The Maori - Volume II
XIV The Art of War
XIV The Art of War
War a leading pursuit—The Gates of War—“By women and land are men lost”—The laughter that desolated far lands—“Nought remains save the drifting birds”—Different degrees of warfare—Boys dedicated to war god—Training of youths—Fighting qualities preserved by ritual—The evils of pahunu and hinapo—The female element the salvation of man—Omens—Why Orakau fell—Tu the Red Eyed—How the Maori fought—Women in war—Aphorisms—The Ika a Whiro and “red tongues”—Tribal Dr. and Cr. accounts—Extraordinary ways of avenging defeats—“When the sun flashes on Tawhiuau”—Broken tribes driven south—Taharua—Modes of fighting—The flight of the cormorant—Native weapons—Guards and points—Taniwha challenges the British Army—The prized mere—The maripi not a weapon—Missile weapons—The whip-thrown spear—The sling—Bow and arrow not a Maori weapon—The art of karo—Weapons charmed—Protective capes, etc.—Acquisition of firearms—The taua goes forth—The tiwha token—The Wai-taua rite—The war dance—Te Hihi's famous race against death—War cries—The attack—The “first fish”—How the mawe comes home—Pursuit—The hoa charm—Slaves—Peace-making—The dance of the Mareikura—The grass-grown war trail.
Having practised the arts of peace for some time it behoves us now to lift the war trail and march with the kawau māro under the banner of Tu. For war was certainly a Maori occupation, one of his common activities, more so than was agriculture. Some tribes cultivated but little food, or none at all, but assuredly all indulged in fighting. It was a necessity, for the people who were not prepared to fight courted disaster and extinction. No such a people has been heard of in New Zealand, but we are told that the Moriori folk of the Chatham Isles had entirely abandoned fighting long before discovery by Europeans. The result of that lapse from virtue we know well. When, in 1835, a band of the Atiawa tribe seized the Rodney page 225 brig in Wellington Harbour, and compelled the captain thereof to take them to the Chathams, the doom of the Moriori was sealed. The little band of hardy, trained fighters assailed about 2,000 natives and did as they listed. Life for some time was a prolonged cannibal feast for them, and the hapless Moriori were knocked on the head when wanted for the ovens.
An old saying of the Maori runs: “Ka tuwhera te tawaha o te riri, kaore e titiro ki te ao marama,” which may be rendered as: The gates of war are open and man recks not of the world of life. It is through those gates that we must now accompany the Maori toa, or warrior, in order to observe his modes of fighting.
Among such a “touchy” folk as the Maori the causes of war were innumerable, almost anything might lead to intertribal fighting. The Maori says: “He wahine, he whenua, e ngaro ai te tangata” (By women and land are men lost), but there were many other causes of war, and none more prolific than the extreme sensitiveness of the rangatira class. The belittling of prestige or authority, termed takahi mana, has started many intertribal wars, as also has ridicule. By war one does not here mean such warfare as occurs among races of higher culture, but a series of annual raids conducted during the slack season, that is after the crops were planted.
As an illustration. In days of old a woman, named Koraria, chanced to be sitting outside the stockade of Puketapu, a fortified village at Te Teko. A party of a neighbouring clan chanced to pass by, and, seeing the woman sitting there in somewhat scant attire, one of the party laughed. That laugh desolated many lands. As my informant put it: “It caused the land to resound with the mourning of widows, it sent men flowing like water down to the spirit world, and left but the drifting birds on the Sea of Taupo.”
For, look you! Koraria replied to that laugh with an insulting expression. The laughers raised a force of the Awa folk and attacked Puketapu, slaying a number of persons. The Puketapu folk then attacked the Warahoe people, who had not injured them but were related to the Awa tribe. Warahoe retaliated by killing some of the Puketapu people, and the latter marched against Warahoe, took both their fortified vil- page 226 lages, and drove them out of the district. They found a temporary home at Taupo. The Tuhoe tribe then attacked the Puketapu people on behalf of Warahoe. The attacked clan called upon the Awa and Arawa tribes for assistance, the combined force attacking Tuhoe. The latter retaliated by marching to Lake Rere-whakaaitu, where they attacked the Arawa, slaying some important chiefs. The Arawa called on Taupo and Waikato for assistance, and raided the bush-clad Tuhoe district. Tuhoe marched on Taupo and defeated the lake folk at Orona. Then at last peace was made, and the tatau pounamu, the jade door, closed on the long-drawn strife. But the man who laughed at Koraria below the ramparts of Puketapu had sent hundreds of souls down to Rarohenga.
The Maori ever looked upon death in intertribal fighting as a perfectly natural and even desirable end. Many deemed it a fitter end than “death by the house wall.” The comfortless nature of native huts, and the treatment that sick persons were subjected to were certainly sufficient to cause man to desire death in battle. Man slaying, says the Maori, is one of man's most important activities, it is the umanga kapukapu, or umanga nui (the great game); better to die weapon in hand than by lingering sickness or old age.
There were different degrees as it were of fighting. Quarrels and even fighting among clans of a tribe over land disputes, riri whenua as it is termed, was a much less bitter and strenuous affair than fighting with another tribe. The term pakanga seems to be applied to the more serious forms of fighting. The seeking of blood vengeance for tribesmen slain in a treacherous manner produced the bitterest form of fighting. When bent on such serious expeditions it was imperative that the first person encountered, be he friend or foe, be slain. Such an incident is termed a maroro kokoti ihu waka, a flying fish crossing the bows of a canoe. It is a bad thing for the flying fish. We have, in our narrative, already scanned many causes of war, some of which could not possibly be foreseen.
The fashioning of implements from bones of enemies was one of many causes of war, and the fighting in such cases was very bitter. When living among the Tuhoe folk I found that they still had some bone spear points fashioned from bones of page 227 enemies slain a century ago. These were bird spears, and points of human bone were always preferred for these. I obtained some of these spear points by barter, a 50lb. bag of flour for two points!
We have seen that male children were often dedicated to the service of Tu, the supreme god of war, and that youths and young men were carefully and ceaselessly trained in the arts of war. We have many of the ritual formulæ recited over infants in order to endow them with courage, ability, and dexterity in the use of weapons. This was the Tohi of Tu, and a somewhat similar rite was performed over men prior to engaging in a fight.
In the school of arms called para-whakawai youths and young men were trained by the Ika a Whiro or tried warriors, masters of the art of hapai rakau, or bearing of arms. Commencing with light, harmless reeds, they were afterwards promoted to the use of wooden rods such as mako, and then perhaps to real spears with the points muffled so as to inflict no wound. The acquisition of the necessary skill in the use of several forms of weapons, and the ceaseless practice of the art of parrying and avoiding weapons, was no light task; it required long years of training. There were also many other things to be learned, charms, signs, omens, etc., all of which called for careful study and concentration on the part of young men.
The Maori mind is nothing if not metaphysical, and so he had evolved a mode of protecting his courage and ability in war from all evil influences that might weaken it. He would take the ahua or immaterial semblance of the desirable qualities of the men of a group, and convey it for safe keeping to some tapu or secret place. By means of a certain rite an expert would cause those qualities to be protected so that the owners would not be affected by the evils of hauhauaitu, pahunu, hinapo, tumatarehurehu, etc., all of which are extremely pernicious and dangerous to human life.
The conditions mentioned are the result of some transgression of the laws of tapu, that is to say of offences against the gods. Inasmuch as a person can commit such offences without being aware of it at the time, it follows that he never page 228 knew when the evils mentioned might afflict him. The first two names given denote a loss of courage, vigour and mental power. A person so afflicted loses his nerve, becomes apprehensive, his presence of mind fails him in a crisis. It is not a question of cowardice, that is quite a different thing. The fact is the gods are not with him; their sustaining, vivifying power has been withdrawn. He has become pahunu, he is assailed by tumatarehurehu, he is afflicted by hinapo, and can no longer see the warning signs of the gods. The writer is inclined to think that Tu-mata-rehurehu (dim-eyed Tu) and Tu-matapongia (sightless Tu) are personified forms of this condition of hinapo.
Should men of a fighting force be afflicted by these evils it becomes necessary to remove them. This is done in a very simple manner; the afflicted person passes between the legs of the priest of the party, or those of a chief. If a woman is available, the sufferer will lie down and get her to step over him, or, as the Maori phrases it, he passes below her thighs. Both acts are effective, says the Maori. It is a result of the ancient belief in the extraordinary powers of the human organs of reproduction. In some cases the afflicted man just inserted his head between the limbs of the woman. We are also told that the apron or kilt of an influential woman was carried by an armed force in some cases, and a man afflicted by hauhauaitu would wrap it round his head, and let it remain there a few moments. We now see how useful was the usage of protecting the qualities of a person, as described above; it was a form of life insurance.
When a young man lifts his first war trail, he will secure some article belonging to the first man he kills, a weapon or garment, and present it to the priest of his own party, who will then perform over him a form of the Tohi rite. There was ever a tohunga or priest of some kind accompanying a raiding force, for many superstitions were observed in regard to war, and so the tohunga was deemed highly necessary. One of the chief tasks of such a functionary was to consult his atua, or familiar, with regard to a coming fight, and explain the result to the party. This is why the “chaplain” of the force was often in command of it.page 229
It is unlucky for the members of a raiding force to eat standing; no matter how pushed for time they may be they must lay down their weapons and seat themselves when partaking of food. The moon and stars were closely scanned for signs or omens prior to engaging in a fight. If a fortified village were to be attacked then the moon represented that village. Any star near it would be taken as representing the attacking force; auguries were derived from the relative positions of star and moon. The writer had for years in his camp an old native who had fought against the Imperial troops at Orakau. He told me that when the Tuhoe contingent reached the scene of the fighting, they saw a favourable omen for an attacking force in the positions of a star and the moon. But they heedlessly constructed a redoubt at Orakau, and let the Pakeha (European) force attack them there, wherefor of course they were defeated. He concluded: “The fort fell, but it was our own fort, and we fell with it.”
We have seen that Tu is the principal being representing war; he personifies war and bloodshed. At the same time, whenever fighting was toward the Maori always selected one of the minor war gods, beings of the third or fourth class, to fight under. The force was under the mana and tapu of Tu, but that superior being is not a directing expert, that is the duty of the minor atua, perhaps Maru, or Uenuku, or some other personified form of natural phenomena. Or the atua employed might be a fourth-class one, a mere familiar, the spirit of a deceased relative of its medium, such as Te Rehu-o-tainui, already described.
No large supplies of food were carried by a raiding party, for it always reckoned to find food in an enemy country, and indeed often subsisted on the enemy himself. Fern root, already described, was a favoured food for journeys, and something was generally picked up by the way.
It is doubtful if any battle of magnitude ever took place in old Maori days. The intertribal wars consisted of a series of raids. The greatest losses would occur when a fortified village was taken, and that would not be a common occurrence. When such a place was taken the result would probably be, not a fight, but a massacre.
Women occasionally took part in fighting, and also accompanied raiding parties; even children were sometimes taken on such expeditions, a most extraordinary act from our point of view. The writer has obtained interesting notes on raids made on the Wairoa tribes in the “twenties” and “thirties” of last century from two old women who, as children, accompanied bands of Tuhoe raiders. Women accompanied the Tuhoe contingent that marched to Waikato in 1864 to assist in the fighting against Imperial troops. Several of these women were killed in the siege of Orakau.
Some of the old sayings pertaining to war are of interest. The following are specimens of these pepeha, or whakatauki, as such proverbial expressions are termed:—
“Tini te whetu, iti te pokeao”—A multitude of stars may be obscured by a small dark cloud. Even so may a small party of resolute men accomplish much in war.
“Nga rakau mata rua a Tu-matauenga”—The double-edged weapons of the war god. Applied to such weapons as are used for both thrusting and striking.
“Ka moe te mata hi tuna; ka ara te mata hi taua”—The eyes of the eel fisher close, but the eyes of a watchman are open. This includes an illustration of the playing upon words so much appreciated by the Maori; one fishes for eels, the other for a hostile force.
“He toa taua, mate taua; he toa piki pari, mate pari; he toa ngaki kai, ma te huhu tena”—A warrior dies in battle, a cragsman on a cliff, but a food cultivator of old age.
“He iti na Tuhoe e kata te Po”—A few of Tuhoe shall make the world of death laugh. The small raiding parties of the Tuhoe folk achieved fame.
“He urunga tangata, he urunga panekeneke”—A human pillow is a slippery pillow. Do not depend too much on others, but rely on the strength of your own arm.
A significant old saying is this: “The sleep of a bird in a tree top is sound, but uneasy is that of man who ever dreads an attack.”
A saying of one of our old officers of the Native Contingent struck the writer as being neat; it was: “Death is a permanent garment of the warrior.”
Ika-a-Whiro denotes a tried warrior; arero whero the “red tongues,” the ordinary fighting man; ati-a-toa the young men not yet thoroughly proved. These are special or honorific terms; the ordinary term for a staunch fighter is toa. Contemptuous expressions such as to-kumu and pirorehe are applied to laggards those who show cowardice.
