Maori Religion and Mythology Part 2
As taniwha seem to have been the largest and most destructive of these mythical creatures it were well to dispose of them ere we deal with lesser fry. The first note obtained on this subject was collected by Capt. Cook when on his third voyage in 1777. When describing certain statements made by a native of Queen Charlotte Sound, he proceeds—"We had another piece of intelligence from him, more correctly given, though not confirmed by our own observations, that there are snakes and lizards there of an enormous size. He described the latter as being eight feet in length, and as big round as a man's body. He said, they sometimes seize and devour men; that they burrow in the ground; and that they are killed by making fires at the mouths of the holes. We could not be mistaken as to the animal; for, with his own hand, he drew a very good representation of a lizard on a piece of paper; as also of a snake, in order to shew what he meant." (Cook—A Voyage to the Pacific Ocean, vol. 1, pp. 142-3, Dublin, 1786).
In this great man-eating lizard we have our friend the taniwha, and I can quite believe that the Maori made a good job of depicting a lizard, but as for his so depicting a snake, a creature he had never seen!—well, I think we had better term it an eel, for that creature he did know.
Our next note on the taniwha seems to be found in a remark by Nicholas in his Narrative of a Voyage to New Zealand 1817, vol. 2, p. 126. He wisely placed but little faith in statements unsupported by evidence: "Duaterra, however, informed us, that a most destructive animal was found in the interior of the country, which made great havoc among the children, carrying them off and devouring them, whenever they came in its way. The description he gave of it corresponded exactly with that of the alligator; but I should still doubt that either this or any other page 474predaceous animal of so formidable a description exists in New Zealand. The chief had never seen the animal himself, but received his accounts from others; and hence it appears to me very probable that his credulity might have been imposed upon." (Nicholas was right; it had!)
Polack, who sojourned in New Zealand in the "thirties" of last century tells us but little about taniwha, but did note that disasters and even minor misfortunes at sea, and on or in inland waters, are credited to the ever present taniwha (New Zealand, vol. 2, p. 227). There is another matter, a belief, that must be made clear, namely that when persons offended the gods by transgressing some rule of tapu then punishment was often inflicted by taniwha, who would destroy or seriously injure the erring one. Such happenings as landslips were often attributed to these monsters, and this may possibly be referred to a belief that some of these monsters lead a subterranean existence. As in the case of forest denizens the taniwha were supposed to dwell in remote places, in the depth of forests, on rugged mountains and high bush-clad ranges, in broken country where cliffs, canyons and caves are found, and in deep-water lakes, rivers and ponds. Such tapu mountains as Tongariro, Maungapohatu, etc., were credited with being the residence of such uncanny creatures, such reports would doubtless be spread in order to enhance the mana of such hills, and to discourage ascents thereof. Not infrequently such a taniwha-infested hill included one or more toma tupapaku, a name applied to any cave, rock shelter, chasm, etc., wherein exhumed bones of the dead were deposited. A deep, dark pool in a creek or river bend is a favoured abiding place for these monsters in Maori belief, while others lived on land apparently in a permanent manner.
Descriptions given by natives of these man-slaying creatures generally portray a huge lizard-like creature, hence it has been assumed that these taniwha myths are a dim remembrance of the crocodiles of the western Pacific area; this theory finds some support in the fact that one of the names applied to the mythical local taniwha is really a crocodile name in the New Guinea area, viz, moko. The ordinary name applied to these mythical monsters, viz, taniwha, is one not widely employed in that sense, moko is evidently the name known far across Polynesia. In western Polynesia tanifa is the name of a species of shark, and taniwha is sometimes used by the Maori to denote sharks. In New Zealand moko is used to denote lizards of different species, as moko-papa, moko-parae, moko-kakariki, etc., but it is, and has page 475been, also applied to the huge mythical taniwha, and so we find them alluded to as moko nui and moko roa on account of their size. At the same time the lizard meaning was apparently the only one in the Maori mind; if the name moko had been brought from a land of crocodiles then the Polynesian has long forgotten it. These huge saurians of Polynesian myth are called mokoroa at Aitutaki, and in some dialects the moko becomes mo' o, as at Hawaii. Te Rua o te moko is a place name in several districts, in New Zealand, applied to a cave in at least some cases, it would denote the den of the moko.
The word kumi is also said to be a name for a great fabulous reptile, that is for a taniwha, but it is seldom heard. Kumi denotes a lizard at far-off Nukuoro where a dialect of our local Maori speech is spoken, so that we may accept it as a name for a taniwha. Ngarara, a term often applied to taniwha, is a word that embraces all reptiles. Two other terms, hore and tuoro, are occasionally applied to taniwha; the Tuhoe folk seem to use these two names when speaking of monsters that dwell underground and force their way through the earth, uprooting trees and forming caves, tunnels and canyons in their progress. The Ana-tuoro (The Tuoro cave) is the name of a cave at Te Whaiti. Places are said to have been named after these unseen monsters formerly and so possibly originated the name of Te Kumi, a place on the Huiarau range. A note in the John White M.S.S. gives pukutuoro, hore and kurakura as names of mythical creatures said to live in lakes of the South Island.
I think that it may be said that, in the native mind, the saurian form of taniwha is peculiar to the land, and fresh waters, and possibly the coastline. When speaking, however, of taniwha pertaining to the deep ocean, the Maori always seems to believe that such creatures appear in whale form. We must also bear in mind that the name taniwha is sometimes applied to inanimate objects, for instance a stone, tree, or other natural object that was believed to possess strange, uncanny powers, might be so termed. In this narrative it will be better to bring these latter under the usual term tipua, in order to avoid confusion. We have in Maori folk tales several cases of transmigration, the passing of the human soul into the body of an animal. So it was that Hine-ruarangi became a tipua cormorant, the Te Tahi of Whakatane became a deep-sea taniwha. In such cases as these a tribe benefited by having relatives among the uncanny gentry, inasmuch as they would rely upon them during the crises of life. Any man of such a people who had sufficient mana to enable him page 476to so call up a taniwha to his assistance would be termed an ariki-taniwha.
When Tane took Hine-tupari-maunga, the Mountain Maid, to wife, their progeny consisted of Te Putoto, Tuamatua, and Parawhenuamea. From the first named sprang taniwha, all forms of mokopeke (lizards), of reptiles, etc. Another version of this myth makes taniwha the progeny of Te Ikaroa and Papakura, and Te Ikaroa appears as the off-spring of Tuamatua. Rangahua is another name mentioned in connection with the origin of taniwha. This name, like that of Rakahore, is connected with rock and stones, and as these creatures are often said to live in caves, canyons and chasms, then such places are said to nurture them; such conceits as this are often encountered in these folk tales. As our Maori folk become more and more Europeanised one hears less of supernormal beings and miracles. In 1886 some natives seem to have assigned the eruption of Mt Tarawera to such Powers as those held by tohunga and taniwha in former times; if this was so, then that remarkable upheaval was apparently the final effort of the taniwha tribe.
It is evident that many members of the taniwha family were under the influence of man, and of the gods. So it was that certain taniwha were called upon for assistance when man was in peril on the sea, and so also were these creatures employed in some cases to punish those who had transgressed some rule of tapu. When persons met with a mishap at sea it were well if one of their number possessed the necessary mana to call upon the water monsters for help, which was done by reciting such an appeal as the following:
Ruamano e! Kawea an ki uta ra
Whakakau-ariki e! Kawea au ki uta ra
Hine-ruarangi e! Kawea au ki uta ra
Te Tahi-o-te-rangi e! Kawea au ki uta ra
Taukanihi e! Kawea au ki uta ra.
This is simply an appeal made to a number of supernormal creatures, taniwha and tipua, to convey the appellant to land (O Ruamano! Convey me to land). The Maori will tell you that many of these ocean roving creatures were subservient to man, or rather to some men, and that they would rescue from danger any person who was qualified to ask for such assistance. When a person was so saved from death he would, on reaching land, perform a simple ceremony called makamaka rimu, which consisted of repeating a certain formula and making an offering of a piece of seaweed. When making such offerings to atua out in page 477the field as it were, i.e., away from village and tuahu, it was customary to either suspend the said offering on a tree, or simply cast it aside with a brief remark dedicating it to some particular atua. When one has had any dealings with tapu, abnormal creatures, such as atua, taniwha, etc., it becomes necessary to perform some act, or repeat some formula, in order to remove the aspect of tapu arising from such contact.
Another form of address to these sea-dwelling creatures was as follows:
Tangi atu au ki te ninihi nui o te moana
Ki te parata nui o te moana, ki te taniwha nui o te moana
Ki te paikea nui o te moana kia haramai kia, etc., etc.
Here the suppliant says—"I now cry to the great shark of the ocean, the great parata of the ocean, the great taniwha of the ocean, the great whale of the ocean, to come and …" Here he explains his wants, what service he requires of the great ones, whether it be the destruction of enemies or the saving of himself and friends from some threatened danger. The parata mentioned may be the being to whom the tides are attributed. Some hundred and fifty years ago a member of the Awa tribe named Rangi-whakakuruki met with disaster at sea, where he and his friends engaged in hostilities with other sea strollers. His party was saved from annihilation by Rangi, who called upon Ruamano and Irakewa to come to their assistance, which they quickly did. Another of the ancestors of Awa named Tuhikitia was saved from a damp sea death in the same manner, he was carried to land on the back of a whale.
The Maroon of White Island
All this explanation leads up to a natural sequence, the story of Te Tahi-o-te-rangi, the maroon of White Island. This ancestor of Ngati-Awa and Tuhoe flourished some fourteen generations ago, and he is one of three persons of the Whakatane district who became taniwha or tipua after death, clear cases of metempsychosis. Of these Tauke of the old Ngai-Turariga tribe of the Ruatoki district became an ordinary kind of taniwha or water demon that dwelt in a pool known as the Rua o Tauke, while Te Tahi and Te Putaanga, the latter a brother of Tauke, became marakihau. These latter are mythical sea denizens, weird beings page 478that are said to possess colossal ngongo, long tube-like tongues, and by means of these organs they swallowed their prey, even a canoe full of people would so disappear, at least so I have been informed by descendants of folk so swallowed, and surely they ought to know. These two ancestors appear as carved figures in the native house known as Te Whai-a-te-motu at Ruatahuna; they are provided with very long ngongo through which to absorb their food supplies, whether fish, flesh, or the more indigestible canoes.
Te Tahi flourished five generations before the time of Tuhoe-potiki, the eponymic ancestor of the Tuhoe tribe, and he dwelt among the Awa folk of Whakatane; he was a cousin of the brothers of Tauke and Te Putaanga; and so we see that a taniwha strain ran in this family, the descendants of Tamarau the flying man and of Nukutore. In an account of the surprising adventures of Te Tahi it appears that, in his day, the Awa people of those parts were having much trouble with their crops, owing to frequent and heavy floods, and, as was but natural, the sufferers sought to discover the cause of these floods, for there must be some sinister influence behind a persistent scourge. The result of this enquiry was that suspicion fell upon Te Tahi, a man who was skilled in magic arts, and who had command over the elements; it was decided that it was probably he who had brought about the heavy rains that caused the devastating floods. It was necessary to take action at once, and so Te Tahi was kidnapped by his own tribesmen and taken to Whakaari (White Island) and there abandoned, with nothing in the way of food supplies to comfort him.
Our hapless maroon, Te Tahi of Whakaari, was now in parlous plight, foodless and canoeless on a sterile island far from land. But men who are versed in the ways of magic, black and white, are not easily cast down, and not easily kept on desert isles. Te Tahi watched his enemies sail away on their return to Whakatane, and then ascended a rock and called upon the monsters of the deep to come and rescue him, and they came in noble array, at least so I judge from accounts of the procession of leviathans of the deep given me by Hoani Pururu, Hamiora Pio, and my old friend Matutaera Hatua of the Native Contingent. These verbal accounts are corroborated by the artistic efforts of Timi Waata, who contributed to the cause of taniwha research a striking explanatory sketch of Tutara-kauika, the whale taniwha, bearing Te Tahi triumphantly homeward to Whakatane. The sketch (see Dominion Museum Bulletin 7, 1976 reprint, fig. 169, page 479p. 407) shows a school of four whales, all spouting lustily, proceeding in line from White Island to Whakatane. On the back of the leading and largest whale stands Te Tahi, a man of strange physical proportions, a thickset body, a head of equal size, and extremely slim underpinning. Our hero has assumed an heroic attitude and seems to be defying his enemies and the elements, weapons in hand; a band encircling his whale-steed may assist him in preserving his equilibrium. White Island in the distance seems to be in eruption, and yet more distant is the peculiar rock mass of Paepae-aotea, which shows a somewhat top-heavy form. The whale legion seems to be rapidly overtaking the retreating Awa folk who had marooned Te Tahi, in three canoes, each of which has two sails set, these people are nearing the entrance of the Whakatane river under Kohi point, the rocks standing in the entrance are also shown. The three superfluous members of the Wehenga-kauki or ocean monsters are probably present for the purposes of display.
In Pio's version of the myth we see that Te Tahi's sea-steed proposed that his enemies should be destroyed when they overtook them, but Te Tahi said: "Waiho ma te whakama e patu" (Let shame punish them). So those people were spared, and Te Tahi was landed safely at the Kohi point; as he walked along the beach people said one to the other—"Surely that is Te Tahi, he who was left at Whakaari, by what means can he have returned?" For Te Tahi had donned his fine garments on his return, and so strode along in gay attire, and swinging a whale bone weapon in his hand. So the people looked, and saw that it really was Te Tahi.
In another version of the above story given by Hoani Pururu of Ngati-Awa we are told that, when Te Tahi returned to Whakatane, he cast down a rock, presumably from the rocky hill near by, and deposited on it his kotara, a form of girdle. That girdle took root on the rock and developed into a flax plant (Phormium tenax). This rock is, I believe, the huge isolated boulder known as the Toka a Houmea situated on the flat south of the schoolhouse. I was told that this was formerly a tapu rock, and that a flax plant grew on it.
Now when, in later days, Te Tahi died at Opuru, he was buried at that place, but later came the taniwha folk from the ocean to bear him away to their strange realm, and so Te Tahi has ever since roamed the ocean wastes, and ever he is ready to succour his descendants when in danger at sea. When, at such crises, men call upon him for help, then Te Tahi comes and bears them to page 480land, even as he himself was borne from lone Whakaari in days of long ago.
Now there was a man named Hekia who took a canoe that was tapu and so brought the anger of the taniwha folk upon himself; they bore the canoe off to White Island and there wrecked it, but Hekia was saved.
Should a person eat of tapu food, forbidden to him, then he would be taken away by taniwha, taken away off to their haunts, but he might be rescued and returned to his home by some particular taniwha who was an ancestor of his. Apparently many taniwha possessed eternal life, they knew not death down the changing centuries, while others were slain by man. The ocean taniwha of the Bay of Plenty area were responsible for the death of Manaia and his fishing companions. When Mawake, a man of standing, died, he was buried at Waitahanui, and Manaia obtained his jawbone and fashioned a fish hook therefrom, a dreadful act in Maori eyes. But when Manaia took his new hook with him on a sea fishing trip, then the monsters of the ocean rose and destroyed Manaia and his friends.
