The Maori - Volume I
VII Social Customs
VII Social Customs
Communal usages difficult to understand—No internal competition in a community—Social organisation—The whanau or family group—It becomes a clan—Then a tribe—The true eponymous ancestor—The waka—The social unit—The individual is lost—The patriarchate—Welfare of the tribe paramount—Clan names—How the Maori became a competent genealogist—Memorising powers of the Maori—Social classes—Rank—Chieftainship—The ariki—Respect for primogeniture—The commoners—Female rank—Consanguineous nomenclature—The kahurangi or puhi—Mareikura and whatukura—Deference paid to rank—Influential women—Management of tribal affairs—Military duty viewed as an ordinary task—Tokens of chieftainship—Public opinion a strong force—Lack of civil law in Maori commune—Its substitutes—Punishment by gods comes in this world—Superstition or religion—The dictum of Tylor—“Werohia ki au!”—Muru—Filiation—Lack of true family life—The urukehu or fair-skinned folk—Terms of relationship, etc.—Personal names—Tapu names—Topographical nomenclature—Introduced place names—Floral nomenclature—Extensive use of proper names—Terms of address—Greetings—Visitors—Guests—Feasts—The village marae or plaza—Hospitality—A wife's duties—Reception of visitors—The tangi—Speeches—The food-bearing function—Stockade breached to admit important personage—Retinue of a chief—Social and ritual functions—Invitation party—Hakari stages—New Year festival—Mana; how transferred—The institution of rahui—Property—Land tenure—Land boundaries—Affection of the Maori for his land—“Send me a handful of soil that I may weep over it.” Division of labour—Tasks of men—Of women—Burdens—Restriction of liberty of action among women—General aspect of woman's life—Clothing—Hair—Gait of women—Female beauty appreciated—Maternal love—Children—Infanticide—Massage—The Tohi rite—Meals—Cooking—The steam oven—Serving of food—The horrors of washing-up unknown—Oven stones—Cooking sheds—Stone boiling—Utensils—Domestic vessels—Pottery unknown—The taumaha ceremony—Aphorisms—Food supplies—Fern root—The genus Cordyline provides food— page 339 Hinau bread—Tawa kernels—Tutu jelly—Masticatories—Fungi—Earthworms eaten—Clay eating—The native dog—Personal mannerisms—Habit of covering mouth—The hongi salutation—Social manners—Gestures—Signalling.
Maori sociology can assuredly be described as an interesting study to those who take pleasure in acquiring knowledge of the development of human culture. As in the case of their religious beliefs and practices, we may note, in the social usages of the Maori, highly instructive phases of such development. In these usages we see the origin of many of our own customs, and learn how they came to find a place in the tribal polity. We shall see that, backward as the Maori was in many ways, yet the possessed some remarkable social virtues, and had learned to be unselfish when the welfare of the tribe was at stake.
The peculiar conditions under which a communal folk live appear strange to us, and, unless we bear the nature of those conditions in mind, we shall not understand many of the old native usages. Moreover, we are likely to condemn useful institutions, or customs, simply because they do not agree with those we are accustomed to in a widely different social system. It is absolutely essential to remember that, in the Maori tribe, existed no form of internal competition or struggle for existence. Such competition was confined to extra-tribal spheres. Family groups and sub-tribes might, and did, occasionally quarrel, and even fight each other. When, however, any danger from without threatened the tribe, then such quarrels at once ceased, and the clans closed their ranks and presented a solid front against all aggression from without. It is, then, the sociology of an interesting communistic and neolithic people that we are about to examine. It may, I believe, be fairly claimed that the social organisation of the Maori tribe, and its self-contained sub-divisions, together with their remarkable substitutes for civil law, form a highly instructive and interesting study for the student of anthropology.
There is, however, another term to be explained, which, though scarcely a factor in the social organisation of the people, yet influenced occasional groupings of tribes, or loosely knitted leagues. This term is waka, which means a canoe or vessel, a vehicle in fact, hence it is also applied to the introduced buggy, etc., and the human medium of an atua. The out-rigger canoes and double canoes formerly employed by the Maori in deep-sea navigation were called waka. When one of the vessels arrived on these shores with a party of immigrants, a suitable place was sought for a settlement. Such a company of persons would band together as a social unit, until, as time rolled on, the population of the district increased to such proportions that it became formed into different tribes. A tribe would commence its existence as a whanau; some man of influence would propose that a certain family group, or extended family, composed of, say three generations, should adopt a collective name and so be recognised as a distinct social unit. This unit might be composed of a certain man of position, his wife, their children and grandchildren. The name adopted for the unit was often that of the head man mentioned above, of which name more anon. This whanau would dwell together as a social unit, possibly in a small hamlet, as among forest dwelling folk, or occupying a well-defined subdivision of a larger village, often a fortified one.
Iwi The tribe. Hapū The clan; sub-division of a tribe. Whānau The family group.
In course of time our whanau, increasing in numbers, would develop into a hapu, or clan, and, possibly, later, into an iwi, or tribe. It will thus be seen that all members of a Maori tribe were descendants of a common ancestor. No outsider could become a real member of the tribe, though he might marry into it, and live his life out with his wife at her own home. His children would be members of the tribe in virtue of their mother's blood.
Now the point I wish to illustrate is this: All the tribes so sprung from immigrants of a certain waka or vessel would page 341 be said to belong to that waka. Thus the Ngati-Awa, Whakatohea and Tuhoe tribes of the Bay of Plenty district belong to the vessel named Mātātua, that came to land at Whakatane about five hundred years ago. Each of these tribes is composed of a number of clans, which again include many whanau or family groups.
In Maori society the individual could scarcely be termed a social unit; he was lost in the whanau, or family group, which may be termed the social unit of Maori life. The true family was lost in the group likewise.
The waka cannot be looked upon as a cohesive social organisation; it was not so, the iwi was the largest self-contained, cohesive body known in Maori sociology. Still blood is ever thicker than water, and times of stress might find the different iwi of a waka, combined in an offensive or defensive league. This league, however, would fall to pieces when that time of stress passed away. Still, when there was no actual warfare between these tribes, there was a certain amount of inter-communication, even of inter-marriage. They remembered that they were akin to each other, and something nearer than the tribes of other vessels.
The term hapupu is occasionally applied to a small number of closely related people, not sufficiently numerous to be called a hapu, or clan. So far as I understand it the title seems to be but a secondary name for the whanau.
Each whanau was a self-contained, self-controlling unit, managing its own affairs, save in cases wherein it was considered necessary that they should be discussed by the clan of which the whanau or family group was a part. The same remarks apply to the clan; important matters would be brought before a meeting of the tribe, such a matter, for example, as a warlike expedition. In such cases of general action, any clan might decline to take part in the proposed movement, and, should it do so, there would be no compulsion. Even a high chief could not compel it to fall into line with the rest.
The only term given as defining a whanau, or family group, in “The Handbook of Folk Lore,” is that of kindred. The conception of this word, as held by the average person, is, however, something much wider. The whole of the members of a Maori tribe are kindred to each other; not only are page 342 they descendants of a common ancestor, but inter-marriage between clans has caused a yet closer bond. The same work defines a clan as “an exogamous division of a tribe!” Now the Maori clan (hapu) was not exogamous, nor was it truly endogamous; any member thereof might please himself as to whether he married within or without the clan, so long as the contracting parties were of at least the third generation from a common ancestor.
It will be seen that the Maori was living in the second stage of social progress, the patriarchal stage. Presumably he has, in the remote past, emerged from the savage organisation, as described by Jenks in his “History of Politics.” The statement of this writer that “In most cases, if not all, the common ancestor of the tribe is a fictitious person” cannot possibly be applied to the Maori tribe. The clan of Jenks is a body “consisting of some three or four generations only.” Now this is the Maori whanau, or sub-clan, the clan itself may be very much older. To take a case well known to myself: The Ngati-Tawhaki clan of the Tuhoe tribe is composed of the descendants of the eponymic ancestor Tawhaki, who flourished nine generations ago. Mr. Jenks speaks of the “household” as being, apparently, equivalent to the Maori whanau, or family group.
The Maori tribe was essentially exclusive. Another marked characteristic of Maori life was the communal nature of social life and usages. The key to the understanding of this condition is the fact that a man thought and acted in terms of family group, clan, or tribe, according to the nature or gravity of the subject, and not of the individual himself. The welfare of the tribe was ever uppermost in his mind; he might quarrel with a clansman, but let that clansman be assailed in any way by an extra-tribal individual, or combination of such, and he at once put aside animosity and took his stand by his side. When my worthy old friend Te Piki-kotuku was appointed by the Rua-tahuna natives to go forth and make peace with the Government troops, ere disaster came upon the harried tribe, he knew full well that never more would he see his wife Marie again. She lay near to death, but, like a true Maori, rose to the occasion. She said, as related to me by her daughter in later and more page 343 peaceful times: “Go on your errand. Think not of me, but only of the tribe. We came together in the fair days of youth, but my years are now fulfilled. What matters it if I tread this short space alone.” So went the grim, tattooed old fighter, and, as he gained the summit of the range above Pu-kareao, he heard across the forest-clad hills the volley of gun fire that told him that Marie had gone forth on the Broad Path of Tane that leads to the spirit world.
One more illustration: When the French attacked a fortified village at the Bay of Islands to avenge the death of their leader, Marion du Fresne, the narrow entrance thereto was held by a man bearing the weapons of neolithic man. When he was shot down another stepped forward and took his place, though never a chance had he of using his spear against the musket armed foe. As he fell another took his place, and so on until six men had held the passage a brief space, and lifted the well-worn trail to Rarohenga. Then only did a rush of attackers force an entrance. But “Hei aha!” As the men of yore said: “Man should die spear in hand.”
The word whanau means offspring, also a family group. It is also applied to the true family but in the sense of offspring. In order to indicate a family of children the expression whanau tahi is employed, but this does not include the parents. This is evidence as to the importance of the family group. Thus the word enters into tribal names, as Te Whanau a Apanui (the Offspring of Apanui). The word whanaunga means “relative, blood connection.” The term whanau tuturu is sometimes applied to a consanguineous family group of three or four generations. When a whanau passes the fourth generation, that of the great grandchildren of the original couple, then it is probably composed of a sufficient number of individuals to claim its place as a hapu or clan.
The writer has in mind one whanau or family group that is composed of two brothers, a sister, and their children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren, in all ninety-two persons. The parents of the first-named generation, the true forbears of the group, are dead, their living children being now from seventy to eighty years of age. Now this group is looked upon as a whanau. It is composed of four generations, page 344 and is about ready to become a clan. This explanation illustrates the difference between the whanau and the true family.
When a whanau assumes a name it often takes that of the male forbear of the group. Were his name Tura, then the group would be called Ngati-Tura, the prefix meaning offspring or descendants of. Ati and Ngai are variant forms of this prefix bearing a similar meaning. Occasionally a woman became the eponymous ancestress of a clan, as in the case of one named Ngati-Hinepare. We also know of cases in which clans have derived their name from some incident, or some quality of its members, as Te Patuwai and Te Kirikohatu. The first was so named from the fact that an ancestor had been slain in a river (patu, to slay; wai, water). In the second case the clan was remarkable for the bravery of its warriors, hence they were kiriuka (hard skinned, unflinching), and were named Kiri-kohatu (kiri, skin; kohatu, stony).
The strong feeling concerning heredity and the necessity of consanguineous relationship among all members of a tribe, were two of the reasons why the Maori was so careful to preserve knowledge of his descent, and made him a very remarkable genealogist.
The Tuhoe tribe are descendants of the eponymic ancestor Tuhoe-potiki, who flourished some sixteen generations ago, and every man of the tribe knows at least his own line of descent. Some twenty-two years ago I made out a table showing the different lines of descent from this ancestor, bringing them right down to living persons, and showing every member of the tribe then living. The tribe was then about eight hundred strong. Some of its members were living among other tribes, being taharua (two-sided), that is a parent or other forbear had married into another tribe. Now should these taharua continue to reside for generations with that other tribe, then their claim to Tuhoe lands would become mataotao (cold).
While engaged in making out the above-mentioned table, an old man named Tamarau, of the Ngati-Koura clan, was one of my sources of information. He kept his stand in the Native Land Court for three days, and gave from memory lines of descent that contained over fourteen hundred names page 345 of persons. Such are the powers of memory of a scriptless people, and such is the Polynesian genealogist.
It must be borne in mind that the whole of the eight hundred persons mentioned are descendants of the tribal ancestor Tuhoe-potiki.
Writers on Maori sociology do not agree in their statements as to social classes, but the majority divide the people into three grades, viz., chiefs, commoners and slaves. One writer has boldly declared that the Maori recognised but two classes, the gentleman and the slave. There is certainly something to be said for this contention, as will be shown anon. The principal controversy has hinged upon the status of chiefs, as to whether or not the ariki was the most important personage. Albeit several other terms, such as ihorei and tumu-whakarae, were applied to the high chief of a people, yet after all these were all ariki. More or less fanciful honorific titles were applied to an ariki, but I quite fail to see that any of these betokened a higher rank than that of ariki. Indeed, when the birth, rank and status of an ariki are considered, it is difficult to see how any personage could be of higher rank. This is indeed shown in a communication received from an old native, a piece of evidence that might easily be used as supporting a contention that the highest chieftain of a tribe was above the ariki. The remark was to the effect that the title of whatukura was bestowed upon a man, an ariki, who was selected from among the various ariki to act as a supreme leader. Now ariki means a first-born male or female of a leading family of a tribe, so that a tribe may contain a number of ariki. The fact that one was selected as a supreme chief endowed him with more mana than the other ariki held, but he was still an ariki. The Maori had an intense respect for primogeniture, and recognised no higher rank than that of a male ariki who traced descent through a line of first-born sons of a high-class family. True it is that nature had a habit of marring these lines of descent by introducing a female first-born child, or producing a first-born male who was incapable of upholding with dignity the position of ariki. Admitted that an ariki selected as an ihorei, whatukura, or tumu-whakarae possessed greater social and executive mana than his fellows, yet he was still but an ariki in hereditary page 346 rank, for there is no higher class. In many cases a male ariki was also a tohunga (priestly expert and learned man), and this imparted additional mana * to him.
In all the above cases we see how persons of the rangatira class might be reduced in status, not because of inferior birth, but on account of misfortune or lack of courage. A rangatira, to preserve his mana and position, must act in a rangatira like manner.
- 1. Descendants of persons taken prisoner in war, and redeemed by presents of valuable ornaments, etc.
- 2. Descendants of prisoners not so redeemed.
- 3. Descendants of people who did not protect guests, a sign of inferior mana.
- 4. Descendants of persons saved from death by the superior mana of their saviours. The latter would, in later days, remark: “You passed under my armpit.”
The terms pononga and wheteke were applied to menials, such as servants or attendants of persons of rank of either page 348 sex, but the expressions do not denote a slave. Slaves were called taurekareka.
The personal pride and aristocratic leanings of the Maori were accompanied by an independent spirit that called for careful control on the part of a chief. Thus no chief was able to treat the people in an arrogant manner, and commands were generally replaced by suggestions, proposals for certain lines of action. Any project for concerted action was discussed by the group, clan, or tribe, as the case might be. It would by no means follow that all would agree to it. An important chief, calling upon his tribe to engage in warfare, might or might not get all the clans to join him. We know of a number of cases in which one or more clans have declined to join the rest in a foray. All this meant that anything like slavish deference was impossible to a Maori. He never fell into that condition, as did some of his far-off kinsmen in Polynesia. In the Maori pride and self-respect were coupled with genuine respect for primogeniture and good birth. Deference he certainly showed to respected chiefs, but there was no trace of the sycophant in him that might blossom into slavishness.
The title of poumatua, employed among some tribes to denote a secondary chief, can scarcely be said to mark a rank of chieftainship. The claim that there were four distinct ranks of chiefs may have been correct in regard to some tribes, but such conditions were by no means universal. Be it here repeated that the person of highest rank in a Maori community was the first-born male of the most important family. There would probably be several families of about the same status, and the first-born males of these families would be the most important personages of the tribe. Honorific terms applied to such men were upoko ariki, toi ariki, and tikitiki, together with others.
Among the Kahungunu tribe women of the highest class were styled mareikura, and these alone possessed the privilege of the tuhi mareikura in personal adornment. This was a facial adornment consisting of a cross on each cheek and one on the forehead, all marked with a blue earth paint called pukepoto. Women of secondary rank were known as wahine ariki, and those of third rank as kahurangi, With many page 349 tribes the title of tapairu betokened the first-born female of a family of rank. Among the Matatua tribes ariki, ihorei and taupoki seem to be synonymous terms, as applied to important chiefs.
In many cases the ariki was also a high-class tohunga, a priestly expert, and learned in tribal lore. He would also be viewed as a taumata or resting place of the gods. Only a highly-placed priest could cut the hair of an ariki, hence when no suitable person was at hand such a man might go barberless until his hair became matted and his head exceedingly dirty. Excessive tapu had some unpleasant draw-backs.