If there was one quality more highly cultivated by the Maori than that of revenge the writer has yet to learn of it. To avenge insults, wrongs, etc., was considered to be one of the most important duties of man. Hence it was that a slight mishap might develop into a feud, and that feud might continue for generations. The duty of squaring accounts with any tribe that had slain a tribesman was ceaselessly impressed upon young folk. These feuds often meant the dispatch of raiding forces until the account was settled, but winter and spring were, as a rule, peaceful times. The duty and recreation of guerilla fighting was postponed until the crops had been planted. By the time an account was deemed squared the other side probably held that it was more than square, and they would busy themselves in equalising it, and so the feud was continued.
When a force was defeated a peculiar rite was sometimes performed in order to avenge the disaster by means of black magic. In this dread act the souls of enemies are said to be “cooked” or destroyed, and their weapons rendered harmless. Some very singular acts were performed by the Maori in order to avenge a reverse, or a slain tribesman, or at least to equalise page 233 the account. Old fighters have explained that, in some cases, a reverse was equalised by building a new house and naming it after the place where the tribe had been defeated. In some cases at least of this nature a chief of the enemy would be invited to the village and there lodged and entertained in the new house. After a short sojourn he would return to his home. We have already scanned other weird methods of “avenging” a death or defeat by means of spinning tops and swinging on a moari.
Another extraordinary act sometimes performed was explained to me by Tutakangahau of Tuhoe, a man possessed of much old-time lore. A people might be defeated by a force of another tribe. The stricken ones would set to work and fashion a new war canoe, a work of some years. When finished a war party would man the vessel and set off to visit the territory of the enemy. On their arrival there they would lie off shore, broadside on to the coastline, and cause the canoe to rock to and fro sideways. This over, the party returned home; the account was squared. The Rev. G. Brown, in his “Melanesians and Polynesians,” describes a custom of the natives of the Solomon Isles. When starting on, and returning from, a war raid, they make their canoes rock in a similar manner. He writes: “On the canoes leaving they make them rock violently from side to side.” Also, on the return of the raiders: “As the canoes approach the shore, they are again made to rock violently from side to side.”
The extraordinary acts credited to the Maori above may have been prompted by a feeling that the community was not strong enough to avenge its defeat by force of arms.
In some cases a defeat was equalised by means of singing a song, which reminds one of the top-spinning and similar acts. When the Arawa folk were defeated by Tuhoe at Puke-kai-kahu, the widows of the slain chiefs composed a bitter song reviling the slayers of their husbands. Then four hundred Arawa warriors escorted these widows into the heart of the rugged forest-clad Tuhoe district. On arriving at the principal village at Taumata o Te Riu they formed up before its stockades and performed a furious posture dance as they roared forth the incisive words of the song. And Tuhoe said: page 234 “Thunder in the heavens; the Arawa on earth”—the one as noisy as the other.
The bereaved women desired to greet the heads of their husbands that had been secured by Tuhoe. So some of the latter folk carried those heads down from the fort, and the widows wept over them and greeted them. Then, without a blow being struck on either side, the Arawa force drew out and commenced the long march homeward to the Land of Boiling Waters, the Rotorua district. Now the sequel to this story is also of some interest. Shortly after the departure of the Arawa, the Tama-kai-moana clan of Tuhoe arrived from its rugged home on the Rocky Mountain. These folk decided to follow and attack the retiring Arawa. Their tribesmen strongly objected to this course, explaining that peace had been made with the Arawa. But the turbulent “Dogs of Pohokorua” declined to listen to objections; they pursued the visitors and attacked them, receiving for their pains a severe defeat, and losing about forty men. That fight occurred generations ago, but one yet hears the treacherous act referred to and condemned among the Tuhoe bushmen.
When a certain chief of Tuhoe had his little joke with Tama-riwai, he little thought of the blood that would flow in consequence. At a tribal feast he called out: “O Tama! Here is a fine morsel for us two. You may look at it while I eat it.” To tell of the fighting that the remark led to would be a long tale, for many people went down to Hades to pay for the jest.
Stories of old-time feuds and fights of the Maori folk reveal instances of ferocity, savagery and treachery that Germans or Sinn Feiners alone might equal, but, unlike those folk, the Maori was also capable of acting in a chivalrous and magnanimous manner, as we have already seen. For example, when Tuhoe were about to attack a fortified village near Galatea, some proposed that the place be attacked under cover of darkness. But the leading chief, The Dark Heavens, said: “Am I a slave that I should take such an advantage. We will tarry until the sun's rays gleam on Tawhiuau.*
* The hill that looks down on old Fort Galatea and the plain of Kuhawaea.
Occasionally, when it was proposed to raise a force in order to avenge a wrong, a special house was built for the purpose of deliberation. Representatives of the various clans would assemble to discuss the matter. Such a house was called a whare ngakau.
Owing to intertribal warfare some tribes have entirely disappeared as separate communities, the remnants having been incorporated with more powerful bodies. Weak tribes sometimes existed in a condition of vassalage. The general movement of defeated and weakened tribes was southward. The northern parts of the North Island carried the greatest population because agriculture alone permitted of close settlement, and the sub-tropical cultivated food products of the Maori flourished better in the north. Thus the prolific north sent many peoples southward, often fleeing from the wrath to come, or the wrath that had come. Broken tribes were pushed across Cook Straits into the South Island, which has even been a refuge for such peoples. Thus it was that, even far south in Otago and Southland, are evidences of prolonged occupation. No warmth-loving folk such as the Polynesians would have settled down there, in a land where no food could be cultivated, unless it were a matter of stern necessity.
Among a turbulent, virile and warlike people like the oldtime Maori, a man possessed of the qualities necessary in savage warfare would come to the front and make a name for himself. Many such cases are on record, and a commoner or sub-chief might acquire an important position in a tribe by his abilities as a director of raiding operations. Since the advent of Europeans the names of such famed leaders as Hongi, Te Waharoa, Taraia and Te Rau-paraha have been familiar to all. During our late unpleasantness in the “sixties” the sub-chief Ropata Wahawaha became a famed leader of our Native Contingent; his hand lay heavy on the harassed bushmen of Tuhoeland.
As a result of exogamous marriages there were always taharua, or two-sided persons dwelling in all communities. This term is applied to persons related to two tribes; if a man's father and mother belonged to different tribes he would be a taharua. The Maori sometimes consented to betroth page 236 children to others of a different tribe, so that they might serve as taura (cords) to pull that other tribe their way when assistance was needed in war.
A taharua was, naturally, often caught fighting against his own relatives, and such persons were often spared when captured. When forces belonging to two tribes were engaged in fighting it was no uncommon occurrence for taharua to pass between the two parties. They often gave most harmful information, which act the Maori scarcely seemed to think worthy of punishment. Taharua also often gave information regarding projected raids, and sometimes performed very singular acts. In one case I was told of a man living at the Wairoa was also a member of the Tuhoe tribe. When the people of the Wairoa raided the Tuhoe district they resolved to slay a certain chief of that place. Now the man of “two sides” was also a kopu-rua, that is he was in sympathy with both the tribes to which he belonged. He therefore accompanied the raiders and, when these captured the aforesaid chief, the taharua sprang forward and himself slew his relative. His object was to save the man from degradation, and to spare the feelings of his relatives. The fact of that man being killed by a relative saved the situation. The Tuhoe folk would not look upon him as an enemy, but rather as a friend and benefactor.
A similar case occurred when one of our Native Contingent forces captured some hostiles of rank. The men hesitated to kill them, but their native officer said: “They are relatives of mine, I will attend to them,” which he at once did by shooting them. When expostulated with by a European officer, he remarked: “Well, they are my own relatives. Who should kill them if not myself?” Many singular stories could be related of the Maori and his practices in war. It was apparently his delight to perform what we would deem to be the most fantastic acts.
The Maori employed various modes of fighting in days of old. He was an adept in the arts of scouting, of ambuscades, and that of patoi or luring an enemy on to his ruin. He possessed great powers of endurance, as when besieged in one of his fortified villages. If well led by men of stand- page 237 ing and proved ability he was capable of undertaking desperate ventures. Numbers did not appear to daunt him; the presence of a fighting chief of fame and mana in the ranks of the enemy was a much more serious matter. He had, however, some serious weaknesses. The loss of his leaders often made for a debacle, and always superstition was liable to seriously affect his courage and fighting stamina. An unlucky omen might well turn the day against him. Another matter that might lead to disaster was the placing of important powers of control in the hands of the priestly medium of the particular atua under whom the force was conducting its operations.
The Maori was fond of inducing that kind of Dutch courage that proceeds from the performance of a furious war dance. The long-drawn misery of continued trench warfare would have disgusted him. He would simply have rolled up his swag and gone home. Raiding and fighting were pleasing exercises between crop planting and crop lifting, but still the serious matters of life must be attended to at the proper times!
The influence and power of tried and trusted chiefs was remarkable, in war time and at all other times. Many a panic or flight has been stopped by such men. At such a time a respected chief had but to say: “I retreat no further. Let me die here on my own land,” and his followers would rally round him and fight on.
When desirous of taking a fortified village a muchfavoured plan was to send a small body of men forward to show itself before the fort, in the hope of luring the defenders into an ambuscade (kokoti moe roa). Such a luring party is termed a hunuhunu, and sometimes patoi and poa. The term manukawhaki has practically the same meaning. To unmask an ambush is expressed by the term hurahura kokoti. A false retreat is termed takiri.
- Riri pakipaki
- Toka tu moana
- Tukutahi patata
- Whakarau rakau
- Te hiwi maire
- Te kawau māro
- Te kawau ruku roapage 238
- Kura takai puni
Riri pakipaki means to surround in fighting, a favoured procedure among bush-dwelling tribes. The toka tu moana explains itself, as it means “sea standing rock,” the force makes a stand and allows the waves to dash against it as they will. Whakarau rakau really means a separation of the force into small units to harass the foe and retreat if pressed to meet again at some pre-arranged place. This was a muchfavoured movement with pursued parties; it was often practised against the Government forces in the “sixties.” The kawau māro denotes a compact body of men prepared to charge in mass. The name is derived from the action of a cormorant (kawau), when about to take flight it straightens and stiffens its long neck. An old saying: “Ka māro te kaki o te kawau” (The neck of the cormorant is stiff) means that a person or party is about to move on.
The peculiar mode of advance called kaikape is advisable when moving through a specially dangerous area where cover is plentiful, as forest or scrub lands. The main body is preceded by a party of scouts (toro, tutai), and ahead of these are two kiore (rats), on whom the strain comes. Hence they are frequently relieved. Two of the scout band will go forward, take up the trying task, while the former two fall back.
An armed force on the war path is termed a taua and whakaariki. Such a force would contain plenty of good scouts, but there was often one superlatively shrewd person termed the mata taua, who represented the eyes of the force. He would be a man of very observant nature, possessing keen insight, a reader of men's faces and men's minds. For example: A party of Tuhoe was crossing the Huiarau range to visit their friends at the Star Lake. Near the summit they met a man on his way to Rua-tahuna. The mata taua looked at the man, and, turning to his chief, said: “Kua mate a Waikare” (Waikare has fallen), meaning that their friends at the page 239 lake had been slain. The chief enquired: “How do you know?” The wise old scout replied: “By the flushed face of the man.” He could see that the man was labouring under excitement and nervousness. The fact that he did not mention the cause of it showed that it was connected with the Ruatahuna people. He himself was going to that place to bring back some of his tribesmen staying there ere Tuhoe heard of—what he knew.
The party proceeded on its way and a little further on met some escapees from the lake, who cried: “We are no more. Nought remains save the drifting waters of Waikare.” For the Ruapani tribe had attacked the Tuhoe settlement, and the waters of the lake were reddened with the blood of women and children. Even so Tuhoe rose in grief and anger, and gleaming signal fires called up the Dogs of Pohokorua and the Child of Tamatea from the outlands of the Canyon of Toi and the scattered bush hamlets—and the end was not well for the Sons of Ruapani.
Ere forming up our kawau maro for the war dance it were well to see what weapons we are to be provided with, and these, be it remembered, were the weapons employed by the neolithic Maori in the long centuries that lie behind. A Maori was never parted long from his weapons, he carried at least one wherever he might be, for truly no man knew the moment it might be needed.
The generic term for weapons is rakau. The expression hapai rakau means to bear arms, and the phrase rakau kawa denotes a man skilled in the use of weapons, whose every blow is effective, a man who does not waste his strength.
The weapons of the Maori were fashioned from wood, stone and bone. They may be divided into thrusting, striking, and projectile weapons. The last of these formed but a pitiful showing, being confined to occasional spear throwing, and stones thrown by hand. A few of the striking weapons were occasionally used as thrusting weapons also, but as a rule in manipulating such implements as the taiaha, pouwhenua and tewhatewha, the Maori utilised the point merely in feinting.page 240
We commence with our list of thrusting weapons, for the spear was a much-favoured weapon with the old-time Maori, who took a keen interest in spear exercises.
