a Tangaroa.”
There are a number of personified forms of lightning. Two of the principal ones are Tama-te-uira and Hine-te-uira, the Lightning Man and the Lightning Maid. The former is said to represent forked lightning, and the latter sheet lightning. Mataaho personifies distant lightning.
Tama-te-uira, Tu-matakaka and others were appointed guardians and regulators of the Lightning Children, a body of wayward young folk whose names denote various phases of lightning. Such control is most necessary, otherwise serious injury might be inflicted by them on inoffensive beings and things in this world. Tupai is another personified form of lightning, and the Matatua tribes attribute to Tupai any injury or destruction caused by lightning. Lightning is sometimes called the ahi tupua a Hine-te-uira—the supernatural fire of the Lightning Maid. Tawhaki, a name frequently encountered in Maori traditions, and even in genealogies, seems to represent lightning, and a passage in Mr. White's notes reads: “Tawhaki is the atua of thunder and lightning,” and the Moriori folk direct their invoctions to him when a thunderstorm appears.
Many portents were derived by the Maori from lightning, and the rua koha or rua kanapu was a widespread institution. These names mean a place of flashing, and are applied to places where summer lightning is wont to play, usually high hill peaks, but not always so. In some cases coast dwelling observers see this phenomenon out at sea, as in the Bay of Plenty, where are two rua koha known as the page 162 Awanui and Awaiti. Omens are derived according to the direction in which the lightning flashes. As a rule the vertical flash is viewed as ominous of evil for the local people. Should it flash in the direction of the lands of another tribe, it is a good omen for the local people, thought trouble is in store for that other tribe. It may be remembered that the three columns or fire seen to blaze upward from the summit of the Alps foretokened the destruction of the Roman Legions under Varus.
With reference to the origin of clouds, mist and rain, three supernormal beings, Te Mamaru, Mawake-nui, and Te Ihorangi were appointed as guardians of the bounds of the heavens. All three were children of the primal parents; the last-mentioned being the personified form of rain. The first two probably represent dark clouds and wind. Their task was to control the clouds of the heavens, that they might act as a screen between Rangi and Papa, and so shade the body of the Earth Mother. The controllers called upon Hine-moana, the Ocean Maid, and Hine-wai (personified form of misty rain) to despatch Hine-Makohu, the Mist Maid,* to act as a covering for the Sky Parent, and to shelter the Earth Mother. Hence the clouds we see above us. Mist, clouds and rain are all born of the warmth or perspiration of Tuanuku (the earth), Hine-moana (the ocean), and Hine-wai.
The principal personified forms of clouds are Hine-kapua (the Cloud Maid), who was a daughter of Tane, Tu-kapua, Te Ao-tu, Te Ao-hore, etc. The Cloud Children are a numerous folk; they dwell within their house known as the Ahoaho o Tukapua, which is the realm of Watea (personified form of space). They often venture forth to roam athwart the vast breast of Rangi, the Sky Parent, where they are frequently attacked and harried by the Wind Children, a turbulent crew that ever careers around Watea and disturbs the serenity of the Cloud Maid and her young relatives.
* A variant form of the name Hine-pukohu.
Greenstone (pounamu) is said to have had a different origin, in some of these relations. Thus one story relates that Tangaroa took to wife one Anu-matao, who represents cold page 164 apparently, who produced Pounamu and Poutini. The latter appears to have been a guardian of the ever-prized greenstone, which is often called the Stone of Poutini. There is a long story about the migration of greenstone, the Pounamu Folk, to New Zealand in mist-laden days of the remote past. It may be mentioned that the native term pounamu, and our name of greenstone, are applied, not only to true nephrite, but also to bowenite, jadeite, serpentine, and malachite. In some far-off region across the ocean is a place or sea named Moana-kura, concerning which a quarrel arose between Poutini and Tutunui. The latter wished to use this sea as an abiding place for his charges and offspring, fish and shellfish. Poutini objected, and so the contest commenced. Tutunui assembled all the Sandstone Folk, represented by Hine-tu-a-hoanga, who attacked the Greenstone People and defeated them. This myth is based on the fact that sandstone was utilised for the purpose of working nephrite, which is of too tough a nature to lend itself to flaking or chipping; thus sandstone is, as it were, the natural enemy of nephrite.
Poutini now resolved to migrate with the Greenstone People, and so brought them across the ocean to these isles. Another version has it that one Ngahue brought them hither, or that he followed them to these isles. Anyhow they came, fleeing from the wrath of the Sandstone Maid. But they were at once pursued, and so found great difficulty in finding a resting place here. On reaching Mayor Island, in the Bay of Plenty, they proposed to land and settle thereon, but encountered Mata and Tuhua (flint or quartz, and obsidian). So the fleeing Greenstone People fled southward. Near East Cape they strove to settle, but saw Waiapu (a form of flint) and Tu-a-hoanga already in occupation; so they fled again, unable to face the rending flint and sandstone. At many other places they sought to land, but ever found the Sandstone Folk, or flint, or quartzite, in possession, and so were forced to move on. At length they found a refuge at Arahura, on the west coast of the South Island, and there they abode. But still the Sandstone Folk and Ngahue pursued them and delivered an attack. Then was slain the wife of Poutini, one Pungapunga (the name of a light variety of greenstone). Many chiefs of the Greenstone People were slain and carried off, others fled page 165 to a cascade in the Arahura river and there concealed themselves. The guardian of that cascade was a moa,* which was slain by Ngahue.
This singular myth is a decided puzzle. Possibly it is a confused mixture of several stories, of the discovery of greenstone at Arahura by Ngahue and his companions, and an expedition for the purpose of obtaining the prized stone, which was found only in the Westland district. The expedition led by one Tama-ahua, from Taranaki to Arahura, in order to secure greenstone, has become much encrusted with myth. The peculiar aspect of tangiwai (bowenite) is said to be the result of the weeping of Hine-ahua, wife of Tama-ahua, for her far-distant home in Polynesia. Her tears permeated the stone, hence the peculiar markings in it as seen to-day, also its name. When Ngahue returned to Hawaiki (Polynesia) he informed the people that greenstone and the huge moa bird were the most remarkable products of the land of Aotea.
* The huge Dinornis, long extinct.
In times long past away, times exceedingly remote, there dwelt in this world of life a man named Mataora, a man of fair presence and goodly standing. As Mataora lay asleep one day, a party of young women came upon him, and paused to look at him, and to marvel as to who and what he might be. These young folk were not people of this world, the upper world, but were denizens of Rarohenga, the subterranean spirit world. Thus they were not ordinary folk, mortals, as are people of this world, but of a supernatural nature, and hence they are alluded to as Turehu. The leader of the party was a maid of wondrous charms named Niwareka, and she is said to have been a descendant of Ruaumoko and Hine-nui-te-po. The former represents earthquakes, all volcanic phenomena, and he took to wife Hine, the erst Dawn Maid, who dwells in the underworld.
The Turehu folk gazed upon Mataora, and wondered as to who he was. Some thought that he was a supernatural being. When he awoke he looked upon the Turehu folk, and enquired: “Are you females?” while they enquired: “Are you a male?” Then Mataora asked the spirit folk to enter his house, but they declined either to enter the house or to eat of the cooked food he offered them. They exclaimed that the food was putrid, for those strange folk were quite ignorant of the art of cooking food. So Mataora was compelled to provide raw food for their entertainment.page 168
When his Turehu guests had partaken of their raw food Mataora rose, grasped his maipi (a staff-like weapon) and entertained them with an exhibition of tuone, in which the performer shows his agility and command of his weapon. When he had concluded his performance, then the Turehu folk rose and performed a posture dance before Mataora. As they danced, one came forward to the front and acted as leader, while all kept calling out “Niwareka! Niwareka!” which was the name of the leader of the party. A maid of many charms was she. The dance was a singular one, for the performers held each other's hands, and skipped about; sometimes they trooped after each other and passed between two, who held each other's hands. A very fair-skinned folk were these Turehu, having light-coloured hair, also slender but well-formed bodies. So abundant was their hair, that it covered them to the waist, below which they wore aprons made of seaweed.
Now Mataora became deeply enamoured of the leader of the Turehu folk, the one named Niwareka, for truly was she a beautiful and charming creature. She was the daughter of one Uetonga, who dwelt in Rarohenga, the underworld. So it came about that Mataora took to wife Niwareka, a being of the spirit world. For some time they dwelt happily together, until some strange fancy affected the mind of Mataora; he became jealous and angry with his wife, and finally he struck her. This treatment was a dread shock to Niwareka, for, as we shall see anon, such actions are unknown to Rarohenga. Thus she at once fled from Mataora to return to her own home, and so passed away from his ken.
Mataora became disconsolate after the flight of his wife; grief and dejection afflicted him. At last he resolved to go forth in search of her. He went to Tahuaroa, at far Irihia, where great Hikurangi looks down on the old homeland of the Maori. He came to Poutere-rangi, where Te Kuwatawata, the Guardian, holds the entrance to the underworld of spirits, and enquired of him: “Have you not seen a woman passing this way?” The Guardian enquired: “What is the token?” Replied Mataora: “Her fair hair.” Said the Guardian: “She has passed here weeping as she went.” He then allowed Mataora to pass down to the underworld in search of his lost bride. page 169 As he fared on he came to one Tiwaiwaka, and enquired as to the doings of the folk of the underworld. The answer was: “They are busy in attending to the kumara crops; some are building houses, some are fishing, some are tattooing, some are kite-flying, some are top-spinning. Mataora enquired for his wife, and the answer was: “She has passed on with swollen eyes and hanging lips.”
“O Niwareka, the lost one, where art thou?
Come thou to me, O Niwareka! Niwareka!
’Twas thou who lured me here below
O Niwareka! Niwareka!
And my love consumes me, O Niwareka! Niwareka!
Now the younger sister of Niwareka chanced to hear Mataora singing this song, hence she ran off to Taranaki, where Niwareka was engaged in weaving a cloak. She reported: “A certain person yonder, a handsome man, is being tattooed, and he sings a song in which your name is mentioned.” So all those present went off to see this man, and Niwareka told them to conduct him to her. As the women led him to the house, Niwareka said: “He walks as Mataora did, and his cloak looks like one of my own weaving.” Then she and her companions welcomed Mataora, for they pitied him on account of his suffering the pain of being tattooed. He was for the time quite blind, so swollen was his lacerated face. As he sat down, Niwareka enquired: “Are you Mataora?” He nodded his head, and his hands clutched at her. Then she knew that it was truly Mataora, and that he had come to seek her; even so she greeted him with tears.
When the scarred face of Mataora was healed then the tattooed devices thereon looked very fine. He then proposed that they should return together to the upper world, but Niwareka said: “The ways of the upper world are ways of evil; both realms have heard of our trouble; I must consult my people.” Came Uetonga to Mataora, saying: “Maybe you think of returning to the upper world; if so, return, but let Niwareka remain here. Is it a custom of the upper world to beat women?” And Mataora was overcome with shame.
Said Tauwehe, brother of Niwareka: “Mataora! Abandon the ao turoa [upper world], the home of evil. Observe how all denizens of the upper world are ever compelled by violence and other evils to descend to the under world. Let us all dwell here below, in the realm of harmony. Abandon the upper world and its evil deeds; leave it as a realm apart from the lower world with its peace and harmony.” Then Uetonga added: “Mataora! Let us not hear tidings of a second evil act of thine in the upper world. page 171 For mark you, the upper world and its deeds of darkness is widely sundered from the underworld, which is a realm of light and peace.”
Now observe well and study the words of Uetonga. Here in the upper world alone are evil deeds known; this is truly the realm of darkness. As to the underworld of Rarohenga, no evil is there known, neither does darkness obtain; it is a realm of light and righteousness. This is the reason why, of all spirits of the dead from the time of Hine-ahu-one even unto ourselves, not a single one of those spirits has ever returned hither to dwell in the upper world.
When at last Mataora was allowed to take Niwareka back to the upper world, Uetonga said to him: “Mataora! Farewell! Return to Taiao [this world, the upper world], but have a care lest we are again afflicted by the evil works of that realm.” Mataora replied: “Not so. By the token of the punctured tattoo you have embellished me with, the ways of the underworld shall be my ways.” So the reconciled twain turned to ascend to the upper world.
As a parting gift Uetonga gave to Mataora the famous cloak called the Rangi-haupapa, which was the original after which were fashioned all the cloaks of this world. The belt that was intended to confine it was the originating pattern of all belts of this world. On their way to the ascent to this world the twain were stopped by Tiwaiwaka, the guardian of the base of that ascent, who detained them, refusing to allow them to ascend until the month of Tatau-uruora (November). At the proper time Tiwaiwaka (a bird name, the fantail) sent his young folk, Popoia (owl), and Peka (the bat); also Patatai (land rail) sent his, all to act as guides for Mataora. The latter feared that they would be slain, but Patatai told him to locate them in darkling haunts and gloomy places, hence the owl and bat are never seen in daytime, but move abroad only in the darkness. To see these birds at the haunts of man is a sign of bad luck to come. It is a token of ill-luck if a fantail enters a house. The patatai also brings misfortune in its train. These two birds, as also the whitehead were the birds that accompanied Maui when he assailed Hine of Rarohenga in order to gain eternal life for man.page 172
When our wayfarers from Rarohenga arrived at the exit from the underworld, Te Kuwatawata, the guardian of that gateway, asked them what they were bearing away from the lower world. Mataora replied that they were taking only the birds and the art of tattooing. The guardian said to Niwareka: “What is the bundle on your back?” She replied that it merely contained some old garments. Said the Guardian: “Mataora! Never again shall the entrance to the underworld be free to living beings of the upper world; these shall pass downwards only as spirits; spiritual beings alone shall traverse both realms.” Mataora enquired: “For what reason?”