The peculiar disposition and qualities of the Maori folk did not make for cohesion outside tribal limits, hence there has never been a Maori nation, or a Polynesian nation. The Maori lived much the same life as did the Scotch and Irish in former times, and that tribal mode of life seemed to suit the people passing well. Certainly the Maori made no attempt to combine the many tribal units into anything resembling a nation.
An old native of the Wairarapa district explained to us a custom of electing an ariki from the male members of a high-class family that was probably local; it certainly did not obtain in many districts. This explanation is as follows:— Here Ropata and Heeni, both members of well-born families, marry and have a family of five children, four males and one female. Pape is the matamua or first-born. Hare is his taina (younger brother), as also are Kere and Teone, but Hare is a tuakana (elder brother) of Kere and Teone, as also is Pape. Tini is the tuahine (sister) of the four boys; she is the tauhine taina of Pape and Hare, and tuahine tuakana of Kere and Teone. Pape and Hare are the tungane tuakana of Tini (tungane denoting the brother of a female, and tuahine the sister of a male), while Kere and Teone are her tungane taina. Teone is the taina whakapakanga of the page 350 other three boys, and the tungane whakapakanga of Tini, the final word of the title meaning the last-born. The term potiki is also applied to Teone, as being the last-born. Hare, Tini, Kere and Teone are collectively the tatao of Pape.
The question of a leader or ariki arises. Should it be seen that Pape is an intelligent, capable person, endowed with desirable qualities, generosity, hospitality, and so forth, a man capable of administering affairs, then his people will desire that he be accepted as an ariki for the community, for the whanau and the clans of his parents. This decision would be made known. If accepted by the groups mentioned, then Pape would be appointed ariki matamua of such groups, and would possess a considerable amount of mana in the conduct of affairs. His would be the principal word with regard to warlike forays, the making of peace, and other important functions. Any person endeavouring to thwart or belittle him without just cause would be held guilty of an act of takahi mana. This expression denotes a violation or disregarding of prestige, authority. So long as the ariki acted in a wise and desirable manner the people would be loyal to him, and defer to him in many ways. He would receive many contributions of food supplies, and, should he desire a large quantity of such for some special purpose, as a large meeting, then the people would readily fall in with his wishes.
Now, under this system, Pape would not only be endowed with the inherent mana of his position as matamua, or first-born, but would acquire certain mana from the fact of his being selected as a leader. Should, however, the people bestow the mana ariki on Hare, then Hare would be known as the upoko ariki, while Pape retained the position as elder, as matamua and tuakana. Again the mana ariki might be bestowed upon one of the younger males.
Should the people decide that Tini be accepted as a kahurangi, then the mana of that title descends upon her. This is a title bestowed upon a daughter of parents of the momo rangatira, or well-born class; it is assigned to one approved of by the people, who will treat her with much deference. Such a respected, one might say petted, female, was termed a puhi among the Matatua tribes of the Bay of page 351 Plenty. Such a woman would possess much influence, as for instance in peace making functions.
In the above account we see that the ariki was appointed, though it was necessary that he should be of a high-class family. As a rule, however, the eldest son of such a family of each generation automatically became the leader. We do hear, occasionally, of elder sons of little moment being replaced by an able younger brother. Local differences, such as the above, are often encountered when enquiring into native usages.
The aho ariki, or first-born line of descent, was revered by the Maori, and such lines were sometimes recited in ritual formulæ. Those ariki in whom met the greatest number of important lines of descent held superior mana; they were tino ariki. The number of whanau under an ariki also entered into the matter of his influence, but still an ariki is the matamua of high-class families in most cases, and there is no higher rank in Maoridom. Fanciful titles referred to were additional ones, but did not betoken a higher position by right of birth, that was impossible.
The scheme of six classes of Maori society given in Dr. Thomson's work, is quite impossible. The Rev. R. Taylor gives a list of three classes—chiefs, priests, and slaves. I would not be inclined to speak of the priests as a social class, but rather as members of a profession. As already shown, the various grades of tohunga occupied very different positions. The Rev. Mr. Buller mentions three classes—the well-born rangatira, the commoners, and the slaves.
Theoretically one might reduce all members of a Maori tribe to one class, that of rangatira. Slaves were not members of the tribe, and no Maori would admit himself to be a tutua, or low-born person; in fact, any native can show pretty close connection with at least one family of good position. In practice, however, a difference does appear. The ordinary social life of any native community of any size shows certain families occupying a superior status to that held by others; this much is undeniable.
Let us take the case of a tino ariki, the first-born male of the elder branch of the most important family of a community. Such a man would always travel with a retinue of page 352 followers, and be treated with much deference, in which, however, there was no servility, no crouching in his presence, or other token of servile submission. Should he chance to visit another tribe, he would be treated by the people with every courtesy; in fact it was only a case of going back a certain number of generations to show the common descent of the two tribes, owing to inter-marriages in past times. In the case of the famous ancestor known as Toi-kai-rakau, it is probable that every Maori in New Zealand is descended from him, certainly the great majority are. Thus Toi, who flourished about seven hundred and fifty, or eight hundred years ago, has now about forty-five thousand descendants in these isles. Truly the Tini o Toi is a numerous family.
Our important ariki would be well and faithfully guarded by his people, who would reck little of losing life in his defence. If his people were hard pressed, a party of them would convey the ariki to some safe place, if it could possibly be done. When the noted chief Te Kani-a-Takirau was a child, he chanced to be living in a fortified village at Te Mahia that was attacked by a raiding force. A party of the besieged slipped away with the child, who was carried by one Kauhu. A chief named Potiki, of the enemy force, saw and pursued the fugitives with a party of Ngati-Maru. Potiki overtook Kauhu, and raised his tomahawk to slay man and child, when Kauhu said: “Sir! Slay me not with that common weapon. Rather kill me with this, a chief's weapon, that I may feel the blow softly.” At the same time he handed to Potiki the famous and highly-prized greenstone weapon named Te Heketua. Potiki was equal to the occasion. He gave to Kauhu his own weapon, saying: “It is well. Take this in exchange, and hasten to save your child.” So Kauhu departed in peace with his charge. Such is the story of the escape of Te Kani about a hundred years ago, as related to me by old Rewi Rangi-amio, when I was camped under the shadow of Tawhiuau, in 1895.
I have heard natives stoutly maintain that only men of good birth can be gallant fighters. One sees many evidences of such aristocratic leanings, such respect for good birth, among our native folk.page 353
When we formed the pioneer road through the forest ranges of the Tuhoe district in the “nineties,” a considerable number of the natives joined the working force as bush fellers and excavators. Among them was the principal man of the district, the matamua of the aho ariki. The natives held a meeting over the matter, and decided that it was not seemly that their head man should engage in such labour. This decision was made known to him, and he at once withdrew from the work in deference to the desire of his people.
It occasionally happened that a well-born woman attained a high position in a tribe, owing to special qualities of mind and heart. Thus Hine-matioro, grandmother of Te Kani, mentioned above, was the most important person of the Ngati-Porou tribe in her time. Her fame indeed spread afar, and tribal enemies asking for mercy in her name were spared. The feeling of her tribesmen towards her was little short of reverence. Tamairangi, of Ngati-Ira, and Mahina-rangi, of Kahungunu, were also famous and influential women. When such persons travelled, villages off the line of march sent parties bearing presents of food supplies to await them on the path being traversed.
The pride of family and tribal pride that were so characteristic of the Maori assuredly had a good effect in some ways. Such feelings made for loyalty to whanau, clan and tribe, for a sense of responsibility and duty to the community. In his preservation of family records the Maori did good service.
An important chief often spoke of himself and his people as “us two.” Thus in travelling, when the party had sat down to rest, and it was time to move on again, he would say: “Korikori taua, ka taka tauira” (Let us two be moving, the sun is sinking).
The affairs of a whanau were managed, not by the chief alone, or in conjunction with a few of the oldest or most prominent men, for every free man had a right to speak during any meeting. Such matters were arranged by means of public discussion. Whenever any movement was on foot to engage in any activity, a public meeting and discussion would arrange the procedure. In the case of any action extending outside the sphere of the group, then a meeting of the clan (hapu) would page 354 deal with the subject. Matters of yet greater importance would be settled by a meeting of the tribe.
In his “Story of New Zealand,” Dr. Thomson divides the Maori folk into eighteen “nations.” Now this is much too important a title to confer on these native tribes, and reminds one of the absurd title of “king” sometimes applied to chiefs of Polynesian isles. The number given by Thomson represents the more important of the tribes, besides which there were always some small tribal communities that led a somewhat precarious existence. In some cases these tribelets continued to exist by remaining friends with a more powerful tribe unit; in others they lived in a state of vassalage.
There was a certain amount of intercourse between tribes in former times, but such a state of things was always liable to interruption by way of quarrels and warfare, which consisted of a series of forays. Occasional inter-marriages between different tribes would call for ceremonial feasts attended by both, and would result in widespread relationship, such as only an expert could remember. Barter also led to a certain amount of intercourse; for instance, natives of the North Island occasionally made expeditions by canoe to the South Island in order to obtain greenstone wherefrom to fashion implements and ornaments.
One peculiar custom of Maoriland reminds one of present-day industrial methods, viz., the custom of punishing a third and innocent party. Take the case of a numerically weak tribe dwelling in a state of vassalage. The lot of such people was not a hard one, as a rule; they were supposed to convey presents of food supplies occasionally to their over-lords, who would assist them if attacked, in many cases. But should the superior tribe wish to slay a man as a human sacrifice, or merely to give distinction to some function, then the hapless subject people would probably have to provide the man. Again, should another tribe wish to attack the over-lords, but have some doubt about its ability to carry the matter through, the result might be an attack on the subject tribe. These hapless folks would do all the suffering. The raid might or might not lead to reprisals on the part of the overlords; in many cases it did so.page 355
It sometimes occurred that, when a woman married out of her own tribe, and had a family, she would send one, possibly more, of her sons to dwell with her own tribe, and so the connection would be kept “warm.”
Tribal loyalty was a very marked characteristic of the Maori folk. Their sense of duty to the tribe was paramount, but under certain circumstances a Maori was liable to do very extraordinary things when in a condition of injured pride, and what is termed whakamomori. This expression denotes a condition of desperation; thus suicide is so termed, as also any act of desperate valour in fighting. We will suppose that a man has been captured by an enemy force, and so enslaved, a terrible calamity to the proud Maori warrior. Now that man would probably be consumed by a fierce determination to get even with Fate, to make some one suffer. Thus there are a number of cases on record in which such men have acted as guides to enable the enemy to attack their own friends. Truly some traits of Maori character are of a strange nature.
With regard to military duty there was no question of conscription, or even of volunteering for active service in the Maori commune. Every able-bodied man was a fighting man as a matter of course; he stepped into the ranks as a fighter just as he went fishing, bird trapping, or working among the crops, that is, as a part of the day's work. A communistic state doubtless has its disadvantages, but it is suitable to certain culture grades, and was so in the case of the Maori. There was no wild talk about reducing all men to a common level, for the Maori knew better than to attempt such a mode of life. With all the communistic practices of Maori life, he remained an aristocrat to the end in his faith in the system of primogeniture and the superior qualities of persons of superior birth.
One often hears natives speaking of the tokens of chieftainship. East coast natives always quote a saying of their famous ancestor, Taha-rakau, he who said: “The sign of chieftainship is a well-built, superior house situated within a stockaded village, while the token of the commoner is a house situated in the open, which will sooner or later be destroyed by enemies.” Others say that the tokens of chieftainship are the possession of a house adorned with carved work, a greenstone page 356 stone mere (weapon), a superior elevated storehouse, and a superior canoe.
Particular stress must be laid on the power of public opinion in the Maori commune. It was a peculiarly strong force in the preservation of order, in the attitude of a person towards his neighbours, and in the upholding of a strong sense of duty. The effect of a communal life was such that it was practically impossible for a person to ignore this force.
We will now discuss what is perhaps the most interesting aspect of the social life of the Maori, and that is the absence of civil law. This corrective power, as we know it, was lacking in the Maori social system, and yet social life was well ordered and the people lived in amity as a rule. Certain scenes of turbulence witnessed occasionally were often really part of the forces that replaced civil law. The forces that controlled the social system were the institution of tapu, public opinion, the influence of respected chiefs, and, to some extent, the custom of muru. Some other usages had a minor effect in preserving order. Some may be said to have had a double effect, such as the practice of magic. Now the institutions of tapu and magic, as also the mana of superior chiefs, were most effective page 357 corrective forces, and all possessed the same vivifying power The hidden power that lay behind these institutions, that made them effective, was the power of the gods. The high chief or ariki who possessed mana atua in addition to other phases of that quality, was a very influential person. People did not transgress the laws of tapu, simply because they firmly believed that the punishment of the gods would be swift and certain. They were careful to cultivate hospitality, courtesy, and other virtues, lest the shafts of black magic be levelled against them. Thus it might be said that, in a Maori community, government of the people was of a somewhat theocratic nature.
There is yet something to be explained in this mental attitude of the Maori toward his gods. Fear of their anger kept him in the straight path. But why? We know that, among our western folk, fear of divine wrath has little effect in preserving order, that without civil law no community could exist in harmony. Belief in future punishment in a vague spirit world, a belief that is surely passing away, is not sufficient to control us. The dreadful teachings of Christian priesthoods concerning the horrors of hell in the past are now openly derided by many people, and, though such teachings terrorised men in the past, they had little effect in the way of moral improvement, and they could not replace civil law. Why did such a different state of affairs exist in a Maori community? The answer to that query can be given in one brief sentence. It was on account of the belief that wrongdoing, an offence against the gods, is punished in this world, not in the spirit world. Moreover, it was firmly believed that such punishment was not delayed, but came swift and certain.
In the state of things here described we can see that it was what we call superstition that was the backbone of the Maori social system, that preserved order in the community. But that superstition was but faith in his gods, and were we controlled by a similar power, we would term it, not superstition, but religion. It was the faith in immediate punishment by the gods for wrongdoing that rendered the system so effective in Maoriland. We rely on our civil law, on moral law, on padlocks and policemen to protect our property, but a shred of flax attached by a Maori to his door, a lock of hair suspended page 358 to a stake in his garden, were more effective than all our laws and other preventives. Superstition is assuredly a powerful force; it works in different ways, for good and evil.
Now here is a point on which, presumptious as it may appear, the present writer is compelled to join issue with the giant Tylor. That eminent anthropologist has told us that among the lower races: “Religion, mostly concerned with propitiating souls of ancestors, and spirits of nature, has not the strong moral influence it exerts among higher nations; indeed, their behaviour to their fellows is little affected by divine command, or fear of divine punishment.” Now, with regard to the latter part of this dictum I cannot agree with the learned author. Among the Polynesians, including our Maori folk of New Zealand, fear of divine punishment was the very strongest deterrent force, and the key of social discipline. It was the power that held society together, and curbed a naturally strong-minded and somewhat turbulent people. The propitiation of ancestral spirits, and personified forms of natural phenomena, represents a different phase of the racial religion.
The faith of the Maori in his gods had a certain moral effect on him, as is shown elsewhere in this chronicle, and this restraining influence was abolished when early missionaries persuaded the natives to adopt Christianity. Even the terrors of the burning lake had not the effect that the swift, sure punishment of the old Maori gods had. The habitual presence of the latter was more effective than the prospect of punishment in a future life. Missionary folk will not accept these statements, but he who truly knows the Maori knows their truth. I can but say, as did the Maori of yore, when he made a statement that he thought might arouse opposition: “Werohia ki au!” (Assail me)
Of the substitutes for civil law enumerated above, those of tapu, makutu or magic, public opinion, and the influence of respected chieftains, are already disposed of. Remains the subject of muru to discuss. This institution was a very strange one, and many illustrations of it are incomprehensible to Europeans. The world muru means to plunder, and it represents a form of punishment that consisted of robbing a person of his property. Possibly we might here employ the page 359 word fining, but the property was taken by force. You cannot exact a money fine where that commodity is unknown, and so the Maori exacted his fines in goods. Personal property was certainly not prominent with the Maori, consisting, as it did, of a few weapons, garments, tools and implements, ornaments, etc., but his crops and food supplies were also levied on, and the sufferer was often left in a “stripped” condition. Curiously enough a strong muru party, bent on such a raid, seems to have been viewed as something of an honour by the sufferer, at least on some occasions, as showing that he must be a person of some importance.
A newly married couple were plundered in some cases. A man might be so plundered if he met with an accident, the reason being that he had deprived the community of his services. The death of a man might call for a taua muru or plundering party against his friends; they were to blame for letting him die. The expression taua muru denotes one of these corrective robbing parties. In olden days such a party acted in a rough manner with well simulated ferocity, and sometimes persons were injured in rough and tumble struggles for some coveted article. The mode of action was a wild rush of yelling, highly excited savages, who overran the premises and carried off anything portable that seemed desirable. Any crops in an edible stage were dug up and carried off. These plundering feats were very much enjoyed by the people; that is to say, by those who did the plundering, while the plundered ones had to submit with the best grace they could muster.