- Tara whai
Of many of these forms we have no detailed description, and as names of weapons often differed in different districts, it is probable that some of the above names are duplicate terms.
The huata is a long spear, the longest weapon used by the Maori; only the long bird spears excelled it in length. We will put its length at about eighteen feet; some were longer. The writer has seen one 24ft. in length. It was used in the attack on, and defence of, fortified places, being thrust through the apertures of the stockade, or downward from fighting stages and high ramparts. It was also styled a hoata. It was usually fashioned from the straight-grained wood of the white manuka, a hardwood much employed in the manufacture of spears. It has a knob on the butt end called the reke, koreke, and purori. Among the Tuhoe this long spear is called the long huata (huata roa); their huata poto or short huata is the much shorter spear termed tao by many tribes, but which name Tuhoe apply to bird spears only.
This long spear was occasionally used in fighting in the open, in which case it required two men to manipulate it. One grasped the spear near the butt end and did the thrusting, the other took his station well forward and formed a rest for the spear with his curved hands. Such is the description of its use in the open as given to the writer, who, however, is by no means clear as to the advantage gained by the use of such a cumbrous weapon in the open, nor does he desire the post of acting as a rest for it. Some tribes styled this weapon a taoroa (long tao).page 241
A term employed to denote a spear with a barbed point was kaniwha, but the word simply means a barb, or barbed.
A spear with a detachable point was called a katete, and the point itself was known by the same name, as also was a piece joined to a spear shaft in order to lengthen it. Such a spear is also termed an ahao and tete. The point was also known as a matarere. The tete paraoa was a wooden spear having a barbed point fashioned from whale's bone secured to it. The tete whai, tara whai, or hoto whai is a spear that has the spike tail of a stingray lashed to the head as a point; a terrible weapon. Whai is the native name of the stingray; its tail is called hoto whai and tara whai. Rakau hoto is yet another name for this weapon.
The point of a spear is called tara or mata. A barbed point is kaniwha or tara kaniwha. Tara rautahi denotes a spear with a single point, and tara waharua a double-pointed spear. The latter might be termed simply a tararua (two-pointed). Kawau denotes the shaft of a spear, and the handle of a spade.
A form of dagger, fashioned from wood or bone, was occasionally used by the Maori; it was called an oka and tete. The former word means “to stab,” but the latter carries no such meaning, and it seems probable that a dagger was so called because the first ones used were detachable heads of spears. Tete is a form of the word katete, which means to lengthen by adding a piece.
|Kaukau||No details known concerning this form.|
|Koikoi||Williams says: “A spear six to eight feet long, and pointed at both ends.” These spears of one piece had the points hardened by fire.|
|Kokiri||A word meaning to dart, to throw, hence quite possibly this was a name applied to throwing spears.|
|Kopeo||Nothing known of this form.|
|Makiukiu||Williams'Dictionary gives: A spear with two or more rows of barbs on the head. Hoani Pururu of Whakatane described the makiukiu as a short throwing spear six or seven feet long, and used for casting at a force attacking a village.|
|Matia||Also known as matiha, and probably patia. No particulars known. Mr. White stated that it was the same as the tao. page 242|
|Puraka||A stabbing weapon resembling the many-pointed matarau, or eel spear.|
|Tao||The ordinary form of spear, from six to about nine feet in length. Taoroa has already been discussed.|
|Tokotoko||This seems to have been much the same as the tao. The name was also used to denote the long walking staff formerly used by the Maori, which he grasped in the middle, never using a walking stick as we do. It seems probable that the implement of that name was employed for both purposes.|
|Topere||A Waikato spear name. Quite possibly a synonym for kopere, for which see Missile Weapons.|
|Tumu||Williams gives “quarter-staff, pike.”|
|Turuhi||A Tuhoe name for a short spear about six feet in length, and having a point of an unusual form that might be called lanceolate. It was used by the Tuhoe folk in olden days. The late Mr. C. E. Nelson possessed the only specimen I have heard of as existing. A Waikato native gave ngongo as a spear name, a form differing from the topere.|
A curious custom of olden times consisted of the sprinkling of water on the point of a spear prior to engaging in fighting. At the same time a charm was recited over the weapon. This would be one of the charms that come under the head of hoa rakau, of which more anon. It was also a native custom to place spears wholly under water prior to a fight, so as to render them pliant, and also tough, or less brittle.
In an old narrative mention is made of a matarua or double-pointed spear, the points being fashioned from whale's bone. The name of purau was sometimes applied to these double-pointed spears. Banks tells us that spears were grasped by the middle when the wielders were fighting, “so that the end which hangs behind, serving as a balance to keep the front steady, makes it much more difficult to parry a push from one of them.”
To use a spear as a striking weapon does not seem like an orthodox procedure, and yet the short spear was sometimes so manipulated by the Maori. What advantage this procedure possessed over the thrust in such cases I cannot say. The spear exercise of the Maori was a remarkable one, and constant practice rendered him an expert with the weapon. Each mode of using it had its special name, as in bayonet exercise. The method termed kuku-a-mata was a short arm grip, the spear being held under the right arm, point lowered. From this position the wielder would be ready to parry a thrust or to deliver one at the stomach of his opponent.
In the procedure termed komutu the spearsman makes a feint thrust (whakakoemi) at his adversary, who will endeavour to parry it, believing it to be a home thrust. No. 1 may thus be able to recover arms and deliver his point. In the takurangi the spearsman holds his weapon point at a high angle, ready to parry thrust or blow, ere delivering his point. The wiri waewae is marked by a low guard and much feinting, and the wha raupo by a defiant and apparently careless exhibition of agility. The spearsman capers about, holding his weapon in one hand, ever watching for an opportunity to commence business. Piki, marangai and rapa are terms for other movements in spear exercise.
Judge Maning wrote as follows of the spear exercise: “The attack and the defence are in the highest degree scientific; the spear shafts keep up a continuous rattle; the thrust and parry, and stroke with the spear shaft follow each other with almost incredible rapidity, and are too rapid to be followed by an unpractised eye.”page 245
The wood of the white manuka (kahikatoa) was valued for spear making; and maire was sometimes used, but the latter called for more work. Heart of black hinau was occasionally used. Colenso states that spears were sometimes fashioned from rimu or red pine. The largest spears were not over one and a-half inches in thickness in the middle. The ordinary fighting spear (tao) is a marvel of slimness, and of no weight; ever the Maori held to light weapons.
The straight-grained kahikatoa saved the Maori much labour in spear-making; he could split long logs of that timber into four or more pieces from which spears could be fashioned. These pieces were carefully hewn with stone adzes, trimmed with light tools of the same form grasped in one hand, scraped with flakes of stone, rubbed with a piece of sandstone, and polished by rubbing with a hard substance or by being rubbed on the trunk of a tree fern. The final process was one of oiling. Spear points were hardened in fire.
The various modes of using the huata spear on the east coast are termed awhi-papa, amo, whitiapu, ahei, pitongitongi, hiki and kuku-a-mata. The third, fourth and sixth of these modes also pertained to the tokotoko, together with the takiwhenua and kotuku. In many cases spear shafts were quite plain, occasionally a small band of some carved design encircled the shaft at some part where it would not interfere with the handling of the weapon.
After the arrival of Europeans bayonets came to be used for spear points, the old-fashioned triangular bayonets of past days.
The torowai or tewhatewha was used as a thrusting weapon, but with no intention of killing an opponent, for it was not brought to a sharp point. It gave him, however, something to think of while the torowai man was reversing and delivering his blow.
- Taiaha, hani, maipi, or pouhani.
- Pouwhenua, pounui, kaukau. rorowai, pourakau, or powhiri.
- Tewhatewha, torowai, wahaika or paiaka.
- Kakau-roa (modern).
The taiaha was looked upon as the most important of these two-handed striking weapons, and it was the one in most common use. In native warfare each man carried two weapons as a rule, a long and a short one. The former would be either a spear or one of the striking weapons enumerated above, or, possibly, a hoeroa; the short weapon would be a one-handed implement such as are usually termed patu.
The illustrations show the form of the taiaha. One before me is 5ft. 8in. in length; some are longer. One end, the striking end or blade (rau) is flat and thin, 2in. wide near the extremity and ¼in. in thickness. This flat blade gradually merges into the hand grip shaft, which is oval in cross section, and terminates in the arero or flat end formed in the shape of a tongue. This tongue is adorned with finely executed carving in curvilinear designs. At the base of the tongue-like point is another design in relief that resembles a grotesque head furnished with elongated eyes of countersunk pieces of Haliotis shell. The disproportionately large tongue issues from the mouth of this head, leaving no space for the chin, which is dispensed with. A few projections represent the teeth. This semi-human face is double, being carved on both sides. At its thickest part the shaft is but 1in. in width and ⅞in. in thickness; it is somewhat smaller in the middle. Its weight is one pound! and to this slim, light, apparently fragile weapon the Maori not only entrusted his life, but also had perfect self-confidence when facing his enemy. Heavy weapons he would not use. The material of the light specimen described is a dense grained hardwood of great strength known as manuka or kahikatoa (Leptospermum ericoides). Little fear of the weapon breaking, slim as it is.
1. Popotahi A guard. The weapon held vertically before the body, tongue end downward. 2. Whakarehu The point from the above guard. Tongue raised swiftly and thrust at opponent, the shaft sliding through the operator's left hand. This is really a feint, as the word denotes; if the thrust got home so much the better; the wielder might have time to recover arms and deliver a blow. 3. Whitiapu The blow from the above guard. 4. Huanui A guard. Weapon held horizontally before the body, tongue to left. Point and blow delivered from this guard.
The taiaha was much used as a baton, as, for example, when a man was making a speech at a meeting of the people. Cook termed this weapon a halbert. The protruding tongue presumably denotes defiance. The shafts were very highly polished, and old specimens have a slightly rippled surface produced by scraping with sharp-edged stone flakes or shells in the process of manufacture. In the Grey Collection, Auckland Museum, are two taiaha about 8ft. in length.
The pouwhenua resembles the taiaha, save that it has no tongue, that end being brought to a thick point. It also resembles the Easter Island club called ua. A native of the east coast has stated that those specimens having an encircling carved band a foot or so from the point, were termed kaukau. A bone specimen possessed by the late Colonel Gudgeon was about four feet in length; a bone specimen was always a rarity. Two specimens in the Auckland Museum have abnormally wide blades. It was not so commonly employed as the taiaha, and carried no adornment of hair or feathers.
The tewhatewha is four to five feet in length. As the illustration shows, it resembles an axe in form. The most highly favoured material from which to fashion this weapon was a root of the maire tree, one of our hardest and strongest timbers, hence one of its names (paiaka=a root). The small end was used in delivering the point, but the common usage was to strike a blow, not with the edge of the blade, but with the thick back of it. A small hole pierced in the lower part of the blade served for the suspension of a bunch of feathers (primaries with rachis removed) of the pigeon or hawk. This dangling bunch of feathers was used to disconcert an opponent, being flicked across his eyes by a quick movement of the weapon, so as to give the paiaka weilder time to deliver a blow. In combat this weapon was held point downward. Be it observed that upward blows were struck only with short one handed weapons.
In using all these weapons in actual combat the Maori fighter never stood still; he was eternally jumping about and twirling or quivering his weapon, watching keenly for an opening all the while. He also made many passes and feints.
In the decoration of weapons with feathers, the prepared feathers were tied together at the base in small bunches termed putoi, and a number of these were bunched together at their bases and secured, this being called a puhipuhi. In preparing these feathers for such uses they are soaked in water, then the web is stripped from the shaft but with a portion of it still attached to the web, which now loses the rigidity imparted by the rachis.
The name of huakau was applied to any roughly fashioned wooden striking weapon, any hastily made specimen, or perchance to an unworked piece of timber employed as a club.
The kakau-roa is another form that does not call for any lengthy description, inasmuch as it is a modern post-European implement. It consists of the old fashioned triangular blade trade tomahawk furnished with a long handle of hardwood. Short handled ones were known as patiti.
The kakau-roa, a term that means “long handled,” was occasionally used as a thrusting weapon. It could scarcely be termed a piercing point, but an energetic thrust would be extremely disconcerting to the subject, and also give the manipulator time to reverse arms and deliver a blow with the blade. This long handled tomahawk was also used at Samoa and in Northern Australia. Specimens in the Auckland Museum from New Britain and New Ireland have the butt end of the handle expanded and adorned with carved designs and paint.
Specimens of these weapons in the Dominion Museum have handles ranging from 45in. to 60in. in length. The hardwood handles are well fashioned, highly polished, and the handgrip is ovoid in section. Some handles bear a carved design near the blade, some have a carved encircling band about onethird of the length from the rear or butt end. The owners page 254 kept the blades polished, as they also did in the case of musket barrels.