Fear of taniwha and kindred mythical creatures was certainly a somewhat useful force in Maoriland, and this fear of the unknown and nonexistent demons was exploited by the elders of a community, and so young folk were told that if they did certain things, then they would be carried off by taniwha to fearsome places, often underground, or under the waters of a river or lake. The offences for which persons were so punished were usually some infringement of tapu, and stories of such punishings were invented and taught to young folk; all of which served to uphold social discipline. Here follows a sample of these taniwha tales of the nursery type—
The Story of Parekawa and the Taniwha
"A certain young woman named Parekawa was employed by her father to cut his hair. As he was a tapu person of course the woman became tapu also for several days, according to ancient custom. Unfortunately some visitors arrived ere the restriction was removed, and, there being no one at the village to prepare food for the guests, Pare set to work and cooked some for them. Thus was the tapu broken, her hands had touched food.page 481
Shortly after this occurrence it was seen that Pare was altering much in appearance, and spoke in a strange manner; pretty soon she became as one demented and so fled to the forest. On being pursued by her friends she leaped into a river and disappeared. Her friends thought she was drowned; not so, for Peketahi the taniwha had taken her. They passed through the water and through the earth to the home of Peketahi, where Pare saw the strange folk of that place, their houses and cultivations. Those monster folk offered her food, but Peketahi said to her—"Eat not of that food, or never more will you return to the world of light."
It was Peketahi, the chief of the taniwha folk, who sent Pare back to this world in charge of a monster. He told her that she must pass through the water to the village, then leap on to the tapu place without being seen by the people. Now her human form had quite gone while sojourning in the strange underworld, and she was able to pass right up the Puniu river to her home. Here, unfortunately, she. was seen by her people ere she could reach the tapu place, so her companion took her back to the demon world. But Peketahi told her to try once more, and this time she succeeded in reaching the tapu place, where her father recited a charm over her, whereupon she at once regained her human form.
Hence it is that our elders were heard to warn people thus:—"Do not disregard the laws of tapu, or you will be seized and dragged below the waters by Peketahi the taniwha, even as Parekawa was, she who was returned to this world only because she was the daughter of a priestly expert."
The above is a Waikato story, and another story concerning Peketahi the taniwha is given below. Here the punitory measures differed widely from those of the last case, the human offender not being handy, his storehouse and the isle on which it stood were purloined by Peketahi.
Peketahi and Koipikau
In former times a storehouse (pataka) was erected by certain folk on an islet called Kirikiri-roa, situated in the Horotiu river. It was adorned with fine carved work ornamented with paua shell, as also with feathers, of the kereru (pigeon). Certain ritual performances rendered this house tapu, and it was dedicated to one Peketahi, a taniwha (water monster) of those parts. Any food supplies kept in that store were, of course, also tapu, and page 482could not be used until the tapu had been removed by some priestly adept.
It happened upon a certain day that a person took food from that storehouse, and ate of it, without performing the horohoro rite by means of which tapu is removed. The result of this serious offence was that Peketahi came and carried away the storehouse, and also the islet upon which it stood, together with a dog that chanced to be on it at the time. People living near the river lower down heard the howling of the dog, and ran to see. Then was seen by man the strange sight of an islet drifting down the river, with a carved storehouse standing on it, and a dog howling dismally. To the Waikato river they drifted, and down it, while people looked on and wailed aloud. They knew that a taniwha was the cause of this strange occurrence, for land would not float away of its own accord; a taniwha alone can cause land to float and drift.
The land and storehouse drifted down stream and sank at Te Awanui, near Rangiriri. An eel weir was afterwards erected at that place, and it was given the name of Koi-pikau; it belonged to Te Kanawa.
Te Ataiorongo of Kawhia
We have seen how Te Tahi of Whakatane became a taniwha after death and there are other traditions of cases of transmigration that occurred in days long past. One such tale was related to me by Te Karehana Whakataki of Ngati Toa as we were sitting outside his little hut at Motuhara, near Plimmerton, in 1894. I note that, since those days, the place has been named after the old man, who was one of the migrants from Kawhia who came south in search of a new home early in the last century. His story centred on one Ataiorongo, an ancestor of Ngati-Toa who flourished at Kawhia long centuries ago. The tale runs as follows:
Raka-pawhara took to wife a sister of Te Ataiorongo, and their child, a boy, was named Kaiihu. Upon a time Raka and Te Ata went a fishing together, taking their fishing rods with them, and they went to a fishing rock called Papa-i-tairutu at Karioi. On reaching that place they placed their rods in position, and, ere long Te Ata had a bite, and he caught five snapper while Raka did not catch one. Then the hook of Raka caught in a rock and so he pulled at his rod in order to loosen it, whereupon Te Ata said: "Do not pull, lest it break, I will go down and free it." So Te Ata descended in order to free the line of his brother-in-law, and this page 483was done. When Te Ata came to the surface he was speared by Raka, and so slain, his body sinking by the rock. Raka then took the fish caught by Te Ata, strung them, and then proceeded to trample the beach sand so that people might think that his companion had been set upon and slain by enemies, after which he returned to the village.
When the wife of Raka, the sister of Te Ata, saw her husband return alone she enquired after her brother. Raka replied: "I know nought of him, I have not seen him." "But you two went off together." Raka replied: "He turned and went another way, I alone went to the fishing rock." The woman became uneasy about the absence of Te Ata, and so set off to search for him, calling on him as she proceeded. On reaching the fishing place she saw the betrampled sand, and on examining the many footprints came to the conclusion that Raka had made them all. Now as the woman was bewailing her lost brother at the fishing rock, Te Ata appeared in the form of a taniwha his arm thrust up above the water and it was recognized by his sister. It was then that she became confident that her brother had perished at the hands of Raka, hence she went back to their home and accused him of having slain Te Ata; but Raka spake never a word; so the twain parted.
In after days, when Kaiihu was growing up, he asked his mother where the people of his father lived, and she replied: "Look you to yon point that projects outward at Onepaka"—then the lad knew. When he reached manhood he came to Kawhia, where he was taken in hand by a relative named Mania and taught many things, including all forms of spells and charms. Then Mania called upon his people to make a new canoe, and it was made and hauled to the village of Rangihua, at Papakirewa, where the vessel was fitted up and finished, launched and tested. When Kaiihu went on board the vessel he was expelled by the elders, who made him remain on shore. He complained to Mania, who told him to go and conceal himself in the canoe during the night, which he did. While it was yet dark the crew partook of food, then went on board the canoe and passed out on the ocean, where Kaiihu heard the crew talking, whereupon he came forth and took his stand on a thwart where he recited the formula known as the awa o Tainui.
In the morning Raka and the others entered their canoes and all went out seaward, only women were left in the village. Then the village was burned and destroyed, and Raka, on seeing this, came back to land. Kaiihu saw him coming and pursued him by page 484canoe, and the people of Raka were slain out on the ocean. Kaiihu pursued Raka, who, when his pursuer joined upon him, leaped overboard; Kaiihu, in his canoe, saw the hair of Raka's head appear above water, so the head of Raka was seized by Kaiihu, he was dragged into the canoe and slain; so was avenged the death of Te Ataiorongo.
Ever after, when the taniwha form of Te Ata, with its wide girdle, was seen, then it was known by the people that some serious affliction was looming near.
A correspondent adds that the abode of the taniwha is a deep pit or hole known as the Rua o Te Ataiorongo at Matatua point near Kawhia heads, but that the creature occasionally moves northward to Te Akau.
There is another myth of a taniwha named Paneiraira that was connected with one Raka-taura, a Tainui immigrant, and the last appearance of Pane in 1863 is said to have betokened the coming disaster for the Waikato tribe. I have been told that Pane was a being much relied on when a canoe was capsized at sea, inasmuch as he used to appear at such a time and convey the crew ashore.
The Lost Isle of Rotoma
The following story was collected by a daughter of the late Rev. Mr Spencer, long stationed in the Rotorua district. It is a better version than one I collected many years later from the Awa folk of Te Teko. Some five or six generations ago the isle of Motutara in the lake known as Rotoma became lost to the world. That isle lay about a mile from the shore, and it was occupied by a number of people, persons where land interests lay on the adjacent mainland. At a certain time came a traveller to the lake shore, one who had come on a visit to the folk of Motutara. He endeavoured to attract the attention of the island people that they might send a canoe for him, but no notice was taken of such efforts. He spent the night on the lake shore, and, next morning, renewed his attempts to gain attention from the islanders, all to no purpose. By this time our traveller was justly enraged at this studied neglect, and so he decided to inflict a terrible punishment on the inhospitable islanders. Now he chanced to be an ariki taniwha, one who held strange power over the monsters of the ocean and of fresh waters. He doffed his garments, immersed himself three times in the waters of the lake, and called upon sundry dread taniwha to come and destroy the island. Then page 485occurred such a storm as man had never before seen at Rotoma, amid the roar of terrific thunder and the terrible motion of the reeling earth the isle of Motutara sank below the waters of the lake. So perished the churlish folk of Motutara, and herein lies a lesson to those who may think of flouting an ariki taniwha. The old warlock is said to have stationed one or more of his taniwha at Rotoma after the destruction of the isle, presumably to discipline the survivors of the tribe dwelling on the mainland. In former times, when taking crayfish by net in the lake the local folk used to find tuatara lizards at times in the net, and these lizards were, in Maori belief, connected with the local taniwha.
The Ngati-Awa version of this tale was contributed by old Hamiora Pio of Te Teko, and runs as follows: A chief named Rakei-marama, who flourished some ten generations ago, went from Putanaki (Mt. Edgecumbe) to Rotoma in order to visit friends living on an island in the lake, which isle was known as Motutara. He tried to attract the attention of the islanders that they might send a canoe for him, but they ignored him, as they had found him to be a tiresome visitor. Rakei became so enraged at this treatment that he resolved to destroy both people and island. He threw off his garments, tied a strip of flax leaf around his waist, and so stood ready to perform any tapu ceremony. With a wand or stick in his hand he walked into the water and stood therein repeating the formula calling upon the dread power of the taniwha. As he repeated the following karakia he struck the water with the stick in his hand:
E ara, e Tama ki Hukurangi!
He heuenga a uta, he heuenga a tai
Ngaro ki tupua, ngaro ki tawhito, mau ka ngaro
Ngaro atu ki te po wherikoriko
Ngaro ki tupua, ngaro ki tawhito
Mau ka oti atu ki te po.
Herein Tama, the dread ogre of Hikurangi, is called upon to rend land and water, and to consign all to the lower world. So the isle of Rotoma vanished beneath the lake waters and all its inhabitants perished.
A somewhat similar tale pertains to the lost village at Ohinemutu, Rotorua, where a few massive posts are still seen projecting above the lake waters, these are all that remain of the stockade that surrounded the sunk village. In this case two different taniwha seem to claim the honour of having destroyed this lakeside pa, their names being Te Ihi and Hurukareao. Here page 486there is probably some confusion of names, for in the following version Kohurukareao is given as the name of a village at Taupo destroyed by Te Ihi.
Te Ihi, a famed taniwha of the Taupo district, is said to have had a human origin, this being another case of transmigration. Te Ihi was the son of a decidedly human mother named Te Aratukutuku. At one time, according to Wiremu Tauri, she got into trouble by foretelling the death of one Pipiri on account of his having transgressed some law of tapu. Unfortunately for her Pipiri did so pass away and so his people promptly slew Te Ara, being probably convinced that she had killed him by means of magic. Either her gods or her supernormal offspring avenged her death in manner most complete, for the two fortified villages name Kohuru-kareao and Whakao-hoka were destroyed, they sank into the depths of the Taupo lake and so were lost forever. This is the same Aratukutuku who had been responsible for the destruction of half of the Ohine-mutu pa at Rotorua. When bathing there once upon a time she was laughed at by some women, with the results that, in the dead of night, half the village sank beneath the waters of the lake. Prior to that time but one boiling spring existed in that locality, but after the catastrophe a number of others were found to have appeared.
Here follows another version of the above story:
Te Ihi was a famous taniwha of the Taupo district, who is said to have been originally a man. When crossing the lake with other persons, he leaped overboard and disappeared. His mother is said to have been one Ara-tukutuku, who foretold the death of Pipiri, a leading man of Motu-tere, because he had gone a fishing while she was going through some ceremonial performance. As Pipiri did die shortly after this prophetic utterance, his enraged friends avenged him by slaying Ara, the result of her death being the destruction of no less than four villages, which were engulfed in the waters of the lake. Two of these villages were named Kohura-kareao and Whakaohoka.
Te Ihi did not confine his activities to Taupo, but is said to have occasionally passed underground as far as Rotorua. On one occasion, we are told, he found a man named Tama-mutu asleep on the Hakaipari islet in Lake Tarawera, whereupon he seized the sleeping Tarua and conveyed him by subterranean ways to Lake Taupo. Here he was kept for some days, during which time he refused to eat any food offered him by the taniwha, otherwise he could never have returned to this world, and eventually the page 487taniwha took him back to the place he was taken from, where he was found by his friends fast asleep. When found he was perfectly bald, no sign of hair remained, even his eyebrows and eyelashes had disappeared.
Here is given the Hurukareao story of the submerged hamlet at Rotorua:
A taniwha named Hurukareao lived in a stream at Poutu, lake Roto-a-Ira, and Te Heuheu Tukino stated that this was the creature that destroyed the pa at Ohinemutu, Rotorua, or a part of it. A certain woman of rank had been insulted or annoyed by the people of Ohinemutu and so called upon Hurukareao to punish the offenders. That useful demon proceeded by subterranean ways to Rotorua, but emerged for a breathing space at Tokaanu, where it changed the course of the stream and caused a new hot spring to appear. On reaching Rotorua Hurukareao caused a part of the fortified village to sink into the lake. Some of the larger posts of the stockade, about 2 ft. in diameter, are yet standing in the shoal waters of the lake (see Dominion Museum Bulletin 6, 1975 reprint, p. 74). Evidently this submergence of the village was caused by one of the minor land movements of which there must have been many in that district. The story concerning the part taken by Hurukareao is an origin myth evolved in order to account for the occurrence.
In his Reminiscences and Maori Stories Gilbert Mair gives an interesting version of the above tale, and states that the sunken fortified village at Ohinemutu was known as Muruika.
The Story of Te Ngarara-huarau
This name is known over both the North and South Islands, and there are many stories concerning mythical monsters so named, evidently the term was a favoured one. I have heard about a dozen stories describing the doings of taniwha so named, and they pertained to far sundered places. These stories often take the form of an abnormal union, a taniwha of saurian form, a huge lizard, captures a Maori woman and makes her his wife, in some cases the woman bears a child, or children, of semi-human form, and the story concludes with an account of how she escaped from the monster. An almost ever present incident is the tying of a rope to the captive woman, so as to give her a certain measure of liberty as she performed her domestic duties, while the page 488taniwha husband kept the other end of the cord in his hand if he had any. In a number of cases the woman escaped by releasing the cord from her body and tying it to a pliant limb or sapling, so that, when the taniwha pulled the cord, he felt the "give" of the branch and thought that his captive was still attached to the cord. It would appear that, in those far off times, there were some very simple minded taniwha in New Zealand.