I remember travelling with a taua muru in the interior long years ago, and hearing its members discussing with much interest the goods they expected to obtain. One was very anxious to get an early start and relieve the coming sufferer of a new double-barreled fowling piece he possessed. That muru episode was a pronounced success and was, moreover, an exciting and interesting sight. In later years such parties seem to have abandoned the rough methods of former days, and to have adopted a new mode of demanding an equivalent or fine for the wrong committed. A funeral party proceeding to a distant village called at a settlement where I chanced to be. One of the children at this place had been greviously ill-treated page 360 some time before, and that travelling party decided to punish the father of the sufferer for the wrong suffered by his child; he ought to have protected her better. When the travellers marched on to the marae, or village plaza, the local people were assembled there to meet them. At the head of the party of travellers walked a woman carrying a stick in her hand. She walked up to the father of the child and belaboured him with that stick, while he made no resistance. The travellers then demanded “payment” for the assault committed on the child by a person of another clan. The fine was produced and piled on the plaza, to be taken away by the visitors, who had formed themselves into a taua muru while travelling as a funeral party carrying the body of a child to the home of its parents. The goods handed over consisted of five guns, two rolls of print, some new garments, greenstone ornaments, one horse, and five shillings in silver, the monetary wealth of the family group.
The ways of muru are passing strange, and in many cases one cannot possibly apply the term evil doer to the sufferers. It was sufficient to either commit or suffer some act that might affect the welfare of the community in some way to call forth the activities of a taua muru.
Perhaps women have been the cause of more muru raids than anything else in cases that have come within my own observation. In olden days it sometimes occurred that, when a married woman misbehaved herself, her relatives would hand over a piece of land to settle the matter. If a married woman eloped with another man, then her hapless husband would be plundered; he should have prevented the escapade. Thus it was that the Maori obtained damages when he considered that the welfare of the community had suffered, or a wrong act committed. Now should one of us have the misfortune to break a leg, or meet with some other serious accident, the act of fining him for the “offence” would be considered a most improper procedure; yet it was a Maori custom. Their point of view is as follows—that man is not an independent unit, the individual does not exist, he is part of a tribe and he has injured the tribe by being laid up and so rendering himself incapable of working or fighting—clearly he should be punished.page 361
The subject of filiation may be briefly disposed of. Agnatic filiation was the more highly valued by the Maori, and the male sex generally was considered superior to the female. The male sex is of divine origin, it originated with the primal parents Sky and Earth, whereas woman is of earthly origin, sprung from the Earth Formed Maid. Hence the ara tamatane, or male line of descent, possesses greater mana than the ara tamawahine, or female line. Yet this inherent superiority of the male must not be too much stressed, inasumch as women of rank occupied quite an important position. Given necessary mental and social qualities, such women were enabled to wield a considerable amount of influence. The tapairu and kahurangi, already alluded to, were treated with deference by the people, and in some cases were made a great deal of, as in the case of puhi. Consanguineous relationship and rank are reckoned through both sides of the house, and property, such as land, is transmitted in a similar manner. In the Native Land Courts a Maori claims land through both parents, and the task of defining the ownership of native lands is one for a Solomon. It may be said that both lines of descent transmitted rank, property, and prestige, but the male line was yet more favoured than the female. We have noticed that the aho ariki and aho tapairu, first-born male and female lines of descent of high-class families, carried much inherent mana.
A Maori community lacked family life as we know it. The social organisation, the communistic habits of the people, were against such a condition. The whare puni, or sleeping houses, might contain several families. The ordinary terms for father and mother are applied also to uncles and aunts, while those denoting brother and sister also include cousins. A man will style his nephews and nieces “my children,” and so on. Parents do not enjoy sole authority over their children; a childless relative will generally adopt one at least of a related family. Marriages are arranged more by the whanau, often by uncles and aunts, than by the parents. The Maori family is not a self-contained, cohesive unit.
For some unknown reason the fair-skinned type with reddish hair, occasionally seen among the natives, was much favoured in former times. This peculiar type is traced, in Maori myth, to the Wind Children, the personified forms of page 362 the many winds; it is termed uru ariki, hair betokening aristocratic descent, and urukehu. In central Polynesia such reddish haired persons are called the fair-haired offspring of Tangaroa. This strain is a very old one; a family of my acquaintance traces it back for twenty-three generations. It sometimes misses a generation, but is very persistent. The Maori is a firm believer in heredity, in the transmission of qualities and peculiarities down the changing centuries, and this faith is closely connected with his advocacy of primogeniture.
The remark made by Dieffenbach that Maori society is divided into castes is not a happy one, for it carries memories of the iron-bound conditions of the social castes of India. No such sharply drawn lines existed in Maoriland.
Ariki Firstborn male or female of a family of note. Ati. Ngati Offspring. Descendants. Clan. Employed in clan and tribal names Aumihi First two wives of polygamous marriage Autane A woman's brother-in-law Auwahine A man's sister-in-law Eweewe A distant relative Ewe Mother (rarely used) Epeepe A blood relative Hakoro Father. Parent. Old man Hakui Mother. Old woman Hamua Elder branch of a family. Elder brother or sister Hapū Clan. Sub-tribe Heinga Parent. Ancestor Hika Girl. Daughter. Child Hine Daughter. Girl. Hinenga = girlhood Hoa Spouse. Husband. Wife Hoahoa Used of wives in polygamy Wife of husband's brother Husband of wife's sister Huānga Relative Huatahi Only child Hunaonga Son-in-law. Daughter-in-law Hunarei Father-in-law. Mother-in-law Hunarere Hungarei Hungawai Hungoi Poupou Also poupou = old folkpage 363 Irāmutu Nephew. Niece Iwi Tribe Karanga A relative Karangarua One double related Karawa Dam. Mother (of animals—occasionally applied to women) Kauaemua Eldest brother or sister Kauaeraro Youngest child Kōkā Mother Kokara Mother (true mother) Koro Father. Old man Kotore Younger brother Kowhaea Kuia Grandmother. Old woman Kūwhā Connection by marriage Makau Spouse. Wife or husband Mātāmua Elder. First-born Matapopore Husband Mătua Parent. Father. Plural mātua Matua kēkē Uncle. Aunt Matua whangai Foster parent Miha Distant descendant Mokopuna Grandchild. Child of nephew or neice Descendant, as mokopuna tuarua = great grandchild Muanga First-born. Elder Murimanu Second and following wives in polygamy Muringa Youngest child Mutunga Youngest of a family Ngare Elder heads or branches of a family. Family group Pākanga Relative. Connection Pakanga kiritahi Near relative Pāpā Father. Brother of father or mother. Elders. Male relatives of previous generation. Pāpā kēkē Uncle. Male relatives of same generation as father and mother. Papa whakaangi Stepfather Pāpara Father (true father—seldom heard) Para Blood relative Para tane Relative through a male line Para wahine Relative through a female line Paratahi Only child. Syn. huatahi Pito-toto Blood relative Poua Grandfather Poupou Father-in-law. Mother-in-law. Old folk Puna Ancestor. Cf. tipuna Puninga Tribepage 364 Putake Ancestor Rautahi Childless man or woman Tahu Husband. Spouse, etc. Taina = Teina Younger brother of a man Teina = Taina Younger sister of a woman Taina tuahine Sister of a male speaker younger than himself Taina tungane Brother of a female speaker younger than herself Taitai huānga Relatives Tama Son. Nephew. Eldest son Tama-tane Son. Sometimes equivalent to “male” Tama-wahine Daughter. Sometimes equivalent to “female” Tamāhine Daughter Tamaiti Child. Plural tamariki Tamanga-kotore Youngest child Tamaiti kēkē Nephew. Niece Tamaiti taurima Adopted child Tamaiti whangai Foster child Tama meamea Son by a slave wife Tamaaroa Son Tane Husband. Male Tatao Younger brothers and sisters of a person collectively Tautau huanga Near relatives Tia Mother. Parent. (Tiaka = dam, mother) Tia Servant. Slave Tuahine Sister or female cousin of a male. Pl. tuāhine Tuakana Elder brother of a male. Elder sister of a female. Cousin of same sex of elder branch of family, Plural form tuākaua Tungāne Brother or male cousin of a female Tupuna Grandparent. Ancestor. Plural tūpuna Ure pukaka Agnatic or male line of descent Uri Offspring. Descendants. Relatives. Whakahina Grandchild Whakapākanga Youngest member of (true) family Whānau Family group. Extended family. Offspring. Whanaunga Relative. Blood relation Whatua Ancestor Whawharua Mother. Female ancestor
There is no precise term in Maori to denote the true family, that is, including parents and their children. This fact illustrates the importance of the family group, the true social unit.
The following short table will serve wherewith to illustrate some of the usages of consanguineous nomenclature.page 365
Tura took Pare to wife and begat Rangi, Hine, Kahu, Waru, and Marie. Of these Rangi is the matamua or firstborn, and Marie the whakapakanga or last-born. If a family of high rank, Rangi will be termed the ariki. Hine, Kahu, Waru and Marie are collectively the tatao of Rangi.
Tura would speak of Rangi and his tatao as “Aku tamariki” (My children) while they were yet young. When grown up, when the sons could hapai rakau (bear arms) and the girls old enough to marry, he would alude to them as “Taku whanau” (My offspring). Tura would call Here, Piki and Tuna, etc., “Aku mokopuna” (My grandchildren), as also does Pare. Rangi and his tatao style Tura their papa (father), or matua tane (male parent); but to be precise would call him their papara (true father), for uncles are also termed papa. They call Pare their whaea (mother), or kokara (true mother), for whaea is also applied to aunts.
Rangi calls Mata his hoa, or wahine, or hoa wahine (wife), Hine and Marie his tuāhine (tuăhine in the singular), and Kahu and Waru his taina. Piki, Whata and Tuna are his irāmutu. Hine calls Rangi, Kahu and Waru her tungane, and Marie her taina. Here Patu and Tuna are her iramutu. Kahu calls Rangi his tuakana, Waru his taina, and Hine and Marie his tuahine. A nephew is iramutu tane (male iramutu), and a niece iramutu wahine (female iramutu) when precision is needed.
Marie calls Hine her tuakana. Here and Patu style Piki, Whata and Tuna their turanga whanau, but this term denoting cousinship is continued for generations. Here, Patu, Piki, Whata and Tuna call Tura and Pare their tūpuna. In some districts they would call Pare their kuia. Here andt Patu would call Kahu and Waru their papa, or papa keke, or matua keke, and Hine and Marie their whaea.page 366
Rangi, Kahu, Waru and Marie would often allude to Piki and Whata as “Aku tamariki” (My children). The descendants of Pare would allude to the descendants of the younger sisters of Pare as “Aku taina turanga whanau,” and of the descendants of the elder sisters of Pare as “Aku tuakana turanga whanau,” as implying the younger and elder branches of the cousinship. The same remarks apply to the descendants of Tura.
Piki and Tuna might allude to Patu as their tuakana because he belongs to the elder branch. In like manner Patu would call Piki and Tuna his taina, because they belong to the younger branch. To be precise he would say “My taina turanga whanau,” as Piki and Tuna would say “My tuakana turanga whanau,” (My cousin of the elder branch). If Tura had married an iramutu of his, as in a case I wot of, then Piki, Whata and Tuna would call the children of Rangi their tuakana iramutu, while Here and Patu would call them (Piki, etc.) taina iramutu.
The terms tuakana and taina can be employed for all time so long as a common ancestor can be traced. Thus a descendant of, say Maro, who flourished twenty generations ago, might allude to the descendants of a younger brother of Maro as “My taina whanaunga,” and to those of an elder brother of Maro as “My tuakana whanaunga.” The last word is used because the relationship is a distant one.
When Rangi speaks of, say Piki and Whata as “My tamariki,” one might enquire “Nau ake?” (Your own?), whereupon he would reply: “E, kao, na taku tuahine” (Oh no, my sister's).
A man calls his sister “My tuahine,” but if he wishes to denote that she is the younger, he will say “My taina tuahine.” Of his elder sister he would say “My tuakana tuahine.” A woman would call a brother older than herself tuakana tungane, and one younger taina tungane.
One might continue almost idenfinitely to discuss Maori terms of relationship, but of a verity that way distraction lies, and the present writer is nothing if not merciful. When we see such apparently contradictory expressions as tuakana taina and tuakana papa looming ahead of us it is high time to desist.page 367
The expression mokopuna tauwhara is employed to denote descendants from the second generation, that is great grand-children and their descendants.
Concerning personal nomenclature there is not a great deal to say. The Maori did not have distinct names for males and females as we have. Names commencing with Pare are usually given to females only, and those commencing with Rangi more often pertain to males. Names commencing with Hine are those of females, because hine means “girl,” and page 368 “daughter,” while those beginning with Tama are names of males, because tama denotes a son. Further than this the Maori did not proceed in the assigning of distinctive names to the two sexes.
Peculiar personal names are encountered among the Maori folk, owing to the practice of naming persons after conditions, incidents, etc. It was a not uncommon practice for people to change their names at the death of a relative. One would probably assume as a name that of the last food partaken of by the defunct relative. Such food is termed o matenga, (food for the journey of death—o means “provisions for a journey”). I once encountered a young person named Te O-arani whose name puzzled me until I found that it was mostly English. That woman was so named because the last food taken by a dying relative was an orange, pronounced arani by the Maori. Hence Te O-arani (the orange death journey food). Another woman named Pua-wananga told me that she was so named from the fact that her father drank a decoction made from pua wananga (a species of clematis) as a medicine just prior to his death. My old friend Hatata changed his name to Kuku (mussel) because a relative had eaten some mussels as his o matenga. Tara (spine), after whom the harbour of Wellington was named Te Whanga nui a Tara, was so named because his mother had her hand wounded by the spines of a fish just before he was born. When a man was killed in fighting, one of his relatives would probably assume as a name that of the place where the man had been killed, or the name might be given to a child. If it was deemed necessary to obtain revenge for such a killing, then the name would serve to keep alive the memory of the wrong. When we were forming the road through the forest district of Rua-tahuna, one Rehua was killed while jacking a log, the log rolling over him. His younger brother then dropped his former name, and assumed that of Te Rōku. Here we have the Maori article te (the) and the English word log as pronounced by natives. This changing of names is often very confusing, as also is the lack of surnames among natives.
In some cases what may be termed baby names were given to infants, which would give place to another name after the page 369 lapse of some years. The first-born male or female child of a high-class family might be given a tapu name for a brief period, until the Tua rite was performed over the child, when it would probably be abandoned, and a more permanent one assigned. Such customs, however, often varied as in different districts. A tapu names was often somewhat of a nuisance, and also a danger, to the people of a community. In this wise: Should any word of vernacular speech enter into the name, then such word would become tapu and so could not be employed in its proper sense, but only as the name of the child. Should any person use it in its ordinary sense then that person would be severely dealt with for insulting the child. We are told that persons have been killed for this offence. This embargo meant that another word must be sought to take the place of the banned word. If no synonym were available, then a new word would be coined. Names of important chiefs were sometimes honoured in a similar manner.
The topographical nomenclature of the Maori is a subject that has interested many dwellers in these isles. Natives were generous in their bestowal of place names, and almost every hill, vale, stream and point had its proper name. Even in unoccupied forest country every range and stream is named, as also other features. Many places were named after persons, others from some natural feature, and many from incidents. In cases where places were named after persons it was not unusual to prefix such a name with the possessive o, as in Ohinemutu.
A considerable number of our place names have been introduced hither from Polynesia, a common practice among the natives of that region. Such are the mountain names of Hikurangi, Aorangi and Maungaroa. Some of these introduced names betray their origin, as Opotiki-mai-Tawhiti (Opotiki from Tawhiti), and Te Mahia-mai-Tawhiti. Such long names are abbreviated for daily use. One such cumbrous name is Te Koiritanga o te auahi o nga pirita o te kupenga a Pawa, which it cut down to Te Koiritanga. Some of our place names hail from the original home of the Maori, wherever that may have been. Such are Taranaki, Rangiatea, Hikurangi, Tapu-te-ranga, etc.page 370
Many attempts are made by Europeans to assign a meaning to native place names, a most risky procedure. In many cases one must know how and why the place was named, and the origin of many names has been preserved in tradition. It is assuredly a fact that all place names given by the Maori have a meaning of some kind, sometimes a secondary one, as in cases where a place was named after a person.
Only the unwise attempt to translate a native place name lacking the evidence of native tradition. In the first place vowel quantities are of great importance. Take the name Waikaka for example. This name is composed of two words, wai and kaka. To begin with, wai has ten different meanings, while kaka has four forms—kākā, kăkă, kūkă, and kăkā, of which the second has six meanings, the others a lesser number. Now who would assign a meaning to Waikaka without dependable evidence?
In floral nomenclature we find that the Maori wrought well, and he had names for all trees and shrubs, and for most small plants. Every fern seems to have its proper name, and truly these isles are the very home of ferns. Cheeseman's Flora gives thirty-one genera of the order of Filices, while the species are as leaves in the vale of Vallombrosa.
The Maori had names for all land birds, and certainly most sea birds. His naming of insects was apparently not so complete, and in naming stones he did not show to such advantage as in other departments. Still he had names for all kinds of stone that were utilised by him in any way.
The Maori had assuredly a passion for naming things, his houses, food stores, store pits, canoes, fishing grounds, etc., all received proper names, as also in many cases did his weapons, garments, musical instruments, fishing gear, toys, tools, etc.