- Mere or patu-pounamu
- Patu onewa
- Toki pou tangata
- Patu paraoa
- Bone Club—
- Mere rakau
- Patu tawaka
Iron Forms (modern)—
- Patu pora
Commencing with the stone forms we have to deal with the most highly-valued weapon of Maoriland, the greenstone truncheon, a short broad-bladed weapon called mere, patu pounamu and rakau pounamu. In some districts mere was applied to this greenstone weapon only, as among the Tuhoe folk; in others it was also applied to certain bone and wooden weapons. In these latter cases a qualifying expression is necessary after the term, as mere pounamu= greenstone mere. The form of greenstone sought for these weapons was the true nephrite, which, in Moh's scale, is given as being somewhat harder than steel, the proportion being 6 and 6½.
Early writers have told us that the mere in form resembles a battledore, a beaver's tail, and a soda water bottle flattened. page 255 The present writer prefers to leave the reader to study the illustrations given. This highly prized weapon served as an heirloom, being handed down from father to son. It was counted a grievous misfortune to lose one. Old and fine specimens were revered. In the Southern Cross newspaper of January 27, 1857, appeared an article describing the finding of one of these old heirloom weapons by a European; it had long been lost. A native gave the European £30 for it; it was then taken in state to the high chief Te Wherowhero, and handed over to him. Great numbers of natives assembled to greet and weep over the venerated heirloom. The chief Te Kawau, of the Auckland district, sent a deputation with £100 in cash, and many other gifts, as a mark of esteem. The weapon was conveyed to the home of Te Kawau, where it was received with volleys of musketry and loud wailing. It was then carried to other places, and received in a similar manner.
The greenstone mere was always made much thinner than those fashioned from ordinary stone, on account of the toughness of the stone—nephrite is not of a brittle nature; it is broken with difficulty. Thus it lacks the gradual increase in thickness from point to butt that imparts such a symmetrical aspect to the patu onewa. The blade (rau) is brought to a fine edge at the broad end and sides, and in outline the implement is certainly symmetrical. Its manufacture, largely consisting of grinding by rubbing on sandstone, was a very slow and laborious process. The block of stone was cut into a rough outline first by means of a sawing process with pieces of quartzite, or other hard stone, used with a hard sand triturant and water. Nephrite does not lend itself to chipping.
The knob or protuberant part of the butt end is the purori, or whakawhiti, or reke, and Williams gives kikiroki as the name of the graven ornamental ridges running round the protuberance. A hole bored in the butt end accommodated the wrist cord, tau and patui, which was usually a strip of dogskin. Greenstone implements were finished as to surface dressing by being rubbed on fine sandstone, and then with a piece of hard and smooth stone.
Mere or patu pounamu, highly prized weapons, fashioned from greenstone (nephrite).
Dominion Museum collection.
A greenstone mere of medium size now before me is 14in. in length, 3¾in. wide at its widest part, about ½in. thick at the handgrip, whence it tapers off gradually to the thin outer end of the blade. It weighs 1¼lbs. One weighing 2lbs. would be deemed a large one, showing that Thomson's weight of 6lbs. cannot be accepted.
It is on record that, on one of Captain Cook's later voyages, he brought out some brass weapons fashioned in the form of the mere, he having noted how that weapon was prized. I am not aware that any of these brass patu are to be met with nowadays.
Shortland describes a mere twenty inches in length and four inches wide across the blade. This length is abnormal, and one can but think that it would be a cumbrous weapon to use with one hand. Cook gives the length as about eighteen inches, but that would be unusually long. An unusually small one examined was 10½in. in length, and fashioned from the stone of speckled appearance called wharauroa (not nephrite). It is an old implement, and is said to have been used, not as a weapon, but as a baton by women leaders of posture dances.
The Maori had a curious partiality for being slain with a lordly weapon. Cases are recorded wherein a captive has made a request that he be killed with a greenstone patu. If the captor was a man of manners, a true chieftain, he would, if circumstances permitted, accede to the request.
These short weapons were carried stuck in the belt or suspended from the wrist by the thong, sometimes on the left wrist, so as to be concealed by the cloak. Prized short weapons were sometimes concealed when not likely to be required. When the writer bought one from a native many years ago the owner took him some miles off into the forest and unearthed the implement at the base of a tree. Spears, etc., were kept in the dwelling houses, for no man knew the moment they might be wanted. When so wanted it was often in a hurry. They were suspended on the left side of the house, as you enter. Thus, in case of a sudden alarm, as an inmate ran for the door, he grasped his spear with his right hand as he ran forward, and so drew it from its supports. Moreover, as he emerged from the house the spear was on his right side and ready for business. The Maori ever kept a weapon right handy—he had to.
The patu onewa closely resembles the greenstone patu in outline, but is much thicker, the material being so much more easily broken. Onewa is a kind of greywacke apparently; it is of a dark colour, and lends itself to smoothing and polishing processes, as also to chipping. Most specimens are marvels of symmetry, and are fine examples of native workmanship, and proof of the keen, true eye of the Maori artisan. It is said that stone found under water was preferred by makers of this weapon. If the material was obtained from a boulder or outcrop on the land then the outer parts of the same were discarded. The surface of a rock mass would be shattered by means of fire and water, cold water being dashed on the heated rock surface. Suitable stone was sometimes found in river beds in the form of boulders.
The patu onewa seems to have been also known as patu kurutai. The following is a description of a good specimen found in a cave some years ago. Length 16⅝in. Width of blade at widest part 4in., at handgrip 1⅜in. Thickness at handgrip 1 3/16 in., from which part it decreases evenly in thickness to the page 260 outer end of the blade where it is thin edged. Weight 2lbs. 12oz. Material aphanite, termed kara by the Maori. Looked at in any way it seems to be the perfection of symmetry, no slight irregularity of outline, curve, or bevel is discernible. The gradual tapering from reke (butt) to blade end, the merging of the rounded handgrip into the expanded, flattened blade, as also into the two fine longitudinal edges, the rounding off of the blade transversely, the curve of the broad blade end the precise regularity of the grooves on the butt, the fine even, smooth, polished surface, all proclaim it a marvel of accuracy and symmetry, a masterpiece from the hand of the neolithic artisan.
A smaller specimen is 13½in. long, 3½in. wide at the broadest part, thickness at handgrip 1⅛in., whence it tapers off; weight, 2⅛lbs. The hole pierced for the wrist cord is of the usual double crater form.
Thomson remarks that the patu is a wooden weapon not unlike a violin. Now most patu are very much unlike a violin: he must have been thinking of the kotiate form, which was usually fashioned in bone.
The peculiar billhook-shaped stone implements of the Chatham Isles, sometimes termed okewa, fashioned from micaceous schist, do not seem to have been well finished as to the surface. A form of stone club, called a pohatu taharua, is credited to the same folk. Some stone clubs of somewhat page 261 clumsy form were used in the South Island. The name of miti has been given to this form, though a remark made by Captain Cook seems to identify the miti with the mere. Canon Stack stated that a South Island stone club resembling a fern root pounder in form, was called a kauri. This may have been the name of the kind of stone from which it was fashioned, as in the case of onewa. One of these stone clubs examined was 19½in. in length, and averaged 3¼in. in width in its widest part.
A well-made specimen of the miti or stone club is 20½in. in length; it is a much rounded form. Its greatest width is 2⅜in., and thickness 1⅜in.—an uncommon form. It has no enlarged reke or butt end, but two small, horn-like protuberances at that part, and two similar ones, one on either side, near the middle of the implement, thus reminding one of the traditional patu tawaka.
A stone patu of unusual and somewhat uncouth form is from the South Island. It resembles a short-handled spade in form, the blade being almost rectangular. The two pronounced shoulders bounding the handgrip give it a most un-Maori-like appearance. Its length is 10½in., thickness 1⅜in. at the handgrip, tapering somewhat to the outer end of the blade. Its surface is rough, like that of Chatham Island implements, and looks as though the final process had been one of “bruising” with a stone hammer in order to reduce asperities. Weight, 2½lbs. Some curiously rough forms of stone implements, presumably weapons, have been found in the South Island, types not found in the North Island. The Maori of the North would have held such rude forms in contempt.
A somewhat similar implement examined was 19½in. in length, 3¼in. wide, and 1½in. thick.; weight, 6¼lbs.; material argillite. The reduced handgrip is but 4in. long; assuredly a cumbrous implement. It could scarcely have been a war implement.
The toki pou tangata, or toki hohoupu, is yet another onehanded stone weapon to be discussed. It is essentially an adze; a long, thin blade, almost invariably of greenstone (nephrite), hafted adzewise. These blades are much thinner than those used as hewing tools, though of late years we have seen the latter hafted as pou tangata, usually to beguile the trusting Pakeha.
As a rule the handle of a pou tangata adze is about eleven inches in length, of which the “shoe” or part to which the blade is attached is adorned with carving. A carved design may also be seen on the butt end of the handle. White dog's hair was sometimes attached to the head of this adze, as also red feathers of the bush parrot. The blades are seen up to ten inches in length, a few are somewhat longer. This implement was used as a weapon, as in dispatching an enemy stricken down with taiaha, spear, etc. It was also used in a ceremonial manner, as a form of baton, as was the mere. The reke or butt end of the handle (kakau) had the usual knob that is so useful to the wielder of an axe. In many cases a grotesque head appears on this part. On the other end a favoured design was a grotesque human figure carved on the projecting upper part and facing inward. This figure is represented as sitting on the upper or butt end of the stone adze blade lashed to the outer surface of the projection. A thumb cord seems to have been used with this implement, being attached to the butt end of the handle. The wrist cord was also used. A good illustration of a pou tangata adze appears in the plates pertaining to Cook's Voyages.
Kotiate Kati Patu kakati Ate Kokoti Kakati Whakaate Kokotiate Mere kati Mere tipatipa
These different kinds of bone patu were used in three ways—for a downward blow, upward blow, and the tipi, or endwise thrust. In the case of the wahaika, the convex side is the striking edge. The singular lobate kotiate is remarkable on account of the two sinuses that are formed one on either side of it. Apparently these apertures are of no service, several reasons assigned for their existence are not credible. They are presumably for ornament, and probably represent an ancient usage preserved by the conservative Maori.
A specimen of these weapons measured is 13¼in. in length, 6¼in. wide at the widest part, which is 3in. from the end of the blade. In this case the sinuses are not open as usual, but are closed for a short space. Thickness at handgrip, ¾in., tapering to end of blade. The butt is carved into a grotesque head of singular form with protruding tongue. Weight, 1½lbs. Pierced for wrist cord.
A wooden kotiate 1ft. in length and carved all over save the handgrip with scroll designs, is one of many such modern specimens. These were not used as weapons but as batons by dance leaders, etc.
In the manufacture of these bone implements grinding on sandstone was one part of the process.
We have now another peculiar form of bone patu to scan, namely the wahaika or wahangohi, possibly so named from the curious sinus in the face.
Another wahaika, one of uncommon form, is 13in. long, 4½in. wide at the widest part, which is 3½in. from the outer end of the blade, and carries an abnormally large sinus 1½in. deep on what is apparently the back of the implement. It is 1in. thick, an unusual thickness, and has a head carved on both sides of the butt. An unusually wide and thick specimen. Weight, 1¼lbs.
This weapon is known in some parts as a rorehape. The sinus in the striking edge is not always in evidence. It was sometimes fashioned from hardwood.
Many of the so-called wooden weapons of the patu type seen in collections are of modern manufacture, and many of them would be useless as weapons.
Short wooden weapons were not much favoured by the native fighter; he preferred stone or bone as a material for short striking weapons. Curiously enough the form of the patu onewa does not appear to have appealed to the Maori in wood. I have not seen an old specimen of pre-European days. If employed, they must have been rare. A few of modern make are seen in collections. The term meremere is applied to them, as it is also to other wooden forms. Wooden patu are also termed mere rakau and patu rakau. I have heard kotiate and wahaika called meremere. Tumere seems to equal meremere. Ake rautangi (Dodonæa) was a favoured wood for the manufacture of these forms. An old native of much knowledge applied the term meremere to a form of wooden wahaika. In one case a short wooden club was styled a patuki. The Awa folk of the Bay of Plenty call the wahaika an akau.page 268 page 269
The patu tawaka was apparently a short wooden weapon. It was, said our informant, a weapon of ancient times. It was employed for striking and also as a stabbing weapon. It was sharp pointed, and was used to stab a person in the side. Also it had four projections back from the point, termed pewa, and apparently a blow was struck with these.
Mr. John White has told us that in olden days the Maori employed a peculiar weapon termed a korepa, consisting of a stone with a cord attached to it. The stone was swung by means of the cord. I obtained a similar statement from an east coast native, but know of no further evidence concerning it.