The earliest record of this myth is, I believe, found in the New Zealand Journal of 1848, p. 69, and was contributed by Hutchinson. This is a North Island version; a lizard-like taniwha residing in a cave succeeded in capturing a woman who lived with him for years, bearing him divers children. Whenever she left the cave her captor tied a cord to her ankle to prevent her escaping. One day, however, when collecting shellfish on the beach, with the cord tied to the other leg, she bethought her of the brilliant plan of cutting the cord and then escaping from her reptile husband. She cut the cord with a shell, tied the end of it to a stone and then set off to return to her old home. When her lizard husband found that he had a stone instead of a wife at the end of the marital cord he wailed aloud in his loneliness. Meanwhile the escapee had reached her old home where arrangements were made to invite the taniwha to visit the village, and, moreover, to give him a warm reception when he arrived. So a special house was built as a lodging for the guest, who, on his arrival, was feasted and entertained, after which he retired into his house. When he had fallen asleep the entrance was barricaded and the house set fire to, and so this ngarara perished miserably. Some of his children who were with him managed to escape, and they became the progenitors of other taniwha, and yet other weird beings that dwell in the ocean.
Another taniwha known as Ngarara-huarau dwelt in the Wairarapa district in long past times, but eventually perished at Tupurupuru. In 1893 Te Aro gave me an account of this creature, which, he said, was a moko nui or huge lizard. He came originally from Marokotia in search of his sister, named Parikawhiti, and when he left his cave dwelling at Waimarama some of his scales left therein developed into tuatara lizards. At last he came down by sea to the mouth of the Pahaua stream, then passed up that stream, and up the Wainuioru and Marumaru. On reaching Maurioho he knew that he was near his sister, and so leaped ashore and a mound formed there was called Hau tuapuku rau o Ngarara-huarau. After that he took up his abode in the stream, at a place near a path used by people of those times, but little page 489thought those folk that a malignant monster had settled there. Then a party came from Pahaua proceeding to Marumaru, and that party was annihilated by Ngarara-huarau, no single creature escaped; naturally their friends believed that they had safely reached Marumaru. Some time later the inland people started for the coast to collect food products, and all these people were destroyed by the dread taniwha. So it went on, great numbers of travellers so perished, until, upon a time, it chanced that of one party so attacked, a lone member had lagged behind and heard the tumult of the slaughter and saw the monster destroying his friends. He at once turned and fled, so came he safely to his home village, where he reported the death of his companions—"Nought remains, save the flowing waters, I alone survive."
All the people were assembled and a plan was devised whereby to destroy Ngarara-huarau. Now this plan was one that is, or was, absolutely unique, one that could only have emanated from the most brilliant minds of the Ngai-Tara folk of that period. Inasmuch as the fearsome taniwha was a creature of great powers and prowess, it was resolved that caution should form a prominent feature of the slaying process, and so those warriors determined to crush the monster by felling trees on him. Enough said; a band of stalwarts, armed with stone tools, went forth to prepare the trap, which they did by "scarfing" the trees near the path, until, as Te Aro explained to me, one more blow of the stone adze would cause them to fall. When everything was ready for action then a warlock bewitched a dog and so compelled it to advance to the den of the monster and entice him forth by barking. Up rose the taniwha of evil repute and pursued the dog, and the dog fled down the path. In furious pursuit came the monster, who caused the very ground to tremble, and who, by colliding with the heavily scarfed trees caused them to fall, and in their fall they crushed and destroyed the taniwha. So perished Ngarara-huarau at the hands of Ngai-Tara, whose eponymic ancestor Tar a dwelt on the isle of Motu-kairangi in the great harbour of Tara.
The place whereat Ngarara-huarau was slain was Tupurupuru, Marumaru and Herewaka are toward the south, Marumaru is between Tupurupuru and Kourarau, that stream flows into Tauweru, Tauweru flows into Ruamahanga, while the latter flows into Wairarapa lake. These waters reach the ocean at Okorewa, which is a famous place for eels.
In later years Tunui-a-rangi gave another version of the above tale in which he states that Ngarara-huarau traced his absent page 490sister by scent, and so came by sea to Pahawa (called Pahaua by Te Aro). He came across a waterfall at Maurioho that startled him, hence the place was named Mauri-oho-o-Ngarara-huarau; he had difficulty in ascending that fall. On reaching Maungarake he felt aweary and arched his back, as people knew by the marks of his claws in the earth, hence was that place named Hau-tuapuku-o-Ngarara-huarau. When he took to man-eating at Kourarau he did so in a wholesale manner, he swallowed persons whole, garments included; if a man was carrying a pack he swallowed man and pack; were a mother carrying her child both went down together, any tools or weapons carried were also swallowed. Then it was ascertained that this taniwha had formerly led an equally evil life at Waimarama.
In this version two men were selected to go forward with the dog in order to lure the monster along the prepared path, and charms were recited over all members of this forlorn hope, including the dog and a cord used, in order to render all serviceable and efficacious. On reaching a point above the cave the men lowered the dog down by means of the cord, as they did so a glaring light gleamed from the eyes of the monster, and soon his head appeared; then fled the men down the path pursued by the monster; as Tiurangi the hawk darts through space so fled the lurers. When the body of the dread scourge was cut up, layers of men, women and children were found in the stomach, these bodies were buried while that of Ngarara-huarau was handed over as food for Mahuika (personified form of fire). The head of the monster became petrified and is still seen in the form of a rock. The spells employed when the men were engaged with Ngarara-huarau were those known as Pawhakaoho, Tumania and Tupaheke.
Colenso refers to the above tale in one of his papers of 1878, and gives the name of the creature as Hinehuarau, which name betokens the female sex, and he describes her as "a monster Saurian". A place was pointed out to him at Marokotia, between Waimarama and Te Apiti, as the former abode of Hinehuarau. When in the Wairarapa district Colenso went to view the so-called bones or head of the long-defunct taniwha, and in his account thereof he wrote: "I found the said 'bones' to be a heap or knob of yellowish, friable, glittering, quartz-like stone (calcite), which cropped out from the hill-side and lay in large lumps. I remember well how angry one old Maori became … on my asserting that the pile before us was not bone at all but stone…. It bore, at first sight, a resemblance to the yellow page 491decaying bones of a whale." (Transactions of the New Zealand Institute, vol. 11, p. 85). The present writer can sympathise with both sides in such a case as the foregoing. How many times have I lifted rough trails to view some marvel that was not a marvel, albeit, unlike Colenso, I never cast any doubt on incredible statements made by my companions. Was I told that a certain stone possessed ambulatory powers, or that a rock was a kind of 'concealed' ancestor, no scornful word of mine broke the peace. I was a keen collector, but never a keen moralist.
A very brief account of the above taniwha was given by Hori Ropiha of Waipawa some thirty-five years ago. In this version we are told that when Ngarara-huarau was decending a cliff at Maro-kotia when on his way south he "broke a part of himself off", after which he made for the islet of Motu-o-kura (Bare Island) but did not, succeed in landing thereon. He did however leave some of his scales there, and those scales developed into tuatara lizards, which were numerous on the islet in Maori times. The monster then proceeded on his voyage southward, and, as he did so kept repeating charms to cure his wounds and cause his broken bones to reunite. The people on shore heard him reciting these bone-setting charms, and so Acquired them, and ever since, they have retained these highly useful charms for causing a broken leg or arm bone to knit.
In a paper on a fortified village near Picton, Elvy of Blenheim mentions a cave at Vernon Bluffs known as the Ana o Rongomaipapa or Cave of Rongomaipapa. This cave is said to have been the den of a taniwha called Rongomaipapa in times remote (see Journal of the Polynesian Society, vol. 36, pp. 367-9). In an account of this monster written for me by Tuiti Makitanara 1894 I note that the creature is styled the Ngarara-huarau, while Rongomaipapa was the name of a valiant warrior who slew it, and so freed the land from a dreadful scourge. Tuiti's narrative now follows—
"Ngarara-huarau was a reptile that lived at Te Pukatea, where its home was a cave. When persons were travelling from Wairau to Whanganui at Port Underwood they were destroyed by that nanakia (fierce creature), consumed by him, whether ten or fifty in number all were eaten by him. The creature slew them by means of the effect of his urine, when he encountered persons he burned and destroyed them by spraying his urine over them, such was the habit of that monster.
"Now when Rongomaipapa came from the North Island he heard the people of this place talking about the deeds of that page 492reptile, and so he enquired of the people as to the locality where the beast lived, whereupon the pit or cave in which he lived was pointed out to Rongomai. He thereupon proposed that he should go and have a look at the reptile, but the people warned him to be cautious lest he be devoured by the monster. When Rongomai reached the cave he busied himself in devising a plan by means of which the reptile might be destroyed; he espied a karaka tree standing above the cave, whereupon he returned to the village and proposed to his son Rangia-tea that they two should go and slay Ngarara-huarau. The son asked how they might succeed in such a task, and was told that his father would arrange the matter. Rongomai then procured his garments, such are termed pora and parawai to be used as a protection against the noxious urine of the reptile; he donned these and then called upon his son to accompany him. So they went their way, and, on reaching the cave Rongomai told his son to go and take his stand above, while he himself proceeded to the mouth of the cave in order to lure the reptile out, Rangiatea was to spear the creature when its head appeared outside the cave. To this the son agreed, and so took his stand above the cave, while Rongomai went to the mouth of the cave and called out. Ngarara-huarau heard the cry and came forth to destroy Rongomai by means of his urine; Rangiatea was in his place, looking at his father facing great danger and awaiting the appearance of the head of the reptile. He called out to his father:—'How is it?', and the reply was:—'The beast is enraged and I am sore afflicted.' Ere long the reptile's head appeared outside the cave, whereupon that head was pierced by the spear of Rangiatea and the reptile writhed in anguish. When Rongomai saw that the spear of Rangiatea had found its mark he came with his weapon to assist him. The head of Ngarara-huarau was severed from his body, and so he perished; when Rongomai cut off his tail the scales scattered and reached Te Pukaka, where they are still seen in the form of eels of uncanny aspect, they seem to be tail-less, to be all head. When the stomach of the reptile was cut open then all kinds of native weapons were found in it, the weapons of those hapless persons who had been devoured."
Outside the cave home of the reptile at the present time is a hollow some two chains in width, the old men tell me that the hollow was formed by the death struggles of the great reptile slain by Rongomai; I myself have seen the cave and also the hollow.
According to my information the dragon slayer flourished about the year 1600, so that the days of marvels are not so far removed from us. Tuiti's narrative is couched in modern Maori, page 493and it is marked by a slipshod aspect common nowadays. He mentions an iron weapon as having been used some thirteen generations ago, and the hole formed by the dying reptile is two tiirai (chains) wide.
My worthy old friend Te Whetu of Te Atiawa contributed a tale concerning another Ngarara-huarau in the early 'nineties', and this one abode on D'Urville Island, truly the family is a far-spread one. In days long past a party of Taranaki folk known as Ngai-Tarapounamu settled on that isle, known as Rangitoto to the Maori. There a woman of the party was unfortunate enough to desecrate the tapu of a certain spot by eating food thereat. This act called for punishment by the gods, and swiftly came that punishment, a local taniwha stirred up the deep and caused great waves to rise and sweep away an encampment of people where the erring woman was living, all perished in that dread upheaval, although other hamlets escaped.
Some time after the above disaster one of these folk was captured by the Ngarara-huarau. While wandering in the forest she caught sight of the head of the nanakia and so turned to run, but the reptile swung its long tail round and so prevented her escaping, after which she was taken to the creature's cave-home, where the twain lived together. We are then given a long account of the woman persuading her reptile mate to allow her some modicum of liberty by tying a cord to her and letting her go to a stream nearby to prepare food. At length she was so allowed to go, but she explained that her task would take some considerable time to perform. Now the women set off on her errand to the stream, but, on arriving there, she did not proceed with her task but untied the cord, retied the end to a sapling, and then hurried off to visit her friends. She told them how she had been captured by an eight-legged reptile, and that she had thought of a plan by means of which the monster might be destroyed. She asked her folk to busy themselves in erecting a house to serve as a sleeping place for the Ngarara-huarau when that creature should visit his parents-in-law. The house was to be ten double arm-spans in length, and to be erected in the forest, so that the standing trees of the forest might serve as house posts, the walls to be covered with bracken on the outer side, and lined with manuka bush. Also a small aperture was to be left in the wall through which the woman might pass, but not so her bulky husband. Numbers of men were to be employed upon this task, while others were to be set to work making various kinds of spears.page 494
The woman then hurried back to her reptile husband, she reached the stream, retied the cord to her body, and returned to the cave, coiling up the cord as she proceeded. Ere long a messenger arrived to invite the cave-dwelling nanakia to visit his wife's folk. This messenger pretended to be a brother of the captive women, but he was merely a low class person, fleet of foot, and sent on this mission so that a valued life might not be risked; the people were dubious concerning the intentions of the taniwha.
When the time came to pay the visit the reptile told his wife to let her people know that he should be welcomed, not by employing the name of Ngarara-huarau, but by addressing him as Wairangi. Well, they set off, and, as they drew near the village home of the captive woman, her people caught sight of her reptile husband, and remarked: "O! What a repulsive creature." Then arose the cry of welcome of the people: "Welcome, O Ngarara-huarau! Welcome hither!" Now this, you will see, was a disregarding of the wishes of the taniwha, and when he heard the cry he shook his head and snorted violently, the sound whereof was like that of a great gun. When the people noted these evidences of anger they altered their cries to: "Welcome, O Wairangi! Welcome!"
After the ceremonial reception was over the reptile and his wife entered the new house, wherein, after some time, the reptile husband fell asleep. This was the desired opportunity, and all took advantage of it; some hurried to close and secure the door, some busied themselves in piling up dry brush and sticks against the walls. At one time Ngarara-huarau awoke and heard sounds of these preparations, but the woman told him that it was merely the people preparing food for him, and so he slept again. When the woman heard him snoring, and truly the sound of his snoring was like unto the roll of distant thunder, she gave the signal for the house to be fired. Then men with flaming torches set fire to the walls and dry piled brush, while the woman escaped from the house by the small passage through which the taniwha might not pass; meanwhile the snoring of that creature sounded like the booming surf on a rocky coastline.
At last the fire burst through the walls and roof, flames ravaged the interior of the house, and so Mahuika grappled with Ngarara-huarau. When he strove to escape the long spears of the warriors assailed him, and so that fearsome nanakia perished. In later days the woman gave birth to a child that was half human and half reptile, but it was an uncanny creature and did not live long.page 495
Wohlers collected a South Island version of the above tale, or perhaps it concerns a different Ngarara-huarau; presumably this is the case, for this one of the far south was a female, I find (this is the same story that appears in vol. 2 of White's Ancient History of the Maori, pp. 26-30). A traveller named Ruru was captured by this reptile, who caught him by sweeping her long tail round. This tale ends as the one above, and the reptile wife perished in a burning house. A much abbreviated version was collected by H. Beattie (see vol. 29 of the Journal of the Polynesian Society, p. 136).
The Maori has evolved many of these tales about women being captured by reptilian taniwha, but in very few are the sexes reversed. The following story pertains to the Kaipara district:
The Taniwha of Kai-para
In times long past away, in days truly remote, there were three women of the district between Kaipara and Hokianga who went forth into the forest in order to collect tawa berries. After having gone a long way, they came to a smooth path about two fathoms wide, along which they went until they reached what seemed to be the end of the road, the same being a sort of fence covered with mangemange (a climbing plant, Lygodium). Here they turned to retrace their way, but, on hearing a rumbling noise, turned to see a taniwha pursuing them, upon which they fled. The monster caught up to the last of the women, but, just as he was about to seize her, he saw that she was ugly, so he let her go, and pursued the other two. On overtaking the next, he saw that she also was ugly, so he let her go and chased the third, who was young and goodlooking, hence he took her away with him to his cave. The two women who escaped described to their people the aspect of the monster that had captured their companion, but the people decided not to attempt to rescue her, lest many of them be slain by the monster and the tribe be thus dangerously weakened.