Social intercourse among the Maori folk was marked by courtesy and by punctiliousness, the latter being most marked in social gatherings of a clan or tribe, when the affairs of the community were discussed in a series of speeches.
To young folk of both sexes:—“E hika!” All these greetings are preceded by the vocative E, equivalent to “O.”
To a girl: “E ko!” or “E hine!”page 371
“E Ta!” Bears different aspects in different districts. In some places it is applied to young folk only, in others to adults. “E tama!” This term is much the same as the previous one, inasmuch as it carries a greater sense of respect in some districts than it does in others. Usually applied to young men and lads. “E kare!” I have only heard used by women to each other. It seems to be equivalent to our word “dear.” “E koro!” To an adult male, especially to elderly men. It conveys a sense of respect. “O Sir!” “E pa!” To a middle-aged or elderly man. Possibly a contracted form of papa = father. “E hoa!” To both sexes. “O friend!” “E whae!” A respectful term of address to a woman of years. Cf. whaea = mother. “E kui!” To an elderly woman. Kuia = old woman. “E pou!” To an elderly person. Poua = old person. “E weke!” To an old man. Whanganui district. “E nehe!” To an old person. Nehe = olden times, etc. “E kara!” To an elderly man. Ngapuhi district. “E mara!” To a man. Ngapuhi district. “E rangi!” A form of address to lads of superior birth.
The late Colonel Gudgeon has recorded taua as a title and form of address signifying high respect, apparently applied to men only.
The plural form of these expressions is formed by adding the word ma to them, as “E hoa ma!” (“O friends!”). The expression “E tama aku” is equivalent to “O my lad,” and “E hine aku” to “O my girl.” Or “son” and “daughter” might be inserted for “lad” and “girl.”
Greetings are as follows:—To one person “Tena koe” (equivalent to “There you are” or “That is you”); to two persons “Tena korua”; to three or more persons “Tena koutou.” These are to either sex, that being sometimes denoted in the following words as “Tena korua, e whae ma” (There you two are, O dames). The salutation is equivalent to “Greetings,” hence “Tena koutou, E hoa ma” (“Greetings, O friends”).
When farewelling a person the cry is “Haere ra” (“Go” or “Go forth”) and “Haere ra, E hoa” is equal to “Go forth, O friend,” or “Depart, O friend.” The person so leaving will say: “E noho ra” (“Remain”), or “Hei kona ra.” Other forms of greeting are “Ina na” and “Ina ano page 372 koe,” bearing much the same meaning as “Tena koe.” Then there is the cry of “Welcome!” as “Haere mai!” and “Naumai!” Haramai is a variant form of haere mai. In greeting persons of a family of rank a number of complimentary expressions were formerly employed. For instance, should the greeted one be a young man of ariki rank he might be greeted thus: “Haramai, E tama! Te urutapu o nga ariki!” If a young woman of good family: “Naumai, E hine! Te urutapu o nga kahurangi. Haramai!” The word urutapu carries the meaning of “chaste, pure,” perhaps also of “exalted.”
We will suppose that a party of strangers arrives at a village. The chief man of the village will address the party thus: “Haere mai, E te ururangi! Na wai taua?” This is a long-drawn, intoned cry, euphonious and striking; it acknowledges a common descent from the primal parents, but asks for further information in its concluding words—From whom are we—descended understood. The principal man of the visitors will reply in the same tone: “Na Rangi taua, na Tuanuku e takoto nei; ko ahau tenei, ko Mea a Mea.” (We are both from Rangi and Tuanuku (Sky Parent and Earth Mother). It is I, So-and-so, offspring of So-and-so). He would thus make himself known, and particulars of descent would be discussed later.
It was not a part of Maori etiquette to make any demonstration when a friend was leaving; tears and other forms of greeting were for incoming visitors. If a person is leaving, any person farewelling him who intends to follow him are long will say “Hoatu” or “Hoake” instead of “Haere ra.” The former expressions mean “Go on.”
One often notes peculiar forms of greeting in natives' letters. Some time ago I received a letter from an old friend that commenced as follows: “O friend! Greeting to you the canoe fastening post, the cynosure of the eyes of those who have departed to the spirit world.” Another is the following: “To Peehi. E pa! Greetings to you, the semblance of the men of yore. Your letter containing the wisdom of the ancients has arrived, their wise words sent resounding across the waves of the ocean by you. These have come to land, page 373 and truly the heart greets those treasured words you have sent to me.”
In addressing a person by name a native will repeat the first part only of such name, unless it be a short one. Thus in addressing one Whare-kotua, he would say “E Whare!” If the name was Pa-moana he would say: “E Pa!” A man named Tapuke is always addressed as “E Puke!” instead of “E Ta!” because the vowel “a” of the first syllable is short, which renders the syllable an awkward one for such usage.
Native children often speak of, or address their parents by name, which sounds odd in European ears. Imagine an English child addressing his mother as “O Mary!”
A chief, in speaking directly to his people, will often use the expression taua (We two); in speaking of them and himself to a third person he will say Ngai-maua, again using the dual form instead of the plural. There are three numbers in Maori.
Honorific expressions were, and are, commonly employed by the Maori. They are often encountered in song, as in laments. A mother, in lamenting the death of a son, will speak of him as “Taku mahuri totara” (my totara sapling), the totara being a fine forest tree of superlative qualities. She will also speak of a loved child as “my greenstone ear drop,” or of her baby as her scented sachet. A chief might be alluded to as a white hawk (a rara avis), or as a white heron. A number of well-born persons may be described as a kahui tara, a flock of tara, a sea bird; many similar expressions are met with.
It has already been explained that the marae of a native village is the plaza or village square. Inasmuch as visitors were received at such places, the term marae came to be used in various senses, as it took the place of our town hall. It was not only the place of reception, but public meetings of the community were often held thereon, and the large house in which visitors were accommodated would face the plaza. As it was the place of entertainment the word marae has come to be used as an adjective, meaning generous; a wahine marae is a generous woman. Marae rangatira is an expression denoting a village where a powerful and kindly chief receives the oppressed, and is respected for his ability and other good page 374 qualities. The marae was sometimes called tahua, while marae-roa and tahua-roa were both terms applied to the ocean, as denoting a great expanse; hence the full name of Rongo, which is Rongo-marae-roa.
As in all communal societies hospitality was, in Maoriland, a prominent and admired virtue, indeed it was a necessity. The rule was always to invite passers-by to share a meal, however poor it might be. Though one might have little to give, yet the waha pa, the “heard voice,” inviting the traveller, will save the face of the inviter.
The term waharoa was applied as an honorific expression to a hospitable woman. A generous, tactful woman who managed her side of domestic affairs well was highly esteemed. She would be commended in such phrases as: “Kai te wahine a Mea he waharoa” (The wife of So-and-so is very hospitable); or “Te wahine a Mea he aumihi tangata” (The wife of So-and-so always welcomes people).
When a woman married outside her own clan, she would, if childless, have no mana over the lands of her husband. But if she had children she would gain a certain amount of such mana as the parent of her children, albeit she herself would have no claim to such lands. Although childless, however, she would possess mana marae, that is the authority to exercise hospitality to travellers on her own initiative. When that woman had been brought to her new home, her husband would say to her: “I hereby endow you with the powers and privileges of the waharoa, the marae, and rauhi tangata.” This meant that he gave her authority to invite guests and to dispense hospitality in their name. The wife would then enquire: “Where is the house, the storehouse and the pit?” Thus she enquired as to what house was to be used for the accommodation of guests, the location of the elevated storehouse in which food supplies other than root crops were kept, and of the pit in which the latter were stored. Her next question would be: “Where is the maru tangata?” meaning that she wished to know what people were to be invited, or viewed as desirable guests. The wife would thereafter often conduct arrangements for inviting and entertaining guests, while the welcoming and speech-making would be attended to by her husband.page 375
The reception of guests, even of a travelling party not specially invited previously, was conducted in a punctilious manner, but in a manner that is very irksome to Europeans. This custom still lives to some extent. Much talking is done ere visitors receive a meal and can settle down in peace and quietness.
I have known a party of visitors that arrived near their destination late in the day to camp for the night so as to enter the village next morning before breakfast, for convenience, so that plenty of time would be available for the reception function. Although camped close to the village neither party would take any notice of the other in the way of greetings, though a present of food might be sent to the travellers. Prior to entering the village the visitors would adorn themselves with any superior garments and ornaments they might have brought with them, and which would be carried on the back in the form of a bundle or pack (pikau or kawenga) while on the march. In late times they have taken very kindly to the use of horses.
The party would march on to the marae of the village in a loose column, not in ordered ranks, the principal personages usually in front. The party would be challenged by the village folk. Just before reaching the marae, the wero, or challenger, in scant attire, and armed with a spear, would dart from a place of concealment and challenge the ope, or party. He would go through an acrobatic performance of whakapi, or pikari, making gestures of defiance and an amazing series of ugly faces. In this case the spear was not thrown at the visitors, but laid on the ground before them, when the challenger would retire. In modern times guns have been used by the challengers. A man armed with a double-barrelled gun would dance grimacing up to the head of the marching column, fire his two shots right and left, and then retire. The column takes not the slightest notice of this performance. Personally I do not enjoy these peculiar welcoming ceremonies. I have marched into a village with a band of visitors when a concealed party of armed villagers would fire a volley, their guns aimed just over our heads. As is well known, modesty is a marked characteristic of collectors of ethnographical data, and I often yearned to retire to the rear of page 376 the column. It has been said of the Maori that his mode of welcoming guests is to throw sticks at them, and thrust out his tongue.
During this advance the villagers have been vociferously welcoming the visitors. In this function the old women take prominent place. With green branches, or perhaps an old garment in their hands they wave a welcome, and cry welcome to the visitors in loud tones:—“Welcome! Welcome! Welcome! Welcome to the visitors from afar. 'Twas my child who fetched you from far horizons and conducted you hither. Welcome! Welcome! Welcome!” Some of these welcoming recitals are rendered in the vigorous and rhythmic manner of a haka, of which more anon.
In some cases a person of the village will call out: “Whence come ye?” whereupon one of the visitors will reply: “I come from Tawhiti-nui, from Tawhiti-roa, from Tawhiti-pamamao.” These are names of lands far away beneath the setting sun, near unto the old homeland of the race. Folk of the Arawa tribe would sometimes reply: “I come from Kapua-nui, from Kapua-roa, from Kapua-wananga.” These names I cannot explain. Kapua means a cloud in vernacular speech, but may not carry that meaning in this case. Again there were ritual recitations, or formulæ of a superior type, couched in fine language, that were chanted or intoned by a leading man of the villagers to visitors of rank. The tenor of these compositions was complimentary and of a welcoming nature. A most punctilious people on such occasions were the denizens of Aotea-roa. An old native told me that, when he was taught these formulæ in his youth, his old teacher said to him: “Be careful to retain these treasured recitations of your ancestors. They and your elders prized them highly. And ever bear in mind that Kindness to man is the most important of all things. I charge you to be strenuous in observing these precepts.”
Our party of visitors would march slowly and silently across the plaza until it arrived in front of the villagers grouped in front of the guest house. Then the visitors halted, and the two groups faced each other. Then commenced the tangi or tangihanga, the mournful weeping and wailing always a feature of such meetings. Your Maori weeps and wails over page 377 friends when he meets them after prolonged absence, but watches them depart dry-eyed. He will tell you that the mourning is for those who have died since last the two peoples met, and that it is unlucky and an evil omen to weep or mourn when friends depart. This doleful scene continues for some time; I have known it to be carried on for a couple of hours. The copious shedding of tears at such a function is marvellous. This, together with the mournful, wordless wailing, and the actions of some of the elderly women indulging in the exercise of aroarowhaki, make up a weird scene. The action alluded to is a peculiar one, consisting of extending the arms and causing the hands to quiver rapidly, the body being bent forward.
At last the mourners, as one might call them, break off one after another and enter the house allotted to them, or seat themselves in the porch. The next activity would be the speech making, and this also often continued for some time, possibly for two hours. The villagers would now be grouped on the plaza, and the visitors in the porch of the house, and possibly some inside it. The villagers would welcome the visitors, man after man coming forward to make each his speech of greeting, which speeches would contain a good deal of repetition. A bystander may often note that the principal man of the village is by no means the first to deliver his speech, indeed he may be the last to do so. When these welcoming harangues are over, then the visitors have their turn of speech-making, which is conducted in a similar manner.
The speech-making, beloved of the Maori, having come to an end, the villagers break away, and a meal, often long delayed by the foregoing function, is brought forward by the women of the place, and arranged on the plaza before the guest house. Should the visitors be numerous, not merely a few individuals, and more especially when present by special invitation, a considerable amount of display was made when bearing the meal from the cook houses, or ovens, to the plaza. This food-bearing function is known as heriheri kai and makamaka kai. The food bearers, mostly women, would march in procession to the plaza, each bearing a basket of food. The column advances very slowly, the bearers singing a rhythmic chaunt, their swaying bodies and baskets, and the page 378 lilt of the song, forming a very curious and interesting scene. This picturesque aspect has, however, its drawbacks, and I have known the food to be almost cold by the time it was placed before the visitors. The Maori did not use dining-tables, and the baskets that served as dishes were placed on the ground, or on a long, narrow mat. In these days a long table cloth, probably made by sewing flour bags together, is laid on the grass, and the food is contained in small tin dishes. Plates and table cutlery are now used, and even tables in some cases.
In the case of two or three visitors, women would bring the food without any dramatic display, and announce the ready meal in such a remark as “E hoa ma! Ina te ora o te tangata” (O friends! Here is the sustenance of man). Maori hosts do not remain present while guests are partaking of a meal, and food bearers retire as soon as they have deposited their burdens.
Should the weather be cold, baskets of cha coal would be provided in case the visitors would like to kindle a fire in the small pit, or pits, in the house.
A peculiar custom was observed by the Maori in connection with the visit of an important chief. It sometimes occurred that such a person was not suffered to enter the village by way of the ordinary entrance, but a part of the defensive stockade was taken down so as to form a special entrance for him. This was in honour of his rank. Here the memory wheels backward to Greece and the winner of the Olympian games, who was not allowed to enter by the city gates, but for whose passage a part of the city walls was broken down.
A chief of consequence would travel with a retinue, and notice would be sent to any village that he intended to visit. An old saying is: “Me haere i raro i te kāhu korako,” which implies that it is always well to travel under the wing of a white hawk, that is, a chief, because good provender and quarters will then be assured. Such a party is denoted by the term ope tuarangi; it is one composed of well-born folks. When travelling it is considered bad form not to heed an invitation to stop and partake of a meal when invited to do so, page 379 hence the saying: “Kei takahia a Tahu” (Lest Tahu be slighted). This Tahu is the personified form of food.
Reverting to the custom of breaching a stockade to admit an important visitor, we have in tradition numerous cases where a lone visitor has clambered over the stockade of a village instead of utilising the proper entrance. Or, in some cases, such person would enter the house of an important personage by means of clambering through the window space, instead of entering by the doorway. The object seems to have been to show the people that a relative of the owner of the house had arrived.
Social meetings and festivals entered largely into Maori life. Not that festivals were of frequent occurrence, but they were deemed to be important functions. They may be divided into two classes, namely, ritual and social festivals. Such feasts as those pertaining to such functions as mourning for the dead, exhumation, the performance of the Tohi rite, etc., were of a religious nature, while others partook more of the nature of social meetings. The harvest festival in March and the New Year festival in June were recognised annual functions.
The universal term for a feast is hakari, and this term is now applied to any minor entertainment. It seems, however, not improbable that the term was originally applied to ritual festivals only. The terms haukai and kaihaukai are also applied to feasts, and these two expressions, together with that of hau, seem to pertain to return feasts. The Maori says that all feasts and festivals may be divided into two classes, but his classification differs from ours in that he divides them into those that come under the mana or sway of Tu, the god of war, and those that pertain to Rongo, who represents the arts of peace.
An important feast, one to which many persons were to be invited, called for much extra labour on the part of a community, for great quantities of food were needed at such functions. Not only would a considerable area of land have to be cleared, broken up, and cultivated to root crops, but also great quantities of other food products would be needed, such as fern root, birds, rats, fish, etc. Eels, sea fish, and shellfish were dried and preserved in great quantities for such page 380 functions, while birds and rats were preserved in fat. The people would commence the labours demanded by a big hui or meeting nearly a year before such meeting came off. A curious feature about important feasts was that they were sometimes given distinctive names which were remembered for generations.
The invitations having been settled, preparations were made for the great day. In most cases the food products were arranged in long stacks, the sub-stratum of which would be hundreds of baskets of sweet potatoes, in modern times of common potatoes (Solanum), on top of which other supplies would be arranged. Such stacks of food are called tahua. Forty years ago I used to see such stacks of food at feasts with cleft sticks stuck upright in them at intervals, each cleft containing £1 and £5 notes, all of which, food and cash, was presented to the guests. At one such feast held at Turanga, in the “fifties” I think, a long shed was erected in which to accommodate the guests. That shed had its roof covered with 400 new blankets, all of which were handed over to the guests.