The guardian replied: “You have the Rangi-haupapa (cloak) with you. Why were you evasive?”
So it is that never again has living man passed those barriers; only spirits can do so.
After the return of Mataora to the upper world the art of tattooing by puncture became known, and the fame thereof spread to Awarau, to Tonga-nui, to Rangiatea, and to Hui-te-rangiora, these being islands in the region of Tawhiti. A messenger from Irihia arrived asking Mataora to go to that land, the home of Nuku-wahi-rangi.
The patterns of tattoo acquired by Mataora were the poniania, pihere, ngu and tiwhana. (The first and third are designs marked on the nose, the second at the side of the mouth, the fourth over the eyebrows). The tattooing of Niwareka was confined to a cross on each cheek, and one on the forehead, and the poniania. The pukauae and ngutu (tattooing on chin and lips) patterns are modern. Prior to the visit of Mataora to the underworld people marked devices on their faces with red ochre, white clay, and blue earth.
Such is the myth of Mataora and his fair Turehu bride Niwareka, given here in an abbreviated form. It is a story of considerable interest, and it is possible that it represents a remembrance of a genuine event that has, in the course of centuries, become embellished with myths and quaint fancies. The acquisition of the arts of tattooing by puncture, and of weaving, together with the account of a mode of dancing quite unknown to the Maori, seem to point to a voyage or journey during which was encountered a people practising page 173 such arts. Apart from such basic facts we have many contradictory, and even puerile, statements, or embellishments. The Turehu folk are generally described as forest dwelling elves of this upper world, but in the above story the name is applied to spiritual or supernatural beings of the underworld, the denizens of which are supposed to be spirits of the dead. The forest dwelling Turehu are said to have been a fairskinned, light-haired folk, and these peculiarities are transferred to maids from Rarohenga who visited the upper world and encountered Mataora. The custom assigned to them of eating only raw food is one referred to in many old Maori stories of voyagers who encountered, in far lands, people who were ignorant of the use of fire and ate their food raw.
These mixtures of popular myths and fancies with the spiritual and other concepts of the Maori people, contain many confusing and even absurd statements. The Maori tells us that the souls of the dead descend to the spirit world, that these wairua (soul, spirit) can be seen by seers only, not by ordinary persons. They dwell in the underworld under the care of Hine, the ex-Dawn Maid. Yet the maids who visited this world are spoken of as creatures of flesh and blood, and their relatives of the underworld were found by Mataora building houses, cultivating food products, weaving garments, tattooing, and so on. These are scarcely occupations for spirits, one would suppose. The Maori seems to calmly accept all these inconsistencies, and makes no effort to explain them. There are two views that may be taken of this peculiar condition. In the first place we find, in studying Maori lore, that the subterranean spirit world has become confused with the old homeland of the race in the far west. This was probably the result of the belief that spirits of the dead accompanied the setting sun in its descent to the underworld. Any far distant land is, in Maori story, liable to be so confused with the spirit world. Here is another point: Niwareka, daughter of Uetonga, of Rarohenga, is said to have been a descendant of Hine-titama, erst the Dawn Maid, and Ruaumoko, the youngest child of the Earth Mother. So it appears that, in the underworld, there dwells a folk who are not spirits of the dead, but descendants of the Sky Father and Earth Mother through Tane, Hine-titama, and Ruaumoko. page 174 Truly he who seeks to unravel the mythopoetic concepts of the Polynesian undertakes a puzzling task.
In the story Mataora is asked to visit Irihia, the old homeland, in order to exhibit his tattooing, apparently going from eastern Polynesia. But the Maori tells us that the entrance to the spirit world is at Irihia, so that Mataora must have just come from there. Evidently these additions have been made to some old-time story without any attempt at explanation.
An interesting feature of the myth is the stress laid on the statement that the underworld is a realm wherein peace and harmony prevail, where the evils of the upper world are unknown. There is nothing to show that it is a region of darkness or gloom; certainly it is not one of suffering. However, on the arrival of our Christian missionaries, that lack was very soon attended to, and the dreadful horrors of a priestinvented hell were fully disclosed to the astonished Maori.
There is another version of this myth concerning the acquisition of the art of tattooing in the underworld. It was collected from natives of the South Island of New Zealand by the Rev. J. Wohlers (see Transactions of the New Zealand Institute, Vol. 8, p. 112). It appears as a part of the legend of Rukutia and Tu-te-koropanga, a story known also to the natives of the Hawaiian Isles, over four thousand miles distant from our South Island.
Perhaps no aspect of Maori lore is more attractive than that illustrating his poetic mentality in connection with natural phenomena and origin myths. This is a subject well worthy of study, and of being recorded. In order to present some proof of the Maori genius for personification the following list of personified forms is given, a list that might be much extended. It extends into many departments of Nature, and includes in a few cases personified forms of abstractions, a somewhat rare occurrence in the myths of neolithic man.
The sun is personified in Tane, Tama-nui-te-ra, and Tama-uawhiti, the moon in Rongo and Hina. Hine-korako seems to personify a lunar bow or halo. The sky is personified in Rangi, and the earth in Papa. The latter is also sometimes alluded to as Tuanuku and Nuku. Watea personifies space, and Raro seems to represent the underworld. The page 175 ocean is personified in Hine-moana, the Ocean Maid, and in Wainui, water in Para-whenuamea, and rain in Te Ihorangi and Hine-wai. Mahuika personifies fire, while cold is represented by Maeke, Kunawiri, Wero, etc., and ice, snow and hail by Tioroa and Tonga-nui-kaea. Whiro personifies darkness and evil, Hine-titama the dawn; Hine-ata is the Morning Maid, Hine-awatea the Day or Daylight Maid, Hine-ahiahi the Evening Maid. Hine-raumati, the Summer Maid, personifies summer; Hine-takurua, the Winter Maid, represents winter. Whakaahu and Pipiri also represent summer and winter, while Mahuru personifies spring. Thunder appears as Hine-whaitiri, the Thunder Maid, whose abode is Raparapa-te-uira (an allusion to the flashing of lightning), and whose advance courier is one Makere-whatu (heavy rain). Each kind of thunder has also its personified form, thus Whaitiri-papa, whose abode is Ao-kapua-rangi, that is in the clouds of heaven, represents explosive thunder. Tane-matau personifies thunder unaccompanied by rain, Aputahi-a-Pawa a single peal, whilst Whaitiri-pakapaka, Rautupu, Ku and Ea represent other forms. Lightning is personified in Hine-te-uira, the Lightning Maid, Tama-te-uira, Mataaho and others; there are many Lightning Children, who are under the care of their elder Tama-te-uira and others, who control them, lest they abuse their powers of destruction. Clouds are personified in Hine-kapua, the Cloud Maid, in Tu-kapua, Aoao-nui, Uhirangi, and others. The winds are represented by Tawhiri-matea, Tawhiri-rangi, Raka-maomao, Parawera-nui, and a host of others. These are the Whanau puhi, the Wind Children, a numerous folk who roam throughout the realm of Watea and harry the Cloud Children, and troop forth to gambol on the far-spread Maraeroa, the plaza of Hine-moana, the Ocean Maid. Uenuku, Kahukura, and the three Haere brothers personify the rainbow; Tamarau and Rongomai represent meteors, while comets are personified in Upoko-roa, Auahituroa, Wahie-roa, Meto, and Taketake-hikuroa. Earthquakes and volcanic phenomena are represented by Ruaumoko, Hine-i-tapeka, Hine-tuoi, Ioio-whenua, Te Kuku, Te Wawau, and Tawaro-nui.
Pare-arohi personifies the quivering appearance of heated air as seen in summer. Mountains and ranges are personified page 176 in Hine-maunga, the Mountain Maid, she who was taken to wife by Tane and brought forth Para-whenuamea (personified form of water). From this twain also sprang the personified forms Rakahore (of rock), Hine-one (of sand), Hine-tu-a-hoanga (of sandstone), Hine-tu-a-kirikiri (of gravel), and many others, truly a numerous progeny. The different kinds of greenstone, as nephrite, bowenite, serpentie, etc., are personified in Hine-kahurangi, Hine-tangiwai, Hine-kawakawa, and many others, a bevy of female personifications.
Land birds are personified in one Punaweko, sea birds in Hurumanu, though Tane, under his name of Tane-mataahi, represents birds generally. Then, again, many species have distinct personified forms; thus Tu-mataika personifies the brown parrot, Rupe the pigeon, Parauri the parson bird, Koururu the owl, Hine-karoro the seagull, Hine-tara the tern, Noho-tumutumu the cormorant, Moe-tahuna the duck, and so on.
Tane represents the forest, also all trees and birds. Forests are alluded to as Te Wao tapu nui a Tane, the very sacred forest of Tane. Rehua is also connected with forests, and when Tane visited Rehua, the latter is said to have regaled him with a repast of birds caught in his own hair, that hair being really the branches of trees. As in the case of birds we find that certain species of trees have special personified forms. Thus Hine-waoriki personifies the white pine, Momuhanga the totara, Hine-kaikomako the fire tree (Pennantia corymbosa), Tauwhare-kiokio all tree ferns, and so on. Te Rara-taunga-rere represents the fruitfulness of trees, and Hine-rau-wharangi personifies growth. Then we have Te Pu-whakahara as representing the maire (Olea) and puriri (Vitex), Ruru-tangi-akau the ake (Dodonaea), Rerenoa the rata (Metrosideros), Mangonui the hinau (Eloecarpus), Puahou the parapara (Nothopanax), Poananga the clematis, Toro-i-waho all climbing and creeping plants; and so on, a brave array of the Children of Tane.
All food supplies of man are personified in one Tahu, as illustrated in an old saying quoted when one declines a proffered meal: “Kei takahia a Tahu,” which is equivalent to saying: “Do not slight Tahu.”page 177
Tangaroa represents all fish, but certain species have special personifications. The eel is thus personified in Puhi and Tuna, sharks in Takaaho, whales in Tutara-kauika, etc. Rakaiora personifies the lizard, Hine-huruhuru some form of glow worm, or luminous caterpillar. Even swamps are personified in Hine-i-te-huhi and Hine-i-te-repo.
Knowledge is personified in Rua, who has many names, as representing different departments, etc., of knowledge. Thus Rua-i-te-whaihanga represents the knowledge of the artisan, the craftsman, as of a housebuilder or canoe hewer; Rua-i-te-parakore seems to represent the knowledge of carving, while Rua-i-te-horahora personifies the diffusion of knowledge. All these Rua, of whom there are many, are said by some to be children of Tangaroa.
In Aitua we have a personified form of misfortune, who, in one version of Maori cosmogonic mythology, is said to have been a child of the primal parents Rangi and Papa. Sickness and disease are personified in Maiki-nui, Maiki-roa, and others of similar names. The above list of personifications is by no means a complete one, but it will serve to show how widespread was the personification system of the Maori. In order to understand the speech of the Native folk, more especially of those of the superior class, it was necessary that one should be acquainted with a great number of names of personified forms, and also many mythopoetic expressions, idioms, aphorisms, etc., that were frequently used. So common were these usages among the rangatira class that youths and young men of that class were compelled to devote a good deal of attention to the acquisition of such knowledge in order to acquire a facile and pleasing address in debate.
As a specimen of the less common form of folk tales the following is given. It is a translation of a version collected by the late Mr. John White many years ago, and is entitled “The Battle of the Birds”:—
In days of old, in very remote times, a contest arose between the land birds and those of the ocean. The sea-
birds made an attempt to seize the realm of the land birds in order to gain possession of its rich food supplies, hence the land birds assembled to repulse the great army of sea birds.
The trouble came about in this wise: The sea cormorant, in its flight, reached Whangape, and there encountered the river cormorant. The former was not offered any food by the river shag, and so remarked: “Friend! Let us go to my home by the salt sea, where food is plentiful.” So off they set and flew to the seaside, where the sea cormorant dived, caught a fish, and gave it to the river shag. The latter swallowed the fish, but had its throat sorely hurt by its spines, and so remarked: “Your food is no good; that of my place is much better.”
“What is the food of your place,” asked the sea bird.
“Eels, which, when swallowed, are smooth and slippery, and do not cause pain or injury. I say to you, let us go to my place.” The two birds flew inland to a river haunt of the land birds, where the river shag dived and caught an eel, and gave it to the sea bird, who swallowed it and brought it up again with ease. Quoth the sea bird: “O friend! Yours is indeed an excellent place, and your food supply a most desirable one. Now, friend, do you make over to me a part of your domain, and I will give you a part of mine in return.” “Not so,” replied the river cormorant; “I do not like your place.” Said the sea bird: “Very well, but ere long I will return and take your place from you.” So the sea bird returned to the ocean, there to raise an army to proceed inland and seize the fine realm of the river cormorants, whose food supplies were so desirable.
Now the river cormorant received news of the great invasion by the sea birds, and he set about assembling a force of land birds in order to resist the attack. Many tribes rose to the call. There came Kuku the Pigeon, and Kaka the Parrot, and Tui the Parson-bird, and Honge the Crow, and Ruru the Owl, and Pirakaraka the Fantail, and Pitoitoi the Robin, with many, many others. When all the bird folk had assembled the gloom of night had fallen across the world of light.
When Hine-ata (the Morning Maid—personified form of morning) arrived, then arose Pitoitoi the Robin, who aroused page 180 the party with his cry of “Pi-toi-toi-toi!” So all awoke from sleep. Then said Kawau, the Cormorant: “Who will go forth as a scout to observe the advancing enemy?” Rose Koekoea the long-tailed Cuckoo: “I will go forth as scout. When you hear me call, you may know that the enemy is located.” So forth went Koekoea, and soon spied the army of sea birds approaching, with Karoro the Gull in the lead. Then the wild cry of Koekoea struck upon the ear: “Ko-o-o—e!” and Karoro the Gull shrieked “A-ha!” Then Koekoea returned and reported.