Of the patiti there is little to say, it being, like the kakauroa, a modern weapon. It is the old-fashioned English trade tomahawk provided with a short handle instead of a long one, as in the case of the kakauroa. The patiti came to be a much-favoured weapon with the Maori. It was usually hafted with a well-formed handle fashioned from whale's bone, and these handles were often embellished with some carved design. A patiti with a 12in. handle is about the ordinary size. The carved parts are the butt end and a space near the iron head. One before me has a carved encircling band near the head, and a grotesque human figure carved in relief on the upper part of the helve and quite close to the head. Another has a handle 22in. in length, but this is abnormally long. At the butt end is carved a bird's head, another abnormal feature. Some of these implements measure but ten or eleven inches over all. The chopping motion of delivering a blow with a pou tangata or patiti is described by the word tope.
There is another Maori implement that is described in some early works as a weapon. Native evidence is against it having been so used. It is said to have been used as a knife in cutting up human bodies, dogs, etc., also whales, sharks and large fish. It would be an awkward implement to use as a weapon, inasmuch as it must be manipulated with a dragging motion. This action would not appeal to the Maori. This implement is known in many parts of the Pacific; here in New Zealand we term it a shark's tooth knife. It is known page 271 to the Maori as a mira tuatini, because made by lashing teeth of the tuatini species of shark to a wooden handle. This implement, like a pit-saw, cuts only one way: the teeth are set so that they cut by means of a pulling action.
The names aha, ahaaha, koripi, maripi, mira tuatini, mikara and ripi were all applied to this implement. A large specimen examined is 15in. long. The much-pierced wooden frame is 4in. wide, and the attached cutting teeth extend over page 272 6½in. of the curved face. The cutting edges of these tools are generally convex. The whole blade of this specimen is elaborately carved, and includes many scroll designs, so much appreciated by natives. The pierced designs naturally weaken the handle; no blow could be struck with these instruments. In some cases the wood is heartwood of matai, essentially a brash-grained timber. A grotesque head is carved on the butt end. The mode of attaching the shark's teeth (teeth of Carcharias brachyurus, blue shark) is ingenious and effective. The bases of the teeth are set in a narrow groove formed in the edge of the tool, and they are then lashed to the frame or blade, the lashing being passed through holes formed in the blade.
A small, old specimen is 8½in. in length, and the blade is 1½in. to 2in. wide. The small handgrip, left uncarved, is but 2in. in length. Two small pieces of Haliotis shell adorn each side, countersunk and fitted over small bosses left in the centre of the depressions. This specimen has been finely carved, and is pierced in several places. The whole blade has been painted with red ochre in days of old. It is decidedly a neat little tool.
A straight, narrow form was also made; one such is 11in. in length, and from ⅝ to ⅞ of an inch in thickness. It is carved in all parts, including the handgrip. The cutting teeth extend for 2½ inches. In the centre of the back of the blade is carved in relief a human figure 1¾ inches in length. All three specimens are pierced at the butt end of the handle to accommodate a cord.
We have now to consider the question of the throwing spears or missile weapons of the Maori. The evidence of early writers is assuredly somewhat conflicting, but a long series of enquiries made by several men interested in native usages, most of whom have now “gone west,” shows us that the use of missile spears was not a common practice. Statements made by early writers are by no means always correct. A glaring case is one made by an early sojourner here that a certain fight was fought with the bow and arrow, a weapon that the Maori never used. In many cases mentioned by early writers, Cook for example, the spear thrown was merely a page 273 taki, or challenge, and for this purpose well-finished fighting spears were not used.
Throwing spears were not carried by members of a war party. Banks tells us that the darts of the natives were used for defending their fortified villages (pa). They were about eight feet in length. These would probably be the whip-thrown spears formerly employed, which were also sometimes thrown by hand. They were rough implements, by no means finely finished. The Rev. Mr. Yate speaks of natives using the throwing spear in taking birds, including ducks. The Maori did not so employ spears, and the man who essays to take a duck by throwing a spear at it will assuredly go hungry. Crozet tells us that supplies of stones and javelins were kept on the lofty fighting stages of the fortified villages—a correct statement. Crozet the French voyager is one of the most reliable of early writers. On one occasion he remarks that spears were thrown at his party.
The remark made by Nicholas to the effect that the long spears of the natives were thrown prior to coming to close quarters is certainly erroneous; they were not, and could not be effectively thrown. Only short ones were so used. Elsewhere he speaks of “short spears” being so employed. He noted one interesting fact, namely that, in an assembly of armed natives, there was a great lack of uniformity in the weapons carried. Spears of different makes and lengths, different striking weapons such as have been described, were seen at such a time. One man might carry a spear and greenstone patu, another a taiaha and pou tangata, yet another a tewhatewha and a kotiate, and so on. Every man had a preference for a certain weapon or weapons, and those he invariably used.
Another early writer tells us of a custom of allowing an injured husband to throw three spears at a man who had been familiar with his wife. Others increase the allowance of spears so thrown. The Maori never used any kind of shield at such times, but was allowed the use of a short stick as a karo or parrying implement.
Colenso disbelieved in the missile spear, including the whip-thrown spear. This last was certainly an old-time usage. page 274 Mr. Grace informs us that spears were seldom thrown by hand. Williams'Maori Dictionary gives “Timata. A short throwing spear.”
Spears were cast underhand, and the bulk of the evidence shows that throwing spears were not used during a hand to hand fight. Bush dwelling tribes do not appear to have employed any hand-thrown spear.
Of the whip-thrown spear we have a considerable amount of evidence. The mode of casting this spear has already been explained in the chapter on games. In some cases we are told the point was a piece of kaka ponga lashed on to the head. This is the hard part of the trunk of a tree fern, and a wound caused by it is said to be extremely troublesome, owing to some poisonous property of the wood. Most of such weapons were unworked rods of manuka, pointed at one end and deeply notched, so that the head would break off when it struck a person, thus leaving it in the wound.
This missile spear was known as a pere, kopere, tarerarera, makoi and whiuwhiu. The whip stick is a kotaha and perhaps also known as tata pere. This latter term awaits corroboration. Another name given for the whip is tipao, and pere tokotoko was applied to the dart by two natives. These whip-thrown spears are mentioned in a number of old traditions, as in the account of the siege of Motu-wheteke, at the Wairoa.
Dr. Haddon tells us that he saw this mode of casting a spear used by native children in S. E. New Guinea. In modern times we know that Maori youths have been seen casting spears and stones by means of power derived from a pliant pole inserted firmly in the earth in a vertical position. This was bent over and suddenly released; it plucked out the spear and hurled it to a considerable distance. There is no evidence to show that this was a pre-European usage. The whip-thrown spear is said to have been cast up to two hundred yards, but I know not on what evidence. The name of tuku whakarere sometimes applied to it may be termed a descriptive name. They were employed by both sides when a village was besieged. Mr. White tells us that, in olden times, this notched spear was employed by moa hunters.page 275
Crozet speaks of seeing the whips used in casting these spears during his sojourn at the Bay of Islands in 1772. The whips in the British Museum are figured in the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Vol. II., new series.
In one of the fights of olden days a chief named Tirarau was mortally wounded in the breast by a whip-thrown spear. He at once instructed two of his men to stand, one on either side of him, and support him in an upright position, lest his people, seeing him fall, should be disheartened. Thus they held him up as he summoned all his strength and resolution to remain erect. The tide of war turned, and the enemy fled, whereupon Tirarau was lowered to the ground—dead.
Six generations ago the Otakanini pa at Kaipara was besieged, and its inmates much distressed by the many tarerarera cast into it by the besiegers. The hill pointed out as the place from which the spears were thrown is about 150 yards from the old fort. A descendant of the besiegers explained this to Mr. S. Percy Smith as they stood on that hill half a century ago.
The word tarere is sometimes employed to denote the action of casting these whip-thrown spears. When the Whetukairangi fort at Seatoun Heights, Wellington, was attacked, the inmates thereof are said to have killed seven of the raiders with such spears cast from the lofty fighting stages of the fort.
The expression manuka kanoi was sometimes applied to these rude spears cast by besiegers and besieged. Handthrown stones were also used by defenders stationed on the elevated platforms. Banks tells us of this form of missile weapon, but says that the Maori was ignorant of the sling.
This question of a sling for casting stones is another disputed point here. Some writers have stated that the Maori did use a sling for that purpose. The late Colonel McDonnell wrote as follows: “Heaps of round iron stones weighing from one to five pounds each, were collected from the beach and piled up for the use of the slingers kotaha.” This was in connection with the defence of forts. A sling stone weighing five pounds sounds somewhat too strenuous. Slings for casting stones were widely used in Polynesia by fighting men, and page 276 some of the fashioned sling stones of Polynesia have been found on Sunday Island of the Kermadec Group. They are not found in New Zealand, but numbers of them are found at Rarotonga. Many were found at the site of the Residency at that isle, stones fashioned into a rounded form.
Several early writers state that a sling was used to throw heated stones into a besieged village in order to set fire to the thatched huts, but none describe such a sling. There is an absence of mention of it in tradition that casts a doubt upon these statements.
A reliable Takitumu adept, in mentioning weapons used by fighters on the elevated platforms of a fort, mentioned “pukoro kohatu hei whakaruru ki te taua,” but this may mean baskets or bags of stone to cast at the enemy. The question of this stone slinging must remain open, but the absence of any mention of it in old tales inclines one to caution. There is, however, no difficulty whatever in finding natives now who will state that their people formerly used both the stone sling and the bow and arrow!
The hoeroa is the most peculiar weapon of the native armoury, and, moreover, one concerning which we have very little explanation to offer as to its use. Its extraordinary shape, its lack of a piercing point, render it an extremely puzzling form. One would never suppose that this peculiar implement represents a war weapon, and we have no satisfactory information as to what advantage accrued to the wielder from its lack of a point. A weapon with a reverse curve in it is surely an abnormal form. We have one statement made by natives to the effect that it is a difficult weapon to parry or avoid.
The hoeroa was fashioned from whale's bone. It is said that the material was obtained from the lower jaw of the sperm whale. This bone is of a closer texture, heavier and stronger than that of the ribs, and so was preferred by the makers of bone implements. An east coast native has stated that occasionally hoeroa were fashioned from maire, a hard, heavy, dense-grained timber, but the statement does not seem to be supported by any known specimen now extant. It is to be noted that in some specimens the reverse curve is wanting.page 277 page 278
In speaking of the natives of the Thames district and their weapons in Cook's time Banks wrote: “They had also ribs of whales, of which we had often seen imitations in wood carved and ornamented with tufts of dogs'hair.” So that possibly wooden hoeroa were made. Cruise stated that the hoeroa was a rare weapon in the north, but a few years after the arrival of the first missionaries. Stowell, in his “Vade Mecum,” describes the hoeroa as a harpoon with dart attached, but no other writer mentions an attached point, not even those who saw it in the 18th century.
This weapon is 5ft. and upward in length, about two inches wide, flat, and about ¼in. in thickness, or a little more. Neither end is brought to a piercing point, but merely slightly rounded. It carries its width throughout. They were apparently not commonly used, as were such forms as the taiaha. The rear end was adorned with carved designs, and a little carving may appear about the middle.
Dr. Thomson, in his “Story of New Zealand,” states that the hoeroa was sometimes used as a club. A number of natives have stated that the weapon was thrown at an enemy with an underhand cast, and that it was recovered by means of a cord held in the left hand of the operator. Pio of the Awa tribe distinctly described it as a pere or projectile weapon. The small holes at one end would serve to secure the end of the cord to it, and also as a means of attaching the adorning hair. Banks remarked that both feathers and dogs'hair were attached to them. When thrown the motion is said to have been a sinuous one, which rendered it difficult to parry.
I have been told that men armed with hoeroa were not seen in the forefront of a fight, but sought to find an enemy engaged in combat, when they would endeavour to take him unaware, and deliver a flank attack as it were. It scarcely seems possible that a man could be slain by such a wideended missile, unless used as a striking weapon. One native asserted that it was cast so as to strike the ground but also continue its flight, and that the impact caused its flight to be so unsteady as to make it difficult to parry. This statement has not been corroborated, and may be an error. The same man maintained that it was never used as either a striking or page 279 thrusting weapon; certainly the handgrip is most unsuitable for either purpose.
A native once gave me a description of a process of softening whales'bones ere they were worked by weapon makers. It may or may not be correct. The great bone was first soaked in water, and then steamed for 24 hours in a long pit, covered over as is a food oven to confine the steam. The bone was then easier to work. This steaming pit was called an umu kokau and umu tarawai. He also maintained that the hoeroa was fashioned as a straight form, and given the desired curvature by means of another steaming process, and by then being bent and placed between stout pegs driven firmly into the earth. Those pegs kept the heated bone in the desired form, and it was left so for some weeks ere being removed, when it would be found to have “set” in that form. The writer is not a bone worker and cannot say whether this process is a feasible one or not. He knows of no corroborative evidence, such as is ever desirable.