In the northern part of the North Island the food supplies at such feasts were sometimes stacked on elevated platforms built in tiers on a great framework of poles. These were usually made by erecting long saplings in the form of an inverted V, thus A, the platforms being lain on poles lashed on to these supports in a horizontal position. These erections were sometimes of a considerable length, fifty feet in height, and supported thousands of baskets of food supplies. The Rev. Mr. Yate, an early missionary, has left us an illustration of a circular one. This consisted of a very tall, stout sapling, probably a pine ricker, set vertically in the earth, while a number of other such rickers were placed with their butt ends in a circle round the central staff with their tops lashed to it. The whole fabric formed a tall cone with a wide base. The series of platforms were formed by lashing spars in a horizontal position across from one side of the cone to the other, the size of such platforms diminishing from ground line to apex. Such a hakari stage as this would be a picturesque object when all the platforms were packed close with provender, and decorated after the manner of the Maori.page 382
Conical Hakari stage. From an Account of New Zealand, by Rev. W. Yate.
Each member of the invitation or escort party alluded to above would invite and escort his own relatives, hence each party might consist of six, eight, or more persons.
Now the old-time Maori was a very cautious and suspicious person. He was ever suspicious of the actions and motives of others, of people who were not members of his own community. His fears of makutu or withcraft were seldom at rest, hence such scenes as the following, which, from our point of view, look like entertaining unpleasant doubts of the intentions of one's hosts. For when an invited party reached the bounds of the plaza where the stacks of food supplies intended for the guests were, it halted. Then one person, a chief or a tohunga, would advance to the nearest stack of food, and, halting at the first supporting post thereof, he would stamp his foot at the base of the post. At the same time he would repeat a karakia or charm that was intended to neutralise any evil or harmful influences that might pertain to those food supplies. They were under the mana of other clans, and such mana might perchance include some pernicious influence. This act of whakarori, as it was called, removed any such attribute, any restriction or tapu, and rendered the supplies harmless and safe to handle and utilise. Tahu represents all that provender, and Tahu must be rendered harmless, hence the old saying, “Ko Tahu kia roria.” He is the personified form of all food supplies. After this performance was over the party of guests would advance in column and the meeting would open.
What seems to have been a similar kind of ceremony to the above was described to me by Bay of Plenty natives, who style it the ue. It is said to have been performed by such visitors to a hakari for the purpose of banishing the food supplies of the district, that is of their hosts, though their object in doing so is by no means clear. The spell or charm recited in order to bring about such a result is called ue, and it was apparently the same charm that was employed when it was desired to drive a people from their lands by means of magic, and so avoid the necessity of fighting them. But when page 384 the villagers found that the visitors were endeavouring to deprive them of their food supplies, to banish the birds, fish, etc., of the district, they would turn to one of their experts to recite the whakararau charm to neutralise the effect of the other.
The party would be received with the waving of garments and green branches, and cries of welcome, as already described. On occasions when no tangi or mourning was to be indulged in, several of the village chiefs would, one after another, rise and welcome the guests, to whakatau or “settle” them, to make them feel at home. These speeches would be replied to, and then a meal was provided. During this meal might be seen the exercise of an old custom. Any villager having a friend or near relative among the guests might desire to make him a special present of some choice article of food. This was permissible, and such present is called a kokomo or whakatomo.
The most interesting function of such a festival was the allotting of the tahua or stacks of food to the various clans. A kind of master of ceremonies would conduct this operation. With a rod in his hand wherewith to indicate the sections of the stacks of food supplies allotted to the different clans or tribes represented by the visitors, he called out the names of such clans in stentorian tones. In some cases the stacks were handed over as a whole, and the visitors apportioned them themselves. This was probably in cases where the guests were members of the same tribe.
All such meetings as these were, and are, much enjoyed by the Maori folk. Such a meeting possessed different phases. Its primary object might be ritual or ceremonial, as an exhumation of bones of the dead, or a marriage feast, or a baptismal rite, but secondarily it would also be a social function and a business or political meeting. Tribal and clan matters would be discussed and arranged, while the people generally, especially the young folk, would indulge in many forms of amusement, pastimes and contests.
The food for such meetings was prepared and served by the women of the village, but slaves would also be employed in such tasks.page 385
The origin of hakari, or feasts, we are informed, was in ritual feasts of ancient times, when offerings were made to gods when some assistance or favour was desired from them. The first hakari mentioned in Maori myths of the Takitumu district were held on the summit of the thrice sacred Mt. Irihia in the original homeland, whereat highly tapu ceremonies pertaining to Io and other celestial denizens were performed.
The expression hakari taonga is applied to such a function as when people assemble to present gifts to some person, as to a child of rank at its baptism, after which ceremony would come the hakari kai, or feast. Ceremonial feasts connected with such a baptismal rite, or an important marriage, or the conducting of the whare wananga, might be commemorated by the erection of a carved post termed a rahui hakari. This act was thought to add eclat to the occasion. The original meaning of hakari was probably not “feast.”
The festival of the New Year was deemed a very important one. This took place at the heliacal rising of the Pleiades in June on the east coast, but at the rising of Rigel in the far north. There was much of sentiment in the Maori attitude towards the Pleiades, as there also was in Polynesia. Women greeted the reappearance of this group with song and dance, and tears, assembling on the village plaza for the purpose. The plaza was swept and the village assumed a gala aspect on this occasion. The commencement of the old, old Pleiades year of Asia was about to be observed. It was marked by feasting and by what the Maori terms “Nga mahi a te rehia”—the arts of pleasure, such as dancing, singing, the playing of many forms of games, and contests of many kinds. It was, as a native put it to me, a period of joy, pleasure and light hearts.
The harvest feast was celebrated in March when the crops had been garnered and stored. This also was a festival of much rejoicing. A feast was also held at a village where and when the crops had been planted.
A ceremonial feast was held when two tribes made peace after fighting, and this function was marked by some spectacular performances, of which more anon, when we lift the war trail under the mana of Tu the Red Eyed, and list to page 386 the roaring chorus of the war song as rendered by the kawau māro.
The marriage feast and the post-marriage feast are described elsewhere. It is also necessary to state that any meeting of the people, whatsoever the object, was marked by a feast. Such festivals of the present time include many European features, and provide interest and amusement to an observant person.
We have so frequently encountered the term mana that it will be as well to discuss its meaning here. It is indeed quite essential that the reader should gain some knowledge of this quality, for it was a very important one in the eyes of the Maori in the days when the mana maori or native authority was flourishing in these isles.
The meanings of the word mana as given in Williams' Maori Dictionary, are “authority, control, influence, prestige, power, psychic force, effectual, authoritative, having influence or power, to be effectual”—which is a fair list, but explanation and illustrations are still necessary. Adding a causative prefix gives us whakamana, “to give effect to, to empower, to make effective, to give prestige to.” When we come to consider the above meanings of the term we can see why it was that the Maori makes such a frequent use of it. The same word is employed in Melanesia, but apparently in a different sense. Nor is it man only to whom this quality pertains in Maoriland. What we term inanimate objects may possess mana; such as the tipua objects, trees, stones, etc., explained elsewhere, with many other things.
There are many different phases or aspects of mana. There is ancestral mana, inherited from forbears; there is mana ariki, that has already been explained. There is also mana atua emanating from the gods, and other forms that will be alluded to anon. Raukawa (Cook Straits) was formerly a moana whai mana, or mana possessing sea, because there stand Nga Whatu (The Brothers), mana possessing rocky islets of the genus tipua. When a canoe crossed the Straits the eyes of those on board were veiled by means of leaves to prevent them seeing those rocks, which were tapu. Should one chance to look at them, then the vessel would be held page 387 stationary for a day and a night by unseen powers ere it could proceed on its way.
A stone mortar.
H. Hamilton photo
Some persons were famous as possessing many forms of mana. The east coast ancestor known as Tamatea-ariki-nui, for example, possessed mana atua, mana ariki, and mana tangata, the latter term including many minor forms of mana. This mana atua he acquired by his descent from Uru-te-ngangana, Roiho, and Maui, his mana ariki was, of course, hereditary, and his mana tangata of a high class, while his tapu was necessarily intense, this being a natural sequence. The mana craved from the gods, or from Io, when the Tohi rite was performed over an infant, went back to the gods at the death of the recipient.
Should two tohunga be pitted against each other in some form of contest, as in the exercise of black magic, the one possessing the greatest amount of mana would, apart from accidents, gain the victory.
When persons of importance visit a village, their mana is said to have a strange effect, inasmuch as it banishes food supplies. Food products, birds, fish, etc., will desert their usual haunts and disappear for a time. Connected with this belief is an old saying: “Nga uri o Whaitiri whakapaparoa kai” (The offspring of Whatiri who made food scarce). Another old belief is that a child born feet first will be a tapu person of considerable mana.
In many cases the mana of a chief has emanated largely from personal magnetism. As among all other peoples this faculty has great effect with our native folk. Mana has many origins, that of such prominent natives as Te Whiti of Parihaka, and Rua, the so-called New Messiah, was of a very different kind to that of Te Kooti, who owed no small propor- page 389 tion of his to his own ruthless ferocity. He slaughtered his own people without any compunction.
If mana can be gained in divers ways it can also be lost in as many. A tribe may lose its mana by being defeated in engagements with tribal enemies, and in other ways. Any desecration of tapu may cause a man to lose his mana, and priests have to be extremely careful in all their actions. Thus, supposing a priest should so far forget himself as to sit down in that part of a house where women recline, then he will become kahupo, or blind. This expression is not applied to ordinary blindness, which is kapo or matapo; it denotes a kind of spiritual blindness. The subject will lose his powers of second sight, and so be unable to see the warning signs of the gods, a serious condition for a priestly seer. He must at once whakaepa, or conciliate the gods in order to regain his powers of second sight.
The mana of the Whare wananga, or tapu School of Learning, was lost through men taking to European ways and discarding tapu, for tapu and mana went hand in hand.
The pride that a chief took in his own mana had one unpleasing effect, it was liable to make him an exceedingly “touchy” person. He was quick to resent any act that he deemed a takahi mana, a disregarding or belittling of his prestige. Such acts have been the cause of innumerable quarrels and much fighting. A breach of etiquette was quite sufficient to lead to serious trouble.
The transference of mana from one generation to another, as from father to son, or from teacher to pupil, was sometimes effected by means of a very singular performance. This peculiar rite consisted of the “biting” by the younger person of some part of the body, head or limbs of the elder person. The act was not really one of biting, but rather placing the mouth on the part indicated and closing it, bringing the teeth together. The parts so treated, as given by various authorities of different districts, were the crown of the head, the ear, the perineum, and the big toe. A similar act was that termed whakaha, which consisted of placing the mouth to the place and accompanying the act with an inspiration of breath. Colonel Gudgeon has told us that the so-called act of biting deprives the subject of his mana, which page 390 passes to the person performing the act. The big toe was supposed to represent or contain the mana of a person in the Bay of Plenty district, and the natives of those parts attribute mana also to the right shoulder. Any twitchings of the muscles of that part were held to betoken the trend of future events, that is to say, they were omens.
The mana of rites and invocations connected with growing crops is represented by the puke tapu of the field. This is a single tuber of sweet potato planted in a small mound of earth (puke) that was set apart as the tapu talisman or mauri of the crop.
The modern Maori indulges much in herbal medicines, and when he gathers leaves or bark for that purpose he takes them from the east side of the tree, for that side only possesses mana.
We have already seen that certain hills, ranges and mountains possess mana, especially those on which summer lightning is wont to play, or where bones of the dead were deposited.
The above illustrations will serve to show what great respect the Maori had for personal and ancestral mana, how that quality is acquired, and how it may be lost.
It is meet that some explanation be here given of the old institution of rahui, inasmuch as it is one that rested on and was upheld by mana, human and divine. This custom was one of prohibition, and hence may be viewed as a variety of tapu. Any embargo laid on food products, or anything else almost, comes under this heading. It was equivalent to our warnings to trespassers, and its efficacy was based on the mana of those who instituted it. In some cases a wooden post was set up as a visible mark of the prohibition, and this was known as a pou rahui. It differed from the aukati, which was a certain line that persons were forbidden to cross for some reason or another. Should the use of a certain path be prohibited the word tapu was usually employed to describe the condition. The word rahui is also used as a verb, as: “Kua turahuitia te awa” (The stream has been preserved).
It sometimes occurred that a forest, a stream, or a given area of land was made tapu at the death of an important page 391 person of the district, that is, it was rahuitia (passive form). The sign of such an embargo might be a bunch of fern attached to a pole, or possibly a garment belonging to the chief who instituted the rahui. In other cases no material token was exhibited, but the injunction was made known by word of mouth.
A tree may be a rahuitia, bespoken or preserved for a certain purpose, wherefrom to fashion a canoe, for example. A stone placed at the base thereof, or some other sign, might be the method employed of notifying such an embargo, though there would also be a verbal notification to the people. A magic spell might be repeated over the stone in order to punish any person who might interfere with the tree. I know of one case in which a water spring was protected by a rahui. In some districts boundary marks were called pou rahui (rahui posts). Polack mentions seeing in the north rahui posts adorned with carved and painted designs, set up to protect and preserve cockle banks and forest products. Cultivated crops were also protected by rahui. Polack mentions seeing such a field where the token of the interdiction was some human hair tied to a tree. This was in the “thirties” of last century.
The institution of rahui was of course only a phase of tapu, and it might be employed to preserve any natural product from being interfered with. Birds, fish, fruits, trees, forests, the edible fern root, Phormium swamps, places where red ochre was procured; these and many other things and places were so protected. The institution of rahui was a useful one. The rahui, or its material symbol, was also employed as a mauri, a protective talisman, to preserve the vitality and fruitfulness of land, forest, and stream.
The rahui post set up was often painted with red ochre, a colour employed by the Maori for what may be termed sacerdotal purposes. When Matiu of Te Whaiti died, the stream and valley of Okahu were under rahui for some time, so that no food products might be obtained there. In this case there was no material token of the ban, and no magic rite was performed in order to slay or punish trespassers, simply the word went forth that Okahu was under rahui. Now this embargo seems to have been just an honorific act.page 392
When a path was put under rahui the symbol thereof might be a garment suspended across it. Such was the origin of the place name of Pa-puweru (garment obstruction), near Rua-tahuna. Or the obstruction might be a branch, and hence the place name of Pa-rangiora, in the same district.
The act of disregarding a rahui, that is of taking products so preserved, is termed kairamua. It was a serious offence, and in some cases a very dangerous one.
It was, of course, highly necessary that a rahui should be instituted by a person possessing mana, otherwise it would not be effective. We will suppose the case of a priestly expert setting up a rahui post to symbolise the intense form of prohibition, that supported by the dread arts of black magic. Just before he sets up the post he repeats a brief formula indicating its protective purport: “He rokiroki, he penapena, he rakai whenua.” He then sets up the post in its hole, fills up the hole with earth and tamps it. He then attaches the maro to the post, this object being a few fronds of the fern called kiwikiwi (Lomaria fluviatilis). He then recites a potent spell “to sharpen the teeth of the rahui that it may have power to destroy man.” As he does so he makes a pass over the earth with his hand, “he lacerates the surface of the earth,” as the Maori puts it. This is an extraordinary symbolical act by means of which he is said to form the waro rahui, or rahui chasm, the imaginary pit of destruction that will engulf and destroy those who disregard the prohibition. He calls upon the gods to sharpen their teeth and destroy all impious persons committing kairamua, to consign them to flies and worms. Bear in mind that the powers now implanted in the post emanate from the gods of the third class.
Our worthy sorcerer then takes the maro off the post, where it has absorbed the mana of the rahui, and places it on a stone he has selected. These objects are called the kapu of the rahui; they are its whatu or kernel, and represent its powers. During the rite the operator plucks at the tauru or head of the post to take its ahua or semblance, though his fingers bring away nothing material. By this ceremony the kapu, of which the stone is the imperishable, permanent object, is imbued with the mana of the post. The kapu is taken away and concealed in some secret place, lest it be found, page 393 and its powers be nullified, by some hostile sorcerer. A false maro, possessing no mana whatever, is attached to the post in order to mislead any prowling person of evil designs. That false maro “has no teeth,” for no hoa spell has been recited over it. Now should any person attempt to tamper with the post, to destroy its powers, his attempt will fail, because the “kernel” of the rahui is represented by the concealed kapu.
This form of rahui may be said to possess three phases of power. It preserves the products of the land from spoliation; it preserves the vitality and fruitfulness of land, forest and stream, and it also possesses the power to destroy those who attempt to interfere with such products.
Now should any person possessing the required knowledge of procedure attempt to locate the concealed kapu, in order that he may destroy its magic powers, he would endeavour to rouse (whakaoho) it, to cause it to disclose its whereabouts. The formula recited for this purpose is a long and very singular composition. Should the person who instituted the rahui have reason to believe that some one is interfering with it, he will at once go and turuki it by means of a certain rite. This means that the kapu has “gone to sleep,” as my informant put it, and it needs waking up, so that it may exert its deadly powers. Again, if it be noted that the productiveness of forest, land or stream has decreased, that fruits, birds and fish are not plentiful, then the whakaoho rite is performed in order to rouse, or awaken the kapu. The kapu, together with the material mauri of the land, is taken to the ahi taitai, a tapu fire, whereat the rite was performed. The above procedure was explained to me by old Tutakangahau, of the Tuhoe tribe.