Kawau the Cormorant enquired: “Who will advance and challenge the enemy?” Said Pirakaraka the Fantail: “I will challenge the enemy.” Even so Pirakaraka went forth with his taiaha (a two-handed wooden weapon) to challenge the enemy, before whom he capered, glared, and grimaced after the manner of challengers, crying his defiance thus: “Tei! Tei! Tei!” Then to the column he returned, and sank to earth.
Again Kawau enquired: “Who will recite the war ritual over us?” Quoth Tui the Parson-bird: “I will conduct it; and let Honge the Crow commence the air of the chaunt, let Tiraueke the Saddleback intone the words, and Wharauroa the Short-tailed Cuckoo conclude the ritual, and Kuku the Pigeon make the final response.” And so Tui conducted the rite, and Honge gave the rhythmic air for intonation, and Tiraueke the words, and Wharau-roa concluded with his cry of “Kui! Kui! Kui! Whitiwhiti ora!” All these folk performed their parts, and then sat down, whereupon Kuku the Pigeon responded with his cry of “Ku.”
Once more Kawau enquired: “Who will commence the attack” Ruru the Owl rose, and said: “I will.” Uplifting his weapon Ruru advanced, his eyes glaring at the advancing multitude of sea birds, as he called to them: “You are brave. O, how brave you are; truly are you a gallant throng!” Such were the jeering words of Ruru.
Sprang forward Kaka the Parrot, glaring defiance as he advanced with his weapon, the o kaka stone, and screeching out: “Taka rere! Taka rere! Kia iro! Kia iro!” So met and closed in battle the hordes of sea and land birds. Long and fierce was the contest, and loud the ringing clamour page 181 of the fray, as cormorant strove with cormorant, and the Gull tribe fiercely assailed the wood-rending parrots. Then, when many had fallen, fear seized the sea birds, even that they turned, broke and fled. Never so swiftly flew the Children of Hurumanu as when fleeing from the doughty offspring of Punaweko. Yet, even as they fled, the laugh of Parera, the Grey Duck, was heard: “Ke-ke-ke-ke!”
Fled the sea birds to their own domain, while ever the land birds dwell in peace, losing no part of their estate to the sea folk. Indeed, it was the laughter of Parera that caused such a tumultuous flight, and never since have the sea birds returned.
We will now turn to another story of a similar nature, a story of some importance, for it deals with the peculiarities of the denizens of the realm of Kiwa, the folk of Tangaroa and Tinirau, that is to say with fish, and shows how, in the battle between the fish tribes and man, fish acquired their peculiar forms.
There was once a man who was much troubled owing to the indolence of his wife. Whenever he returned from a day's fishing she would carry home but a portion of his catch, throwing the balance away, lest she be too heavily laden, or have to make two trips to the beach. This sort of thing continued until the exasperated husband determined to seek a new home and a new wife. He therefore set off one fine day to escape from his troubles.
When the decamping husband entered the forest he repeated a charm in order to influence the forest deities, and the denizens of the forest. He said to the trees of the great forest of Tane: “Should my wife follow me into the forest, and ask questions of you, do not tell her aught of me, for she is a bad, indolent woman, one who wastes the food I procure.” To this the trees consented.
Our traveller fared on until he came to a stream, where he repeated another charm in order to influence the water spirits. He then said to the stream: “I am escaping from my wife, who is a deceitful and tiresome person. I go to seek an industrious wife and a new home. Should my wife follow me you will know her by her loud voice; do not betray me.” And the stream consented.page 182
So the man trudged on over far lands until he came to an inland region where he was unknown, and to the folk of that place he related his story. They asked him to settle among them, which he did.
Now when his wife found that her husband did not return home as usual, she set forth in search of him. When she entered the forest of Tane she sought to gain news of him from the trees around her, asking: “O Trees! Has my husband passed along this path?” But no murmur came from the trees around her; all remained dumb. The woman then returned home and enquired of the fire as to the movements of her husband: “O, Fire! Tell me where is my husband?” But no word uttered the fire. She saw the gourd water vessel, and said to it: “O Gourd! I see that part of you so often touched by the lips of my husband; tell me by which way he went when he left me?” But no answer came from the gourd. She turned to the garments left by her husband, and said: “O Garments! Ye that have touched the body of my husband, thus becoming tapu, reveal to me the path by which he departed.” But silent remained those garments, no word was heard. She then addressed his fishing line: “O Line! You who have oft been grasped by the hands of my husband, and have heard him repeat his fish charms, tell me of him.” Silent remained that line. She turned and placed her hands on the lintel of the doorway, saying: “Door! Here is the space through which my husband passed in his goings and comings, here the parts his hands touched; tell me, I charge you, of his movements.” But the door stood dumb, saying no word.
Now the deserted wife sat her down and mourned for her husband, weeping and lamenting the night through until dawn arrived. Then, being athirst, she took the gourd water vessel, and drank therefrom. Then to that gourd there came a feeling of sympathy, of compassion for the lone woman, for, of all things in the hut, the gourd had been closest to her husband, his lips having touched it so many times. Even so the gourd said to her: “If you will break me I will conduct you to your husband; I will take you by the path he travelled; I will convey you over the stream he crossed.” The lone woman gladly accepted the offer; she broke the gourd, and page 183 off they set together, talking as they went. She enquired: “At what time of day did my husband depart?” The gourd replied: “He departed after the arrival of Hine-ata” [the Morning Maid—personified form of morning].
On arriving at the river the gourd conveyed the woman across it, but, on reaching the further bank all became confused. The gourd had lost its voice, it could no longer speak or act in an intelligent manner; its faculties had been seriously affected by the charmed waters it had crossed, charmed by the fleeing husband. So it was that the woman's pursuit of her husband came to nought, and she was compelled to return home.
The lone woman now despaired of ever being able to find her husband. She went to great Tangaroa, the King of all Fish, and told him of her troubles. Then Tangaroa called upon all the fish folk of Rangiriri to assemble, and they came in their multitudes, all the different tribes of fish hastened to obey the call of the great fish lord. The matter of the deserted wife was explained and discussed, and at length it was decided to attack the Man tribe, and so avenge the deserted wife. Great preparations were made for the coming battle. Previous to that time many unimportant frays had occured between fish and man, but no important battle had come off.
Tangaroa now called all the fish folk around him, and marshalled them in tribal companies, appointing a chief as leader of each company. These chiefs were named Kumu-kumu (gurnard), Parore (black perch), Haku (kingfish), Tamure (schnapper), Whai (stingray), Takeke (garfish), Patiki (flounder), and so on, a vast number of them. Each company adopted the name of its chief, while Tohora (whale) was appointed supreme commander over all the tribal companies. It is as well to explain here that, in those far back times, all fish were alike in form, all resembled the whale in shape, but differed much in size. You must remember that the whale is the oldest of all fish, it was the first to appear.
During his training of the fish folk Tohora always kept his own people in the rear. His object in doing so was the prevention of panics; so bulky are the forms of whales that they are useful in stopping a panic rush of small folk. page 184 Having trained his fish tribes, Tangaroa ordered them to march inland and attack the Man tribe that had sheltered the errant husband. For, in those times fish possessed the power to move about on land as well as in the waters. It is because fish are descended from reptiles that they possessed this power.
When Tohora the Whale commanded the great Fish Army to advance and attack the Man tribe, the company of Kumu-kumu (gurnard) was the first to close in battle. Desperate indeed was the fighting that ensued, and many were slain. So fierce was the fray that those of the gurnard folk who survived were covered with blood, hence the red colour of that fish even unto this day. Also they moaned in anguish over the slaughter of their kin, hence the moaning of the gurnard when caught by man.
Parore, the Black Perch, now led his tribe into battle, where, in the fierce combat, his followers became besmirched with the dried blood of the gurnard folk, hence the colour of the perch as now seen by man.
Now waged furiously the battle, as the fish tribes strove valiantly to destroy the Man tribe, and many were slain on both sides. Then it was seen that the companies of Haku (kingfish), of Tamure (schnapper), and yet others were pressed, driven back, and so retired. Whereupon Tohora, the Whale Commander, brought up his reserve of Leviathans, when before those huge creatures, and their massive strength, the Man tribe gave way, broke and fled. Thus victory passed to the sea-folk, and so ended the great contest between the Fish tribes and the Man tribe.
Then Tangaroa assembled his victorious army and praised the sea folk for the valour they had displayed, commending them for their persistent gallantry. In token thereof he resolved to grant a boon to the sea folk, to each of the tribes that had fought in the great battle. Likewise the spoils of the battlefield were to be theirs. Now the Fish tribes set about collecting the spoils, and making known their requests to great Tangaroa. Whai found a spear having two rows of barbs along its point; he asked that he might have a tail like that spear; hence you see the stingray provided with such a tail. Tamure, the Schnapper; found a wahaika club and asked that one of page 185 his bones should be of similar form. That guerdon was granted to him. Patiki, the Flounder, saw a fly flap, and desired to be like it in form, and we now see him in that flatwise form. Takeke, the Garfish, saw a long spear, and asked for such a spear on his nose; he is now seen with his spear nose. Araara, the Trevally, saw the bloodstained cape of the truant husband, red spots on a white ground, and asked that he be granted a similar appearance; he yet has that appearance.
Thus each chief gained the boon he craved, and all his followers assumed the form and appearance of their chief; hence we now see fish of many forms and many hues. It is now quite clear as to how the different kinds of fish became possessed of their particular forms and colours.
The moral of the above tale is not quite evident to the present writer, and it is quite possible that we have in the above narrative a combinaton of two different tales. Apparently the refugee husband was either slain or grievously wounded, which seems a somewhat severe punishment for wife desertion; neither was the wife above reproach.
In the following folk tale, “The Battle Between Dogs and Lizards,” we have a sample of many quaint stories formerly related by the Maori folk:—
It is well known that in the old, old days of our ancestors lizards became exceedingly numerous, because they multiplied apace after the escape of the tail of the great reptile called Te Whakaruaki. Also dogs were very much more numerous in those times; they roamed in packs over the country, and had never been tamed by man.
One day a dog and a lizard chanced to meet on a certain path, and, ere long, they fell a-quarrelling. At last both retired and told their friends how grievously they had been insulted. So all the dogs assembled in order to discuss the matter, and all the lizards did the same. It was resolved that the two tribes should fight the matter out. In the strenuous fighting that ensued the dogs were victorious, and, having conquered and slain a great many lizards, they set to work and ate them. It was this eating of lizards that so affected the fertility of dogs, and is the true cause of dogs being so much less numerous in these days.page 186
In Maori folk lore we meet with many stories concerning taniwha, huge monsters of man-killing tendencies that are said to have existed in these isles in past times. Our acquaintance with these myths dates from the days of Captain Cook, and some early writers deem it possible that these tales contained an element of truth. They are certainly remarkable illustrations of versimilitude, so marked are they by precise and detailed accounts of the location and doings of these monsters, and of encounters between them and men. Most of them are described as being water-dwelling creatures of saurian form, while a few are said to have inhabited caves; few were harmless, and most of them were man slayers and man eaters. Some of these wild tales appear to have been introduced from Polynesia and localised here; probably many were evolved here by a folk who had been conceiving similar myths for many centuries in other lands. Some writers see in the huge, man-eating saurians of Maori folk lore a remembrance of the crocodile of the western Pacific or of Asia, and this may be so. The man-destroying taniwha of native myth are often described as resembling great lizards, and indeed are often called by the same name, moko. This word moko is a name for the crocodile in one part of the western Pacific. The word taniwha is also the name of a species of shark.
The circumstantial aspect of these folk tales is remarkable. Captain Cook gives us the following passage concerning information gained from a South Island native: “We had another piece of intelligence from him … though not confirmed by our own observations, that there are snakes and lizards there of an enormous size. He described the latter as being eight feet in length, and as big round as a man's body. He said they sometimes seize and devour men; that they burrow in the ground, and that they are killed by making fires at the mouths of the holes. We could not be mistaken as to the animal, for, with his own hand, he drew a very good representation of a lizard on a piece of paper, as also of a snake, in order to show what he meant.”
Now this feckless tale of snakes and of lizards eight feet in length in New Zealand was simply the result of imagination. Doubtless that native could depict a lizard, page 187 for New Zealand possesses several species of those creatures, and Sphenodon punctuatum attains a length of about sixteen inches, but no Maori of Cook's time knew of the existence of land snakes.
Nicholas, who was in New Zealand in 1814-15, remarks that the native description of the taniwha described closely the alligator.
The Maori tells us that these taniwha and all mokopeke (lizards) originated with one Tu-te-hurutea, offspring of Tane and Hine-maunga, the Mountain Maid. We occasionally hear of cases of transmigration wherein a person has, after death, reappeared in the world of life in the form of a taniwha, or marakihau, the latter being a mythical sea denizen.
We will now discourse a while on the peculiarities of the genus taniwha, and relate a few of the many tales concerning them, as preserved by the Maori. The following is a northern story, “The Taniwha of Kaipara”:—
It was in days long past away, in times truly remote, that three women of a hamlet situated south of Kaipara went into the adjacent forest for the purpose of collecting tawa berries. Having wandered afar in their search for berries, they were surprised to come across a smooth, wide path evidently much used. They followed this path for some distance until they came to what seemed to be the end of it, where a fence or barrier existed, overgrown with a dense growth of climbing plants. They now resolved to return homeward, when all at once a taniwha appeared and pursued them. The women fled in dismay, but the creature soon caught one of them. Seeing, however, that she was but ill looking, the taniwha released her, and pursued her companions. He succeeded in capturing another, but she, too, was ugly, and so he let her escape and gave chase to the third. On his catching her he found her to be young and good looking, and so he took her away to the cave which served him as a home. Her companions found their way back to their home.