The captive woman was unable to escape from the monster, and lived with him many years, having six children by him, three of which were born monsters, and three in human form. The three children that resembled the father she taught to make nets, mats and baskets, and to assist her in cooking, but the three page 496human children were trained by her in the arts of war, how to thrust, parry and strike, with spear and club, until at last they became good spearsmen. Also she had to accompany the monster when he went to the forest ranges to snare birds, or to take eels in the forest creeks.
One day, when the monster was away at the creek, bathing, the woman said to her children—"Let us go and catch eels in the forest streams"—which they agreed to do. On arriving at the place, she proposed to the young men that they should show their skill in the spear exercise. This they proceeded to do, and, during the exercise, they attacked and slew the three monster-like sons of their mother, who had prompted them to do so. They then returned to the cave, and the mother went in first, saying that she would signal to her sons when the monster was asleep, and they must then attack and kill him. This was done, they slew the monster, cut his limbs off, and left him lying in the cave.
Then the mother set off to return to her old home, the home left when she was a young woman, accompanied by her three sons. After walking a long way, she began to recognise some of the hills, and then they found a path that led to a village, where they found some of her people living, and there was much crying over the returned captive, and a feast was held, and many speeches made.
Then the people decided to go to the cave and to cook and eat the slain monster. Having placed his body and the severed limbs in a steam oven, they covered it and waited until they deemed it was cooked. But when the covering was removed from the oven, the severed portions of the body flew together again, the limbs were again joined to the body, the monster regained life, arose and attacked the people, slaying many. The survivors fled in all directions, some to the coast, where the monster caught one woman and threw her into the sea. At length he became wearied, whereupon the people assembled again, took courage, and attacked him. Having again slain the monster, they cut his body into many pieces, and burned each piece separately, while the bones they took home, and fashioned therefrom fish hooks and barbed points for bird spears.
The woman who had been cast into the sea by the monster, was saved by one of the gods of her people, and enveloped in a mass of sponge. She drifted about on the waves for a long time, until she was cast up on the beach at Wai-arohia, at Hokianga. Some women who were collecting shellfish at that place, saw the mass page 497of sponge and opened it to find the woman inside. Such is the story as related by one old native named Whakane in the year 1847.
Te Whakaruaki—How Lizards Learned to Drop Their Tails
Here follows another such folk tale resembling those given before about the Ngarara-huarau—
There was once a monster named Te Whakaruaki who in form resembled a huge lizard, and who lived in the forest. A woman roaming the forest was captured by this monster, and compelled to live with him as his wife. In time she gave birth to a child that was, in form, half human and half lizard. The monster had many bathing pools, and had a separate one for each of his limbs. Being afraid of his wife running away from him, he plaited the end of a long rope into her hair, and kept hold of the other end of the rope whenever he went to bathe, or when she left their abode. One day she went to the creek for water and, with a shell, cut the rope, and tied the end of it to a pliant sapling, so that, when the monster pulled the rope, he would think that it was still attached to her hair. The woman fled to her people, and a plan was arranged whereby to destroy the monster. He was invited to come and live with the woman at the village, where a special house was built for them. After the couple had lived together in the house for some time, the people procured a long stone, dressed it up in the woman's garments, and laid it on her sleeping place. When the monster returned home and entered the house, the people fastened the door and window and set fire to the house. The monster heard the noise made by the fire and asked what it was; he was told that his wife's people were dancing and singing. A second query brought the reply that it was the sound of the wind among the trees. At last the whole house was in flames, and he endeavoured to escape from it. Not so; there was no escape, in vain he struggled and tried to force his way through the burning walls; his body was destroyed, but the tail parted from it, wriggled out through the fire, and escaped into the forest. From that time lizards became numerous, for the escaped tail of Te Whakaruaki was the origin of the species of lizard known as moko papa, and lizards now can cast off their tails when in danger.
As for the half human, half lizard, child, it was slain by the people, so disgusted were they by its repulsive appearance, and its body was consumed in the burning house.page 498
A taniwha known at Taha'a Island and in New Zealand. In the year 1893 an old member of the Atiawa tribe, on Karepa Te Whetu, gave me an account of a dread taniwha that, in days of old, ravaged the Motueka district of Nelson. In 1916 a native of Taha's island of the Society Group told me of a grim monster named 'Aifa'arua'i that, in former times, harried the people of Motue'a at Taha'a island. The two stories, including the names of places, as Takaka and Motueka (Ta'a'a and Motue'a in the island dialect wherein k and ng have been dropped) agree closely, and one can but conclude that this tale has been brought from Taha'a in past centuries and located here at Nelson, a 2000 miles transference across the ocean.
The tale as known to the old-time folk of the Nelson district is as follows:
In the days of the scourge no person who moved abroad between Takaka and Motueka was safe, parties of travellers proceeding from Wakatu, Takaka and Motupipi to the westward never reached their destination. On reaching the stream known as Parapara, where the den of Kaiwhakaruaki was, they would be seen, and pursued by that nanakia, and in no case was there a single survivor of such parties, all perished, consumed by that fierce ravager Te Kaiwhakaruaki. Now upon a time there came a party of folk from Arahura, come to visit Potoru and Te Koheta; on arriving at Matarua a discussion was held as to how to encounter the danger before them. One valiant warrior of Ngai-Tahu proposed to attack the taniwha single-handed, he being a famous slayer of sea-lions which, he boasted, always succumbed to a single blow from him.
Potoru and his people now made their preparations to attack the terrible dragon; they manufactured a supply of weapons fashioned from hardwood; they moved on to Aorere, where Potoru addressed his men, urging them to be courageous in attack, and explaining how the attacking force would be distributed, a main body to attack the monster in front and two smaller forces to make flank attacks. They now advanced to the Parapara stream where the force of Potoru was disposed to advantage, and the sea-lion slayer advanced confidently to attack the dragon. Ere long the creature was seen eagerly advancing, a great wave of water preceding it, and with its great mouth open. The slayer of sea-lions aimed a vigorous blow at his opponent, the blow was avoided and, the attacker fell into the open mouth of page 499Kaiwhakaruaki, so perished the slayer of sea-lions. Then the dragon rushed forward to attack Potoru, and so encountered the main force of spearsmen, whereupon the two flanking forces closed in to attack. The creature swept his great tail round, when the spearsmen thrust at it, he swept it back and was again attacked, assailed on both sides, pierced in many places, the dragon at length succumbed. In its dying struggles, the creature formed a hollow in the ground fully six feet in depth, at least so I was informed by Te Whetu, the narrator of the this tale.
As in other cases great stores of weapons and garments were found within the stomach of the fierce Kaiwhakaruaki, also human heads, the residuum as it were of many past feasts upon hapless travellers.
At Taha'a isle in far off eastern Polynesia the dread monster 'Aifa'arua'i was slain and eaten in olden times, but so rank was its flesh that it sickened the feasters, and so the taniwha has been known as Revolting Food, all of which seems extremely far-fetched, as assuredly all should be in a taniwha story.
Stack has recorded another story concerning one of these woman-capturing taniwha of olden times, one that pertains to Otago. A woman named Kaiamio was captured by an ogre who was roaming about in company with a band of two-headed dogs. We are told that the woman became covered with scales from the body of the ogre, so that apparently he was of the ordinary saurian type. The hapless woman was tethered in the usual manner, and, when she left the ogre's cave, he would pull at the cord ever and anon, to assure himself that she was still attached to the other end of it. In this case the captive escaped by water; she made a form of raft of bundles of raupo bulrush and, perched on this, floated away down the river, but she tied the end of the cord to some rushes, which yielding somewhat to a tug, would serve to prevent suspicion on the part of the ogre for some time. When the taniwha did find out that his captive wife had escaped by way of the river he adopted the very best plan for stopping the mode of transport, he at once busied himself in drinking all the waters of that river, and so rendering the bed thereof empty and waterless. He was, however, somewhat too late, for by that time the woman had reached her home far down the river.
After the escaped woman had succeeded in freeing her body from the scales that adhered to it a meeting was held, and it was resolved to destroy the pernicious ogre. The woman told her friends that, when a north-wester was blowing, the ogre slept long page 500and soundly, and so they approached his cave at such a time, blocked the mouth thereof with dry fern, and set fire to it. The ogre attempted to escape through a hole in the roof of the cavern, but he was attacked by the people and beaten to death.
(The version of the Kaiamio tale given here also appears in vol. 3 of White's Ancient History of the Maori, pp. 189-91. At p. 13 of vol. 20 of the Journal of the Polynesian Society is given another tale of the same style into which the tethered captive woman enters, but the woman in this case is Hina, the female personified form of the moon. This Hina had ten brothers, whose names are those of the numerals 1 to 10, and the connection may be with the ten months year of olden times. This tale comes from Takaafu island of the Union Group.)
The two-headed dogs do not appear elsewhere in Maori myth, so far as I am aware, but we have an allusion to double-headed taniwha, who were probably even more dangerous. Tarakawa of the Arawa mentioned a two-headed taniwha, or panerua as he termed it in 1894. He spoke as though there were several of them, and they seem to have been subservient to a man named Te Haunumia. These creatures are said to have had a head at each end of their bodies, and they were provided with eight legs. (Na, ko te ngarara panerua nei he tupua ano, ko te tangata nana aua mokai nei ko Te Haunumia, he tangata ano ia, ka waru pea nga whakatupuranga … he tupua, kotahi ano te tinana, ko nga upokoe rua, kei tetahi pito, kei tetahi pito, ko nga peke ano e waru.)
I was told by natives of the Waiapu district that, in remote times, a taniwha named Hine-tapaeururangi dwelt in those parts. At one time this creature captured a woman and carried her off to its cave, and this fact seems to indicate the male sex of the monster, although the name given seems to call for the opposite sex. This is the old tale of the tethered captive (in this case the cord was tied round her waist) and the tying of that cord to a pliant sapling when she escaped. This taniwha was caught by her people who suspended a number of stout snares in front of its cave, and so secured it. It is interesting to note that the natives of Tahiti have preserved folk tales of this kind, one is to the effect that a great lizard-like creature carried off a woman who bore a son of repulsive aspect; another story describes the slaying of several huge lizards that lived in a cave. (In nos 7-18 etc., of the Bullétin de la Société des Études Océaniennes some of these quaint stories may be found, and in Walpole's Four Years in the page 501Pacific, p. 135 is a version of the tale of a woman who bore a semi-human child to a taniwha.)
The mo'o of the Hawaiian Isles were mythical monsters, huge lizards, and some of these northern taniwha tales are much like our Maori ones; in one such mo'o or moko is said to have taken up its quarters with a woman only to end as did some taniwha of New Zealand, by being burned. In our local tales the monster is usually said to have been invited to a village, a special house being built for his use, when secured in the house it was then set fire to, and so the creature perished miserably. Christian, in his work, The Caroline Islands, p. 97, tells us of an alligator that reached one of the isles, where it killed several of the natives, finally, by means of food lure it was enticed into a house which was then burned, and so the pest was disposed of. Such an occurrence might well have been the origin of our much embellished taniwha stories of New Zealand, and perchance of the New Guinea folk tale concerning a marriage between a crocodile and a human being.
The Milky Way is sometimes alluded to as a taniwha, hence its names of Moko-roa-iata, Mangoroa, and Ika-a-Maui. This Mokoroa was a monster that had been overcome by Maui. The name moko nui is a descriptive one, but sometimes used as a special name, as in the case of Mokonui, a taniwha that abode in the Patea river.
The North Island has been in past times singularly prolific in producing, not only taniwha 0, also very gallant destroyers of those annoying and destructive creatures. In some cases we hear of bands of men attacking one of these monsters, in others a few devoted heroes face fearful odds in order to restore peace and quietness to a district, while in yet others only one man's name is mentioned. Such is the case with regard to one Pokopoko of the north, he who slew a famed taniwha in the Orewa river. This creature was another man-eater that ravaged the countryside in days of old, its headquarters being a deep pool known as the Rua taniwha; many travellers perished hereabouts until Pokopoko slew the man-hunting reptile. Another such monster was slain by this valiant St. George at the Pahi stream, near the picturesque limestone rocks. It would appear that taniwha were often credited with living or lurking in deep holes in rivers, and, in the "seventies" of last century, many natives were still nervous about approaching such places after nightfall.
Haumia, the eponymic ancestor of the Ngati-Haumia clan, was another ancestor who achieved fame as a dragon slayer. He was a page 502resident of Kawhia some three centuries ago, where he was much annoyed by the pranks of a taniwha named Raparoa, a mischievous creature who caused the ocean surge to overwhelm and destroy the crops of Haumia. This continued for some time, until Haumia was compelled to slay Raparoa, after which feat he was known as Haumia-whakatere-taniwha or Haumia the taniwha destroyer. Kawhia seems to have been a favoured place of residence among the taniwha gentry, and Gudgeon informed us that no less that fifteen were supposed to haunt those parts (Journal of the Polynesian Society, vol. 14 pp. 167-192). These creatures are said to have had a kind of headquarters at Te Mahoe, and to have been of a kindly disposition, save one named Nga-taratu who was famed as a man-eater. At this place there appears to be, or to have been, a kind of subterranean abode of taniwha where many dwelt together, such as is alluded to in the story of Parekawa. It is recorded that one Uekaha of Kawhia was engaged in spearing flounders at Waiharakeke when he found himself in a cavern wherein were a number of taniwha. Those creatures kept Uekaha for some days, treating him well, and then restored him to the upper world. This restoration itself was a truly marvellous occurrence, one that almost strains the Pakeha powers of belief. Uekaha's friends had given him up for lost when suddenly a strong spring of water gushed forth from the earth close to the village home, and from that spring emerged Uekaha, his hair matted with water weeds, but otherwise, we are informed, well and hearty.
Parahia was a member of the land-dwelling variety of taniwha that formerly lived at Otuhira, Taranaki. His dwelling place was a cave, and this was unknown to the people until, upon a time, they commenced to clear the bush land there in order to make a new cultivation. This act brought on such a frightful storm that it was known that the place was tapu. A tohunga was employed to visit the cave and placate the creature by means of food offerings and karakia. After the above alarming occurrence first-fruit offerings of all cultivated food products were made to Parahia, being deposited at the cave in manner ceremonial. Fowlers and eel-fishers made similar offerings.
The Whanganui river has been a highly favoured resort of taniwha in the past, its deep holes, its cliffs and canyons call for such denizens. One Tipaeara is said to have been a large reptile that was viewed as a kind of guardian of a village at or near Otukopiri (Koriniti); whenever this creature showed itself then it was known that some misfortune was at hand. Creatures of this page 503banshee-like nature were common in former times. Another of these weird monsters abode at Tanginoa (Ranana), another at Ahuahu was slain ten generations ago, while yet another at Ruapirau was by some means turned into stone. Downes tells us of another taniwha named Kawautahi that lives or lived in a1 pond or swamp some twelve miles up the Reretaruke tributary of the Whanganui river. He also contributes an account given by natives of wild doings up the Rere-taruke in the "eighties", when a land surveyor employed some natives for cutting lines, one of which impinged upon the haunted lagoon. Here the native line cutters were pursued by a dreadful creature in human form, having black skin, its body covered with long hair, and two horns on the top of its head. Needless to say those Maori lads left for home in a hurry, and had a most trying experience in endeavouring to put up a "back to camp" record. We are also told that their employer, a European surveyor, joined in the panic and fled for his life, abandoning a theodolite which he never mustered up courage to return for. This is a form of tale highly appreciated by the Maori, each narrator adding an additional horror, but my knowledge of bush surveyors compels me to cast some slight doubts upon it.