In some cases a rahui was supported by mana tangata only, that is by the prestige of the person who instituted it, no kapu, or post, or magic rite, being employed. If such a prohibition was disregarded, then the arts of magic might be relied on wherewith to punish offenders. In a case at Paeroa a man's head, that of an enemy, was stuck up on a rahui post in order to protect and preserve a place where fern (Pteris) roots were dug, the same being an important food supply. In later days that skull was taken down and a gentle neolith page 394 planted a taro in it to provide food for his child, who was given the name of “The Taro” from that circumstance.
In one case I heard of a man naming a rock in a river after himself that it might serve as a token of a rahui. A big stone named Tumata-whero, at Rua-tahuna, was utilised as a pou rahui to preserve the products of the surrounding lands. When Tuhoe slew Tionga, of the Arawa tribe, they used his head to guard a bird-snaring tree with. In later days the Awa folk borrowed that skull and set it in their sweet potato fields to make the crops flourish.
There is but little to say with regard to personal property among the Maori folk, for the individual possessed little that comes under that head. He had his few garments, his few weapons, his hut, some tools, with certain fishing and snaring gear, and little else save his share of cultivated crops. Cooking utensils were unknown, house furniture did not exist. If he hewed out a canoe, why, then, any member of the family group considered that he had a right to use it, as witness the old saying: “He waka eke noa.”
Land is generally said to have been held in common by the Maori, but an examination of the matter shows a good deal more to be said. Take the tribal lands as a whole. These were contained within well-known boundaries. Within this area were sub-divisions into clan lands, and within these again were the areas belonging to the family groups. Quarrels over boundaries certainly occurred, but these often pertained to wild lands, unoccupied and uncultivated, places visited merely on occasional bird-snaring or fishing excursions. With regard to land of a specially desirable nature, the arrangements of the family group or clan were generally of a fairly satisfactory nature, so that each person knew what areas he could cultivate, what stretch of forest he might take birds and rats in, what streams, or parts of streams he could fish in. Youths were carefully taught such things by their fathers or grandfathers. As a native expressed it to me: “The knowledge of land boundaries is knowledge that descends from my father to myself. All his teachings, instructions and advice are retained in my memory.”
In some cases a man would conduct his son or grandson along the different boundaries of lands in which they were page 395 interested, pointing them out, and telling him the names of natural features, trees, rocks, etc., along such lines. Another plan was to impart all this information to the lad at home, to make him memorise it, ere conducting him round such bounds. This indeed seems to have been held to be the superior method, for the Maori paid high respect to memory and its use. This course of tuition would last for months, and at certain intervals the lad was required to repeat the tale of boundaries, their location and aspect, with all place names and those of prominent objects along the lines. Any mistake made by him would be corrected. If he so managed to memorise such information he was viewed as a clever lad, and this reputation would stand him in good stead should he ever wish to enter the Whare-wananga. Then the lad would at last be conducted along the different boundaries, and all the natural features of the land, and objects, of which he had learned the names, would be pointed out to him. Again, apart from the above knowledge, the lad would have been taught the history of the lands, their ownership, and also much information pertaining to fishing, trapping and snaring rights over such lands.
Prominent trees and rocks were often utilised as boundary marks, and such objects would receive proper names. On tracts of land lacking such features, boundary marks of stone or timber were occasionally erected, such stones being rough, unworked blocks. When such a mark was erected, the persons interested in the function met at the spot, and, when the post or stone had been set up, the principal persons took their stand by it and placed their left hands on it as the officiating tohunga repeated a certain formula. In this recital Rangi the Sky Parent was called upon to impart mana and permanence to the mark, while the people undertook to respect it. Most boundaries of lands, however, had no such marks erected, natural features being relied on. The outer boundaries of tribal lands were held to be the most important, and concerning which serious quarrels were most likely to occur. I have heard important boundary marks referred to as pou aronui, and less important intermediate ones as pou tārāwaho. It sometimes happened that a permanent mark was desirable in a place where no large stones were available, in which case a page 396 hole might be dug and filled with small stones. This mark might be left exposed, or it might be covered with earth and only uncovered in case of a dispute. A boundary stone of olden days once pointed out to me was a long waterworn stone that showed barely a foot above the surface. It was known as The Stone of Rakau-kakawa, so named after an ancestor. A hole dug as a boundary mark at Karioi is known as The Hole of Te Umu-tirirau.
It may fairly be stated that, in pre-European days, there was no area of land that was not claimed by some tribe. Certainly there were whenua tautohe, debatable lands claimed by two tribes, and these might remain unoccupied, but not necessarily so, for natives often acted in what we would consider a most reckless manner. Natives claim land by ancestral right (take tipuna), by occupation (ahi ka), and by conquest (raupatu). These are the main bases of claims. Others are sometimes introduced, or the land might be a whenua tuku, land ceded to a people for some reason, a service rendered, an injury committed, etc. The ahi ka, or burning fire, was deemed an important right, to keep fire burning on page 397 the land meant continuous occupation, and every effort was made by the weaker tribes to so keep their fires burning. In some cases this meant the abandonment of desirable sites and a withdrawal to forest-clad ranges or other places of difficult access.
The deep feeling of affection the Maori feels for his home lands had a strong influence on his character and mode of life. No need to ask for volunteers to defend the tribal lands. Land and women, sayeth the Maori, are the cause of much tribulation, as shown by the old saying: “He wahine, he whenua, a ngaro ai te tangata” (by women and land are men lost). Cases have been known where a Maori, taken prisoner and enslaved by enemies, has sent a message to his tribesmen: “Tukuna mai he kapunga oneone ki au hai tangi” (Send me a handful of soil that I may weep over it). Even so he would greet that handful of earth from his loved home. Again we know of a number of cases in which a man, captured and about to be slain by enemies, has asked to be allowed to drink of the waters of a certain stream ere he was killed. It would probably be a stream that flowed through his tribal lands. In at least some instances he was so conducted to the stream and allowed to drink therefrom ere being killed. Such a captive has also been known to say to his captors: “Conduct me to the bounds of my land and let me greet it ere I am slain.” Others have asked permission to sing a song of farewell ere being killed. Another old saying is: “I greet my only surviving parent in the world, the land.” When the Wai-rarapa Lake was awarded to the Crown by arrangement, the local natives sang in Court a most impressive song of farewell to the lake. When the chief Rakuraku was too old to travel, his young people, when returning from his lands at the head of the Wai-mana, would bring him a branchlet of the kotara tree for him to greet over.
In studying the customs of the Maori, it is well to ever bear in mind that a native so thoroughly identifies himself with his tribe that he is ever employing the first personal pronoun. In mentioning a fight that occurred possibly ten generations ago he will say: “I defeated the enemy there,” mentioning the name of the tribe. In like manner he will carelessly indicate ten thousand acres of land with a wave of his hand, and page 398 remark: “This is my land.” He would never suspect that any person would take it that he was the sole owner of such land, nor would any one but a European make such an error. When Europeans arrived on these shores many troubles arose owing to the inability of the Maori to understand individual possession of land, and land selling.
When a man cultivated a piece of land, a portion of an area in which he was an owner, that piece of land was called his, nevertheless it remained a portion of the area in which all members of the group or clan possessed an interest. He was not actually the sole owner, though he might act as though he were, and arrange for his son to work it after he himself had passed away. There was no disposing of land to persons outside the community by an individual, as with us. These different points of view led to misunderstandings between natives and Europeans in former days. Individual possession of land was a plant of slow growth the world over, and we know how communal ownership obtained in Britain until comparatively modern times. No Maori could alienate a piece of land without the consent of the other owners.
Land obtained by conquest presented some different features, and in this case occupation was quite necessary, otherwise the claim would not hold good. If, however, such lands were retained, the position would ere long become much the same as that of ancestral lands, the actual conquerors would pass it on to the descendants. It would never be forgotten, however, that such land was a whenua raupatu, gained by conquest, and not ancestral land.
If a man married into another tribe and lived with his wife's people he would work land in which she had an interest, but could not acquire any himself. Should his wife die he would probably return to his own people. Even though his wife's folk desired him to stay, and gave him a piece of land to cultivate, that land would return to the owners at his death; his own people could not claim it. All this was because he was not a member of the tribe.
Refugees and migrants were sometimes given land on which to dwell, but if they left the district such land would revert to its former owners. If a person of importance had his blood shed on land belonging to others, he might claim a page 399 piece of land at the place where the assault or accident occurred. I have also known a man to claim a piece of land in a block wherein he held no ancestral rights because one of his forbears had been buried there. When, however, it was shown that his ancestor's bones had been exhumed and removed, he at once withdrew his claim. I remember a curious case in which a woman of the rangatira class married a man of low degree, hence her friends sent a party to demand compensation, and a piece of land was handed over to settle the matter. In some cases a similar arrangement was made when a married woman misconducted herself.
It was not necessarily the eldest son who possessed the most authority with regard to his family's land interests. He might devote his attention more to war, or possibly not reside on such lands.
A person does not possess rights to all tribal lands, but only to those in which his parents were owners. He might possess an interest in lands of several clans, owing to inter-marriage. The question of occupation was, however, always liable to come up; non-occupation for a certain period caused his claim to become “cold.”
Quarrels over land and boundaries, called riri whenua, were not uncommon occurrences, and exceedingly turbulent such scenes are, as I know full well. Men would come to blows in such affairs, but the principal feature of such an episode is the amazing clamour. Loss of life was but an occasional occurrence.
The Maori system of land tenure may be said to be a system of family tenure. No longer, as in the long past hunting stage of culture, could an individual range the whole of the tribal lands in search of game and other products. He had to confine himself to those of his own group. In cultivating a space of ground we are told by some that he might become its sole owner, but it was not such sole ownership as is known to us; sole use is a better term.
In connection with land, women did not have the same status as men, for they were liable to marry outside the community and live with their husbands' folk; thus they and their progeny would be lost to the home community.page 400
The custom of taunaha whenua, or be speaking of land, was followed when land was obtained by conquest, when men of standing would claim certain areas. A favoured method of doing so was to name the desired area after some part of the claimant's body. Thus a piece of land was claimed by a certain chief with the words “This is my stomach,” while another used the words “This is my throat.” A number of similar incidents have been recorded.
The Maori views land as the very symbol of stability, of permanence. An old saying is the following: “He kura tangata e kore e rokohanga, he kura whenua ka rokohanga” (People die, are slain, migrate, disappear; not so the land, which ever remains). The following carries a similar meaning: “Whatu ngarongaro he tangata, toitu he whenua.”
There were some differences as to rules of land tenure as in different districts, and very singular arrangements were made that are extremely puzzling to Europeans.
There was naturally a certain amount of division of labour among the Maori folk, but not such a division as we see among civilised peoples; far from it. In some crafts and activities women had no share at all, such as house building and canoe making. With regard to work in cultivation, women could assist in the clearing of the ground, but men alone did the digging. On the east coast women were not allowed to take part in the planting of the sweet potato crop, for there was much tapu pertaining to it. On the Taranaki or western coast of the North Island women seem to have assisted in the planting. Customs differed as in different districts in connection with such labours. Men alone went out to fish at sea, but women often took part in netting freshwater fish, the smaller species, though they do not seem to have assisted in working the eel weirs. Certain phases of tapu pertained to sea fishing and eel weirs, and this was probably the reason why women did not join in those tasks.
The trapping, snaring and spearing of birds and rats was the task of men, though occasionally women took part in attending to bird snares. Some of the trees that were easiest to ascend would be assigned to them. The Maori cannot have had much idle time on his hands in pre-European days. After his crops were lifted and stored, he certainly had some leisure page 401 ere the preparation of ground for the spring planting was commenced, but during that period there was a good deal to do in the way of taking and preserving game. Moreover, during inclement weather there was always some task to turn to, the fashioning of stone, wooden and bone implements, tools, weapons, traps, toys, paddles, etc., the execution of carved work, and many other tasks. Thus men were by no means idle, and, moreover, the period between the planting and lifting of crops was the fighting season in Maoriland. Thus men might be required at any time during that season to life the war path and attack some neighbouring people, or to repel an attack from enemies.
As among other barbaric peoples, women certainly had their hands full. They did all work in connection with the preparation and cooking of food; only a low-class man, one void of tapu, would take part in such work. Women also had to manufacture new dinner plates for each meal in the form of quickly woven open baskets of dish-like form. Another task, and no light one, was the procuring of fuel. They had to seek dry, brash branches, or small trunks, that could be broken into short lengths by striking them on a log or stone, or on the ground, a process known as whatiwhati wahie and tātā wahie. The Maori possessed no form of cutting implement by means of which wood could be cut across the grain with despatch. Women carried huge loads of fuel and food supplies on their backs at their daily tasks; they were essentially beasts of burden, hence they soon gained the appearance of age. Their bent figures gave them an air of decrepitude at an age when they should have been still erect and alert. Another ceaseless, and a very tedious task of women, was the weaving or plaiting of garments, sleeping mats, and baskets, a labour that was always toward in one form or another. Women also assisted in the collection of minor food supplies, herbs, berries, etc. The digging of the rhizomes of the bracken, the great standby of the Maori, was, however, the task of the men. A task that was always performed by women was the collecting of shellfish, save in some cases wherein men were more fitted for it, as in procuring the Haliotis. In some cases work was expeditiously performed by a tuao, or working bee, in which many persons would join. page 402 By such means crops were planted, heavy timbers hauled, and so on.
As to division of labour among men, it obtained to but a limited extent. Every man was a trained fighter, ever ready to defend his home, or attack an enemy. He also had to be a fisherman, a fowler, a cultivator of the soil, an expert thatcher and tool wielder, and many other things. But certain men showed greater aptitude than their fellows at canoe making, house building, painting decorative designs, or fashioning stone implements, etc., tasks of the artisan. Thus such men would be called upon by their tribesmen when such tasks were on hand, because of their proficiency. A man unskilled in fashioning a stone adze might ask an expert to make him one, and he would recompense him with a gift of some nature. Skilled tasks such as that of a tattooing artist, a wood carver, a fashioner of greenstone pendants or weapons, were confined to a few experts, as a rule.
Amo To carry on the shoulder. Gerundial forms are amonga, amohanga and amoamohanga; the reduplicate form denotes plurality. Hari To carry. Gerundial forms haringa and heringa. Heri Hiki To carry in the arms. Gerundial forms hikinga, hikitanga. Kawe To carry. Kawenga, a burden. Pakawe To carry slung over one shoulder and under the other, as a horse collar swag. Pikau To carry on the back. Pikaunga, a load for the back; two shoulder straps used. Tikawe To carry a burden on the back with one cord passed over the shoulder and held in front. Waha To carry on the back. Wahanga, a load, burden. These gerundial forms also denote the time, place or circumstance of carrying. Waha is also applied to the carrying of children on the back.
On the west coast of the North Island the kawe or pack straps for a back burden are united in the middle, the strips of Phormium being plaited together during the process of making; these are termed kawe rapa. Elsewhere two single straps are employed.
The Maori never carried burdens on the head, probably because it is the most tapu part of the body. I have been informed that the Hindu sometimes carries loads on the head, and also sometimes on the back, with the aid of a head strap, but he does not use the balance pole.
The impurity of woman during the menstrual period was much stressed by the Maori, and this led to many restrictions of her liberty of action. She was not allowed to join in many functions at such a time, to enter a cultivation ground, lest the crops fail, to collect shellfish, lest they migrate to other parts. In many places she might not assist in the planting, lifting, or storing crops. She might not step over a man's sleeping place, or recline on it, or step over a male, man or boy; such an act was deemed both dangerous and impertinent. Some ritual feasts she was not allowed to take part in; in some others it was necessary that she should do so. She was not allowed to wear the plumes of the heron, and, in the Taupo district at least, she might not partake of human flesh. In the Rangitaiki valley she was not allowed to eat the tuatara lizard, which fact would not appeal to us as a serious hardship. Women were not allowed within the whare mata, that is to say a place where nets, snares and traps were being made. There were many such restrictions on the liberty of women, all owing to some phase of tapu, and it may be said that tapu was the great disciplinary agent in Maori life.
It has been remarked that ill-treatment of women might lead to trouble at any time. As an illustration of this fact we take the case of Mahuru, who was taken to wife by one Takarehe of Ruatoki. When preparing a meal one day Mahuru did not remove the fibres from the fern root (rhizomes of bracken), hence her husband was angered and struck her. Mahuru at once fled to her father, Tama-hape, whom she found tending his crops. As she approached him he looked at her and said: “He morehu koe” (You are a refugee). Ere long Takarehe appeared on the scene, but the couple received him in dead silence, a fact that betokened trouble ahead. He struck at Tama-hape, who, however, parried the blow and succeeded in killing Takarehe. Not wishing to despise the good things the gods provide, and being moreover a practical page 407 old gentlemen, Tama consigned the body of his late son-in-law to the oven and made good use of him.
Such quarrels as the above were not so liable to be deadly ones when man and wife belonged to the same clan, but when of different tribes bitterness was likely to lead to a serious affray.