The captive woman was unable to escape, and so was compelled to live with the taniwha as his wife. She bore six children to him, three of whom were monsters like their father, while the other three were of human form. She taught her taniwha children the arts of weaving and cooking, but her human offspring she trained in the arts of war, to bear arms, to thrust, strike and parry with spear and club, hence they became expert in such exercises.
One day during the absence of her taniwha husband, the captive wife said to her children: “Let us all go to the forest streams and catch eels.” So off they went, and, when far within the forest solitudes, she proposed that her human sons should exhibit their skill in the use of their weapons. While they were so exhibiting their skill, she prompted them to attack and slay the three monster children, which they did. The mother then proposed that they should return home and seek an opportunity to attack and slay the taniwha, so that they might all escape from so odious a creature. On arriving at the cave home they found the taniwha fast asleep therein, whereupon the three youths at once attacked and slew him; they cut off all his limbs and left the remains lying in the cave.page 189
The mother now set off to return to her old home, taking her three sons with her. After walking a long way she began to recognise the outlines of some of the distant hills, and at length they arrived at her home village. Now was the hapless woman welcomed by the survivors of her old-time friends, welcomed with tears, and song, and many speeches.
It was now decided that the villages should make a journey to the cave in order to cook and eat the body of the taniwha. On arriving at the cave they prepared a huge steam oven and placed therein for cooking the severed pieces of the monster's body. The oven was carefully covered, and preparations made for the coming feast. When, however, the oven was opened up, the people were amazed to see the severed portions of the monster's body join together, the limbs attach themselves to the body, and the taniwha regain life. The monster at once attacked the assembled people, killing many. The survivors fled in many directions, some to the sea coast; these were pursued by the monster, who caught one woman and threw her into the sea. At length he became wearied, whereupon the terrified fugitives mustered up courage to attack him, and so he was slain a second time. Now his body was cut into many pieces and each piece was separately burned, while from his bones were fashioned fish hooks and spear points. Thus was that odious monster slain for all time.
The woman who had been cast into the sea by the monster was saved and nurtured by the gods. They enveloped her in a mass of sponge which, after long drifting about in the ocean, was cast up on the beach at Waiarohia. It was there seen and opened by some fishermen, who found the woman inside it still alive, and so she was returned to her friends and home.
Such is the marvellous story of the Taniwha of Kaipara, as related by old Whakaue in the year 1847.
A well-known taniwha name is Te Whakaruaki, or Kaiwhakaruaki, and variant forms of the story of this creature have been recorded from a number of places in both islands. The following is a North Island version of the story of Te Whakaruaki, and how lizards came to lose their tails:—
This monster resembled a lizard in form, but was of a huge size, and repulsive appearance. He dwelt in a cave in
the forest, to which cave he took a woman whom he had captured in the forest, and whom he compelled to live with him. He feared that she might escape from him, and so, whenever he or she left the cave alone, he plaited one end of a long rope into her hair. This rope he occasionally pulled in order to ascertain if it was still connected with the woman.
As time rolled on the captive woman gave birth to a child that was half lizard and half human in form, a truly disagreeable creature to look upon. Now one day the woman went to the stream, taking with her a vessel in which to obtain a supply of water; as usual the rope was attached to her hair. On entering the forest she severed the cord by cutting it with a shell knife, and then tied the end of the cord to a slight, pliant sapling, so that, when the monster pulled the cord, he would believe that it was still attached to her hair. The woman now fled through the forest and made her way home to her people. Here, after many plans had been discussed for the destruction of the monster, it was resolved that he be asked to visit them and that a special house be constructed for his accommodation. On the arrival of the monster he was welcomed by the people, his captive wife rejoined him, and they abode together in the new house.
After the monster and the woman had lived together for some time, the people took advantage of his absence one day, and made preparations for his destruction. They procured a block of wood, wrapped the woman's garments around it, and laid it on her sleeping place. On the return of the monster he entered the house, whereupon the people secured the door and window and set fire to the house. On hearing the roaring of the fire Te Whakaruaki called out to ask the meaning of the sound, and was told that it was the wind roaring in the trees. At last the whole house was in flames, and the monster attempted to escape. Not so; there was no escape; in vain he strove to pass through the burning walls. So perished the monster Te Whakaruaki in the raging flames. But not the whole of him, for, strange to relate, his tail escaped; it became separated from his body, wriggled out through the wall of fire, and sought refuge in the forest.
Now the tail of Te Whakaruaki was the origin of the species of lizard known as moko papa (the tree lizard, page 191 Dactylocnemus pacificus), and ever since the remarkable occurence described above lizards have possessed the power of shedding their tails.
These folk tales concerning women being carried off by ogres of lizard form were also current at Tahiti. (See Walpole's “Four Years in the Pacific,” Vol. 2.)
In another such story contributed by one Te Whetu, of the Atiawa tribe, the taniwha bears the name of Te Kaiwhakaruaki. This monster dwelt in the Nelson district, and became the terror of the place by destroying travellers proceeding to Takaka and Motueka, well-known places in that region. The story appearel in Vol. 3 of the Journal of the Polynesian Society. It was over twenty years after collecting that myth from Te Whetu that I met a certain native of Tahaa Isle, of the Society Group of eastern Polynesia. He gave me some interesting notes concerning that isle, and told that a man-destroying monster named ” Aifa'arua'i lived on a small islet called Motue'a, at Tahaa (Taha'a) in ancient times. In these names I at once recognised the Maori names of Kai-whakaruaki and Motueka, remembering, as I did, the dropped k of the Taha'a dialect, and the f as used instead of the Maori wh. Near the islet of Motue'a is, said my informant, another islet named Ta'a'a,' and here is our Takaka of New Zealand. This story of the man-slaying monster must have been introduced here by the ancestors of our Maori folk, as also the place names connected with it, when they moved down from eastern Polynesia to New Zealand.
Another taniwha name met with in both islands of New Zealand is that of Ngarara-huarau. In one of these stories the monster is said to have been slain at Tupurupuru, Wairarapa district. The method employed in ridding the district of this pest was emphatically a novel one. A number of trees in the forest were “scarfed” so as to be near falling. A dog was then sent to lure the monster in among the trees, whereupon his huge body coming into contact with the scarfed trees caused them to fall, and the falling of many trees caused his death.
In some cases the taniwha stories unquestionably contain a moral, and so we may assume that they were invented, or at least approved of, by the priesthood. The following,
“Parekawa and the Taniwha, or the danger of breaking the laws of tapu,” is a specimen of such stories:—
In olden times a certain young woman named Parekawa was employed by her father to cut his hair. As he was a tapu person the hair-cutter became tapu, a condition that continued for some days. While she was in this condition a number of visitors arrived at the hamlet, and Parekawa, with culpable thoughtlessness, assisted in the task of preparing food for the guests. By thus coming into contact with crooked food, she of course violated one of the principal laws of tapu, and so not only was the protection of the gods withdrawn in her case, but she also became exposed to many dangers.
Soon after the above occurrence it was noticed that Parekawa had changed much in appearance and in manner. Ere long she became as one demented, and finally she fled to the forest, where she lived no one knew how. On being pursued by her friends one day she leaped into a river and disappeared. Her friends thought that she had been drowned, but not so; she had been carried off by Peketahi the taniwha. This being dwelt with his kindred apparently in some subterranean region, for he conducted Parekawa through the water and through the earth until they emerged in the region where dwelt the strange taniwha folk. These seem to have been a peculiar breed of taniwha, for the story tells us that they lived in houses and cultivated food products. These strange beings offered food to Parekawa, but Peketahi, who was the chief of the taniwha folk, warned her not to partake of it, or never more would she look upon the world of light.
It was now apparent to Parekawa that Peketahi was by no means a vindictive enemy, and, ere long, he allowed her to return to the upper world, guided by one of the taniwha folk. She was given very careful instructions as to how to proceed, and was told to pass through the water to her old home, and there gain the tuahu or sacred place of the village without being seen by her people. Now while dwelling with the strange underground folk Parekawa had lost some of her human attributes, but had acquired some strange ones from them, and so she was enabled to pass under water up the Puniu river until she arrived at her old home. Here, how- page 193 ever, she was unfortunate enough to be seen by the people ere she could reach the tapu place of the village. Owing to this misadventure her guide took her back to the subterranean demon world.
Parekawa was now much cast down, and despaired of ever again seeing home and friends, for she had lost her human aspect, and had acquired the appearance of the demon folk of the underworld. Here again Peketahi stood her friend, however, and he himself conducted her back to her home. This time she was successful in gaining the tapu place without being observed. Now came her father to her, who, by performing a certain rite over her, restored to her human form, appearance, and attributes.
Ever, in after times, the story of Parekawa was repeated as a warning to persons not to disregard the laws of tapu, lest they be carried off by demons to dismal regions of the nether world.
The name mokonui was applied to taniwha of former times, the two words meaning big or huge reptile. Thus we hear of one Mokonui who in olden days infested the Patea river, and of Mokonui who was slain by the Wai-rarapa folk in days of yore.
The story of the slaying of Tutae-poroporo, the great taniwha scourge of the Whanganui river, by the gallant hero Aokehu, is a moving one, as showing the desperate situations in which a dragon slayer may find himself. This Aokehu had himself enclosed in a stout wooden vessel which was then cast into the river and allowed to float down it. It was seized and swallowed by the monster as easily as it had swallowed canoes laden with people. Now Aokehu emerged from the great chest into the stomach of the monster, drew his cutting implement of sharks teeth, and cut his way out to the world of light through the body of the hapless taniwha, who died from the effects of this rude treatment.
In some cases these taniwha lived in caves, in others they were water dwellers, and yet others dwelt underground. One known as Te Kuri nui a Meko (the Great Beast of Meko) resided in a cave near Waikare-moana. This monster was a man slayer, and was eventually killed by a number of men who constructed a large and very strong taiki, a kind of cage page 194 made of wicker work and timbers lashed securely together. The men enclosed themselves in this structure, where they were attacked by the monster. They succeeded in cutting off a number of his legs and arms, and so eventually overcame him, thus freeing the district from a dread scourge.
My genial old friend, Hurae Puketapu, of the Waimako, near the above-mentioned cave, tells me that the proper name of the Beast of Meko was Hau-taruke. Meko flourished fifteen generations ago. He was a being of supernormal characteristics, but had a human brother named Kura-tawhiti, whose descendants are still dwelling in the district. One of his descendants, named Tuwhai, who lived nine generations ago, was the leader of the party of braves who slew Hau-taruke. Meko and his brother were of the fourteenth generation in descent from Mahutonga. The precise spot where the above monster was slain is known as Whakamarino.
The Tuhoe folk apply the names tuoro and hore to huge mythical monsters believed to live underground, where they seem to move about somewhat freely. They are said to form great chambers and tunnels in so moving about, and sometimes uproot great trees during their progress. A cave in the bank of the Whirinaki river at Te Whaiti is known as Te Ana tuoro (the Tuoro Cave). One of these monsters is said to have lived in the pond or lakelet named Otara, on the summit of Maunga-pohatu. This creature is said to have formed, in olden days, the deep gorge through which the Waikare stream now runs, on its way to join the Whakatane river. Another creature spoken of in some parts is the tuna tuoro, described as resembling a large eel. It is heard of in both islands. A Waikato native stated that its touch paralysed a person, and that it pursued persons on land as well as in the water. The names of puku tuoro and kumi are heard occasionally, as applied to some species of taniwha.
In both islands we have places named Te Rua o te Moko, which may be rendered as “The Den of the Moko.” Presumably they were held to have been occupied by taniwha in former times.
In Hine-korako we have a taniwha of the female sex who lives, or formerly lived, in the deep pool under the falls of Te Reinga, in the Wairoa district. This creature is said to page 195 have become enamoured of one Tanekino, a member of the genus homo some fifteen generations ago, and to have lived with him as his wife. Owing, however, to unpleasant personal remarks made by the women of the village, Hine eventually retired to her former home beneath the dark waters of Te Reinga. Prior to her retirement, however, she bore a son to Tanekino, who was named Tuarenga, and from this man many natives claim descent.
South Island natives report that the pouakai was a huge bird of prey that formerly existed in those parts, and carried off persons from the native villages. One of Mr. Beattie's native contributors, however, stated that pouakai was the old native name of the huge extinct moa (Dinornis).
The small lakelet known as Waingaro, on the summit of Maunga-pohatu, was formerly occupied by a taniwha named Rongo-te-mauriuri. We are told by the Tama-kai-moana folk, who dwell under the Enchanted Mountain, that a certain ancestor of theirs was once pursued by the fearsome Rongo, and narrowly escaped destruction. He had, however, the presence of mind to pluck a hair from his head, cast it into the agitated red waters of Waingaro, and repeat the Whakaeo charm, when, behold, instantly the taniwha retired, the rolling waters became calm, and the world of life was regained!
In days gone by I had an opportunity to peruse a manuscript collection of Maori lore made by one of the most famous of early collectors. It contained an account of the slaying of what the collector described as a “large guano,” in past times. The description of the attack of the “guano” on the hero and his dog was a thrilling one, but need not be described here. Eventually that “guano” was overcome by the enraged populace, and so perished miserably.
Whereupon, we are told, the monsters of the deep would come to the rescue and bear the supplicants to land. This Ruamano was one of the sea monsters that acted as convoy to the Takitumu canoe on its long voyage from eastern Polynesia to New Zealand. A taniwha bearing the same name is said to have occupied the Papuni lake in former times.