But the most renowned taniwha of the Whanganui river is the famous Tutae-poroporo, who is said to have lived in the river at Taumaha-aute (Shakespeare Cliff), where he intercepted canoes passing up and down the river and regaled himself upon the crews thereof. Some versions maintain that he did not hesitate to swallow both canoe and passengers. Kauika of Nga Rauru maintains that this famed taniwha was simply a shark; one Tuariki of Ngati-Apa caught a young shark and tamed it, repeating over it certain charms pertaining to taniwha. So the creature grew apace until it was a very whale as to size, and it wandered about from one river to another. Then came an armed force from Whanganui; raiders who slew Tuariki and so left the taniwha disconsolate. He sought his master at Tutaenui and Rangitikei, but found him not, then he began to track by scent and so traced him to Whanganui, whereupon he knew that the people of that place had slain his master, Tuariki. He took up his quarters at Okupe, and resolved to avenge the death of his patron by reducing the tribal roll of Whanganui; this turned out to be rather a slow process at Okupe, hence he moved up river to the Paparoa rapid and took up his quarters in the deep-water pool at Pipiriki known as Mata-tiwhaia-ki-te-pounamu. Here again man-killing seemed to lag, and so Tutaeporoporo came down river page 504again to Purua, where he at last found a suitable home. Here he lay in wait for canoes passing up or down the river, and just seized the persons on board and swallowed them, together with their garments and weapons, or anything else that they chanced to be carrying. So it went on, the friends of these lost ones would be under the impression that they had reached their destination in safety; not so, the world of death had closed in on them. At last suspicion was aroused and a number of canoes came down river to investigate, perchance their friends might have been slain by ill-disposed persons. As the fleet of canoes came straggling down stream the leading vessels were seen and attacked by the taniwha, that monster came surging through the water like a huge whale, we are informed, and sending a great wave rolling before him. The people in the leading canoes were destroyed, consumed by the monster, but those behind, seeing the fate of their companions, ran their craft ashore and fled to the wooded hills.
The escapees returned up river and carried the doleful news to the forest hamlets. Then, after much deliberation, it was resolved to abandon the river and its tributaries, and to retire to remote places inaccessible to the dread taniwha. The people then strove to devise a plan for the destruction of Tutae-poroporp, and so Tama-ahua was despatched to Waitotara in order to crave the assistance of one Aokehu, a noted slayer of dragons. Aokehu came with his people, bringing with him his two famed shark-tooth cutting implements named Taitimu and Taiparoa. On reaching Whanganui Aokehu told the poeple to hew out a canoe-like receptacle and a close-fitting lid for the same. When finished Aokehu lay down in the vessel, the cover was fitted on and lashed firmly, the joins were filled with clay to exclude the water, and the strange craft allowed to drift down the river. The people followed at a safe distance and saw the receptacle containing the gallant Aokehu floating seaward, saw the taniwha rush to meet it, and saw him swallow it at a gulp, so was Aokehu landed in the stomach of the monster. Then Aokehu emerged from his box and began to repeat charms to enable him to overcome the creature, he drew his keen shark-tooth knives and assailed the dread monster from what may be termed internal lines, he strove to cut a passage through the side of the creature, even as he repeated a charm to cause the body of the monster to come to the surface. Even so the body of Tutae-poroporo was cast ashore at the mouth of the Purua creek, where the people set to work and cut it up. The inmates of the hill fort of Taumaha-aute came down and took part in the cutting up of the taniwha, in whose stomach the bodies of men, women and children were found.page 505
When the dread monster was ravaging the land nought was heard in the vale of Whanganui save the sound of the four winds. When the death of that scourge became known, then from far and wide the people returned to dwell by their river of Whanganui.
In another version we are told that Aokehu leaped down the throat of the monster without any encompassing box, and at once commenced to attack the vitals of Tutae-poroporo. As to the many canoes that are said to have been swallowed by this taniwha of the accommodating interior, we are not told of their being found when his carcass was cut up, although numbers of bone and wooden weapons, and indigestible garments were so discovered. Taylor's version of this tale, as given in Te Ika a Maui, p. 52, gives Roto-a-Ira as the original home of this Poroporo monster, from which place it is said to have reached the Whanganui river by way of the Rere-taruke stream.
Downes tells us in his Old Whanganui, p. 26, that he obtained a description of the taniwha that formerly dwelt at Ahuahu, it was twelve feet in length and of lizard-like form, having sharp claws and teeth, webbed feet and a spike-studded back. This creature made itself utterly obnoxious as a man-eater, and the village at the mouth of the creek had to be abandoned, so many persons had been slain and consumed by Mangapuwera, the taniwha. Upon a time came one Tarawhiti, a traveller, who, when pursued by this hostile taniwha, clambered up a tree and defended himself right well with his stone adze. After terrific adventures amid shattered trees, and all the turmoil of a land slip, Tarawhiti succeeded in slaying his assailant, and so bringing peace to the district. The above named writer also tells us of a taniwha called Mihiatakai that lived in the Whanganui river near Kanihinihi (ibid., p. 70), of one named Tukawainga at Aromanga, of Nga Kuriawe at Parikino, of Piroi at Kauarupawa, and of Tokaputa at Pungarehu (ibid., p. 84). The latter seems to be what we would term an inanimate object, a rock possessed of strange powers, such as is usually termed a tipua.
The taniwha of Otukopiri referred to above is the subject of explanatory remarks in Downes's work. This monster was also known as Te Maru and was apparently an amphibious creature, also a destroyer of mankind, for it was wont to lie in wait for passing canoes at the rapid just below the mouth of Otukopiri stream at Koriniti (ibid., p. 99). We are also told that the taniwha at Ruapirau was named Otarahuru, that it was of lizard form and about seven fathoms in length, and that it was wont to traverse the smaller tributary streams, one wonders how it managed to page 506turn round in some of them. This elongated taniwha is said to have taken to man-eating, and hence, by the agency of certain petrifying charms it was turned into stone, and so rendered harmless (ibid., p. 100).
A well known taniwha name is that of Tutangatakino, and a monster of this name abode at Owhata, according to Downes. Here, at Te Ohu, is a tapu rock named Petipeti-a-Aurangi, and this rock is an uru-uru whenua, or, as the Whanganui folk often term it, tuputupu. Persons passing this rock would pause thereat and lay a simple offering of a branchlet on the rock, and this offering seems to have been connected with the taniwha. As this creature is said to have acted as a guide or guardian of the vessel name Aotea that reached this island from eastern Polynesia about five centuries ago, he must have lived to a green old age, for he was quite active up to the time of the arrival of Europeans. This Tu was of saurian form, we are told, and about five fathoms in length, being provided with four legs; he seems to have been a man killer, but was not so unpleasantly enthusiastic in such activities as were some other taniwha (ibid., pp. 102-104).
Pupu-karekawa is said to have been a taniwha that occasionally caused the Onoke lake at Palliser Bay to break bounds and roll seaward. Another lived in the Waitangi lagoon that formerly existed at what is now Courtenay Place, Wellington. An old native informed me that this creature took its departure just prior to the arrival of the first European settlers, because it heard that white folks were coming. Ngake and Whataitai are said to have been two taniwha that abode in Wellington Harbour in olden times, and another lived at Oterongo, near Tarawhiti. Concerning the latter I find the following in a notebook of the early "nineties": In times of yore a taniwha dwelt, apparently in the sea, at Oterongo, between Waiariki and Cape Tarawhiti, near Wellington, so I was informed by Te Whetu, who lived at Waiariki in his youth, and so should be acquainted with the demons of that rough coastline. This was not by any means an aggressive creature, but it did resent the kindling of a fire at Oterongo, and would at once appear and extinguish any such fires, after which a strong southerly wind would arise.
Kokotauri was a taniwha that lived at Pekepeke on the Kaingaroa Plain, hard by Galatea, while Hinepaka dwelt at Waikaremoana, and occasionally passed by subterranean ways to the lakelets at Te Putere. Ruai-mokoroa was a taniwha that was slain by the sons of Tuwharetoa; Hine-korako was another that abode in the deep pool under the falls of Te Reinga; Tu-te-page 507maungaroa, a reptile eight fathoms in length, infested the Paeroa district, and lunched upon travellers passing between Taupo and Rotorua. This latter scourge was slain by one Uruwaewae, a man of parts, who was rewarded by receiving the hand of the fair Mawake-hore in marriage, and that was ten generations ago. Te Wakakauariki was a taniwha at Tamurenui; another, Tukapua by name, was slain at the base of Ruawahia, while one named Iu-te-haumi was killed at Mataroa. Kairere was a monster that lived at Awa-ngarara, Bay of Plenty district, and this reptile was also slain by the valiant Uru-waewae, its death being mourned by the local turehu or forest folk. One Tarakura, another such monster, was slain by Iratumoana inland of Matata, and again the turehu were heard wailing on the hilltops, on Putauaki and Kakaramea.
Nga Rangi-hangu was an ancestor of the Manawa folk of the Galatea district who became a taniwha after death, a genuine case of transmigration I am informed. His body was buried, but the spirit thereof survived and animated another body; so far as I am aware the Maori did not attempt to explain how it was that spirits could thus pass into another body, for it was an article of faith with him that all things possess a wairua or spirit. In these cases of transmigration I would fain know how the liberated spirit came to find an untenanted body wherein to abide. This tribal taniwha of Ngati-Manawa was a mischievous creature fond of interfering with the activities of eel fishers, but apparently not a man-eater. Opakau was another of these monsters that lived at Waiohau, in the Rangitaiki valley, while Ruarera was yet another in the Whakatane river. Taukanihi was a monster of the Awa district of the Bay of Plenty; Hinengawari is a taniwha at Warirohia, near Murupara; Hine-i-wharona resides in the lagoon at Te Puta-kotare, Whirinaki; Moko-puhikaroa hailed from Heretaunga, and so one might run on with a list of these fruits of the Maori's fine powers of imagination.
The Taupo district is another place that was formerly well stocked with taniwha and tipua, and the most renowned member of the weird band was one Horomatangi, who may be said to have been the guardian of the lake, as also the upholder of its mana. This important being is said to have usually dwelt in the lake, in the depths thereof, and to have occasionally appeared to terrify those who attempted to cross the lake without paying deference to its jealous genius. The only persons who could do much as they liked under these conditions were a few of high standing who were acquainted with such charms as were necessary to placate or appease such beings.page 508
We are told that one Atiamuri, a tipua in human form, acted as a kind of satellite to Horomatangi, and was wont to paddle a canoe about the lake during the hours of darkness, and so gave rise to many superstitious fears among the folk of the lake side hamlets. Earthquakes and volcanic disturbances are often said to be caused by taniwha, this has ever been an article of faith with the Maori. Fletcher tells us that Horomatangi is believed to dwell at a certain reef in the lake, which reef is known by the same name as the taniwha. Horomatangi was ever dangerous and would destroy a canoe and its crew with little provocation; in such cases the canoe would suddenly become immovable and no efforts of paddlers would move it. Should a man of sufficient mana be on board he would pluck a hair from his head, cast it into the angry waters, and repeat the necessary placatory formula.
A famed man-eating monster of Pirongia was one Tawaketara, who consumed many travellers until he was himself destroyed by two men named Te Whatu and Ngaupaka, who had found him feasting on a human body.
Arai-te-uru and Ruamano are said to have been two taniwha that helped to guide and guard the vessels of migrants coming to New Zealand, usually mentioned in connection with Takitimu. When this vessel reached Hokianga Arai-te-uru was left at the entrance to the harbour in order, we are told, to prevent other vessels entering that haven.
The Ruamano mentioned above is usually referred to as a sea denizen but seems to have also sojourned on land, as witness the following tale—
Ruamano and Tiki-raupo
In one case the monster Ruamano is located at Te Awapaheke, Bay of Plenty District. The human medium of Ruamano was an old man living in the same district, at no great distance from Maketu. This old man was exceedingly tapu, so much so that, when a visitor approached him in order to salute him by pressing noses together, he always held forward his staff for the visitor to salute, as his own person was too tapu to be touched. Should any person persist in saluting the old priest in the usual manner, then page 509the monster Ruamano would assuredly seize that person and drag him down beneath the waters.
The fame of Ruamano and his human medium reached one Tiki-raupo, who set forth to visit the old medium. On arriving at his home, and, as he approached him, the old man held forth his staff to be saluted by Tiki-raupo. But Tiki thrust aside the staff and advanced with his own staff lifted and so saluted him. The old man cried: "O! The shadow of your staff has fallen upon me"—and threatened Tiki with the vengeance of Ruamano the malevolent monster.
Then Tiki-raupo bethought him of visiting the abode of Ruamano. On reaching the home of the monster at Te Awa-paheke, he drew his patu paraoa (a short weapon made from whale's bone) and advanced to seek his foe. As he did so he saw Ruamano approaching, with mouth agape. Tiki-raupo struck the head of the monster with his weapon, and the taniwha writhed in his agony, even that he formed large hollows in the earth, which are still to be seen on the northern bank of the stream. Tiki then leaped forward to strike another blow, but Ruamano, with drooping head, suffering from the biting weapon, escaped into the stream.
Now Ruamano long waited in vain for the coming of Tiki to bathe in the stream, or to take water therefrom, but never once came he. Then, when heavy rains descended, Ruamano went afar off and formed a deep hole into which the storm waters flowed until they filled it. In this deep hole Ruamano concealed himself.
It fell upon a certain day that Tiki-raupo in his wanderings chanced upon this deep pool, and to him came the desire to bathe in that pool, deeming Ruamano afar off. Now the taniwha appeared from beneath the waters, and, seizing the bather, swalled him alive; hence the saying: "Ka whakamau a Ruamano ki a Tiki-raupo." (Ruamano is intent upon (destroying) Tiki-raupo.") which saying has been retained by his descendants, even unto this day. When a feud, or effort to wreak blood vengeance was persistently conducted for years, possibly for several generations, ere it was concluded, then the avenger would exclaim: "Ka whakamau a Ruamano ki a Tiki-raupo."
The Matatua people say that Ruamano was originally an ocean denizen, offspring of Tutara-kauika, and so evidently connected with whales. One of his principal tasks was the assisting of distressed seafarers who appealed for his aid in a proper manner. This Ruamano is said to have taken up his quarters in a lake at Te page 510Papuni, near Maungapohatu, and to have been the cause of that lake breaking out in the "fifties" of last century. Soon after that occurrence Ruamano is said to have left Te Papuni and returned to the ocean, though some of his teeth were seen near his old abode; perchance some of the fossil forms of the district had been seen by the Maori.
The next great taniwha to claim our attention is one that formerly decimated the population of the Waikare-taheke valley, near Waikaremoana; the story runs as follows—
The Kuri nui a Meko
This is now a place name near Te Waimako, a few miles from Waikaremoana. It may be rendered as the Great Beast of Meko. This creature is said to have been a dangerous beast, some type of dryland taniwha that abode in a cave in a bluff on the left bank of the Waikare-taheke river. It was caught in a wickerwork trap, termed a taiki, and slain by men of former times.