As to this hoeroa, the evidence is in favour of its having been used as a projectile weapon, with limitation of range, as represented by the cord attached to its rear end. As to why it was not pointed tradition is silent. Other names applied to this implement were tatu-paraoa, huri-taniwha, and paraoa-roa.
A large specimen of the hoeroa in the Dominion Museum is 6 feet 3 inches in length, and 3¼ inches wide towards the outer end, but somewhat narrower along the handgrip; it is about⅝ of an inch in thickness. Another specimen is but 4 feet 2 inches in length. Both have the butt end carved in scroll devices, and pierced with two small semicircular holes about two inches from the end. In the middle of each specimen, on either edge, are four curved incised lines arranged in pairs.
Of the bow and arrow there is not much to say. It was not a Maori weapon. Parkinson tells us that, in Cook's time, the Maori was unacquainted with it, and that he or his companions acquainted them with the principle. The Polynesians knew the implement; it was employed at the Hawaiian Isles and elsewhere for shooting rats, and at Tahiti in archery contests, but it was not used in fighting. The Melanesians used page 280 it as a weapon, and the Polynesians were aware of the fact, but declined to so use it themselves. The Tahitian te'a (arrow) is the Maori teka, a hand-thrown dart already described, the tenga of Fiji.
Dr. Thomson tells us in his “Story of New Zealand” that the Maori knew of the bow and arrow, but his sojourn in the north was long after that of Parkinson. When Te Pehi of Ngati-Toa visited England in 1826 he is said to have been delighted with the bow and arrow as there made known to him. It is on record, however, that my worthy but somewhat bloodthirsty old namesake was still more delighted with the muskets that he procured there.
To conclude this subject of the bow and arrow as a Maori weapon there is no evidence to show that he ever employed it either as a weapon or toy since his long sojourn in these isles began. There is, however, some little evidence in favour of an assumption that the bow and arrow has been used in New Zealand in olden times. There are but two items of such evidence. One is the finding of a bow buried in a swamp, the other is a statement made by two of the most learned and reliable natives of the Takitumu folk of last century.
In Vol. 1 of the Journal of the Polynesian Society is an account of the finding of the bow mentioned above, written by Mr. E. Tregear. The bow was found by Mr. D. W. Fagan, of Mangapai, Auckland district, when digging a drain. It was found at a depth of about thirty inches, underlying alluvial sandy clay. In such a place it may have lain for many centuries. Buried timber seems to be indestructible. When boring for water in the lower part of the Whakatane valley some workmen bored into a sound white pine log at a depth of 124 feet. That timber is one that decays in a very short space of time when exposed.
This bow is 6ft. 4¾in. in length, evidently a war bow, and it closely resembles bows from the New Hebrides in the Dominion Museum. How it came there, or whether or not it was used here, or how old it is, no man may say.
We now come to the traditionary evidence. When, many years ago, Te Matorohanga was giving some account of the original inhabitants of New Zealand, he stated that those folk page 281 used some weapons that were strange to the incoming Maori from Polynesia. Some of those weapons the Maori adopted. He said that the hoeroa and the huata, the patu kurutai and the throwing spear were weapons of that old-time folk. He then added: “Also the kopere, which was projected by means of a wooden implement, the thong (or cord) being of dog skin.” Now this remark could not have been meant to denote the whip-thrown spear, because, in his next sentence, he refers to that implement: “Another was called a whiuwhiu; the cord was tied to the pointed end of the weapon, which was laid on the ground and jerked suddenly, the weapon flying forward and striking a person with great force.”
Another old wise man, in referring to the weapons of the aborigines, in 1860, said: “Omitted by me was yet another weapon of those folk, a pere, a piece of manuka (wood) was bent as a means of projecting it.” Pere and kopere are words that denote a forward darting movement; both are used to denote the whip-thrown spear, but in this case it is not so used; no rod or piece of wood was bent as a means of projecting the whip-thrown spear. It appears possible that the original, dark skinned inhabitants of New Zealand used the bow and arrow as a weapon.
Training in the use of arms was an almost ceaseless activity among our native folk, from youth even until the individual laid aside his arms for ever. It had to be. Elderly men passed much time training young members of the group. An important lesson was that which taught a beginner in the arts of war to keep his eyes from roving when facing an opponent, and to keep them fixed on one of two points, the big toe, or the point of the shoulder. In such a situation, when you keep your gaze fixed on the waewae whangai, or advanced foot, of your adversary, you will see, a fraction of time before he delivers a blow, that toe clinch downward. You thus know that the blow is coming, and so you are ready to parry or avoid it. By looking at his shoulder you will note a movement of the muscles a split second ere the blow is delivered. Such were the observations and teachings of the neolithic fighter.page 282
It was considered desirable to be ambidextrous in the use of weapons, so as to enable one to face an opponent in either way, according to what his mode of wielding a weapon might be. Young men were taught always to strike at the head with a short one-hand weapon. There were different ways of holding these; some held such a patu blade downward, others held it out with extended arm to tempt an opponent to attack. A ceaseless lesson was to keep ever on the move in these single combats, never to stand still, to be extremely light and agile on the feet. A man fighting with a short patu might hold in his left hand a puapua or pad, such as a rolled-up cape, and use that to parry with, or to receive a spear point.
The term karo denotes not only parrying, but also avoidance. To duck downward in avoiding a blow is a tuku; it is also applied to swerving sideways. To practise this movement, and then deliver point or blow ere the enemy can recover arms is urutomo. The Maori says that Europeans show no activity in single combats, but rely entirely on their weapons. He maintains that the legs form the best means of karo. Thus an old-time fighter might avoid a spear thrust and get home on his opponent. Nimble avoidance and feinting (whakahopo, whakapoi, whakarehu) were much relied on. This ceaselessly practised art of karo was also employed by the Maori when firearms were introduced, and he would dodge a bullet by a rapid movement made at the flash of a musket. Wilkes, of the U.S. Exploring Expedition, tells us of the marvellous expertness of the Fijians in so dodging at the flash of a gun. The Maori called an expert parryer or dodger a toa horopu.
In Turnbull's Voyage is given an account of spear throwing by Australian natives at Sydney when a number of Maori were present. A single native was attacked by several with throwing spears. Ten men threw their spears at him at once, but he avoided or parried them all. The Maori visitors betrayed impatience at the length of intervals between the flights of spears, and considered the shield to be an unnecessary appendage “as the hand was quite sufficient to turn aside and alter the direction of any number of spears!”
Different modes of parrying had special names, such as marangai, piki, orua and tahurangi. The Maori always par- page 283 ried a blow in the direction in which it was aimed, that is he merely deflected it, caused it to glance off, as it were, so that he had not to encounter the full force of the blow.
In close fighting a peculiar implement termed a tirou was sometimes used, apparently on rare occasions. In form it resembled a shepherd's crook, and it was employed to catch a man round the leg and so throw him. A lone note tells of the matau tangata or “man hook,” some form of large wooden hook with a rope attached to it. These are said to have been occasionally used to break up a resolute band of fighters grouped together. Certainly no party of raiders would carry such implements about.
We hear of a club having been sometimes fashioned from the bones of the great moa bird, long extinct. Many implements were made from such bones in olden days, specimens of which are in collections.
When delivering an attack just prior to dawn attackers sometimes bound leaves of the rangiora round their heads, white side outwards, so as to distinguish friend from enemy.
When a party was out on the war trail and under the tapu of the gods, the members thereof laid aside their weapons when partaking of food, otherwise those weapons would be polluted, and their efficiency would suffer seriously. As the Maori puts it: “Ka tamaoatia te mata o te rakau.”
It has been noted that the Maori was in the habit of reciting charms over his weapons in order to render them effective, such charms being known as hoa rakau, mata rakau, kitao and reo tao. The act of rendering a weapon effective in this manner is expressed by the term tuaimu, of which tuaumu is a variant form. A native will gravely inform you that a weapon so charmed is irresistible. Ere repeating the charm a man would expectorate upon his weapon. According to the Tuhoe folk the repetition of the charm locates Ue-mutu, the patron of all weapons, on the point of the weapon; it is endowed with his dread powers. A number of these weapon charms have been collected. A Wai-rarapa native states that, in his district this charm was recited by a tohunga over the assembled weapons of a force, and that the charm was called a wani.page 284
The pauku was a closely woven cape that was sometimes worn as a protection against spear thrusts. If convenient it was soaked in water prior to its wearer entering a fight. The capes called mahiti, puahi and topuni, of which more anon, were sometimes used for the same purpose. Mr. S. Percy Smith has recorded the fact that, in the north, the pukupuku or kotara was a thick band of woven Phormium about six inches wide and twelve or fifteen feet in length that was wetted and then wound round the chest. It was said to be impervious to spear thrusts. The word kouma, meaning a breastplate, or some such article, has been preserved, but we have no description of it.
Several writers have stated that the natives had special houses or huts in which to keep weapons—armouries, in fact. Crozet describes one such that he saw. These may have represented a reserve stock of weapons. It is improbable that natives would so store their weapons, such as were carried every day; it would be unsafe, for no man knew the moment he might want his weapon. Canon Stack's remarks concerning the whare purakau of the South Island evidently refer, not to an armoury, but to the School of Learning, which was so termed there, from purakau, a legend or traditionary tale.
When the Maori obtained firearms he was forced to make changes in his mode of fighting, and his method of fortification. For some time after such acquisition no proficiency in their use was attained; they were effective only because they inspired terror among the people, who viewed them as being something supernatural. It was some time ere the Maori learned to use a musket with anything like precision; he used to hold it down at his hip and blaze away. For some time he continued to carry it merely as an additional weapon, he would fire a volley, then discard the musket and go in with the old rakau maori, or native weapons. Dour old fighters by no means approved of this new weapon, and asserted that it was intended for timid folk. Cases are on record of fights wherein both sides were using muskets being concluded with the old-time weapons. A leader had but to call out: “Rukea nga pu, kia rangona te papaki o te patu” (Throw away the guns so that the clash of weapons may be heard). Then both page 285 parties would cast aside the musket, grip their old-time weapons, and have a thoroughly pleasant time.
The fire and smoke of firearms certainly alarmed the Maori at first, and so they were dubbed tahu-whenua. The old flintlock muskets were called kauamo and ngutu-parera (duck's bill), the latter from the form of the hammer. Percussion lock guns were called hakimana, a double-barreled gun tupara, and a cannon purepo.
The tribes that first obtained firearms were able to harry others far and near, owing to the terror inspired by the new and mysterious weapon, not to the numbers slain by it. Thus the Ngapuhi folk, whose raids heretofore had not extended further south than Hauraki, and who were not specially famed as fighters, were enabled to extend their savage forays as far south as Wellington Harbour. Other tribes soon realised that the obtaining of firearms was a matter of life and death, of existence or annihilation. The most strenuous efforts were made to so retain a hold on the world of life, hence the advent of traders was welcomed. Every available person was pressed into the service of scutching the fibre of the Phormium plant to barter for muskets and ammunition. Inland and southern tribes often obtained them from northern tribes that had dealings with traders. The Tuhoe folk used to make perilous journeys to Waikato and the Thames to barter slaves for muskets, at the price of five slaves for one musket. This sort of thing continued until all tribes of the northern half of the North Island possessed the new weapon. This meant increased fighting, and for a number of years that area was a great armed camp. Up to about 1840 the condition of things in this region was dreadful; it had continued for twenty years. The missionaries often suffered, but did good work in endeavouring to stay the ferocious contest. They estimated that the introduction of firearms had caused, directly and indirectly, the destruction of 80,000 natives. But traders received from five to eight cwt. of flax fibre for a musket, and the trade went gaily on.
The Maori called guns pu, presumably because they are hollow cylinders, one of the meanings of the word. Pu titi, page 286 pu toriri, and pu toko were all names for flintlock muskets. These muskets were often assigned special names by their owners. If the stock of lead ran out stones were used for bullets. When fighting Imperial troops at Orakau in 1864 some of the natives used peach stones in place of bullets.
Pangari of Ngapuhi gave his impressions of the Maitai (Europeans) when they first appeared: “When I first saw the Maitai I took them to be supernatural beings who had come from some land much superior to ours. When I saw guns I thought that thunder and lightning had been confined within tubes, and that those sea demons, the Maitai, could hurl them against anything they directed the tubes at.” Some more southern tribes thought the new pu (guns) must resemble the old pu (trumpets), and so sought, by means of magic arts, to make their trumpets belch forth fire, thunder and death. Sad to relate, the attempt ended in failure. Nicholas (1814) tells us of the alarm that his fowling piece caused, and adds: “I showed my shot bag to one of the old men, but the sight of it terrified him so much that he did not venture to take a second glance at it, and turned away his head in the greatest trepidation from this magazine of death.” One of the Ngapuhi raiders used to relate as a side-splitting joke a trick he played on a Taranaki slave. The latter was most curious concerning the new weapon, so the owner told him to look down the barrel of his musket. As he did so the owner fired his piece, and—exit slave.