“Tutara-kauika E! Kawea au ki uta ra
Ruamano E! Kawea au ki uta ra.”
(O Tutara-kauika! Convey me to land. O Ruamano!
Convey me to land.)
Paikea is the name of another species of whale that was appealed to by mariners in distress, and the names of these creatures are encountered in old religious formulæ. The Maori also possessed a vague, ill-defined belief in certain beings of supernormal nature who dwelt far out in the ocean wastes, and who have been known to succour human beings. This is made evident in the story of Maui, and also in the curious myth of Uenuku-rangi and Uenuku-titi. In this tale the sea folk are termed Tini o Te Petipeti and they succoured and reared the immature offspring of Uenuku, as they did in the case of Maui.
Yet another peculiar sea folk are the weird beings called marakihau. These are described as being of human form and as possessing long tubular tongues termed ngongo. They are a kind of sub-species of taniwha and are credited with swallowing through their ngongo appendages not only men but also canoes. This myth may be based on observation, on the strange appearance of such creatures as the sea elephant, for example. In Maori carved work we sometimes see representations of marakihau, which are depicted as having heads and bodies of human form, with the tail of a fish in lieu of legs. The ngongo is also shown in a most prominent manner, projecting far from the mouth, and having a large bell-mouthed orifice.
Stump of a tree felled with stone tools. Dredged from bed of Ohinemuri River at Paeroa in 1917.
Dominion Museum Collection
In some cases one hears of weird creatures of yore whom it is difficult to classify; they may be supernormal man-like beings, or monsters of the taniwha type possessing the power to assume different forms. The natives of the Whanganui valley told me of a strange being that dwelt in that river in days of old. A woman dwelling in a village on the river bank was visited nightly by a strange creature who appeared from the river, and whose skin was unpleasantly cold and clammy. It was discovered that he was a water denizen, and that he left the river each night in order to visit the woman. The village folk determined to destroy this creature, and so surrounded the woman's house early one morning, and slew the intruder as he was returning to his haunts in the river. The body of the river man was cut to pieces, and then the people heard, to their great amazement, the severed and scattered parts of the body actually singing a song. That song has been preserved by the natives of those parts.
We have now to deal with another class of supernormal creatures, and supernormal objects. The latter serve as illustrations of animatism, which, says the Handbook of Folk Lore, is the attribution of life and personality to things, but not a separate or apparitional soul. The word tipua, of which tupua is a variant form, is applied to anything of a supernatural or supernormal nature, hence it may be applied to a person, an animal, or to an inanimate object, or rather to objects deemed inanimate by us. It equals our terms demon and goblin, and is sometimes applied to taniwha. In our own folk tales the word “enchanted” would often be rendered as tipua by a Maori, thus such an abnormal object as an enchanted page 199 tree would be termed a rakau tipua. The first European visitors to New Zealand were called tipua. In parts of the western Pacific the word tipua means spirit, and it must very frequently have that meaning assigned to it here.
Although a tipua log, tree, or rock would probably possess supernatural powers, yet it is not well to classify them as atua; in many cases such a tipua may be styled a genius loci. In most cases natives cannot explain how a certain object came to be viewed as a tipua.
At Samoa deified spirits of chiefs are termed tupua, and the word denotes wizardry and wizards in several regions of Polynesia. In the Paumotu group tupua means a ghost. In some dialects, as that of Mangareva, the word equals to hunga, as denoting a wise man, an adept. At Niue the word carries much the same meaning as in New Zealand, and in the latter land it includes anything that we would describe as uncanny.
It is doubtful if any Maori could give a lucid explanation of a tipua. Take, for instance, a rakau tipua. The Maori believes that tree to be possessed of certain supernormal powers, and, in fact, to be what we must term a sentient being. The spirit or abnormal qualities that it possesses emanated in many cases from some defunct tribesman. The wairua or soul of that person passed to the spirit world at his death; such is the common belief, yet a native will tell you that the wairua of the deceased is enshrined in the tipua object, tree or stone. Such contradictory statements and discrepancies are often encountered by those who sojourn among barbaric folk. Tylor has given us some highly interesting matter concerning this belief in what he calls Embodiment in his chapters on animism.
This question of tipua objects is so closely allied with the subject of uruuru whenua that the two cannot be separated. This phrase denotes a remarkable custom that seems to have been known in all parts of the world, namely the depositing of simple offerings at certain places. In many lands the offerings consisted of stones cast at the base of a so-called sacred tree, or rock, and the object was to avert some misfortune or ensure good fortune of some nature. With the Maori it was a placation of the local gods or spirits of the land, and the offerings he made consisted of a branchlet, or handful of page 200 vegetation. Why stones were not more used by him in a similar way I cannot say; at no such place I have seen have I ever noted any collection of stones that may have been used as offerings. In a few cases I have heard of them being so used. For instance, a native of the Bay of Plenty informed me that, in olden days, whenever a person passed a spot where a curative rite had been performed over a person suffering from ngerengere (syn. mumutu, a form of leprosy), he would cast a stone on the spot, lest he be afflicted by the malady.
In most, if not all cases, the objects at which the simple uruuru whenua ceremony was performed, were viewed as tipua, and such places were treated with respect. As to the origin of a tipua rock or tree, should an important person chance to die while on a journey, or should bearers of a corpse stop at a place to rest, then any prominent stone, rock or tree at on near such spot might be viewed henceforth as representing the defunct one, and as a tipua. Natives have told me that it absorbed the wairua or soul of the deceased, which endowed the tipua object with mana or force, inherent powers. Travellers would deposit their simple offering at such an object, not only to secure good luck, such as fine weather for their journey, but also to uphold the mana of the tipua, that is the innate powers of the talismanic object. The offering, and the brief utterance accompanying it, showed that the observers still kept green the memory of their ancestor and still upheld his mana. A stream in which a dead body has been washed has been treated as a tipua, and in this case the offering consisted in some cases of a stone cast into it. Should any witless person pollute a tipua object by taking near it any cooked article of food, it was believed that the powers of the wairua vivifying the tipua would destroy such person. Natives tell us that, occasionally, when a seer was a member of a party travelling across unknown lands, he would be able to detect any tipua object passed on the way because his spiritual vision enabled him to see the wairua that animated the object. Here it would appear that the wairua or spirit was not enshrined in the object but hovering about it. Branchlets or leaves of the kawakawa and karamu (Piper excelsum and Coprosma sp.) were favoured offerings to an uruuru whenua, those two trees being much employed in ritual performances.page 201
“Tawhia kia ita
Kia ita i roto, kia ita i waho
Tamaua take ki a koe.
Hurenga a nui, hurenga a roa
Tamaua take ki a koe
He kopinga a nuku, he kopinga a rangi
Ki a koe, E koro!”
This address calls upon the spirit of the tipua to retain its mana, its force and powers, for all time. Should a traveller not be acquainted with one of these longer utterances, he would repeat a short sentence, such as: “ Ina au, taku aitu, taku arangi,” Which acknowledges the tapu of the place.
The above ceremony is known as tuputupu the Whanganui district. If the offering was neglected by a passer-by, then that traveller would be assailed by bad weather. Some of the tipua stones would, if moved by any person, return to their original resting places of their own accord. So sayeth the Maori.
In his work on the natives of northern India, Mr. W. Crooke writes: “No Tharu will venture along a jungle path without casting a leaf, branch or twig on the pile of rude stones which forms the shrine of Bansapti Ma, the dread mother-goddess of the forest.”
Many of the natural objects viewed tipua were also objects of the uruuru whenua ceremonial. A number of tipua rocks at Waikare-moana possess the power to cause a rain or wind storm, and exercise their powers if touched in an unwarrantable manner. Or rather they did so, for they no longer possess such powers in these days of the intrusive pale-skinned Pakeha.
The two sacred stones obtained by Tane the uppermost of the twelve heavens are sometimes termed tipua i.e., kowhatu tipua, or supernatural stones.
Some of our tipua of these isles have visted for long periods. When, some five hundred years ago, Tamatea was sojourning in the South Island, he was annoyed by his wife's continued lament for their old home in eastern tern Polynesia. In order to quieten the homesick one he subjected her to a page 202 potent spell known as matapou, whereby he transformed her into a block of stone, thus procuring her silence for all time. On continuing his journey he left his slave Kopuwai and his two dogs at the place as guardians over his wife Turihuka. As he went on his way he heard the dogs howling, and he knew that Kopuwai had abandoned them. He therefore again had recourse to the matapou, which he “projected” with such force as to turn Kopuwai into a mokopeke (lizard) and the two dogs into stones. Those stone dogs existed as tipua until the arrival of Europeans destroyed the mana of old-time Maori institutions.
One occasionally hears of tipua birds (or bird tipua), and one of the most remarkable of these is Hine-ruarangi, who is said to haunt the gorge of the Whirinaki river at Te Whaiti. This creature was originally a woman, who lived long centuries ago, and who, when she died, was transformed into a bird, a cormorant. As for the reason of this peculiar transformation, legend appears to be silent. Here the tipua bird has lived for something like seven centuries, and it has, for ten generations past, acted as the tribal banshee of the Ngati-Whare folk dwelling in that region. Prior to the death of a chief of those people, or to a defeat at the hands of tribal enemies, this bird of ill omen has ever appeared, hovering over the village home.
In a number of places I have been told by natives of tipua logs that float about on lakes for generations. These tipua logs, trees, stones, etc., always had special names assigned to them, and are, in some cases, the centre of some curious myth. Rakai-ruru was the name of a log that drifted to and fro on the waters of Lake Wai-rarapa for many years. Should any one touch it, then next day it would have disappeared. Tutaua was the name of a log that drifted for generations across Lake Waikare-Moana. It was said to sing plaintive songs as it so drifted about, and one grizzled old mountaineer assured me that, in his younger days, when living on the lake shore, he had heard, in the dead of night, the enchanted log singing its weird song. At such a time the Maori folk would say, one to another: “Ko Tutaua e waiata haere ana” (It is Tutaua singing as it goes). Perhaps page 203 an even more famous log was that known as Waiwaia, which is said to have drifted up and down the Waipa and Waikato rivers, also on the ocean, for a long period. It was seen stranded at so many different places that the saying “Ngapaenga rau to Waiwaia” (the many stranding places of Waiwaia), became a well-known local apothegm. Thus it is often heard in conversation as an apt quotation.
On this subject of tipua one might discourse for hours, but let the above illustrations suffice. These are the folk tales one so often hears when travelling with, or sojourning among, our natives, more especially when they know that one is interested in such stores. Much evidence of an interesting nature connected with animatism may be collected among such a people as the Polynesians.
Mountains are ever impressive objects to man, be he savage, barbaric or civilised. Down through the changing centuries has the Maori preserved names of mountains in the old homeland of the Polynesian race. For these he has had a sentimental regard, and, in some cases, he has bestowed such names on mountains and hills in his wanderings, as he ever carried old-place names with him from isle to isle. Such old mountain names as Aorangi, Hikurangi, Tipua-o-te-rangi, Rehia, Maunganui, and Tawhito-o-te-rangi. Hakurangi is a hill name at Tahiti, Rarotonga, and in many parts of New Zealand. Aorangi occurs at Tahiti and in New Zealand.
The Maori also was wont to honour some prominent hill or mount on his tribal lands, which hill might be tapu, and would certainly often be referred to in many ways. Much of myth pertains to mountains and high forest ranges in Maoriland. They were often believed to be frequented by fairies, or other weird creatures.
The following is one of the most extraordinary uses to put hills to that has come to my knowledge. When the long-drawn-out bush warfare between the Tuhoe and Kahu-ngunu tribes came to an end, the daughter of a leading chief of the latter people was given in marriage to a Tuhoe chief, in order to cement the peace making. In addition to this a tatau pounamu (jade door) was erected, to employ the native metaphor. Two hills named Kuha-tarewa and Tuhi-o-kahu, page 204 situated near Waikare-Moana, were “married” to each other. The first-named was called the female, the latter the male, and the mating of these two prominent hills, one representing each tribe, has resulted in an enduring peace that has lasted even unto this day, the day of the white man.
The Maori folk tell of weird happenings in the mist-laden days of long ago, when mountains were endowed with powers of speech and locomotion. Thus we hear of the great company of mountains that formerly stood in the Taupo district, and of the dissensions that arose among them, whereby they became separated, some moving to other parts. Sexual jealousy seems to have been the cause of the quarrel, which resulted in a dispersal of the mountain folk, some of whom, as Tongariro, Ruapehu, and Ngauruhoe, remained at the old home. Taranaki (Mt. Egmont) went westward, and, in his passage towards the coast, formed the deep valley of the Whanganui river. His former site is now occupied by the lake Roto-a-ira. He had quarrelled with Tongariro over the latter's wife, one Pihanga, a high bush-clad hill near Roto-a-ira, for whom he had a great admiration. This is how it came about that Taranaki left Taupo somewhat hurriedly. He wandered up the coast and rested a while at Te Ngaere, causing by his huge weight a depression of considerable area, which was filled by what we call the Ngaere swamp. Proceeding on his journey Taranaki reached his present position when day broke, and the advent of daylight put an end to his journeying. The guide of this straying mountain was Te Toka a Rauhotu (the Rock of Rauhotu), a block of rock now seen near Cape Egmont. Now when you see the summit of Taranaki shrouded in mist, rain, or cloud, know that he is weeping for his old love Pihanga. When Tongariro fumes and smokes, it is evidence of his undying anger toward the banished Taranaki. The Rock of Rauhotu, it may be said, has some designs incised on it, and it was formerly viewed as a tipua. An old song tells us that Pihanga was given by Rangi the Sky Parent as a wife to Tongariro, and so she brought forth rain, winds and storms.