"It was Tuwhai who slew the monster called the Great Kuri of Meko. He accomplished that feat by constructing a kind of trap like a hut, and made by interlacing supplejacks. This was at Whakamarino, opposite my home. Into this great trap five men entered, and then the beast was attracted to the place by calling. On its arrival, it saw the five men, and sprang at them. As it did so its legs were thrust through the side of the wattled trap, whereupon four men seized hold of the legs, while the fifth attacked the beast and speared it. So it perished. The name of the beast was Hautaruke.
Now, I cannot explain how it was that, while Meko was a supernatural being, yet his kuri was human, that is to say men were enabled to slay it.
The food supply of that beast consisted of six generations of persons, but in the time of Tuwhai it perished."
Hurae has evidently been puzzled over the death of the great dog or beast. If it was of supernatural origin, then how could it have been slain. Man cannot destroy an atua. Hence it must have possessed human or mortal life only, not supernatural life. Hurae omits to explain how the scourge came into existence, whether it was the offspring of Meko, or merely his companion, or follower.
The manner is which Hautaruke was destroyed hard by Waikaremoana reminds one of a South Island tale related in Stack's South Island Maoris, pp. 26-7. In this case the man-page 511slaying demon was a pouakai, a huge bird that carried off people to the mountains, there to devour them. Here also a great taiki or huge crate-like structure was made, and in this fifty men armed with spears were placed, while one, a swift runner, served as a lure to attract the great bird. So the great pouakai was slain, even as Hautaruke had been destroyed. Beattie has a note to the effect that pouakai was an old name for the extinct moa (Journal of the Polynesian Society, vol.27, pp. 150-151). In another recital we have a statement that the pouakai was very destructive to human life, that it was of vast size, that each of its wings was ten fathoms in length.
When Rongotauaha of Tuhoe approached the pond on the summit of Maungapohatu known as Rongo-te-mauriuri some centuries ago he was trespassing on tapu ground, and asking for the trouble that came so swiftly. For the malignant taniwha that abides in that unpleasant looking pond at once pursued him, and Rongo saved himself only by quick action in casting a hastily plucked hair into the violently agitated waters as he recited a whakaeo charm, and so the taniwha retired, and the red waters became calm.
Many of the Maori folk tales carry a moral with them that was emphasised by the elders of a community, such tales as those describing the dangers of interfering with the rigid rules of tapu, and these have already been referred to. There were other stories however in which such lessons were by no means prominent, and possibly no attention was drawn to them, but, at the same time, the repetition of them was thought to be beneficial. Thus in an old Ms. volume of notes written by natives many years ago I came upon the following remark made by an elder concerning the far-fetched story of Hinepopo swimming across Cook Strait: "Ko Manini-pounamu, ko Hikiparoa me Hinepopo, tenei karero he karero purakau ma nga tamariki kia kore e wehi i te wai, kia kaukau ai, hei ako i a ratau ki te kaukau."—The story of Manini-pounamu, Hikiparoa and Hinepopo is a fable composed for children, that they might not fear water, and so indulge frequently and fearlessly in bathing.
Hinepopo, a woman belonging to Rangitoto or D'Urville Island, was taken to wife by one Manini-pounamu who, with his brother Hikiparoa, lived on Kapiti Island. Upon a time some disagreement arose, and so Manini resolved to leave his wife on Kapiti and across over to Rangitoto, taking with him all his followers; when he so left the island his wife was asleep. When Hine awoke she found herself deserted, and so knew that she page 512must depend upon her own exertions; it was a case for self help. She proceeded to repeat certain charms in order to influence the fish and taniwha of the Sea of Raukawa, or Cook Strait. Having thus prepared matters Hine commenced her long swim, and succeeded in reaching Toka-kotuku, at the entrance of the channel leading to Waitohi (Picton). From there she swam to Papanui-a-puta in Pelorus Sound, and from there to Rangitoto island, where she landed near her father's house. When Hine found that her husband and his brother were living nearby she proposed that a fishing expedition to include all the people be organised. This was agreed to and it was arranged that Manini and Hiki should occupy the same canoe. The command of magic possessed by Hine and her father enabled them to raise the local taniwha and a desolating storm, which destroyed the people of Manini and Hiki, but allowed Hine and her folk to escape.
The canoe containing Manini and his brother was swept far away across the rolling ocean, even to a strange unknown land. In that land they found an old woman dwelling in a cave, who explained to them that the land was desolated by a dread scourge, a fearsome, man-eating taniwha that was harrying the people to extinction. It was resolved that the brothers should endeavour to destroy the dragon.
Hiki-paroa then proceeded to kindle a fire in order that food might be cooked, but the old woman was greatly alarmed at the fire, and begged the castaways to take it away, as it made her feel ill. So it was ascertained that the people of that land knew nought of fire, and so were ignorant of the art of cooking food. The smoke of a fire annoyed them, and indeed seemed to make them quite ill. When food was cooked by the castaways the old woman would not touch it, whereupon they forced a portion into her mouth, but it merely served to make her sick. So strange a people were those raw-eaters of Hawaiki.
The question of slaying the dragon was now discussed, and the old woman promised to give her daughter to the man who succeeded in freeing the land of the dread ravager. This offer was approved of by Hikiparoa who at once put in a claim for the young woman, but the old one insisted upon them having a foot-race in order to see which was the swiftest runner. This race was won by Manini who was selected to act as a lure for the taniwha when the time came. Then all busied themselves in excavating a pit and in rendering it a safe refuge, after which Manini went afar off to lure the taniwha to follow him. He had no difficulty in page 513persuading the dragon to follow him, indeed he had to hasten his own footsteps, we are told, lest the dragon tread upon him. At last Manini slipped into the pit, with the dragon a good second, and then came a struggle as the beast strove to reach them with his claw-armed peke (arms, legs or tentacles). These were cut off one by one by the men in the pit, until at length, the monster was slain. When cut open the bodies of men, women and children were found within the creature, yea women with babes yet on their backs, as when carried in life. Then the woman's daughter was taken to wife by Manini.
For the space of many days all was well, until, upon a day came a party of women who insisted upon performing the Caesarian operation upon the wife'of Manini. The castaway objected to this procedure, saying that it was not necessary, and so sent the women off. They returned at another time when he was absent from home, and his wife explained his views on the subject. The women told her that she would die if she did not submit to the operation, but as they knew that she would die if she did submit to it, there does not seem to be much point in the remark. She held out against their arguments, but later, when sleeping, the women seized her and performed the operation. When Manini returned home he found that his wife was no more, then he wept for her and had some thoughts of destroying her people in order to avenge her death.
Here the story ends abruptly and we are not told how the brothers returned to New Zealand. This version was given me by Pakauwera of Ngati-Kuia about 1894, but long before that Sir George Grey had collected a much longer account of these surprising adventures of Kapiti folk, although he had not published it. It is now buried in the pages of the Pipiwharauroa, a little known Maori paper published at Gisborne. In this version the man-destroying creature of Hawaiki is said to have been a pouakai furnished with wings ten fathoms in length. In the house-trap built to confuse the pouakai and baffle its attacks on the inmates the posts were the trunks of living trees, and so stability was assured. The length of this stalwart structure was, we are told, kotahi kumi ma ono or sixteen fathoms, while its width was e iwa takoto or nine takoto i.e., nine times the height of a person plus the portion of his outstretched arm extended above his head. This latter unit of measurement is called takoto (to lie) because the living unit lies down when measuring anything; it will be seen that the takoto is just about equal to the height of the measurer plus his xvhatianga or cubit, the disturbing factor in this system of page 514measurement is that each person is a law or unit unto himself, a fact that might well cause confusion.
When Manini went to lure the pouakai to the heavy structure wherein the dragon slayers were stationed, he found that great creature catching fish, scooping them up with its long wings, and eating them. This version concludes with the slaying of the destructive pouakai, the new wife and the severe operation find no place in it. It may be observed that there are several things that the Maori is very fond of introducing into his korero tara or folk tales, one of these is the meeting with a people who know not fire, and hence are raw-eaters; in some cases these creatures are said to dwell in trees. The Caesarian operation is another of these favoured subjects of myth makers, as also are such uncanny things as the re-erection of a felled tree, the crossing of wide seas by magic means, and many others.
The Grey version has it that Hine was so long drifting about the waters of Raukawa that she became covered with barnacles. So she drifted by day and night, and so approached Nga Kuri a Kupe, then drifted back to Tarere-mango, at the south end of Kapiti. Upborne by gourd floats she drifted to Omere, to Tokakotuku off Waihi, and Pirikawau, to Tokapourewa, near Stephen Island, to Pareraututu, to Papa-anau, to Otarawao, and so came to her father's home. One old warrior told me that occasionally Hina is yet seen by his folk, seen floating on the waters of Raukawa with her long hair floating behind her, but that was nearly forty years ago and perchance she has given up those chill swims in Raukawa moana.
This was the name of a monster that dwelt at Porirua in times long past, but, having strayed from its home, it came to a sad end in a far land. The name of this taniwha has never been explained, possibly it is connected with the two awa (arms or channels) of the Porirua harbour. The creature was destroyed in the time of Tara, eponymic ancestor of the Ngai-Tara tribe and after whom Wellington Harbour was named the Whanga nui a Tara. The following is a rendering of a brief account of Awarua's end given many years ago:
In the days when Tara was living at Heretaunga this monster Awarua-o-Porirua abode in the Wellington district, and there a page 515desire to travel abroad came to Awarua and its companion taniwha. So it was that they came overland by way of Wairarapa, and when dwelling in their cave they slew and consumed human beings. On reaching Porangahau they saw the people of that place, people who had grown up with the land, the original folk, the people to whom these islands belonged at the time when the Maori had not yet landed on these shores, the people known as Raemoiri and Upokoiri. Now these folk attacked the two taniwha, slew the companion of Awarua, who was cooked and eaten by the Raemoiri, whereupon Awarua-o-Porirua fled and found a new home in the lake called the Roto-a-Tara, the Lake of Tara. While living in that lake Awarua lived on the fish, eels and birds found there, and which food supplies had been reserved for Tara. Now Tara was annoyed at the ravages of Awarua and so resolved to slay that troublesome creature that was destroying the products of Tara's Lake. So the contest began, and eventually the monster was slain by Tara, and, while they were assailing each other the taniwha struggled so desperately and lashed so fiercely with its tail that the soil and gravel of the lake were torn up and assumed the form of an island-like bank. The hole in which the monster dwelt was filled up and the bank of island form came to be known as the Awarua-o-Porirua. The monster returned to its original home at Porirua, in the district of Paekakariki, from which it had come.
In one account the monster was not slain, but in another version collected by Sir George Grey it perished miserably. In this account, the name of the monster appears as Tau-a-Porirua, and nothing is said as to its sojourn at Porirua. The hinaki or fish trap into which this creature was lured to its destruction must assuredly have been of colo ssal proportions, inasmuch as the bodies of two hundred dogs were placed therein to serve as bait, moreover it received the body of the great monster in whose stomach were found the bodies of one hundred children, four tens of women, and eight tens of men. The precision of these statements says much for the coolness of those who slew and quartered the dread scourge of the Lake of Tara. The following is a rendering of this version, which appeared in the original in the Pipiwharauroa:
Concerning the slaying of Tau-a-Porirua, a taniwha of Heretuanga that lived at Ruataniwha plains, the name of the man who destroyed that creature was Tara. The means by which this monster was slain by Tara consisted of the making of a fish trap, and then, when he had made it he set to work at the killing of page 516dogs to be placed in the trap as a lure to attract the monster, that it might enter the trap. So he slew the dogs, two hundred of which were slain, leaving two hundred still living, the latter were not molested but the slain dogs were thrust into the trap in order to tempt the monster to enter the trap, wherein it could be slain. The trap was then set in the waters of the Lake of Tara, in the Heretaunga district, and the monster entered it. When Tara found that the creature had entered the trap he hauled it ashore and slew the captured monster; the name of the place where that taniwha was slain is Takaki. The carcass was then cut up, and, when cut open, the bodies of many women, men, and children were found crouched within it, including one hundred children, forty women, and eighty men; these bodies were taken away and buried, while the body of the monster was eaten by the people of Tara.
The Upokoiri people referred to form a clan of the Ngati-Kahungunu tribe, a people who, under other names, occupied their present territory in the Napier district long before the arrival of the later Maori immigrants of some 550 years ago. The form of trap usually constructed by the old dragon slayers resembled a huge crate, but the hinaki trap here mentioned is the well known eel-pot form of trap having a retracted entrance funnel.
Hine-korako of Te Reinga Falls
Here we have what is generally termed a taniwha, a female of the species, one that is said to have dwelt under the falls of Te Reinga on the Wairoa river, northern Hawkes Bay. We are not told that Hine-korako was a monster of the saurian type, or even that she did not possess a human form, but simply that she was taken to wife by one Tane-kino, who was, apparently, an ordinary member of the human race. It seems to be one of those cases in which the term taniwha is employed to denote, not a monster, but simply an abnormal being, something out of the common. We hear that a child was born to this couple, but that, some time after this occurrence, Hine-korako returned to her former abode under the roaring falls of Te Reinga. She had occasionally been seen at the falls and, judging from what I have heard, I am inclined to believe that the basis of this tale is simply a form of rainbow myth. We know that Hine-korako is described by the Maori as a personification; she represents a luminous kopere or bow, one authority said a lunar bow, another said a pale page 517luminous arch seen in the heaven, not brightly coloured like a rainbow. Hine-korako is said to act as a guide to deep-sea vessels; when Takitimu sailed hither from northern isles Kahukura, the rainbow, acted as guide to her in the daytime, and Hine-korako performed the same duty during the night. One version speaks of Hine-korako as being the "sister" of Kahukura.
Hine-korako the original is viewed as one of the fair Moon Maidens connected with Tangaroa, and she seems to have occupied a position as a tutelary being appealed to by women, but of a status inferior to that of Hine-te-iwaiwa. Now these lunar spirits, personified forms of gleaming bows and similar phenomena, have all a pronounced leaning toward water, as Hina Tangaroa and Rongo are connected with the ocean. We also know that Hina the moon maid is said by the Hawaiians to live in a cave under the Rainbow Falls at Hilo. It is highly probable, judging from what I have heard from natives, that the gleaming rainbow-like phenomena occasionally seen at the Reinga Falls was the origin of this Hine-korako myth. That glittering bow must represent her, as the rainbows seen in the heavens represent Uenuku and Kahukura.
In Miss Henry's work Ancient Tahiti, pp. 622-3, we read of a great mo'o (moko) or lizard of the female sex that captured a man of Papeno'o in olden times and retained him as a husband. Some time later he escaped and returned to his home. Long years after he was accosted by a lad who claimed to be his son by the female mo'o known as Mo'o-tuaraha. The father refused to recognise his half-monster son, and, when the lad's mother came to him to claim kinder treatment he caused her to be slain.