In olden times women were often keen on blood vengeance, a revengeful disposition being fostered in the Maori scheme of life. It was not uncommon for women to accompany raiding parties, and even children were sometimes taken on such expeditions. Native women are often more conservative than men, and this is shown in many ways. In former times it was not uncommon for a woman to commit suicide at the death of her husband.
Women took a leading part in ceremonial mourning for the dead, and in posture dancing for the entertainment of visitors, as also for other purposes. We have also seen that they took part in certain ritual performances, particularly those pertaining to the lifting of tapu. Women render all things noa or void of tapu, for they are, as a rule, viewed as the very antithesis of tapu. At the same time some high-class women were tapu, such as puhi and tapairu, elsewhere described. Such women were not expected to engage in cooking, or any other form of work, and would have companions and attendants who waited on them. They would probably learn posture dancing and perhaps weaving, such as the making of superior garments. They were prominent at peace-making functions. Important functions connected with such women were those termed pokanga taringa and tanga ngutu; the first being the piercing of her ears for pendants, the second the tattooing of her lips and chin. Both occasions were marked by ceremonial procedure and feasts. A respected tapairu would be treated with much deference. Her sleeping place was tapu, and she ate her meals alone. Such women, when possessed of ability and admired qualities, held much influence in the community. Occasionally a woman would acquire a considerable knowledge of ancient lore, and I knew of one who acted as a prompter to her husband when he was holding forth on such matters. A few high-class females had page 408 the superior Tohi rite performed over them; but it was not a common occurrence.
It has been said that men and women had their meals apart in former times, but this was not always the case, and it is quite possible that custom varied as in different districts. We have been told that, in pre-European days, women did not develop the excessive fatness that they have in late times. This remark applies to men also.
Women wore practically the same garments as did men, consisting of kilt and cape, but the better-class women, especially before marriage, often wore somewhat dainty aprons adorned with various devices, such as the triangular maro kopua. They wore their hair short; if long enough to be tied it was so confined behind the head, not on the top as a man's long hair was. Nor did women wear the head plumes that men affected, though on gala occasions some might don a woven or plaited head band, or fillet.
Native women adopted a peculiar gait that was acquired in youth, a loose-jointed swinging of the hips that looks ungainly to us, but was admired by the Maori. Mothers drilled their daughters in this accomplishment, termed onioni, and I have heard a mother says to her girl: “Ha! Kaore koe e onioni” when the young one was neglecting to practise the gait.
The Maori had assuredly an eye for female beauty, and women possessing abundant good looks became famed, their memory sometimes being kept green for generations. Such an one was Hine-ruhi, concerning whom we have the saying, quoted when one encounters a handsome woman: “Ko Hineruhi koe, te wahine nana i tu te ata hapara” (You are like Hine-ruhi, she who caused the glories of dawn to appear).
The origin of maternal love, according to the Maori, is noted in the words of the old Earth Mother when it was proposed by the Sky Parent that their turbulent offspring should be punished for having cruelly torn their parents apart. The Earth Mother spoke: “Not so. I brought them forth to the world of life; in death shall they find rest with me; though they have erred and rebelled against us, yet are still my children. Mine be the care of the dead.”page 409
We have a record of one woman who descended to the underworld. It is not quite clear what her status was, but apparently she possessed supernatural attributes. Her name was Te Hinu-tohu, and she was taken to wife by Ruaumoko of the underworld. Niwareka, who came up to the world of light and mated with Mataora, was a great grandchild of the above twain. Te Hinu-tohu is spoken of by some as a sister of Tangaroa, and she was famous for her beauty. We are told that when she smiled her teeth were as white as the snowy down of the albatross; she was also famed as a sweet singer. Ruaumoko heard of the beauty of Te Hinu and ascended to this world that he might look upon her. He assumed the form of an owl in order to make the ascent, and, approaching the house in which Te Hinu was, he heard her singing; truly her singing was like unto the rippling of waters. Then, when the people of the house slept, he recited a charm to cause her to dream of him and desire him. So it was that they came together, and, descending to the underworld, took up their abode there.
Children were almost invariably treated with kindness; certainly one often notes cases in which such kindness is of a negative nature. The lack of care and attention in the case of sickness is often deplorable, and apparently the result of ingrained superstition and prejudices. In certain lines there was a good deal of training, that is in connection with future activities, but native children were hardly ever punished for wrong behaviour, and they were often not checked for unruliness. On the other hand native children give less trouble than do ours, as teachers of native schools and others know full well. Many a time have I had my camp swarming with children, and have been surprised to find them give so little trouble. One can gather extremely interesting data from native children; thus I was wont to get them to perform their simple old-time pastimes, and sing the quaint little songs peculiar to these small folk. I found that a 50lb. case of biscuits in the mess tent was a good investment when information was desired in such lines.
Maori boy showing Melanesian cross. Observe the thick, protruding lips, bridgeless nose and distended nostrils.
I have before me a version of the legend of Whiro, an old-time Polynesian voyager who came to New Zealand some five centuries ago. In this narrative is some account of a male child of a brother of Whiro, in which these remarks occur: “He was a child much liked by all, a favourite, on account of his pleasing disposition; he always greeted persons in a pleasing manner, and always invited passers-by to tarry at the home of himself and his parents.” This quaint form of eulogism gives some idea of the precocity of Maori children. I have myself, when travelling, been gravely invited by a small man of eight or ten years of age to dismount and partake of a meal. I have heard children ask questions, when their elders were debating some subject, and such questions were answered gravely, where, with us, the children would probably have been admonished or “chaffed.” Forbearance does not seem to have such unpleasing results in connection with native children as it does when practised with ours. After a good deal of experience with native children I must say that I have found them tractable, save in a few cases.
Boys were brought under the control of the father to a great extent, and the grandfather would also take a keen interest in the lad's training. Many kinds of object lessons were employed with children, many devices were employed in order to impress upon them desirable habits and qualities. Generosity and hospitality were admired virtues, thus, when a child was given some delectable article of food, an elder might ask him for a portion thereof in order to accustom the child to be unselfish. Many of us have a vague kind of idea that the children of barbaric man are allowed to run wild, and grow up without any form of training, but I have been much interested in the many mild devices employed by the Maori to implant desirable qualities in their children.page 412 page 413
Infanticide was certainly practised in former times, but not to the extent that it was in the small isles of Polynesia. We know of harrowing tales of long-drawn out sieges, when, desperate with hunger, the children in a beseiged fortified village have been sacrified. The practice followed was to exchange children, so that parents might not eat their own children. In some cases children were sold to the enemy, bartered for food.
The Maori tells us that the youngest child of a family is often the most pert, or most capable. Hence we have such old sayings as the following: “He potiki whakahirahira” (A self-extolling or ambitious last born); also: “He potiki whati-whati toki” (An adze-breaking child), as denoting a mischievous young imp who gets possession of his father's stone adze and spoils the cutting edge thereof.
Parents who were particularly careful in the rearing of their children were wont to practise a form of massage on them, the head, face and limbs being carefully rubbed each day to cause them to assume an admired form. This kind of massage is termed toto, a word also used as a verb, the passive form of which is toia, and the gerundial form toanga. Two forms of massage practised on adults were known as romiromi and takahi; the former was a squeezing process and the latter a trampling on the body by a (bare footed) person. The latter was employed in cases of excessive physical fatigue, with excellent results, we are told.
The series of ritual performances termed Tohi were performed over children of superior families, principally the male children. These ceremonies were for the purpose of obtaining the assistance of the gods or ancestral spirits in inculcating desirable qualities and accomplishments in the young folk. Thus there was a Tohi rite pertaining to qualities desirable in fighting men, another in connection with the art of agriculture, others pertaining to such arts as wood carving, weaving, and such social virtues as hospitality, kindness and generosity.
The Umu or steaming pit. Top photo shows fuel and stones piled above the Umu or pit. Lower photo shows the burning fuel in pits.
The Umu or steaming pit. Top photo shows fuel consumed; the hot stones remain.Lower photo shows the pae umu or plaited band of Phormium leaves, wherewith to line the steaming pit (umu or hangi.)
An ordinary oven for family cooking is a circular pit about two feet in diameter at the ground line, and some page 417 sixteen or eighteen inches in depth. When a meal is to be cooked a fire of dry fuel is made in this pit, the wood being in short lengths and piled up about the ground line; the necessary stones being placed on the top of the fuel. By the time the fuel is burned out, leaving nought save some embers, those stones are extremely hot. While the fire has been burning the cook has been busy preparing the various food supplies to be cooked. She will now clear cut the pit, raking the heated stones to one side and taking out any embers that are in it. The hot stones, or some of them, will be arranged on the bottom of the oven. If a large quantity of food is to be cooked, or perhaps some article that requires much cooking, then some of the stones will be taken out and placed on top of the food when arranged in the pit. The stones at the bottom of the pit are covered with a generous layer of green stuff, leaves or fern fronds, whatever is available, and on this layer the articles of food to be cooked are placed. Supposing that potatoes, greens, and meat, or fish, or birds, are to form the meal. The cook arranges the potatoes on the layer of green stuff, then the greens on the potatoes, and then places the meat, fish or birds on the top of the whole. In permanent ovens a woven band of long leaves of Astelia or Phormium, termed a koronae, or koropae, is employed to line the sides of the oven with; it prevents the intrusion of particles of earth. The arranged foods are now sprinkled with water somewhat copiously, which water percolates through to the hot stones and so generates the necessary steam, and the oven is now rapidly covered in. Another layer of leaves, called rautao when used for this purpose, is arranged so as to cover the foods, and over this are laid certain coarsely plaited mats, called taka and ritaka. These, again, are covered with a goodly layer of earth, which is beaten down so as to consolidate it; this is what retains the steam.
In some cases the food is placed directly on the hot stones in the bottom of the pit, without an intervening layer of leaves, in which case a little water will probably be sprinkled on the stones in order to wash off any ashes adhering to them. Such is the steam oven of Polynesia, and such was the mode of cooking employed by the Caledonians, as you will see noted in Ossian's Poems, in the Battle scene.page 418 page 419
The length of time required for cooking by this means varies, but an ordinary sized umu must remain covered for one and a-half or two hours. To open it, the earth is scraped or shovelled off, the covering mats carefully removed, so that no earth may fall into the oven, the layer of leaves removed, and—kua maoa te kai—the food is cooked, and exceedingly well cooked, no method excels it; the lately evolved casserole cooking is but a reversion to the umu of the neolithic Maori. Yet the Maori sayeth that another method does excel it, namely the umu konao. In this method no fire is kindled in the pit, the stones being heated elsewhere and then placed in the cold pit, the rest of the process being as described above.
As the cooked food was taken from the ovens, it was, in olden days, placed in small open, dish-shaped baskets. Such a basket would contain food for from one to four persons. Important persons, and all excessively tapu folk, would eat alone, or at least have a separate rourou, as the small baskets are termed. The baskets were plaited in a few minutes by the women, and were never used twice. The material was green leaves of Phormium, Astelia, or some similar plant having long leaves. Each little basket contained a quantity of the vegetables cooked, whatever they might be, and on them was placed the kinaki or relish of meat, fish or birds, possibly rats.
Much care is necessary in the selection of stones used in the steam oven, those sought being smooth, waterworn stones of close texture and not liable to be fractured by heat. They are usually three to four inches in length. I have used such stones of greywacke (kara) with good results. In some districts suitable stones are scarce, and, in former days, a gift of a set of oven stones was often a welcome one. These ovens were often made in the open, but there were permanent steaming pits in the cook houses that were used in bad weather. The cook sheds (kauta, kamuri, muri, whare kaunga, hereimu, etc.) were rough erections with the usual thatched or bark roofs. The walls were sometimes composed of trunks of tree ferns set up on end, a durable material. In some cases one or more walls merely showed a few posts, while fuel was stacked up against them so as to form walls, being contained within light secondary uprights.page 420
To cook food a second time. i.e., when found underdone on an oven being opened, was no common practice, but occasionally done. The process is called tamahana and tawhanarua. It was not allowable in connection with some food supplies, birds for example, for, if these were re-cooked, then page 421 all birds would migrate from the tribal forests. The Maori did not warm up cold remains of a meal, save possibly in times of scarcity, when, however, there was hardly likely to be any residue.
Tahā huahua. Gourd vessels in which birds, etc., were preserved. These decorated vessels containing potted food were placed before important guests.
Dominion Museum collection
A poha or seaweed vessel containing preserved food products. This vessel is covered with strips of bark; its lower end is inserted in albasket.
H. Hamilton photo
A patua or papa totara, a bark basket.
H. Hamilton photo
Few vessels were used by our Maori cook. A wooden trough in which to pound certain fruit kernels, gourd water vessels (tahā), plaited baskets, bowls (oko) formed by cutting a gourd in half, or of wood, were used. Seaweed vessels (poha), made from the bull kelp, were used wherein to preserve certain food supplies, principally in southern districts, where the gourd plant could not be grown. Ingenious basket-like open vessels, called patua, were formed by bending sheets of bark of the totara, a Podocarpus, occasionally of the hinau, an Elœocarpus, the miro and tanekaha; a wooden handle served page 424 to brace these. They were used for food supplies. Occasionally the gourd bowls were adorned with fanciful designs in black. Gourd vessels were much used. Maori tradition speaks of a curious form of vessel called taha rakau, made in the form of a gourd water vessel, but formed from wood and made in two pieces, as wooden trumpets were formed. The two pieces having been carefully hollowed out and hewn into form symmetrical, were fastened together by means of lashings passed through holes bored in the edges. These joins were luted with a vegetable gum.
Stone bowls were used to a limited extent, as also stone lamps, stones hollowed out to contain fat for a “slush lamp.” A few stone bowls were adorned with carved designs, though not to the extent that wooden bowls were.
Persons of different grades of tapu and importance ate apart at ceremonial feasts. This is one of the aspects of tapu that lead one to compare the institution to that of caste as it obtains in India.
The art of pottery making was never acquired by Polynesians, although they came into close contact with a pottery making people in the Fiji group. As in the case of the use of the bow and arrow as a weapon, it is evident that the art did not appeal to the Polynesian. In many of his island homes he certainly would not find a suitable material, in some he would, certainly in the isles of New Zealand. No remains of pottery are found in these isles; evidently the ceramic art was never practised here.
The ritual formulæ termed taumaha, repeated over food ere it was partaken of, was for the purpose of nullifying any evil influence pertaining to it. Thus it was not a common practice of every meal, but was followed only on certain occasions, as when a present of food supplies was received from some community outside the tribe, or at least from another clan. It was viewed as a polite act to take a small present of food when visiting another village, such a present being known as a puapua or koparepare. It is not meet, sayeth the Maori, that the bare forehead alone should enter upon the village plaza of another community.
The Maori folk have many aphorisms and quaint sententious sayings pertaining to food. Civilised man marvels page 425 that the thoughts of such a folk as the Maori dwell so much upon food. One reason is because the obtaining of sufficient food was the most important task of the Maori, and one in which practically all persons took part. His cultivated products were few, and, being all sub-tropical plants, their culture called for much labour and care; in some districts they could be grown only in small quantities, in others not at all. In some districts the diet was a poor one, and monotonous; any extra kinaki or relish that came to hand was keenly appreciated. In some districts this is so even in these days of many lately introduced plants and products. One sees natives in the highlying Tuhoe district subsisting on potatoes for week after week, the only kinaki being a little boiled sow thistle.
An old saying that illustrates the Maori view of the dignity of labour is the following: “Ehara ta te tangata kai he kai titongi kaki; e kore e rite ki tana ake, tino kai, tino makona” (Food provided by others merely tickles the throat; it never equals that gained by one's own exertions, which is the best and most satisfying of foods). Other sayings warn all against selfishness in the matter of food, and to practise the open hand; thus: “Kai kino ana a Te Arahe” refers to a woman of olden times who ate rich food in secret and gave no portion even to her husband.
Occasionally, as with us, a native may be utterly unable to eat some particular article of food, and the term koto describes this peculiarity. In old times some few persons were quite unable to eat human flesh.
Only in favoured districts of the North Island were the natives able to produce large quantities of cultivated food products. In all other districts they represented but a minor part of the food supplies of the people. In these latter districts the rhizomes of the bracken fern, forest products, and fish, furnished the bulk of the food of the Maori folk.
The Maori larder was deficient in flesh foods; his one domestic animal, the dog, though much appreciated as a dainty dish, was but a rarely tasted luxury. Rats were taken in large numbers in some districts, but not so as to form a common, every-day food supply, and birds may be included in these remarks. This scarcity of flesh food may have assisted in making the Maori the enthusiastic cannibal he assuredly page 426 was, though that scarcity did not have such an effect on his fellows of Polynesia. Possibly the pronounced cannibalism of the Maori was acquired by his inter-marriage with the Mouriuri folk, the original settlers in these isles. Coast dwelling tribes had the teeming seas to draw on for a never-failing food supply, but inland tribes had but the eel and a few small species of fish, with, in a few places, the fresh water crayfish. The rivers and lakes of the higher lying country produce few eels, some, such as Waikare-moana and Taupo lakes, none at all. Fish, both of the sea and rivers, were dried for future use, as also were shellfish. The taking of birds and fish will be described anon.