“……Na Rangi mai ano
Nana i whakamoe ko Pihanga te wahine
“Hai ua, hai hau, hai marangai ki te muri.”
At the time of the dispersal referred to above three other important members migrated northwards. These were Kakaramea (Rainbow Mountain), Putauaki (Mt. Edgecumbe), and Maunga-pohatu. The last-named is a female, and was the wife of Rainbow Mountain, but the twain could not agree as to what direction they should move in, hence they separated, and are now far apart. The wife said: “Let us go eastward to the red sun.” Said the husband: “Not so. My desire is toward the north.” Replied the Rocky Mountain: “Be it so. Then I shall here cook a meal for myself and our children, and proceed with them to the east, there to seek a new home.” Even so they separated, and, when the coming of day caused them to halt, Rainbow Mountain became fixed at Wai-o-tapu, Mt. Edgecumbe near Te Teko, but Maunga-pohatu got further afield, and stands afar off looking down on two seas. The young mountain folk, being light-footed, strayed yet further, for Tapanaua (a large rock in the Tauranga river) reached Te Wai-iti; Te Toka a Houmea (a mass of rock near Whakatane), Toka-tapu and Hingarae (rocks at the entrance to the Whakatane river) almost reached the ocean, while Moutohora (Whale Island) got right out to sea. Whakaari (White Island) and Paepae-aotea (a rocky islet near by) are the furthest outposts of the young mountain folk.
Now Putauaki (Mt. Edgecumbe) had two wives, Whatiura and Pohatu-roa, from whom he got separated, hence we see the last-named now standing at Atiamuri. It is the conspicuous rock mesa at that place, formerly occupied as a native stronghold. So was it that Edgecumbe waxed lonely standing out there on the great plain, and his desire was towards Maunga-pohatu, and so it came about that he sang a song to express his feelings, a song still treasured by the brown-skinned folk of the Land of Awa.
The last of these peripatetic mountain folk is Rua-wahia, who, in his journey northward, encountered a famed magician called Te Mahoihoi, an ogre of marvellous powers. The two quarrelled and came to blows, when the ogre struck so fierce a blow that he cleaved in twain the head of Rua-wahia, which act was the origin of the name of the mountain (wahi=to break, split).page 206
The tribal mountains referred to are often spoken of as being closely associated with the people. Thus Maungapohatu is spoken of by the local natives as being their mother. Cloud, mist, rain and lightning effects seen on such a height all convey some meaning to the superstitious and credulous Maori. Again there is a general personified form of all mountains in the form of one Hine-maunga, the Mountain Maid, referred to elsewhere in this neolithic chronicle.
In Maori folk lore we encounted a number of tales in which reference is made to strange beings encountered by voyagers in far lands, such beings as the Nuku-maitore, who dwelt in trees, and folk who knew not the use of fire. Some of these creatures are mentioned in the tale of Hine-poupou, a woman who is credited with having swum across Cook Straits in the days when wondrous things happened in the world of light. An old native has explained to us that such tales as this were related to children so as to cause them to look upon swimming as a necessary accomplishment, and to abolish any tendency to fear the water.
Hine-poupou was abandoned by her husband on the island of Kapiti, and is said to have swum back to her father's home on the southern side of the Straits. She gained endurance by repeating some potent charm, that is, by appealing to the gods, and so was enabled to reach home. The story is a long one in its entirety, containing much detail. Having reached home and told her friends of the base act of her husband, it was resolved to punish him. It was arranged that the husband should perish at sea, and so, when he and his brother were out at sea in a canoe, fishing, a great storm was induced by means of magic arts. The canoe was swept by the storm far across the ocean, and at length was cast ashore in a strange land. Here the brothers encountered a strange people who knew not fire, and so ate their food raw. They found that these folk were being slain in numbers by a dread taniwha, and the harassed people implored the castaways to endeavour to destroy the beast. This they managed to do, after which peace abode in the land. One of the brothers was given a young woman as a wife, and so it came to their knowledge that natural birth was unknown in that land; all children were brought into the world of life by means of the page 207 Cæsarian operation. Hence but few elderly women were seen; all mothers perished at the birth of their first-born. The end of this story is by no means a satisfactory one, for we are not told how the castaway brothers managed to return to these shores, or if they ever did so return. Another rendering of this story shows plainly that the monster that destroyed the people was a huge bird.
Several old folk tales mentioned great birds that formerly existed, such as the pouakai, which myths may have originated in a remembrance of the huge moa (Dinornis) that formerly existed in these isles. An old North Island tale is that concerning Te Manu nui a Rua-kapanga (the Great Bird of Ruakapanga). The genuine version of this story is that of the first meeting of the Maori with the moa. This was when one Rua-kapanga, an immigrant from Polynesia, encountered several of the huge birds inland of Maketu, some thirty generations ago, hence the moa came to be known by the above name, also as kuranui. It was sometimes alluded to as the manu whakatau, which sounds like a descriptive name. Now around this name of the moa as pertaining to old Rua-kapanga have grown up strange conceits and absurd beliefs, such as the story of the great bird of Rua-kapanga, and how it carried one Pou-rangahua hither from far Hawaiki, which is as follows:—
In olden times a man of goodly fame was Pou-rangahua, he who took to wife Kanioro, the guardian of greenstone. He was a person of amazing powers, as the following story shows. In days of old the two hills known as Orakai-whaia and Taunga-a-tara, at Te Papuni, stood some distance apart. The former is of the male sex, and the latter a female. Orakai-whaia felt sorely his lonely condition, and so called across the waste to Taunga-a-tara to come near and be a wife to him. Nothing loth, she agreed, and came to him, so that they stood side by side. This caused a blocking of the valley, so that the river became obstructed, hence a lake was formed. It was Pou-rangahua who, by means of his control of magic, caused those hills to separate again, and so the lake disappeared.
Pou-rangahua dwelt in the land of Turanga, where Waipaoa rolls seaward to Muriwai-o-Whata. At a certain time he page 208 noted that his child, an infant, kept putting its tongue out in a certain direction, and so he concluded that in that direction was some article of food desired by the child. This meant that such food lay beyond the dark ocean, and that a long voyage must be undertaken in order to procure it. So it was that Pou went forth upon the ocean to seek the new food product that beckoned from afar. He rode out on the unmarked ara moana, the sea roads of Kupe and of Toi; he invaded the realm of Hine-moana, the Ocean Maid, and heard the weird call of Hurumanu in the vast spaces of Tahora-nui-atea. Men say that the sea demon Ruamano guided him over the Great Ocean of Kiwa; some maintain that the strong wind known as the Hau-o-Pohokura drove his craft swiftly to the shores of Hawaiki. Howbeit he made the land at Pari-nui-te-ra, wherever that may be, where he found a prized food plant, the kumara, then unknown in the land of Aotea (New Zealand). With a supply of this prized tuber he decided to return home, and cast about for some means of conveyance. Why he did not return hither in his own craft is not explained.
Toki hohoupu. Stone adze blade halfted on a handle adorned with carving, also with dog's hair etc. This form of adze was used as a weapon also as a baton used by a man when delivering a speech.
When Pou, bestriding the great bird of Rua-kapanga, came within sight of Hikurangi, he resolved to wait until the sun had declined so far as to dazzle the eyes of Tama of Hikurangi. When that time came, the great bird flew swiftly past, but even as it did so there came the cry of the ogre of Hikurangi: “Who is this invading the mountain of Tamanui-a-Rangi?” By the time the ogre's sight had returned to him, Pou and the great bird had safely passed.
As they approached the land at Turanga the great bird shook itself as a sign for Pou to dismount, and so allow it to return. But Pou obstinately refused to alight, and forced the bird to convey him to his very home. He also plucked the fine plumes of the bird, and thus he did it two grievous injuries. By detaining the great bird it was delayed in its return to Hawaiki, and so it was caught and destroyed by Tama, the ogre of Hikurangi. In a far land one Tane awaited the return of the great bird, but never more was it to return to him. Then came the knowledge of the tragedy at Hikurangi, and Taukata was sent to capture the ogre. His powers of magic enabled him to cause Tama to fall into a deep sleep, and in that condition he was conveyed to far Hawaiki, where he was killed, even as he had slain and consumed the Great Bird of Rua-kapanga.
As for Pou, he cultivated his treasured tubers at Manawa-ru, in the Turanga district, and that valued food product became the most important of cultivated foods in this land of Aotea. It is interesting to note that the name of Te Manu nui a Rua-kapanga is known to the natives of Rarotonga, in the Cook Group. This looks as if the name has been carried thither from these isles at some time in the past.
Rivers enter into Maori myth principally in connection with their supernormal denizens, such as taniwha and tipua. There are, however, some cases in which they enter directly into folk tales. One such is the tale of how the two rivers, Waikato and Rangi-taiki, raced each other in order to see page 211 which would first reach their common ancestress Wainui. This latter name represents one of the female personified forms of the ocean.
In the first place Whangaehu, a river that has its source near that of the Waikato, and flows into Cook Straits, on the western side of the North Island, wished to persuade Waikato to march with it to the western sea. The latter objected to the proposal, and, after much argument, the two parted. So Waikato determined to go to the sea at the Bay of Plenty, whereupon Rangi-taiki challenged him to a race, as he himself was making for those parts. Now the great race to the sea started, Waikato starting from Tongariro, and Rangitaiki from Kai-manawa. The two remained many miles apart as they raced onward, and each kept sending out messengers in order to ascertain the progress of his rival. Thus Waikato sent out Tore-patutahi and two other messengers. These messengers were the present tributary streams of that river. Rangi-taiki sent out the five messengers named Wai-irohia, Nga Tamawahine, Pokai-roa, Pahekeheke, and Wai-kowhewhe. All these are the names of tributaries of Rangi-taiki that flow into that stream on its left bank. When Waikato was approaching Paeroa he heard the roaring sound caused by Rangitaiki flowing into the Bay of plenty, which so disgusted him that he turned aside and made his way to the western sea.
We find among the natives a few stories of persons who possessed the power of flight. In the story of Tamarau we are told that he flew from the hill Arorangi, at Wai-o-hau, to the coast. But here again we are confused by a similar tale collected at Rarotonga by Colonel Gudgeon in which it is shown that Tamarau flew from a place called Arorangi, at the isle of Rarotonga, five hundred leagues distant from New Zealand. Truly has the Maori so traversed and retraversed, settled and resettled the isles of the ocean that we cannot say to what place a story does belong.
In some of the popular tales one notes all kinds of illogical and contradictory statements. In the story of the woman who was taken up to heaven by spiders we are told of a child who grew up to manhood in that region. Also that his father, when he died, entered the spirit world as an old grey-headed man. This is the tale of a woman whose husband page 212 was unkind to her, hence she appealed to the gods for relief. That appeal was heard, for Ruruhi-kerepo (blind old woman) came to her aid, and called two spiders, who came down from the heavens and constructed a web basket. Into this basket the woman and her infant son were placed and taken up to the sky. After many years her husband died, and passed on to the spirit world. Here he saw an assembly of people, and was told that a young man was about to have the Tohi rite performed over him and receive his second name. He was much astonished to find that this young man was his own son, and, moreover, ere long he found his wife, who at once recognised him, albeit he was now old and greyhaired. The reunited couple now, after many years’ separation, lived together again, and so dwelt in harmony at last, for, as is well known, there is no quarrelling in the spirit world.
Maori folk lore contains many such simple tales as the above. The name of the old woman, Ruruhi-kerepo, appears in a number of tales, in several variant forms, all of which denote a blind old woman. In some cases she appears as a veritable ogress, as in the following tale:—
Now this is a tale of olden times. Many generations ago it was that five girls went a-roaming in the forest, where they met a strange-looking old woman, whose name was Ruruhikerepo. One of the girls cried: “Oh! Here is an old dame (ruruhi).” Ruruhi-kerepo said: “You must not call me ruruhi, but kuia (old woman).” Said a girl: “Oh! she is a kuia.” Again the old dame objected: “You must not call me kuia,but matua keke (aunt).” Whereupon a girl called out; “I greet you, aunt.” Then Ruruhi-kerepo made all the girls clamber up among the branches of a tree. When they had done so, she called out: “Oh! My nieces, how nice you look up there; I could eat you all; I could eat each of you at a mounthful.” Then she violently shook the tree, crying out: “Drop off! Drop off!” As each girl fell from the tree, the Ruruhi seized her, bit off her head, and ate her body. Now when the girls were missed, and a party of men went in search of them, the heads alone of those girls were found. The men sought to discover the creature who had slain the hapless girls, and, ere long, they met the ogress. One man strove to kill
her, but she struck him down, seized him, bit off his head, and proceeded to eat his body. Here she was attacked by his companions, who speared her to death. They could not strike her with other weapons, because the bones of those she had eaten stuck out all over her body like the spines of the koputotara (porcupine fish).
How many times has the writer, over a space of five decades, listened to these puerile folk tales, as told by merry children and grey-haired old bushmen, told in rough huts, in the darkling solitudes of old, old forests, by the rushing waters of many streams. Under the kindly ægis of Tane and of Rehua, in the sympathetic company of Parawhenua, of Hine-pukohu, and the Whanau Marama, slowly the mythopoetic mentality of the Maori was disclosed to the dull eyes and dull mind of modern man. Fancy a dour, tattooed old bush fighter, who fought against my people on every possible occasion, and took part in the massacre of women and children at Turanga and Mohaka, relating the myth of Uenuku the Rainbow God and the Mist Maid, or such puerile folk tales as that of the Woman who ate her Child's Heart. This latter is one of the tales told in order to account for strange sounds heard in the forest. You may hear the puwawau or punawaru, a sound made by running water that sounds like human voices singing, these be the babbling brooks. Or the takiari, a sharp, sudden report; or the parangeki, strange spirit voices, called also irirangi and irewaru. But when you hear a sound as of a questing call, you know that the phantom woman seeks her child.