We have seen that taniwha seem to have not infrequently acted as "vigilantes", they punished offenders against moral and other laws, hence they must have acted as agents or subordinates of atua, or were atua themselves. The following narrative was contributed by Te Kahui Kararehe of Taranaki in 1888. An ancestor of the Ngati-Tara clan of the Taranaki tribe whose home was at Aonui composed a song on account of a theft committed by his brother-in-law, one Te Kawhaki, who had stolen a fish hook, fashioned from a piece of bent manuka, from Te Koriri. The latter enquired far and wide concerning his lost hook, but his relative made no statement, and so Te Koriri brooded over his loss and was much cast down. At this juncture a southerly wind sprang, and, during the calm that succeeded it the fishing canoes of the clan put out to sea, whereupon Te Koriri recited a charm couched in the form of a chant.page 518
Now just as Te Koriri concluded his magic chant the man who had stolen his hook was seized by a taniwha from among the crew of a canoe and carried off, leaving his companions in the vessel looking at their friend being dragged down into the ocean by the taniwha. It was then that the companions of Te Kawhaki, the thief, knew that it was he who had stolen the hook. The chant of Te Koriri was really a magic spell, one that handed over the person who had stolen his hook to the taniwha to punish, and so it was that Te Kawhaki, brother-in-law of Te Koriri, perished (a version of the chant is given in Sir George Grey's Nga Moteatea at p. 264).
Wilkes mentions a taniwha described to him by natives of Samoa as resembling a great lizard two fathoms in length, it was a scaly creature having sharp teeth, it lived in a stream and was occasionally fed by the natives.
We sometimes hear of taniwha that were not scourges to a district, but were harmless or dangerous only when annoyed or neglected. Kataore of Rotoiti was such a creature, one that lived on the great hill of Matawhaura that looks down on the lake. This great beast was wont to lie by the side of the path, and any travellers passing that way would provide it with some food. Should no such food be offered then Kataore is said to have occasionally helped himself to one of the travellers. When Rangi-te-aorere left Rangitaiki to proceed to Rotorua his mother warned him to be careful as to his attitude toward Kataore. His father had been a patron of that monster, and, when travelling that way he would call out, and then the creature would come to the path side to receive proffered food; when so fed it would not pursue or molest travellers. There is a boulder known as Matawhaura close to the track, and the great reptile acquired the habit of lying near the boulder and resting its head on it. Rangi's mother told him to be careful how he fed the reptile, to place the proffered food on the end of a pole and so thrust it into the mouth of the creature. He led the way over the hill, and, while he was feeding Kataore, the rest of the party filed past and pushed on apace, they seemed in no way inclined to put much trust in the harmlessness of Kataore.
The taniwha tales pertaining to the Rotorua district are well known owing to the interest taken by the late Sir George Grey in the collecting of Maori lore. One of these dread creatures abode in the waters known as the Puna i Hangarua, and a number of them were slain by doughty dragon-killers of past times.page 519
The famed ocean-dwelling taniwha known as Paikea and Paikea-ariki, is one of the whale monsters, and is recognised as the rescuer of Kahutia-te-rangi, what time the Huripureiata disaster spread dismay among Hawaikian families. Kahutia abandoned his name after the above episode and was ever after known as Paikea.
The sea monster called marakihau by the natives was probably the sea lion. The Maori, in his love of exaggeration and of the grotesque, has depicted in his carvings the long-tongued, fish-tailed creature that is known as marakihau.
A form of taniwha known as tuoro and hore is spoken of among the Tuhoe folk, who describe it as a creature of great size and strength that dwells within the earth, moving from place to place by subterranean ways, forcing its way through the earth uprooting trees and forming tunnels, and caves, and chasms. One of these monsters is said to have abode in the Otara pond on the summit of Maungapohatu in past times, and this creature is credited with the surprising feat of having formed the deep and lengthy valley of the Waikare stream in the days of yore. A cave in the pumiceous bluff overlooking the Whirinaki river at Te Whaiti is, or was, known as Te Ana tuoro (The Tuoro cave).
Kettle, who ascended the Manawatu river in May 1842 tells us that the channel of that river was formed in times remote by a taniwha named Okatia, that reached those parts from the east coast by way of Cook Strait.
John White tells us of a legendary ngarara of this type that came from Aropawa to Tai-koria, where it seems to have dwelt under the patronage of a man named Tupatu-nui, and was fed on birds and eels. After a time this monster went to Taonui and Manga-puata, and Katia, burrowing its way underground. At the latter place it roused the earth and so formed a hill on which, in later days the natives established a fortified village; and the name of this place is Hore-a-ringa. The following song referring to the above myth was collected by Baker in 1848:
Moe rawa iho ki te po
He hau anake te pupuhi nei
Te mokai a Tupatu-nui i Taikoria a rere mai nei
Ka tau ano hoki ko Taonui
Whakarehurehu ki Manga-puata
Kei Katia e tu mai ra ko te hore a runga
We must also notice another mythical creature usually spoken of as the tuna tuoro or tuoro described by Stack (see vol. 10 of the Transactions of the N.Z. Institute, pp. 60-61). In 1853 one Hoani Huki of Waikato told Stack that this creature was a kind of eel occasionally encountered by eelers in swamps and lagoons, and that it rendered senseless or helpless any person it touched. This local gymnotus was firmly believed in by the Maori but must be relegated to the land of myth. Stack was told that it would pursue persons on land as well as in the water and that the only way in which one could stop such pursuit was to burn the fern, for it was unable to pass over ashes. South Island natives also told him of the tuoro, Paora Taki informed him that one lived in the Purau stream at Lyttelton. Percy Smith heard of the tuoro among Ngati-Whatua; they told him that it would sometimes leave the water to feed on the herbage of lake shores, etc. The creature, they said, had a large lump on its tail with which it killed its victims, and it barked like a dog. These Munchausen gentry never produced a single tuoro, and no European has yet seen these marvels (see The Peopling of the North, p. 71, for these remarks by Smith).
We have also to refer to the pukutuoro, possibly the same creature as the tuoro of Tuhoe, but sometimes described as a saurian-like taniwha. In the New Zealand Journal for 1845 at p. 235 we find an early reference to the pukutuoro in an article entitled Notes of a Journey through a part of the Middle Island of New Zealand (now called the South Island), written by D. Monro. Having alluded to the maeroero, a mythical bush folk, he goes on to say: "The pukatuola is another wonderful animal of the southward, told of by the old men. Under a different name he is heard of in the north. A gigantic animal of the lizard species, most dangerous to humanity."
In an account of the myth of Maui slaying the phallic eel Tuna given in White's Ancient History of the Maori, vol. 2, p. 84, we are told that—"from the body of Tuna came the Puku-tu-oro … and other monsters of the sea known on the island of Ao-tea-roa;" Another South Island note is to the effect that the pukutuoro, hore and kurakura are three animals found in the lakes of that region; all seem to be amphibious in their habits. The two first mentioned are somewhat smaller than sea lions, while the last mentioned resembles a seal. The native contributor of this statement concluded with the remark—"Those creatures are now quite extinct"—which we are quite ready to believe. (At p. 131 of vol. 24 of the Journal of the Polynesian Society we read that a pukutuoru was once slain at Ohou in the South Island; it was page 521speared to death by the Rapuwai people. At p. 152 of vol. 27 of the same journal a pukutuaro is described as a harmless creature, while on p. 218 of vol. 28 we encounter two more forms of spelling, pukutuora and pukutuola; these variations probably emanated from native informants, or from compositors, the evidence favours tuoro as the correct form.)
We now pass on to a class of uncanny creatures that may be held as less dangerous than taniwha, but, at the same time, it is often highly unwise to ignore a tipua, inasmuch as some of them possess strange powers and do not hesitate to punish those who treat them lightly. Quite possibly these remarks should be written in the past tense, for the mana maori has decreased woefully during the past two generations. The term tipua, Of which tupua is a variant form, is one that is employed to denote anything markedly abnormal, anything uncanny; the dictionary gives us "Goblin, demon, object of terror, taniwha, etc." as meanings; it also gives "foreigner" as another meaning, this on account of the weird appearance of Europeans in Maori eyes, not because they were foreigners. As we noted in the case of the word atua the term tipua may be applied to things animate and inanimate, material and immaterial. In various parts of Polynesia, the word seems to denote a sorcerer; in New Zealand it might be applied to a warlock on account of his being a fearsome person, but not as a special term for a wizard. At Mangareva tupua denotes an adept, a wise man, at Samoa the deified spirits of chiefs are termed tupua, at Niue the word seems to be used much as it is by the Maori.
In many cases a tipua may be viewed as a local spirit that must be treated with proper respect, and the visible form of which is often a tree or rock. It is at such objects that simple offerings of herbage are, or rather were made, of which more anon. These indwelling spirits, as some term them, should perhaps come under Tylor's term of embodiment (see Primitive Culture, vol. 2, pp.112-113) he, in such cases, seemed to prefer the term obsession to that of possession, the idea of a spirit hovering about an object rather than dwelling within it. I am impelled to make this remark on account of one made to me by an aged Maori; I had asked him how a stranger could recognise a tipua object, stone or tree, when he chanced to be travelling in unknown page 522territory. I was told that, were that man a seer, one possessing the power of second-sight, he would see the spirit hovering around the object, whatever it might be—albeit these tipua possessed certain powers of retaliation yet Tylor seems to have been quite right in denying them the status of gods. It certainly appears that it is the spirit that is the tipua, or the object animated or empowered by such a spirit, as some might put it. Lacking such a basis the spirit would presumably be termed a wairua, or, if it made itself obnoxious, a kehua, or kikokiko. The act of placating a tipua by means of a simple offering and a brief charm is called whangai tipua, but to this act the term worship should not be applied, such an object was assuredly not worshipped. Should this simple ceremony be omitted by a person when passing a tipua whereat it was usually performed, then some bad luck would be his lot, heavy rain would fall ere long, or some other trouble ensue. Many natives have told me that it is necessary to make such an offering but once, that is each person would do so on the occasion of his first visit to the tipua, but on no subsequent occasion. This may be correct but I am not at all sure of it. I doubt if the superstitious Maori would be satisfied with one act of placation in a lifetime. Evidence favours my opinion.
Any interference with a tipua was viewed as an act of reckless impudence, indeed such a thing could seldom occur, owing to the power of public opinion and that of superstition. In one explanation that I received from the venerable old Pio of Ngati-Awa it appeared that, when travellers approached one of these tipua a fog might descend and cover the land, in which case an adept would be called upon to dispel that fog by means of white magic, as related elsewhere in this chronicle.
In most cases it does not seem to be known as to how a tipua object becomes possessed of its powers or spirit, that is how or why a tipua becomes a tipua. I have heard it said that a person of sufficient mana might institute a tipua, but I cannot say what induced him to do so, or what advantage it would be to him when it did exist. Apparently tipua pertained to prominent families only, and when the spirit of a member of such a family gained such notoriety the fact reflected a certain amount of fame on that family. I was told that when a person died while travelling then a prominent or peculiar tree or stone near the place of death might be set aside as a tipua to commemorate the event, but I did not gather that any form of ceremony of inauguration was performed. Again, when the body of a dead person was carried away for burial elsewhere, then at any place where the bearers tarried to page 523rest a tipua might spring up as it were. Any adjacent stone, rock or tree might serve as the material part of the tipua. The wairua (spirit) of the dead would be enshrined as it were in that object, at which the whangai tipua or uruuru whenua ceremony might be subsequently performed. The act of performing this simple rite was viewed as hai pupuri i te mana of the tipua, a retaining of the prestige, etc., of the institution, and a token that the memory of the defunct forbear was kept green. I have heard of a case in which a stream was viewed as a tipua, on account of a corpse having been washed in it, and in this case a stone was cast into it during the whangai act. It is a gross offence to take cooked food near such a place, such an offence would be severely punished by the gods, possibly with death, though it would be said that the tipua had punished the offender.
The expression uruuru whenua is employed to denote the act of whangai tipua, and also, the tipua object, rock, tree, or what not. The inherent signification of the phrase is, I take it, a verbal one, and uru means "to enter, to associate oneself with, to become one with", thus a person performing this simple ceremony has paid his footing as it were, he has placated the local spirits of the land and so they will not afflict him. In the published account of Sir George Grey's expedition to Taranaki in 1849-50 the expression tupuna whenua is employed to denote this placatory act (pp. 40-41) and in Williams's Maori Dictionary, 5th edition, 1917, we find "Tupuna whenua, the ceremony of going blindfold to a sacred place and depositing a leaf there" (p. 537). The blindfolding I have not heard of among natives, otherwise it is the whangai tipua act so often described to me. The use of the word tupuna (ancestor, grandparent) in this connection is singular, and recalls the fact that the natives of the Whanganui river use the term tupu-tupu where those of the east coast employ uruuru whenua. At Rarotonga tuputupu are said to be "wandering spirits" (Journal of the Polynesian Society, vol. 29, pp. 63-67), while in the Tahitian dialect tupu equals Maori ohonga, anything used as a medium in sympathetic magic, and tupu tupua equals Maori tupua, demon, spirit. In the Pileni vocabulary of far off Melanesia we find tupu, "grandparent" and "forefather", hence we have these words tupu, tuputupu, tupua and tupuna curiously linked together as to meanings. Our local tipua or tupua would be called aitu in Samoa, where simple offerings were made to these spirits at certain places, a branchlet, stone, or a portion of food was deposited, with the remark: "Spirit, there is your portion, grant us a favourable journey." (see p. 46 of vol. 5 of the above-mentioned page 524journal). The Maori has preserved this meaning of the term aitu in the following brief formula repeated as an offering was made:
Ina au taku aitu, taku arangi.
The more learned persons would probably recite a lengthier formula, such as the following:
Tawhia kia ita, kia ita i roto, kia ita i waho, tamana take ki a koe
Hurenga a nui, hurenga a roa, tamana take ki a koe
He kopinga a nuku, he kopinga a rangi ki a koe, e korol
Another and a better known recital employed at such a time is the following:
Ka u ki mata nuku, ka u ki mata rangi, ka u ki tenei whenua
Hei whenua, hei kai mau te ate o te tauhou.
In G. S. Cooper's account of Governor Grey's expedition to Taranaki alluded to above, he gives the above formula, and adds: "The above ceremony, which is called tupuna whenua is used by persons on their first arrival at a strange place for the purpose of appeasing the spirit of earth who would otherwise be angry at the intrusion." (p. 40 et seq.). In the Maori version we get: "Mo te orokohaerenga atu o te tangata ki nga wahi tauhou tenei ritenga te Tupuna Whenua. Ma tenei ka marire te Tupuna whenua, a, muri mai he haere noa atu, ekore e ahatia e taue Tupuna." (p. 41). The final line of the formula given above, the reciter admits his inferiority to the tipua.
Colenso had many opportunities of noting the se peculiar customs of the travelling Maori, and tells us that such placatory acts were frequently performed, not only by land travellers, but also by seafarers, the latter reciting charms when approaching a dangerous point or bar. Percy Smith told us of a stone at Te Puru, Waihou where the whakauru or uruuru whenua charm was repeated by travellers, who were careful not to look back after they passed a tipua. Shortland and Taylor both explained the ceremony. An old time Maori described it as being in honour of the gods. The Matatua folk give the usual explanation, a handful of herbage or a branchlet was plucked and cast at the base of the tree or rock viewed as a tipua, while repeating such a brief formula as: "Hirihiri o tauhou; mau e kai te manawa o tauhou", of which a variant form is: "Uruuru o tauhou; mau e kai te manawa o tauhou"—while another is: "Tuhituhi o tauhou; mau e kai te manawa o tauhou, whakapiri ki tautohito" Here also we page 525are told that a person must not look back after making his offering.