The fern root, or rhizome already referred to, is called aruhe, and this plant is found growing abundantly in most districts; great areas were covered with it in pre-European days. All fern root does not, however, enter into the Maori bill of fare; some is quite useless; it bears many aspects, probably owing to differences in soil. This important article of food is honoured to the extent of having a personified form or parent, one Haumia, said to be one of the progeny of the primal parents. The rhizome itself is sometimes termed Haumia-roa. The following names are applied to different kinds of the root: Paranui, pawhati, puahou, motuhanga, manehu, paka; these are all edible kinds and some are, says the Maori, excellent, being thick, brittle, and containing few of the black fibres; good roots are an inch in thickness, and the interior shows white when the root is broken across. The terms kakanui and tuakura are applied to inferior kinds not suitable for food. Wooden tools, called ko, kaheru, rapa maire and wauwau, were used for digging up these roots. Places where good fern root grew were resorted to by succeeding generations, and these root digging areas were known as tawaha aruhe. Charms were repeated by the diggers, and, in at least some districts, a ceremonial performance is said to have been necessary ere commencing operations.
These roots were conveyed to the village and stacked on a kind of rack or stage, called a titara aruhe by the Tuhoe folk. It was so left to dry, and would then be conveyed to a store pit or the cook house. In some cases it was placed in a creek or water hole wherein it would keep for a long time. To page 427 prepare this article for eating it was roasted before a fire, after which the hard outside part was scraped off and the root was pounded on a stone anvil with a patu aruhe, or short wooden beater. It was often eaten at this stage, the hard fibrous part being spat out after mastication. A better method was to pick out the fibres, submit the edible matter to another pounding and another roasting ere it was eaten. Or the starchy edible matter was formed into cakes (komeke) or rolls that were roasted at a fire as before. These rolls soaked in the juice of the tutu berry were considered to be very tasty. Komeke aruhe formed good provender for a journey, we are told. The chewing of these roots was hard on the teeth; I have seen many old skulls containing teeth so worn that the grinders must have been worn pretty well down to the gums, but every tooth as sound as the proverbial bell. This starchy food is said to be a very sustaining one, but it is certainly unpalatable to Europeans; its use is now quite given up. It is alluded to by the Tuhoe folk as “Te manawa nui o Whete” (the sustaining power of Whete), for that ancestor would consume a large quantity of it ere taking part in a fight, wherein he would perform prodigies of valour. It was considered unlucky to pound these roots at night, hence the saying: “Kaua e patu aruhe i te po, he upoko tangata, he tohu aitua” (Do not pound fern root at night, a human head, an evil omen); your head may be pounded by an enemy ere long.
Though not a luxurious diet, yet fern root was always obtainable, and so prized. An old saying has it: “Ka ora karikari aruhe, ka mate takiri kaka” (Fern root diggers survive when parrot snarers are in sore straits). Birds are taken only in the proper season, but fern root is ever available.
Patu aruhe, fern root pounders, used in pounding the rhizomes of bracken (Pteris) that formed an important food supply.
H. Hamilton photo
In the case of C. australis, South Island natives tell me that only young trees were suitable for the purpose of food, those having a trunk of but a few feet in height. This species was not cultivated, but grew wild only; it attains a height of thirty to forty feet in some cases. The small trunks referred to were treated as described above, the pieces were placed in baskets, and placed in the steam oven. These steamed pieces were often dried and kept for a considerable period; when required for use they would be soaked a while in water. South Island natives sometimes separated the fecula from the fibres, but so far as I know did not form it into cakes. They sometimes mixed it with water into a sort of gruel, and so used it; in this form it was called waitau kauru; the fecula is termed para.
The inner part of the root of the raupo bulrush (Typha augustifolia) provided a very meagre and unsatisfying article of food. Occasionally the pollen of this plant was collected for the purpose of making a kind of bread.
In some districts the berries of the hinau (Elœocarpus dentatus) were collected in large quantities as a food supply. The mealy matter was separated from the stones by a pounding and sifting process. Of this meal a kind of gruel was sometimes made by mixing it with water and cooking it by page 430 means of putting hot stones in it. This was called wai haro, apparently an old name, for at Niue Island, in Polynesia, scraped coco-nut and arrowroot boiled is called vai halo. As a rule, however, the meal was mixed with water, kneaded into a paste and formed into somewhat large cakes. These cakes were then cooked in a steam oven; they are very dark coloured and heavy, oily, and unappetising to Europeans. They will keep for a considerable time, and were much appreciated by the folk of pre-potato days.
The kernels of the fruit of the tawa tree Beilschmiedia tawa) formed an important food supply to people dwelling in high-lying regions, where but little cultivated food was produced. The kernels were freed from the surrounding pulp and cooked in a steam oven, in which they were left for about forty-eight hours, then spread out on mats to dry, after which they were stored for future use. When prepared for eating they were placed in a wooden trough (kumete) and stone boiled, in order to soften them, then pounded, and so were ready for the table. From the European point of view this food is not an attractive one; both tawa and hinau have I eaten among the Tuhoe bushmen, on fern root, and raupo, and huhu grubs have I been regaled in the byways of the land, and yet narrow prejudice compels me to cling to beefsteak and potatoes.
From the small berries of the tutu was prepared a minor food supply, a luxury occasionally indulged in, and which was of the consistency of jelly. The soft ripe berries were crushed and poured into a conical bag termed a pu tutu, and made by plaiting narrow strips of Cordyline leaf. This was lined with the panicles of the toetoe (Arundo conspicua), which served to retain the poisonous seeds (huarua) of the fruit. The juice of the fruit dripped into a bowl set below the suspended pu or bag. After a while the juice loses its fluid condition and becomes tetepe, or set. It is in this condition that it is eaten, sometimes with fern root, as a tasty kinaki, or relish. On the coast a species of fucus was sometimes eaten with this jelly. Groves of the tutu shrub were sometimes protected by means of a rahui, lest the fruit be taken by persons having no right to it.page 431
Pu tutu, a basket strainer used in separating poisonous seeds of tutu berries from the pulp of the fruit.
H. Hamilton photo
Under the generic term of harore we find a number of fungi that were eaten in former times. In the case of the tawaka, a species of Agaricus, a superstition prevails that if any person who has lately eaten of it enters a gourd patch, then the fruit of that plant will not mature, but decay prematurely. The hawai species was sometimes eaten raw, but the puapua-a-Autahi is poisonous in that condition and had to be cooked. The hakeka or fungus of commerce (Hirneola polytricha) was also eaten.
Water was the only drink known to the Maori of yore. Drinking water was kept in gourd vessels as a rule. A dainty custom of old was, when handing water to a guest in a small bowl, to lay several green fern fronds on the surface of the water. The appearance of these fresh green fronds has, quoth my native informant, an appetising effect.
The dog was the only domestic animal possessed by the Maori, and it was brought hither from Polynesia in long past days. It was a low-set animal of a very foxlike aspect as regards its head. The word for dog is kuri, often pronounced with the last vowel long. Possibly there were two varieties of this animal, certain remarks in old traditions seem to point that way, known as ruarangi and mohorangi. It was not a very useful creature, but was employed in hunting night-moving birds, such as the kiwi, and also ducks in the moulting season. Crozet, one of the most reliable of early observers, wrote of the native dog as follows: “The dogs are a sort of domesticated fox, quite black or white, very low on the legs, straight ears, thick tail, long body, full jaws, but more pointed than those of the fox, and uttering the same cry; they do not bark like our dogs.”
Early observers agree on the fox-like appearance of the animal and the fact that they did not bark. Their long hair was prized for the adornment of weapons, etc., and the skins for garments. They were apparently lacking in intelligence. Their bushy tails were also used to adorn garments. Parkinson tells us that they resembled the dogs of Tahiti, and Forster remarked that these dogs had but a poor sense of scent. Their flesh was considered a delicacy.
A Maori tradition tells us that there were large animals in a land adjacent to a former home of the Maori people. The terms kuri and kararehe were applied to all introduced European animals by the Maori, until they learned their proper names. Thus the horse, which caused great amazement, was described as a kuri waha tangata (a man-carrying dog, or beast).page 435
Dog Skin Cape.
The skins have been cut into narrow strips, and these strips sewn on to a ground consisting of a fabric woven from Phormium fibre.
H. Hamilton photo
Of the gait of native women we have already spoken; it was an acquired one, not a natural mode of walking. Men walked in a more natural and more dignified manner, but the Maori never acquires a rapid gait. When, in past years, we employed native contingents in bush fighting operations, the manual exercise of arms was easily acquired by recruits, but the quick march had to be literally learned; it was not a natural acquirement. When travelling in old barefoot days a much-favoured pace was a short stride trot called toiha, a shuffling mode of progression. In carrying heavy burdens on the back the Maori excels, and always there were on every path small clear spaces used as resting places. Those on hill country are called taumata, and are usually at places commanding a view of the surrounding country.
In sitting the Maori favours the cross-legged position to a great extent, also squatting on the heels; no raised seats were formerly used. Women do not sit cross-legged but bring both legs to one side; squatting down with the buttocks on the heels is a favoured posture when engaged in certain tasks, such as preparing food, weeding crops, etc. Sitting cross-legged does not cramp a native's limbs as it does ours. Both sexes squatted down during micturition, but certain mannerisms and habits are now undergoing a change, owing to contact with Europeans.
In former times, when camping out in wet weather, natives did not lie down, but assumed a kind of squatting position for sleeping, so that the rough shoulder cape carried would cover them as a tarpaulin. In sleeping beside a fire a Maori likes to lie broadside on to it, often with his back to it, hence such a camp fire is termed an ahi kopae. Travellers sleeping under a wharau or rude temporary shelter lie side by side, with a fire at their feet.
A very old and peculiar native habit, a survival of the ages, was that of covering the mouth when sitting down. It was an instinctive habit, with men at least; I am not sure about women, but, owing to the adoption of European garments, is now seldom seen. In past years, when the blanket was much worn, as soon as a man sat down he drew the blanket over his mouth so as to cover it.page 437
The native habit of covering the head seems to present a different aspect, having a definite purpose or accompanying certain conditions or actions. Thus it was practised when a person was overcome with emotion, as by grief or shame, by a person about to be killed, by persons mourning for the dead. On the other hand we have a record of a story of a young person who was captured by enemies when in a state of nudity. One of the men who slew (and ate) her related how she endeavoured to cover her person with her hands, leaving her head exposed to the fatal blow of the tomahawk. The grim old savage who related the incident moralised on the power of the feeling of modesty in that girl.
In years past we used to see natives covering the head, as when two friends met after long separation, or after the death of a relative. They would sit down opposite each other, press their noses together, cover their two heads with a blanket or cloak, and commence the doleful sounds emitted by natives when mourning the dead. The hongi, or native salute, was not a matter of “rubbing noses,” as it is so often miscalled, but those organs were simply pressed lightly together.
Though adopting an energetic tone and manner in many cases, as when making a speech, yet many natives of the chieftain class are possessed of a quiet, dignified manner and tone. This quiet demeanour is appreciated by the people. I was once impressed by a remark made by a native with whom I was conversing. A European came to my tent to deliver some message, and then departed, whereupon the native said to me: “I think that man must be a person of good birth, because he spoke in a gentle tone of voice.”
A Maori has not the conventional forms of apology that we employ, but nevertheless uses certain phrases conveying much the same meaning, such as “I am in error,” and “My fault,” and so on. When asking a question that he thinks needs some apology, he will say: “Koi pouri,” or “Kei pouri koe,” equivalent to “Be not annoyed.” Another, and very singular form of such apologetic sayings employed when asking a question is: “Koi pouri; he kaha uia te kaha,” which conveys a pronounced sense of deprecation. The Maori possessed many polite forms of speech; he was punctilious and regardful of the feelings of others. The chieftain class was page 438 prompt to check quietly any tendency to impertinence or impolite behaviour, as also were elders generally. The writer has often pondered over the boorish behaviour so often witnessed among our own “civilised” folk, and has come to the conclusion that general politeness is peculiar to but two conditions of society. Recognised forms of etiquette and politeness are practised by two different phases of culture: the highly-cultured folk of advanced civilisations deem courtesy to be a necessary adjunct of human culture, while barbaric man holds such to be equally necessary in order to avoid opprobrium and a broken head. The enforcement of civil law against the primitive lex talionis, a comparatively modern feature, has resulted in a decay of polite forms. A mistaken estimate of independence makes for a lax form of social behaviour.
We have seen that it is “bad form” to directly ask a native his name. When so asked, as, for instance, by a European, he will sometimes get a bystander to divulge his name. Personally I have generally adopted the plan of asking a third person to give me the information.
In beckoning to a person at a distance to approach, the Maori does not hold the hand up as we do, but extends it downwards. Green branches or garments were waved in the welcoming of a party of guests, and such branches were also in evidence when natives first met Europeans, as related by Cook and other early voyagers in these seas. The tungou or upward nod of the head denotes assent; it is usually accompanied by a lifting of the eyebrows; the latter given alone often carries much significance. The act termed kapo is a raising of one arm over the head and the closing of the fingers; the word means “to clutch.” This act is employed by a person when some one calls out to him from a distance; it shows that he has heard the remark and will act upon it. If the shouted remark chance to be an insult, then the kapo denotes that it has been heard and will be avenged. A sign of friendship, and often of protection, is to double the fore-finger of the right hand and place the projecting second joint thereof to the tip of the nose; it betokens the hongi or nose salute. Many a person's life has been saved by this sign. Suppose the case of a man encountering a party of an enemy page 439 tribe; should the principal man of the party make the above sign, then it would be known that the man was not to be killed, but treated as a friend. A person of influence could save any enemy in the midst of a fight by placing his cape over him.
The whakarewha, or sideways glance, is a sign suggestive of a secret attack on a third person, or something similar. To shut both eyes and nod the head downwards is a sign the significance of which depends on the particular conditions of the case. I have seen it used to induce a person to drop a particular subject of conversation.
Should a Maori wish to give you an idea of the height of, say a dog, he would hold his hand in a horizontal position, as we do. But to show the height of a child he always holds his hand in a vertical position, the reason being some prejudice connected with tapu.
Gestures come kindly to the Maori, and he makes a free use of them. It is highly interesting to watch and listen to a native narrating some incident, especially if that incident be an old-time fight; his gestures are the illustrations of his discourse. I have often admired a gesture evolved by the Maori after he became acquainted with firearms. In order to illustrate a heavy fire of musketry, he will open his hands, and, with widespread downward pointing fingers, rapidly dart his hands down several time in succession to illustrate the hail of bullets.
Facial distortion was much practised, and in thrusting out his tongue to abnormal lengths the Maori is a world champion. He has also amazing powers of rolling his eyes, both feats being doubtless the result of prolonged practice. The elderly women who have served a long apprenticeship in the performance of posture dances, have acquired the power of forcing the stomach upward in a curious and far from pleasing manner.
In counting the Maori will often open his fingers out one after another, but in tallying generations of a genealogy he does so by closing them, one after another, on the palm.
In olden days signalling to a distance was performed by fire, by smoke, by human semaphore, and by sound, employing in the latter case two forms of trumpet, to be described page 440 later. Signalling generally is called rotarota, while whakapua denotes smoke signalling. Certain arm signals are as follows:—To raise the arm and wave it twice outward from the body signifies that the person so signalling is about to go somewhere. To strike the buttocks twice denotes that he is staying. To raise the arm and place the hand on the top of the head, with arm bowed out, means that the other person is to join the signaller. To hold the arm outstretched, with the hand open, is a sign of dissent, while the kamu, or closing of the hand, is a token of assent. These are east coast usages. The tuohu, or lowering the head and keeping it in that position, may mean that a person feels himself to be worsted in an argument, or that he requires time to consider some subject. When a man wishes to enquire from another at a distance: “Is it safe for me to advance?” he raises both arms, overlaps the hands, and places them against his forehead, both elbows projecting. To answer “It is dangerous,” a person would raise the right arm quickly three times, each time touching the top of the head. To signify “It is well, come on,” the right hand is raised to the head once, then the arms are folded across the breast. Such were some of the waitohu or signal signs of yore.
When raids from hostile tribes were expected a look-out might be stationed on some hill near the village, whence he could signal to the hamlet, where a man might be stationed on one of the puwhara or elevated fighting platforms. If the look-out detects people approaching he waves both arms down-wards; if a numerous party he will wave them to and fro while stretched downwards. If he recognises an enemy force he crosses his arms in front of his head. If women and children accompany the party he clasps his arms over his breast three times. The accounts given by natives of their ancestors having signalled long distances by such mediums as thunder, and lunar and solar haloes, etc., are more suited to the myth department than this veracious chapter.
Doubtless such signs (tohu) as we have described differed to some extent in different districts; natives themselves assert that such was the case. Among the southern Kahungunu folk two sticks tied together in the form of a cross denoted the presence of an enemy force in the district. Such a sign might page 441 be found lying on a track or in the porch of a deserted hut, having been deposited as a warning to wayfarers. When a native lays a branch or fern frond on a track to show others the direction in which he is travelling, he so deposits it that the butt end points to the way he is going. If the track divided he would block (taupa) the one he was not pursuing with a branch, or some bracken.
* Mana=prestige, influence, power, etc.