It came about in this wise. A certain woman of olden days was very fond of the heart of the bush pigeon as a food. As the heart of that bird is but small, it followed that her husband had to spend much of his time in the forest snaring pigeons. In course of time those birds became quite scarce, and one day he returned without a single pigeon. His wife railed at him bitterly, and accused him of laziness. On the next day he again set off for the forest, taking with him their only child, a small boy. He took the child far into the forest and there killed him. He took out the child's heart and carried it home to his wife, but, as he passed through the forest, he invoked the powers of the gods to endow the trees page 214 of the forest with the powers of speech. On arriving at his home he had the child's heart cooked for his wife, who remarked on its size, and said that it was the best she had ever eaten. She asked her husband where the child was, and he told her that he had strayed away and got lost. So the woman set off to search for her child in the forest. As she entered the forest she called the child by name, and a tree some distance away answered her. She proceeded in that direction, and again called, whereupon a tree still further off answered her. Thus she went on, ever following the lure of the voices of the trees, only to be led deeper into the forest, until at last she became lost, and could by no means find her child, or her way back home. Never again was that woman seen of man, but never has death come to her; ever she wanders in the great forest, ever is she calling to her lost child, ever she follows the lure of the demon voice. When persons of the world of life traverse the forest solitudes, they sometimes hear, afar off, a strange voice calling, calling. It is the questing cry of the Woman who ate her Child's heart.
The light class of folk tales and fables all come under the heading of korero tara, or pakiwaitara, and such stories were remarkably popular among the Maori folk. The following story was related to the writer by Hamiora Pio, of Te Teko:—
Upon a certain day Namu the Sandfly and Naeroa the Mosquito foregathered, whereupon the former said—“Friend! Let us go forth and assail Man, and consume his blood.” But Naeroa said: “Let us await the shades of night lest Man should see and slay us.” Quoth Namu—“Let us attack him in numbers, so that, when he turns to smite us, he will perish before our myriads.” Said Naeroa—“Not so. Night is the favourable time, for then we will be unseen, and, as we approach Man, we will all raise our voices so that he will believe that we have settled on him, so will he strive to slay us, but merely smite himself.” But Namu heeded not the advice of Naeroa, and said—“Since you fear to go, then will I go alone.”
“I said! I said!
Lest slain ye be
By slapping hand of Man!
Alas! Alas! Behold your fate.”
“What matters death
What matters death
Now that his blood
Now that his blood
Is welling forth!”
Thus we see that the Sandfly Folk reck not of death so long as they draw blood from Man.
When Whiro the Dark One drew the cloak of night across the white world, the Mosquito Folk set forth in countless array to attack Man, and so avenge the defeat of the Sandfly clan. As Naeroa approched, Man heard his droning voice, and, thinking he had settled, sought to smite him, but lo! he merely struck his own ear. Then Naeroa assailed him from the other side, and Man again sought to slay him—only to strike his other ear. Then did the Mosquito horde assail Man, and Man waxed desperate, striking many blows, only to buffet himself until his ears tingled again. When the Dawn Maid banished dark Whiro from the fair expanse of the Earth Mother—Behold! the face of Man was a dread sight, so swollen was it under the ceaseless attacks of the Mosquito Folk. Even so was the stricken field of Namu avenged, and ever do Namu and Naeroa assail Man, the one in the light of day, the other when darkness comes.
Another old-time fable is that of Kahu and Hokioi. The former is the New Zealand hawk or harrier, and the latter,
sometimes called hakuwai, is the name of a large mythical bird, said to abide in the heavens. It is never seen by man, and approaches the earth only at night, when the sound of its flight is sometimes heard. In days gone by the Hawk and the Hokioi had a dispute as to which could ascend the highest in flight. Quoth the Hawk to Hokioi: “You can fly no higher than does the fern bird.” So angered was Hokioi that he challenged Kahu the Hawk to a trial in flight, to see which could fly the highest. Then both left the earth and flew upwards. The Hawk, as he flew, kept continually watching the earth, as is the habit of Hawk Folk. Pretty soon he saw a fern plain on fire, and at once swooped down to prey on the creatures fleeing from the fire. Then Hokioi cried out to Kahu the Hawk: “He pakiwaha koe” (“You are a boaster”). Then Hokioi continued his flight; he went so high that he lost sight of the earth. Never again was he seen by man, yet sometimes, in the dead of night, he is heard calling out his own name in derision of Kahu the Hawk:
“Hokioi! Hokioi! Hu!”
The last word represents the rushing sound of his flight, as heard by the Maori folk of this world.
When a person has a tiresome habit of boasting of his own abilities, one will remark. “Hokioi is the person who is always calling out his own name.”
“O Kaka, flying yonder, give me back my gay plumage.
I gained my brilliant feathers at the sacred Isle of Tinirau.
Torete! Kaureke! Torete! Kaureke!”
Now the parroquet had obtained its handsome plumage at Motu-tapu, the Sacred Isle of Tinirau, son of the great Tangaroa. When Kaka the Parrot saw that the Parroquet's brilliant feathers called forth great admiration, he sought to cajole him into an exchange. So he began to jeer at the Parroquet and ridicule his appearance, so that he came to be quite confused, and began to doubt his own fine appearance. Then Kaka page 217 took the Parroquet's fine feathers and gave his own in exchange. He put all the finest of those feathers under his wings, where you will still find them. When the Parroquet saw that the Parrot had taken many of his admired feathers, and was flying about with them, exulting in his ill-gotten finery, then did Kakariki the Parroquet lament aloud in song, the song that is heard even to this day.
In the fable of Popokorua, the Ant, and Kikihi, the Cicada, we note the advantages won by forethought, industry and diligence. When the eighth month (of the Maori year) comes, it is then that Kikihi, the Cicada, appears and clings to his ancestor Tane (trees). In numbers countless they come, and are seen basking in the sun, while the clamour of their song is like unto the crackling of a reed fire. The song of the Cicada is as follows:—“What truly is my delight? It is idling and basking in the sun on a tree branch, and just clapping my wings.”
This song of the Kikihi Folk is a strident one, and heard afar off, but somewhere down at tree base there is a very quiet, soft song being sung by Popokorua, the Ant. He is very busy, is Popokorua, and cannot sing loudly; many, many folk never hear his song at all. That song runs: “Hasten, O Friend! Do not delay. The labours of the Ant have commenced, urged on to form holes to serve as shelter from the rains of heaven, from cold that pierces nightly. To gather seeds as sustenance for the inner man, even that life may be retained.”
We will discourse a while on the subject of fairies, forest elves, the fair folk termed turehu, patupaiarehe, korakorako, heketoro, tahurangi, and pakehakeha. The Maori firmly believed in the existence of these creatures, and often speaks of them as though they were human beings, for we have tales describing them as capturing and carrying off native women. The most interesting particular concerning these forest folk is that they are described as being a fair-skinned people having light or reddish coloured hair. If this was a belief of pre-European times, then it may have been a dim memory of a light-skinned people encountered by the ancestors of the race in far lands. This is a somewhat bold theory, for it must have been many centuries since the Maori folk were located in any region where they might have met such a people. It is probably a matter of comparison, as it was with the Spanish voyagers who termed the Polynesians caras blancas.
The collector of data concerning the myths of barbaric man has, of a verity, much to endure, and is often puzzled by the contradictory nature of such data. He listens to most realistic tales of the Turehu abducting native women, and dwelling in communities on forest-clad ranges. Others, however, inform him that these forest folk are nought but wairua tangata (human spirits, or souls). Some assert that they are spirits of the dead; others that they are the spirits (souls) of living persons, and so statements differ. Evidently all believed in the existence of these forest dwellers, but people had vague ideas as to their nature, which, after all, is no doubt quite natural.
A peculiar feature of all accounts of the Turehu folk is that they were often heard talking, singing and playing flutes up on the wooded hills and ranges, and especially so on dull, misty days. They are said to have been a very tapu folk, and if one of their hamlets was visited by man, they would surely desert it and settle elsewhere. One tale tells how the Maori acquired the knowledge of the art of making fishing nets from the Turehu. A party of Turehu was hauling a net page 220 at Rangiawhia one night (for these folk never do so during daylight), when one Kahukura managed to join them. He assisted in hauling the net without being detected as a man. He wished to secure the net so that he might learn how to make them, hence he delayed the departure of the Turehu by purposely bungling the work of tying the fish in bundles. He refrained from securing the kaui or cord to the first fish strung, hence the fish slipped off the cord as fast as he strung them. By this means Kahukura delayed the departure of the fisher folk until dawn appeared, and the appearance of day so startled them that they fled homewards, abandoning their net on the beach. Another version has it that the Turehu folk discovered that a man was among them, and so fled in dismay. This is how the Maori acquired the art of netting, and when one of to-day sees slipshod, careless work, he remarks: “Ko te tui whakapahuhu a Kahukura,” in memory of the trickery of Kahukura.
Natives sometimes state that the Turehu folk were the first occupants of these isles. This remark, together with that anent their fair skin and hair, has served some writers as a basis for a theory, or belief, that New Zealand was once inhabited by a fair race. Such a claim is quite hopeless; no such a people ever dwelt here. The light-haired, light-skinned individuals occasionally seen among the Maori, and by them termed urukehu, represent an old strain of unknown origin. It was brought hither by the Maori from Polynesia, but no man may say whence it was derived. On account of the idea that the Turehu were the original inhabitants of Aotea, the natives sometimes say that the land and its products really belong to them. We are told that, in olden days, when persons were engaged in digging fern root (the edible rhizome of the bracken), they sometimes heard a voice say: “E koa koe aianei, a maku hoki te ra apopo” (“You rejoice to-day, but my turn will come to-morrow”). Then the root diggers would know that the original owners of the land, the Turehu folk, were speaking, and so each man would hasten to put aside the first three roots he dug up as a placatory offering to the Turehu.
The late Hoani Nahe, of Hauraki, provided some interesting notes on our present subject. He remarked that the page 221 Turehu, Kura, and Korakorako folk are clans or divisions of the tribe Patupaearehe (Syn. Parehe and Patuparehe). They are not the same as human beings, but are sometimes indistinctly seen by man.
One Ruarangi was the eponymic ancestor of the Ngati-Ruarangi clan of the Haua tribe, of Waikato; his wife was Tawhaitu. In those days the denizens of the forests were a numerous people called Tahurangi. They lived on the bushclad hills and forest ranges of Pirongia, Taupiri, and elsewhere. In those old times, long before the white-skinned tipua (Europeans) broke through the hanging sky and landed on the shores of Aotearoa, Ruarangi and his wife dwelt in those parts. Now it came about that, during the absence of the husband on a certain day, when his wife was alone, one of the Tahurangi Folk, by name Te Rangipouri, came to the hamlet and carried her off to his abode on wooded Pirongia. Here they lived together for some time, sometimes going to other such bush hills, where they would sojourn a space, and then return to Pirongia.
When Ruarangi found that his wife had disappeared, he sought her far and near, but all in vain, no trace he found. One day, however, he was ranging the forest at the base of the hill abode of the weird Tahurangi, and saw his lost wife with her Tahurangi husband. He called to her but she fled from him. For the strange influence of those forest folk had caused her to forget her old life, and home, and friends, so she knew not her true husband, and fled from him in great fear. Ruarangi then bethought him that she was under the potent tapu of the forest folk, hence if he could but break the power of that tapu, his estranged wife would recognise him and return to him. Fortunately he chanced at the time to be carrying a small portion of cooked food, the very best of agents whereby to pollute or destroy tapu. He now pursued the pair until he got near enough to them to throw the food so as to strike his wife in the back. This contact at once broke the power of the tapu, and his wife recognised him, and joyfully came to him. It was, however, some time ere she quite recovered her former condition. She then told her husband that the Tahurangi would certainly make an attempt to carry her off again and that they must be very cautious in all their goings and comings.page 222
One fair day the Tahurangi suddenly appeared, and strove to re-capture the woman. She and her husband at once ran to their house, and entered it, but the Tahurangi followed them in. Then the woman bethought her of a very strong prejudice of the forest folk, their terror of kokowai (red ochre). She told her husband to mark her with ochre, and, as soon as he did so, the Tahurangi recoiled from her; he had no longer the power to touch her. Ruarangi then marked himself with the ochre, which rendered him safe from any attack; he marked the doorway, whereupon the Tahurangi escaped through the window, which was then also marked. He approached the Tahurangi and marked the spot of earth he was standing on; the forest man fled, but Ruarangi followed him, and kept marking each place that he rested on. Pretty soon most of the plaza was so marked, and the Tahurangi was compelled to jump from one ochre free spot to another. Ere long these free spots became widely separated, and the Tahurangi became aweary with his ceaseless jumping. At last that nanakia, that troublesome being, had no place left whereon he might set his foot. He then leaped to the roof of the house. He stood on the apex thereof and sang a song of farewell to his lost human wife. Then the unhappy forest man fled back to the bush-clad hills and his home among the Tahurangi folk.
The farewell song sung by the Tahurangi has been preserved by the natives of Waikato, who will tell you of Ruarangi and his strange adventure, and of how, if you mark your door with red ocre, no troublesome forest folk will enter it.