In some cases the Maori adorned the stocks of guns with finely executed carved designs. Cruise tells us of a native who had acquired a gun and was keenly desirous of slaying something with it. Hence with extreme care, he climbed up a tree and put the muzzle of his gun within a foot of a pigeon ere firing it. That pigeon was quite dead when it reached the ground!
Natives made their own cartridge boxes, often of pukatea wood, sometimes of puka (Griselinia); also their own cartridges.
Single combat (tau-mataki-tahi) was quite a Maori institution. Such encounters were sometimes arranged when two hostile forces met. A warrior might step forth and chal- page 287 lenge some particular toa (warrior) of the opposing party, and the two would meet and fight between the two forces. Each would probably be attended by a piki or second, who, if his principal fell, might himself challenge the victor. Sometimes in fighting a noted warrior would be attacked by several men who wished to make sure of slaying him.
Maori warfare consisted of a series of raids into an enemy's country, and so tribes always kept a kind of Dr. and Cr. statement concerning enemy tribes. Some of these that have been related to collectors are quite interesting, and extend over a number of generations.
Among the communistic Maori there was no form of conscription, no conscience clause, and, it may be said, no shirking when the red trail of Tu was to be lifted.
Now we will gird on the war belt and recite the hoa charm over our neolithic weapons. We will send forth the sign of the tiwha that calls man to tread the war path; we will perform the tapu rite of Wai taua. For Rehua, destroyer of man, is seen in the heavens, and the old Earth Mother is about to tremble under the fierce fury of the war dance.
The terms tiwha, kara and ngakau are applied to anything in the way of a token or hint by means of which a clan or tribe is asked to join another in a raid. The tiwha may be material or immaterial; it may consist of some action unaccompanied by words. Several other expressions are applied to it. Thus two peoples may be sojourning together for a space. The leader of one wishes to acquaint his folk with his desire to attack the other party. To effect this he will surreptitiously insert into a basket of cooked food a stone, and place that food before his people. On seeing the stone they at once understand the situation. Another plan was to burn a number of holes in a cape, and then place that cape over the shoulders of the chief whose assistance was desired. A messenger of standing would effect this. No words are spoken in either case. If the person on whom the cape was placed agrees to the proposal, he allows it to remain on his shoulders. Yet another method was to place some inferior or repulsive food before a person whose assistance was desired. He would know at once what it meant. Should he page 288 consent to join the league he would at once consume the food, however unpleasing it might be. During the Hauhau rebellion the head of a British officer was sent from Taranaki to the Bay of Plenty as a tiwha to Tuhoe and other tribes. My worthy friends of Tuhoe accepted it with fierce joy, thus bringing much tribulation upon themselves. When Hunga of Waikato was slain at Rotorua his body was cut up and the various pieces sent to the clans of the Arawa as a tiwha. In many cases the tiwha was merely a song sung by a messenger, the song containing some hint of the request.
In some districts a messenger sent to raise a force (tutu taua, tirare ope and whakataka ope) would have half his head shaved and painted with red ochre, which told the tale of his errand.
If a murder had been committed and a messenger sent for help to avenge it, he would enter the village almost naked, capering in tuone style. Then would come the query: “Inutai?” (who is it). And the answer: “It is so-and-so.” Enough! Commoner or chief, the war trail was lifted, for the murder was an act of takahi mana, a belittling of prestige.
Prior to the setting forth of a raiding force a meeting of the clans concerned in it would be held, and all arrangements discussed and settled. During these deliberations songs termed tau marae taua were sung to despatch the force under desirable conditions. Men about to engage in war were purea, a rite was performed over them to render them courageous and successful. Many ritual formulæ pertained to these ceremonies. A lengthy one before me as I write is an interesting form addressed to the god Tunui-a-te-ika.
A particularly important rite performed over the members of a war party ere setting forth was termed Wai taua. It was a kind of baptism in the service of Tu, the supreme patron of war. The warriors assembled at the brink of a stream and squatted down in a row. They and the officiating priest are innocent of garments save a form of apron or breech clout, or some herbage twisted round the loins. The priest takes two strips of Phormium leaf, ties them together, places the doubled strip in the water so that he is standing between the two trailing halves of it. This is a symbolical act; he is said to be page 289 standing “between human thighs.” He then recites the formula known as Tohi taua, and, dipping a wand or branchlet of karamu in the water, he walks along the row of men and taps each man on the shoulder with it. It is not clear as to whether he discards the piece of flax, or not. Some accounts do not mention it. Another long formula known as a Kawa taua is recited.
The Wai taua or Tohi rite brought the warriors under the rigid tapu of Tu, and the Kawa taua seems to be much the same thing. They endow the men with courage and all other qualities desirable in those about to engage in mortal combat. The Tira ora rite, already described, was performed at such a time, at least in some cases. The object of this performance was to remove all pernicious influences, all harmful conditions such as ever emanate from lax conduct, moral, ceremonial, or spiritual blemishes. This cleansing operation brought the subjects into a fit condition to be placed under the extremely strict tapu of Tu, the supreme god of war. We have already noted that this condition of purity was considered to be necessary when a person became subject or participator in certain high-class rites. As the Maori aptly puts it, it was “hei muru i nga he, i nga mate,” an effacing or absolution of faults and disabilities. And so the Tira ora or wand of life was erected, the maro and wetewete formulæ recited, and then a spell to weaken the enemy.
In some cases the Wai taua rite was again performed when the war party was about to deliver an attack, and in this case some act of divination would be performed in order to forecast the fortune of war. The tohunga or priest who accompanied a war party was an important personage, and had much influence as to the conduct of operations. He was often accompanied by an assistant who helped him in various ways, and who carried the sacred wallet (kete pure) containing certain tapu articles, such as a portion of food cooked at the ahi horokaka. This basket or its contents entered into any rites performed by the priestly expert.
When the “cleansing” formula had been recited over the fighting men, each man raised his right hand, in which he page 290 grasped his weapon, and held it to his forehead, as though shading his eyes. This act of tipare, as it was termed, is said to have “bound” the performance, to have stabilised the desirable qualities asked for. The performance was thus rendered effective. The warriors were now endowed with the whatu moana and the quality of kiriuka; the war god's heart of stone was theirs. Other ceremonial performances pertaining to war have already been explained.
We now come to what was deemed a very important part of a raid, a critical action of the art of war, the war dance, (tutu waewae and ngarahu taua). This performance not only filled the fighting men with enthusiasm for the coming fray, but it also held very serious possibilities. According to the manner in which it was performed, so were the actions and behaviour of the men, and moreover the results of the enterprise, forecast. If the dance was performed faultlessly, with the appropriate fire and energy, and no false movements made, then the omen was a good one. Any error committed, any lack of energy on the part of the performers, was viewed as an evil omen; trouble lay before.
If a war dance was performed prior to leaving the home village, the women would carefully scan the performance; they are said to have been close critics. Hence the men of old would say: “Ere you go forth to war display your legs to your women.” At such a time, if the women were seen to take an energetic part in heading the columns, then it was known that the performance was a good one, that the taua would go forth and assault the very stars in the heavens, and the Earth Mother below. For know ye that both men and women are true warriors, both have to encounter severe ordeals, as shown in the old saying: “He puta taua ki te tane, he whanau tama ki te wahine”—The battlefield with man, childbirth with woman.
A position in the war dance.
By General Robley of London.
We will now suppose that the call to arms has gone forth, that the signal fires have blazed on hill tops, or that a messenger has been despatched to bear the tiwha to other clans. Those clans have risen at the call to arms, they combine forces and march to the place of assembly. The people of that place, whom we will call the villagers, prepare to receive them. The fighting men, the ika a Whiro, and arero whero, and ati a toa strip for the war dance and form into column, the column faces the advancing one of the clans called up, and the latter we will call the ope. * The villagers are all kneeling on the left knee, each man grips musket or native weapon in his hands. All are silent.
The ope advances slowly and in perfect silence, in close column, but the men do not keep step. Now from the silent, kneeling villagers of the home matua or column, a single man rises. He is the first wero or challenger, a man selected for his fine appearance. In his hand he bears a rude spear, a rod of manuka; it is the whakaara spear, the first challenge spear of a series of three. The challenger advances with springy step in manner orthodox, and, when still some distance from the ope, he casts his spear at it and retires to his own column. The ope takes no heed of the challenge, but marches steadily onward.
* An abbreviated form of ope taua, a war party. Otherwise ope means a party of travellers.
Forth from the kneeling ranks of the villagers there bounds the final challenger. In his right hand he bears the tuku, the rakau mutu or final challenge spear, in his left is gripped his own weapon. He is the swiftest runner of his clan. Naked to the four winds he bounds from side to side as he advances with hideous grimaces, emitting deep-chested grunts of defiance. His step is quick and light, his muscles strained under the smooth, brown skin; the brandished weapon, the sounds and gestures of defiance, the agile, leaping action pertain to the pikari and whakatitiko. He is the picked man of his clan, he is the admired of all, he is the final challenger. But the ope marches silently on and takes no notice.
When near the head of the advancing column the challenger gives a final exhibition of his agility, lung power, and powers of facial distortion, and casts his spear at the ope. Then, turning to the right, he races back to his own column, the silent waiting villagers. The final spear has been thrown; the ope takes up the challenge.
The spear has not grounded ere the kaiwhai or pursuer leaps from the flank of the ope and dashes forward in pursuit of the challenger. He also is a picked man and will strain every nerve to overtake the challenger. Should he do so, both he and his companions rejoice, for it is a good omen, and, as he comes up to the fleeing challenger he will endeavour to strike him down, or to rapahuki him, i.e., thrust his weapon between the challenger's legs and so throw him. But the challenger has the right to retaliate. Should either man look backward at his own column, or should the challenger turn to the left instead of the right, should any false move be made, then such a korapa, as such misadventures are termed, is viewed as an ill omen. For a challenger to be overtaken is another unlucky happening for his friends.
The ope is now coming on at the run, with quick, short strides, a kind of trotting gait, each man holding his weapon in his right hand. At the same time all are giving tongue to a singular semi-dental, semi-sibilant cry of ti-ti-ti! or tsi!-tsi! page 294 So the fierce-visaged, grimacing fighters stamp on in a line parallel to the column of villagers until opposite it. At once the fugleman (kaiwhitiwhiti) of the kneeling villagers leaps to his feet and yells forth the whakaaraara matua, by which he calls on his fighters to rise. And then, with a wild, piercing cry, the naked, brown-skinned dogs of war spring to their feet. This column now advances in the same manner as the other; the two columns pass each other in parallel lines, moving different ways. All practise the same stamping gait, the same weird cry; their eyes stare wildly, with muscles aquiver, their actions and appearance denote excitement and defiance.
Ere long the villagers turn about and return in the same manner. The ope does the same, and the two columns pass each other as before. To look at them one would imagine that they yearned to slaughter each other. Not at all; they are relatives and friends. These peculiar evolutions are termed unuunu; it is a kind of neolithic countermarching.
On reaching their former stations both matua or columns halt, face about, while every man kneels down on his left knee, with his right foot on the earth, his weapon, gripped in his right hand, inclining to his left front, his left hand resting lightly on it. Every man looks downward; all are perfectly silent. The two columns face each other; no sound is heard.
As one man, and with the same weird, wild cry, the fighting men rise to the war dance. Each man grasps his musket by the barrel, near the muzzle, brandishing it butt uppermost. Now comes the peruperu.
“Whiti! Whiti - - E!”
To those unaccustomed to the gentle habits of the Maori the war dance may truly seem terrific. It seems amazing that human beings can produce so much noise. The men are suddenly transformed into demons, as, with staring eyes, distorted features, tongue lolling out, they go through the furious motions of the war dance. The swinging muskets sway in perfect time as the frenzied savages extend and withdraw their arms. The thudding of the bare feet strikes the ear as a single sound; when the tense, maddened fighters leap page 295 high and descend flat-footed the old Earth Mother herself trembles at the shock. But high above all else may be heard the thunderous roar of the war song. Given but a few hundred of these stalwart men performing the tutu waewae, and, long miles away, the hoarse chorus shall drone upon the ear like unto the boom of the ocean surf on a rocky coastline.
“Kia kutia. Au! Au!
Kia wherahia. Au! Au!
Kia rere atu te Kawana ki tawhiti titiro mai ai
A-e! A-e! Ha!”
Such is the war dance of the Maori, such his methods in the conduct of the great game. Although a marching column does not keep step in these evolutions, yet the columns preserve their formation well. Any irregularity is corrected by the controlling chief, who will hoahoa or dress the ranks. Any irregularity in the dance, a failure to rise as one man, of an individual to leap high enough, any lack of frenzied vigour—all are deemed unlucky signs, evil omens.
If closely related to the villagers, the members of the ope will sometimes join with it to form one column, termed a kawau maro; this single column will face the village and perform the dance.