Tutaka-ngahau, the old Tuhoe chief, told me in 1895 that the Heketoro are, or were, a fair-skinned, light-haired folk who dwelt on the high, forest-clad ranges, as at Turi-o-Haua, Mapouriki, and Putaihinu. One hears the same description of these forest folk, under different names, in all districts. It is strange that the Maori should describe them as being so unlike themselves in appearance. The Rev. R. Taylor, in “Te Ika a Maui,” tells us that these Patupaiarehe were seen only early in the morning, that they wore white garments, and carried infants as Europeans do. There is always a suspicion that these descriptions may have been influenced by the page 223 advent of Europeans, and that point cannot now be settled. We need more evidence from Polynesia.
One persistent statement made by natives is easily explained. It is to the effect that the Patupaiarehe folk used to enter native huts at night occasionally and grievously afflict the sleepers, smiting them down with deadly sickness. This affliction was undoubtedly the effect of the charcoal fires kindled by the natives in their unventilated huts on winter nights.
A Whanganui native, Heremia of Koriniti, related the following tale to me in 1921:—Once upon a time a number of women set forth to the forest in order to collect berries of the hinau (Elœocarpus, from which a dark-coloured, heavy, coarse meal bread was made). On entering the forest the women separated in pairs and set about their task, each couple taking a different direction. As time passed, one woman became separated from her companion, and so called to her. She heard a reply from afar off and proceeded in the direction of the voice, calling out ever and anon, and still hearing answering calls. She believed that her companion was answering her, but not so; it was a Parehe, a strange denizen of the forest, who was calling to her.
Ere long the woman was caught and carried off by the Parehe far into the depths of the forest. When the women returned home it was found that one was missing, and a search for the absent one was instituted. After a long search the seekers came across the woman and the Parehe, not walking on earth as we do, but moving about among the tree tops, walking on the branches. The searchers suceeded in catching the woman, but found her strangely altered. One half of her body still retained its human aspect and condition, but the other half seemed to have turned into wood. Her friends were much puzzled as to how to restore her to her former state, she had altered so much; she seemed to have become half Parehe. At last they formed and heated a large steam oven and placed her in it. This steaming process had the desired effect, the woman was restored to her former human condition, and regained her normal faculties.
After the woman had been returned to her home, and had recovered from her experiences of Parehe life, she would, page 224 during the silence of the night, hear the Parehe, afar off in the forest, singing a song of lament for his lost companion. So, in course of time, it came about that she learned the words of that song, which is yet sung by the brown-skinned folk who dwell by the rushing waters of Whanganui.
The weird beings known as Porotai are described as having bodies one-half of which is composed of stone, and the other half is human. This double aspect extends to their faces. They are said to be accomplished singers, but they may possibly have ceased to exist, for none have been seen for many years.
In former times, say the Awa folk of the Bay of Plenty, companies of spirits, termed tira maka, which are human spirits, were seen moving about in space, but only gifted seers could descry them. Such a vision was held to be unlucky, and so, when such a company was observed, a ceremony would be performed in order to avert any threatened misfortune.
The Tutumaiao are weird, indistinct creatures seen on long, sandy ocean beaches by travellers, but as one approaches them they disappear.
Te Tini o te Hakuturi (the Multitude of the Hakuturi) is a name applied to bands of forest elves inhabiting other lands, the former home of the Maori folk. They acted as guardians of the forest, and theirs was the task of avenging any desecration of the tapu of the forest. These were the fairy folk who caused the fronds of our tree ferns to assume a drooping aspect. Originally they were quite rigid.
Giants do not frequently appear in Maori myth. We have brief references to the existence of such folk in the South Island, and also on the island of Rangitoto in the Hauraki gulf. The Turehu folk of the forest are sometimes alluded to as Nanakia because they were a troublesome breed.
In both islands we find stories about the Maero, or Maeroero, wild men believed to dwell in the great forests that formerly covered the land. Quite possibly this belief rests on a basis of fact, and that decimated clans of other days sought refuge in forest wilds when unable to hold their own in more favoured regions. We know that such a procedure was followed in former times.page 225
Inasmuch as myth enters largely into the superstitious beliefs and omens of the Maori folk, it may be as well to include here some of their innumerable puerile beliefs of former days. Absurd as many of these are in our eyes, it is ever well to remember that those of our own ancestors were equally so, and, moreover, we have by no means shaken off superstition ourselves.
The omens (aitua), signs (tohu) and superstitious fancies of the Maori are a legion; numerous are they as leaves in the vale of Vallombrosa, or, as the Maori puts it, they are as uncountable as a company of the Sand Maid. Another fact upon which special stress must be laid is that such signs, omens, etc., had a very marked effect on Maori life. All activities, all pursuits, were much affected by them. This was a natural sequence, the faith of the natives in such fancies being so strong.
The pseudo-science of oneiromancy was keenly followed by the Maori, who placed great faith in dreams, which were allowed to influence the most important undertakings. When a party of fugitive folk under Kahu was seeking a new home, the leader proposed to settle in an unoccupied district inland of Rangitikei. These migrants set to work and prepared the timbers necessary for the building of a village. When the task of erection was about to be commmenced, the son of the chief chanced to dream that he saw the prepared timbers drift out to sea, where they were cast up on an island on which he beheld all his friends. This was enough for the Maori, and the proposed settlement was abandoned, the party marched to the coast, constructed a vessel at the mouth of the Rangitikei river and put to sea. They left Cook Straits and put to sea to seek the land discovered by Toi when he missed New Zealand by keeping too far to the eastward. They reached, and settled at, the Chatham Islands. Now here we have a case of a serious deep sea expedition being undertaken on account of a chance dream.
It is shown elsewhere in this chronicle that the Maori is extremely superstitious in regard to the lizard, he connects it with death; it is extremely unlucky to even see a lizard. Fenton sees, in this fear of a harmless little creature, a survival of the terror in which the crocodile has been held by the page 226 ancestors of the Maori in some far land. This seems some-what far-fetched to the present writer, who is more inclined to trace the man-destroying taniwha of Maori myth to that source. Superstitions cluster round the lizard in many lands the world over. In King's work on the Gnostics we are told that “the lizard, which was believed to conceive through the ear, and to bring forth through the mouth, is the type of the generation of the Word, that is the Logos or Divine Wisdom.” This belief seems to explain the appearance of a lizard upon the breast of certain figures of Minerva.
The belief that the lizard brings death is by no means confined to the Maori; it is also an Asiatic and African belief. About the middle of last century the natives of the Whanganui district were led to believe that lizards were working them grievous harm and must be destroyed. One of their first acts was to destroy the fine groves of karaka trees that adorned the banks of the rivers, because those trees were said to afford shelter to lizards.
Should you unfortunately encounter a lizard in your path, it is best to kill it, and then get a woman to step over it, so that the evil omen may be nullified, or averted. Such an act is termed a ripa. The lizard was sometimes selected as an aria, or medium of an atua, its form of incarnation, in fact.
The ignorance and superstition of the Maori effectually kept him at the very bottom of the ladder in regard to knowledge of disease, and medical research. His fear of darkness was very real, and, from our point of view, childish, but his firm faith in the existence and ceaseless presence and activity of evil spirits, was assuredly a sufficient cause for his fears.
The curious old-world belief in the curative powers of human saliva was also held by the Maori. The connection between sneezing and life and welfare seems to hinge upon the fact that the first sign of life manifested by Hine-ahu-one, the first woman, created by Tane, was a sneeze.
The Maori belief in the unlucky and lucky, the tapu and common, the effective and non-effective, sides of man, etc., are also, apparently, world wide. Far spread also was his reluctance to mention the name of an animal he wished to trap or snare, a plant he wished to find, lest they should learn his intention, and elude him. Thus, if going forth in search of page 227 the perei, an orchid of which the roots were eaten, he would allude to it as maikaika, lest he should fail to find it. The life of the Maori was riddled with lucky and unlucky acts and omens, though unlucky signs seem to have been far more numerous than lucky ones. All unlucky acts, etc., in connection with trapping, snaring and fishing are called puhore. There are many omens derived from involuntary movements of the body and limbs, each having its distinctive name; such as io, hui, maka, kauwhera, tamaki, etc. The generic term for such manifestations is takiri.
Omens were drawn from the appearance and position of the rainbow. No fighting force would advance if a rainbow were seen bestriding its line of advance. A puzzling thing in connection with native omens is that luck seems to change sides; in some cases the right side is the lucky side, and in other cases it changes to the left side. Thus to hear the cry of a robin to your right is a lucky sign; if it is to your left it is unlucky. But if your right nostril tingles or twitches, it is a token of bad luck, while the same affection of the left nostril is a token of good luck.
My very worthy old friend, Tuta Nihoniho, who was a descendant of enthusiastic man-killers, had firm faith in omens, and never wearied of impressing upon me the wisdom of heeding them. He was keenly anxious that young natives should be trained in the use of modern arms, so that, when war's alarms came, they would be ready to step into the ranks alongside their white comrades. The old man little thought how soon those lads would be in training, and also fighting under strange skies in far distant lands. In a long screed composed by him he included much advice to young men of his race as to methods of fighting, and urged them to be very careful to note all omens and signs. He continued: “These signs are not haphazard occurrences; they are manifestations of the gods. However, my lads, in your first campaign you will find out all about such tokens; by experience shall you learn the meanings of these things, as they affect you, in the days that lie before. With some persons the left side is the lucky side, with others it is the right side that is lucky.”
It was deemed unlucky to see certain rare kinds of stone, such as the tahakura, hine-a-tauira, and pungapunga, the latter being a light-coloured kind of greenstone.page 228
A long list of unlucky signs, good omens (waimarie), and other superstitious beliefs would scarcely be entertaining to readers, hence but few will here be given; these will serve as illustrations.
If, during sleep, your hand closes in a convulsive manner, it is a sign that ere long you will receive a present; indeed, it is already on its way to you.
It is unlucky to dream that you are having your hair cut, and unlucky to kindle a fire on the path, when travelling. If, when sleeping beside another person, that person chances to nudge you, that act is a bad omen for you, but still you can avert the trouble by pinching the nudger, which seems comforting.
When a native dreams of going anywhere, or of doing anything, he believes that his wairua (soul, or astral body) actually goes forth from his body and so sees and acts. Any warning sign he dreams of is seriously viewed, hence he believes that an important office of the wairua is the protection of its physical basis, the human body. Again, the belief that the soul leaves the body during sleep renders the Maori extremely cautious about waking a sleeping body. No native would waken a sleeper by shaking him, or calling loudly to him, because his wairua may be absent, and he must give it time to return to its basis.
Long years ago an old woman at the village of Uruhau, near Wellington, dreamed that she saw a fire on the ridge known as Te Wharau. This dream was gravely discussed, and was held to be a warning of some danger threatening the hamlet. Two men were despatched to Te Wharau to endeavour to obtain an explanation of the warning, and they encountered on that ridge a party of raiders advancing to attack Uruhau. Such chance occurrences as this caused the Maori to place great faith in dreams. The old woman's wairua had, during a jaunt abroad, seen this danger threatening its basis, and had returned to warn that basis. Such is the reasoning of the Maori.
When travelling at night, which the Maori ever disliked, natives often make a considerable noise by singing. This is to scare away any spirits, as wairua of the dead, that may be prowling about. Otherwise singing out of doors at night page 229 is looked upon as being somewhat unlucky, though the Turehu folk sometimes practice it. When, in travelling at night, one encounters a current of warm air, it indicates the presence of kehua (ghosts, spirits of dead).
The cry of the owl at night has often caused a village to be deserted, the whole of the people betaking themselves to the forest to escape an expected attack from enemies.
Odd numbers are unlucky in a number of connections. It is unlucky to decline an invitation to partake of food, though it is sufficient if you eat but a fragment thereof. If a woman steps over the body of a male child its growth will be injuriously affected. For her to step over the body of a man would be simply an act of impertinence.
A landslip is viewed as ominous of the death of some member of the local clan. Omens were derived from clouds, wind, thunder, lightning, rainbow, stars, the moon, and other things too numerous to mention.
The older generation of natives believes that the decrease in their numbers, and their impoverished constitution, have been brought about by the forsaking of their old religion and the institution of tapu. By abandoning these, and adopting unsuitable European customs, habits, practices and beliefs, their vitality and general welfare have become seriously impaired. The mauri ora, the sacred life principle of man, has become polluted, and hence the Maori cannot flourish. The gods have abandoned him because he is no longer tapu, and how can man survive and flourish when the gods hold aloof?
The late Mr. R. McNab has recorded a story that illustrates native superstition, and shows how an ignorant people may be caused by superstition to make an unprovoked attack on Europeans. A certain ship captain sojourned at the Bay of Islands early in last century. He was the possessor of a watch, which the natives held to be an atua, a sentient and supernormal being. This watch someone happened to drop overboard, and, later, after the departure of the vessel, a serious epidemic broke out among the natives, many of whom perished. This affliction was connected with the demon watch, and the natives vowed vengeance against the white-skinned sea rovers. In such cases it is the next visitor who suffers.page 230
Whenever the Maori suffers from such visitations as an epidemic, or a failure of crops, he looks to himself for the cause thereof. He must have committed the offence for which he is being punished. It is impossible to shake their faith in this view, and indeed we ourselves have retained similar beliefs; our Church teachings for centuries have been deeply affected by such superstitions. I well remember hearing a priest preaching to his native followers at Whakatane. Like most of such gentry, he was bitterly anti-British, but not above appreciating the benefits of living in a British country; a curiously contradictory quality met with in many Milesians and Dutchmen. Said this worthy priest: “My friends, you have perhaps heard of the fate of the great Napoleon. Now it was not the bravery of the English that caused his downfall. No, he fell because he had sinned.” Here, now, we have a thoroughly Maori superstition, typically Maori, but then it is also Pakeha (European), and so we leave it.
In a very remarkable cosmogonic myth collected by the late Colonel Gudgeon we note that misfortune generally is personified in one Aitua, who was one of the offspring of the primal parents.