A swift runner was esteemed for such services as that of a challenger. Such men as Te Hihi of Ngapuhi, for example, he who outran a falling tree to maintain his reputation. It was a matter of showing certain incredulous Europeans, sawyers and whalers, that the fame of Te Hihi struck against the heavens. The tree, a lofty one, was carefully scarfed for her marks, the front scarf carried well in, the back scarf cut out until she began to complain. Te Hihi took his stand before the front scarf; the marked line for the falling tree to strike had been cleared to give the daring runner a fair chance. The assembled people, native and European, silent but excited, gathered round. The axeman, at a signal from Te Hihi, bent to his task. The slight sound of parting fibres rose to ominous cracks, and then came the crash of rending timber as the great tree quivered, lurched forward, paused a split second, then with a crash leaped forward and fell thundering to the trembling earth. But where was Te Hihi? At the page 296 first crash he had leaped forward on the straight, narrow path, and raced for the world of life as a meteor darts through the vast realm of Watea. This was no case of a paltry omen or an unlucky korapa, for, at lightning speed, death was reaching for him, and Te Hihi ran as never Ngapuhi had run before. And men said that he actually leaped from under the rushing terror, to be caught by the blast of the wind from the falling tree and be tossed by it as flutters a leaf hard driven by autumn gale—but alive and unscathed. Thus, amid the frantic yells of his tribesmen and the cheers of the reckless Europeans, did Te Hihi uphold the mana of his tribe.
When a fight started a leader would sometimes shout out such a phrase as: “Aue! Te mamae roa-e!” This is an auhi; he bewails the danger that he is leading his men into. An old war cry of the Maori is: “Hoatu ki roto-e! Hoatu ki roto!” (Dash in! Dash in!). Another form is: “Riria! E te whanau-e! Riria!” (Fight, Oh people! Fight!). Also: “Napihia! Napihia!” (equivalent to our “Stick to it”), and the modern gun fighter's cry of: “Tahuna! Tahuna!” (about equivalent to our cry of “Fire!”) The cry of “Tikarohia nga whetu!” (Tear out the stars) is a command to slay the chiefs of the enemy force. “Tikarohia te marama” is a similar reference to the moon, with a similar meaning. A person who chanced to catch sight of an advancing hostile band, as one advancing to attack a village, would cry out: “Ko te whakaariki-e-e-e! Ko te whakaariki!” or “Te taua! Te taua!” both of which are names for an armed force. These prolonged vowel sounds are very effective, and cause a cry to carry far.
During an attack noted toa or warriors would push to the front, to be followed by those somewhat less daring. A man who wished to kawe ingoa or make a name for himself might dash forward and endeavour to slay the first man. The leader of the party was not necessarily seen in the van; he might be in the rear ready to rally his men in case of a mishap or panic. To slay the first man, termed the mataika, matangohi, and ika i te ati, the “first fish,” was considered to be a most meritorious act. The heart of the first slain was taken out by the priestly expert of the party and offered to the page 297 gods, an act that much encouraged a war party. As a warrior killed the first man he cried out: “I have the first fish.” In some cases on record a man has struck a tree with his weapon, and given the mataika cry, so anxious was he to achieve fame, or hearten his party. Such an act is called a tamarahi. In the fight at Te Kaunga a dog was the hapless mataika, its heart being offered to the gods in manner orthodox.
This rite of offering the heart of the first slain to the gods is known as whangai hau. It was believed to stabilise or render permanent the courage and successful actions of the party, hence its heartening effect. The last man killed in a fight was called tangata whakatiki.
When a fight was over a lock of hair was taken from the head of a slain enemy as the mawe of the victory. It represented that victory, and a rite was performed over it having much the same objective as the whangai hau. It also had the effect of weakening the resolution of the defeated enemy in the matter of obtaining revenge for that defeat.
When our successful party of raiders returns to the home village, its members will abandon their marching at ease, form up in column, and, with the tohunga in the van bearing the māwe, so approach the village. They march in naked as when the Tohi taua rite was performed over them, and advance to the tuahu or sacred place of the village, where certain experts would be waiting to receive them. These men are also naked, save the branchlets stuck in their belts as a maro or apron. As the column slowly approaches, the leading man at the tuahu calls out: “I haramai Tu i hea” (Whence has Tu come?) The priest of the column replies: “I haramai Tu i te kimihanga; i haramai Tu i te rangahautanga” (Tu comes from the seeking; Tu comes from the searching).
The bearer of the māwe now advances and deposits it at the sacred place. The column halts. All the priests then clap their hands and intone a formula. This ceremony is a somewhat lengthy one, and, when it concludes, the warriors proceed to a stream where the tapu is lifted from them by means of another rite. They cannot go to their homes until this has been done. The Whakahoro rite removes the tapu. The two fires termed horokaka and ruahine are kindled by page 298 friction, and a single kumara tuber roasted at each. The officiating priest eats that cooked at the former fire, the other is eaten by the ruahine, a woman who takes part in the tapu removing ceremony. Ritual formulæ are recited by the priest.
When the returned raiders enter the village, where the people are assembled on the plaza, some time is spent in mourning for those clansmen who have been slain. Laments might be composed for the slain. Scenes of the fights where prominent men were killed might be placed under tapu, if on the tribal lands. The tapu imposed on the field of Puke-kai-kahu by the Arawa was not removed until 1869, over half a century later. In some cases the spot where a famed man was slain would be marked by setting up an unworked stone; it would be partially embedded in the earth. Another usage was to dig a pit, termed a pokapoka, at the spot.
With regard to the pursuit of an enemy there are several matters to record. In the first place the swiftest runners among the pursuers never wasted any time in dispatching those they overtook. As a pursuer overtook an enemy he paused not in his speed, but simply dealt him a blow as he passed in order to incapacitate or delay him. The slower runners coming up behind would attend to the matter.
There are two forms of charms that were much used during a pursuit. One of these was the hoa tapuwae, repeated by a runner in order to render himself swift of foot. The other, termed a punga, was repeated by a person to delay others, to render them slow-footed. There is magic in this charm. The reciter having repeated it, would throw some article behind him, as a garment, for example. Now when a pursuer passed over that object the magic would affect him; he would be seriously enfeebled, and so unable to overtake the pursued. The punga is an extremely useful charm to have in one's budget. Another charm, the tupe, also has the effect of enfeebling the person it is directed against. Two other charms were those that had the effect of contracting the earth, so as to shorten a journey, and to draw the land out so as to seriously lengthen a journey. The advantages to be derived from these charms are obvious. Yet another was a charm that page 299 delayed the passage of the sun across the heavens, so as to lengthen the day.
When a man wished to save the life of an enemy during a fight or pursuit, or when a village was taken, all he had to do was to cast his garment over him. If he who did so were a man of standing the act would be quite sufficient. Or should the enemy be getting the worst of a fight then a chief of the victors could save the life of any member of the enemy force by calling him to approach and join the victors. Occasionally a man would purchase his own life by handing over some valuable object, as a greenstone weapon or pendant. We suppose the case of a party being worsted in a fight. The chief thereof might wish to avoid a slaughter of his followers. He would then call out to the other party, intoning the following: “He kauru ora ki tenei pia.” If the chief of the other side consented to cease fighting he would cry out in a similar manner: “He kauru ora, he kauru ora ki tenei pia, ki tenei tama.”
The stigma of slavery lay heavy on the Maori. It was dreaded much more than death; it was the last thing in calamity. Cases have been known wherein children have been slain by their own parents to save them from the dread doom of slavery. In many cases a slave preferred to remain in slavery rather than to return to his own people, where he could never live down the disgrace. At the same time slaves were, as a rule, well treated, though they might at any time be knocked on the head to provide a meal Slaves sometimes married women of their master's tribe, and their children would be free. Occasionally a slave attained a position of some importance. Prisoners captured by a raiding force were sometimes slain by the widows of those of the victors who had fallen.
Having marched under the sway of Tu the war god, the destroyer of man, we will now turn our attention to his brother Rongo, he who presides over peace-making and peaceful arts. In Maoriland peace-making between tribes who had been at war was deemed a very important function. There was much of ceremony pertaining to it, as also punctiliousness in many forms.page 300
The expression hohou rongo denotes peace binding. A firm, permanent peace is described as a rongo taketake. The curious expression tatau pounamu (jade door) is a kind of emblematical term for an enduring peace that allays all misgivings. In proposing such a peace a chief would mention some place, often a hill, that was to be taken as a token of the enduring peace, and as a place whereat women and children might dwell or roam in quiet security: “Let us erect the jade door at——as a sanctuary for the helpless; where our women and children shall roam unharmed by man.” This word pounamu (greenstone, jade, nephrite) is here used by the Maori much as we employ the term “golden”; a golden era of peace was to follow.
When peace was made between Tuhoe and the Wairoa tribe, after a long-drawn-out series of raids, the “jade door” erected was a peculiar one. Hipara, of the latter people, gave his daughter in marriage to a Tuhoe chief, then the two hills near the lake, named Tuhi-o-kahu and Kuha-tarewa, were also joined in the bonds of marriage, the former being dubbed a male and the latter a female. By the ceremonial joining of these two hills was the jade door set up, and an enduring peace followed, a peace that has been preserved even unto this day, the day of the white man.
“He kauru ora ki a Io-te-waiora
He kauru ora ki a papa e takoto nei, etc.”
A peace arranged by means of discussion is called a rongo a whare. A feeble pact, one soon broken, is a rongo whatiwhati.
One of the ceremonial dances performed at a peace-making function is worthy of some description. It was performed by mareikura, girls and young women of rank only, and these page 301 young folk were adorned in a peculiar manner with what was known as the tuhi mareikura. This consisted of designs painted in colours on the cheeks and foreheads of the girls. Several designs were so employed; one was a representation of a pohutukawa (Metrosideros) tree with red blossoms. The branches were painted with the blue earth called pukepoto, and the blossoms with red ochre. One such design was painted on each cheek and one on the forehead.
The men of the local people, in gala attire as to head adornment, but very scantily clad, take part in the performance, but the girls perform the first part of it. The rectangular design on the left represents the visiting party of late enemies; they are facing to the right. Two girls advance and insert two rods in the earth in a vertical position where the two crosses are marked, and then retire. The matua or column of local men then advances from the right and halts when it reaches the two rods. From their right rear now advance the bedecked girls in single file. Their line of advance is shown by the dotted line. They march past the right flank of the matua, then make a left turn along the front of that body. When the leader reaches the near cross, the left flank of the matua, all halt and make a right turn, and so face the party of visitors. The foremost of the girls is the page 302 kai kakariki, or leader, and she now commences the song, a powhiri or waiata manaaki, to welcome the visitors. All the girls join in the song, which is accompanied, not by energetic movements, but by gentle, somewhat slow wavings of the arms and swaying of bodies. Having continued singing for some time all then make a left turn and march round the left flank of the matua and to the rear thereof, where they halt, and again face to the front. As this countermarch commences every girl also commences to wave her right arm with the inward motion of the powhiri or welcoming gesture, as though beckoning the visitors to approach. The singing is continued until the file halts and forms a detached rear rank to the matua. The next act is the performing of the peruperu or war dance by the men.
It was for such ceremonial performances as these that girls were so carefully taught grace of action in arm and body movements when performing posture dances. The movement of the girls to the front of the fighting men was symbolical of peace and amity. This performance is a remarkably interesting one to witness.
At the conclusion of the men's dance the principal chief of the local people rises to recite the solemn ritual pertaining to peace binding. The visiting people then go through a similar performance. Probably they will not have in their party enough maidens to form a rank, so a few elderly women will station themselves in front of the dancing men, and perform the prancing, grimacing, and other weird actions that are expressed by the term ngangahu. Their chief then chaunts the formula that betokens assent to the making of peace, and much speech-making follows. The next act is the makamaka kai, the ceremonial and spectacular advance of a column of persons bearing baskets and other vessels full of cooked foods for the ceremonial feast. All this is deposited on the ground between the two assembled parties, and then they all seat themselves and eat together, a thing that was not done under ordinary conditions.
There is no challenging during the above function. Matters were conducted differently during the reception of an ordinary party of visitors, and on the occasion of an important page 303 meeting of the tribe. In the two latter cases the mareikura performance was not included. In this latter function an able and comely young woman was selected to kakariki the song, that is to act as a conductor.
Our survey of the Maori at war now comes to an end. We have undergone the sacred rites of the Tohi taua, and marched with the kawau māro under the tapu of the gods. We have offered the heart of the “first fish” to those gods, and have seen man flow like water down to Rarohenga. We have smitten the enemy beneath the shining sun, and brought back the māwe to the sacred places. The war trail is now grass grown and untrodden by man; the old Earth Mother no longer trembles to the rhythmic thunder of the war dance.
Even so has man learned the truth of the old saying: “He toa taumata rau” (Bravery and fame have many resting places).