The simple act performed by one passing a tipua was also a feature of other precautionary measures, thus when a person passed a place where a man suffering from leprosy (mumutu) had died, or where such a sufferer had had a ceremony performed over him, that passerby would not fail to cast a stone on the spot—koi pa mai taua mate ki a ia—as my informant put it—lest that disease afflict him. In vol. 9 of the Transactions of the New Zealand Institute, Travers described a visit he made to the Auckland lake district in the "seventies"; in speaking of a canoe trip on Tarawera lake (p. 10) he wrote: "After rounding the point … each person in the canoe is expected to place upon a large boulder … some fragment of fern or other article, as a votive offering to a Taniwha, said to inhabit the rugged wood-covered slopes above it." Here the act was intended to placate a taniwha, if the explanation was a genuine one.
This custom of uruuru whenua was evidently one introduced hither from Polynesia. In Tyerman and Bennet's Journal of Voyages and Travels, p. 120, we are told of its occurrence at the Sandwich Islands, and the tipua stones are therein alluded to as local divinities. The writer speaks of—"tufts of grass and wreaths of leaves being devoutly laid around these sanctuaries, by passengers, who thus propitiated his favour that they might be protected from slips and falls by the way." This gentle and sympathetic missionary then proceeds as follows—"In every instance, when we were strong enough, we tumbled these idols over the edge of the cliffs into the sea, and scattered the votive offerings to the wind." In this sentence lies the original cause of much of the covert ill feeling against missionaries.
As already observed a considerable number of the tipua objects known to us are stones, boulders and rock masses, and probably all these objects are known by special names. Thus Tokarangi is a rock near Greytown where the whangai tipua ceremony was performed in olden times. At Te Tiringa, between Te Teko and Whakatane, is a row of stones known as Hine-porete, another old uruuru whenua. Several tipua rocks stand in the Whakatane river, near the mouth thereof, these rocks are named Araiawa, Tokamauku, Tokaroa, Himoki, Hoaki and Irakewa. The two last names are those of old-time Polynesian voyagers who settled here. Araiawa is a great mass of rock in the middle of the fairway, hence when one of the local Awa folk observes a person in his way he will say: "Ko Araiawa koe?" (Are you Araiawa?) page 526Araiawa may be rendered as Channel obstructed. A rock in the Waiariki stream near Tarawhiti, Wellington district, was viewed as a tipua; it was invisible during the greater part of the year. A rock in the Mokau river at Mahoenui is unquestionably a tipua, the proof of this is that if any person touches it a violent wind at once springs up. At Pipiriki on the Whanganui river is a rock named Kaituhi, while Te Uru is another at Mataimoana in the same district; both of these were places at which the tuputupu was performed, otherwise "kapanga ta ua", heavy rain would follow.
There is a boulder at the mouth of the Waiapu river known as Hine-waiapu that is looked upon as a tipua; it is said to have been located there by Hine-tuahoanga, the Sandstone Maid, in order to bar the passage to the pounamu or greenstone when it was seeking a new home. This uncanny stone is only occasionally seen, and to see it is an ominous event for the beholder, misfortune looms near; to interfere with the stone in any way simply means death for the offender. The stone itself is a form of chert called waiapu by the Maori, the river and district being known by the same name; Hine-waiapu is said to have been the origin of the name. When Hinewaiapu is seen, which is but seldom, folk say: "O! Kua ea a Hinewaiapu, akuanei he whenua mate" (Oh! Hinewaiapu has emerged, ere long a desolate land).
A stone tipua at Taumarere, near Te Kawakawa, was visited by persons about to take a journey, who would deposit on it an offering of a branchlet, and so prevent, we are told, the occurrence of bad weather. At another one up the Waitotara river money has been deposited in modern times. The Komata-o-te-rangi is a stone tipua on the Manga-o-Hou tributary of the Whakatane river; it was Taneatua, a tribal ancestor, who endowed it with its strange powers; if a stranger approaches it then rain commences to fall at once. Taurua-ngarengare is a stone tipua at Titiokura, it is said to be a mass of rock in the form of a canoe. Te Puku-o-Kirihika is another stone tipua at Pukareao, upper Whakatane, near the old Horomanga-Ruatahuna track. This is one of the ambulatory tipua, of which the Maori tells us, if the stone be moved by any one it will of its own accord return to its original resting place. Another, called Opunga, is a stone or boulder in the bed of the Waihui stream, above Te Umuroa, and this one is, or was, especially dangerous, inasmuch as an ancestor named Paia, a warlock of parts, endowed that stone with the power to destroy any person who interfered with it. A stone at Nukutaurua, known as Te punga o Takitimu, or anchor of Takitimu, is said to move from place to place of its own accord, page 527and so it is held to be a tipua, though it does not follow that all tipua were tu putupu whereat ceremonies were performed. Then we have Tokahaere the Moving Rock, or, as we call it Tom's Rock, standing in the sea between Sinclair Head and Tarawhiti. In olden times this rock moved about from place to place, or at least so I was told by those learned in local folk tales. It has offspring, a small rock by its side, which is however but seldom seen. This rock is said to have been named after a daughter of Kupe the explorer, while a rock at Te Rimurapu (Sinclair Head) was named Mohuia after another of the old sea wanderer's daughters.
Takuahi-te-ka, a rock in the upper Whakatane river, was of old one of the famed tipua at which the whangai tipua ceremony was performed. Tapanaua, a huge rock in the bed of the Tauranga river is another tipua, and a far travelled one, as we have already seen, while yet others are the Toka-a-Houmea, near Whakatane, and the Tapuwae-a-Ekenui at Maungapohatu, also the Kuri-a-Tarawhata, a rock in the Whakatane river. An old uruuru whenua object is the Whanau-tanga-o-Tuhourangi, a rock near Mt Edgecumbe, another is Tukitewa, a block of stone in the Ruatahuna stream, while in or near the same stream is Tumatawhero, a tipua rock that formerly possessed dread powers for punishing trespassers and purloiners of food supplies. The rock named Taiamai at Ohaeawai was of the uruuru class and it gave its name to the surrounding district. There are many tipua rocks around the shores of Waikare-moana, and, in most cases, if any person touched those enchanted rocks, then a gale would rise, or the wind would change, or heavy rain fall.
This uruuru whenua ceremony is sometimes termed whakau, and a rock whereat it was performed would be described as a toka whakau, or kamaka whakau.
Ranges, hills and mountains believed to be the resort of strange beings, or that were held to be tapu, were often said to be maunga tipua or uncanny mountains, and such places possessed a certain mana. We have already scanned a number of such strange beliefs. Maungapohatu is a famed maunga tipua, as also are Tongariro, Hikurangi, and many others. The small hill or mound named Otarahioi, within the bounds of the Taneatua township, is also alluded to as a tipua; it is said to represent the dog of the old explorer and voyager Taneatua, hence it is often called the Kuri o Taneatua.
Occasionally streams and ponds or lakes were viewed as tipua, thus the Ohora and Kanihi tributaries of the Whakatane river are page 528so described; they are held to be the tipua offspring of the mysterious Taneatua, possibly they were named after two of his children. A pond or small lake at Wairau, near Waikare-moana, is a tipua because it disappeared when the tapu of the place was interfered with. The two ponds on the summit of Maungapohatu, called Otara and Rongo-te-mauriuri, are also said to be tipua.
The term tipua is applied to fire, not to ordinary fire that is generated by the hand of man, which is the fire of Mahuika, but to the uncanny fire that burns in the underworld and descends from the heavens. It is the tipua fire that burns at White Island, at Auruhoe and elsewhere, and that causes all the hot and boiling springs, ponds and streams far spread across the land. The sun itself is alluded to as a tupua.
At Te Pakura, near the summit of Huiarau, by the old Maori path, is a small totara tree growing upon a tawai (beech) tree, and this is looked upon as a tipua, probably because it betokens something very unusual; it was also an uruuru whenua. A beech tree that stands by the old track on the other side of Huiarau, below Nga Puke-turua was also a tipua and an uruuru place, it is named the Rapa-a-Hinewhati. Another such is Maraeroa, a tawa tree at Maungapohatu, where I myself was instructed to make my offering of rau rakau and repeat a brief charm, this by my worthy old friend Pekahinau, he who slew Pane-takataka at Papakai with malice aforethought. Tutaka informed me that, in the "thirties" of last century, the old custom was still kept up at Maraeroa, whereat he saw a decaying heap of branchlets, etc., the offerings of many hands, and a space around the tree was open and free of brush owing to the requirements of passersby. This tends to show that offerings were not made by persons once only, viz. on the occasion of a first visit. It is a very remote place, not on any much traversed path, and the number of strangers who would visit such a place would be very, very small in the course of a year. About the only folk of other tribes who might reach the spot would be enemies, and these would not pay attention to local tipua.
A maire tree at Muriwaka on the Tauranga river, and Mohea, a tree near Matairangi, are similar places. Should a passerby here ask—' 'What place is this?"-rain would certainly follow. Otangiroa is a log of maire that has remained embedded in the channel of the Whakatane for generations past. It is a tipua, and eel fishers were wont to repeat charms thereat whereby to ensure good luck in their venture. We now see that these tipua were visited for such purposes, and that the uruuru whenua was not the only ceremony performed at them. Below the accommodation page 529house at Whaitiri, Whakare-moana, a log seen lying in the lake is a tipua, if this be touched a storm will arise and put a stop to canoe traffic. A flax (Phormium) plant that formerly grew at Onini, Ruatahuna, was a tipua, and the place a tapu one, for it marked the spot where Te Maunga (personifying ranges) came to earth, and was sought by Hine-pukohu the Mist Maid. A submerged log occasionally seen in the Whanganui river at Pari-whakairo is, or was, a tipua. Parekoritawa, Te Teketeke-o-Rangiwhakaruma and Nga Raho are tree tupua in the Whanganui valley. The famed tipua tree known as Papataunaki has been described by Gudgeon (see vol. 14 of the Journal of the Polynesian Society, p. 58).
Brewster, in his Hill Tribes of Fiji, p. 90, describes a similar custom as practised by Fijians. He describes a tree whereat travellers deposited small stones on a flat branch as an offering: "There was a long bough with a fine flat surface extending from an old and hoary tree, tightly packed with pebbles, deposited there by passersby as the price of their safety. The guide explained the custom to me and I offered a stone and went on."
A tipua tree described in Grey's Journey to Taranaki, p. 16, was of a different class. The tree (Cordyline) known as Hautupua, was a kind of resting place for the spirits of defunct members of the Ngati-Maru tribe, which sojourned a while thereon ere proceeding to the spirit world. As these spirits hovered among the long leaves they bewailed themselves, and experts derived certain auguries from such sounds, which lamentations however were not heard by ordinary folk, a statement that one feels inclined to accept.
Near the northern end.of the Wairarapa lake is a lakelet known as Atuahae, and therein abode for many years a tipua of considerable fame and mana known as Rakairuru. This remarkable tipua appeared in the form of a log, but, strange to say, this log was not always of the same species of timber, it was sometimes a log of totara, at another time it might appear as maire, or white pine, a fact that tended to enhance the mana of Rakairuru. When the river flowed freely to sea this enchanted log is said to have sometimes taken a jaunt to the South Island. Whenever a person attempted to interfere with that log it would disappear. On the arrival of Europeans in the district, a godless ruffian named Jack Murphy started in to cut the log up in order to obtain fencing timber therefrom, but that log disappeared under cover of night, leaving a bewildered Milesian appealing to the holy saints.page 530
Such stories as the above are heard in many districts. Wahanui of Waikato told me of one Waiwaia, a most active tipua log that formerly drifted from place to place by river and sea. The name of this tipua was often heard, as when one enquired as to the whereabouts of a certain person, or one of a party of travellers asked: "Where shall we camp tonight?"—then some person would reply: "O! At the many stranding places of Waiwaia." Here follows Wahanui's account of Waiwaia—
Regarding Waiwaia, it was a supernatural object that existed here, on the Rangitoto Block. The person to whom it pertained was a priestly adept, and here is the story: That old man dwelt quietly at his home throughout the years, his dwelling place being by the side of a totara tree. Now persons would not approach him on account of dread of the tapu. His grandchildren went to the tapu tree and climbed up it in order to eat the fruit thereof, and, having ascended it, were knocking off the berries and eating them, for the fruit of that totara tree was indeed tasteful. The gods of the old priest were angry and caused the tree to be engulfed by the earth, because the children had disregarded the tapu, and had not propitiated the gods by an offering ere they ate of the fruit, hence that tree was caused to subside into the earth, where it disappeared. This was heard by the children in consequence of the sound of the rending earth, which resembled the rumbling of thunder. As the children viewed this occurrence they saw that they were near death. Then they called upon their grandfather, and the old man came and appeased the gods, and released them, but the tree was allowed to be engulfed by the earth. That was the commencement of the driftings of that tree; its branches became broken, and when it formed a resting place on land, it might disappear into the earth, or water. That tree was known as Waiwaia, and later it was seen drifting into the Waikato river and out to the Great Ocean of Kiwa, where it was seen on the beach; that totara had a reddish appearance. Its branches were stranded at many places, hence was repeated the saying—"The many stranding places of Waiwaia." The whole of this island and as far as the South Island were its stranding places.
The Tainui folk still speak of Waiwaia, although, like many other uncanny objects and creatures, it has disappeared before the pale-hued Pakeha. Some say that it was originally set adrift by a taniwha, that it ever drifted to and fro, to the Waikato Heads, back to Kaitangata, then to sea, to Awhitu, to Whaingaroa, back to land-bound waters, to and fro, ever drifting, and so down the long years came the saying—"Ko rau paenga o Waiwaia."page 531
Another famous tipua in the form of a drifting log was one Tutaua of Waikare-moana, it is said to have so drifted about that rock-bound lake for long generations. If, as we are informed, this log of strange habits was really placed in the lake by Haumapahia, the tipua daughter of Mahutapoanui, some 20 generations ago, then we must admit that it has had a fairly long life. This wierd tipua log possessed strange vocal powers, and sang quaint songs as it drifted to and fro across the Star Lake, songs that were heard and acquired by the men of yore. When the shades of night fell across the mountain lake, when Hinemakohu the Mist Maid brooded over the darkling waters, concealing cliff and isle and sombre beaches, then it was that the Maori folk in their hamlets heard the strange singing of the tipua log far out on the mist enshrouded waters, where-upon they would say: "Ko Tutaua e waiata haere ana." (It is Tutaua singing as it goes). When that log drifted ashore, should any person interfere with it in any way, then dire misfortune would be his lot, and, when another day dawned, that log would have disappeared on its ceaseless round of the lake. Said Tutaka—"I myself heard Tutaua in the days of my youth, heard it singing far out upon the waters, singing in a strange manner like unto the whistling sounds of wind." Said another old greybeard: "In the days of my youth, after the coming of the Pakeha [Europeans] that demon log drifted out of the lake, drifted down the outlet at Te Whangaroamanga, singing as it went."
Te Hinaki o Tutaua (the Eelpot of Tutaua) is the name of a rock tipua in the lake near Te Awaawaroa; should any person touch it then the wind will at once change. Quite possibly this rock was named after one Tutaua, an ancestor of the local people, and not after the famous log demon.
The denizens of the twelve heavens, they who possess eternal life, are spoken of as tipua, because they are abnormal beings, they hold strange powers, and are able to assume any form they may desire. On earth tipua are found in many animal forms, and so we find that Okiwa is a tipua dog that represents one of the weird offspring of Taneatua; it abides in a pond known as Te Kuri o Mariko, which is near Te Purenga. A local wind that blows down the Whakatane valley to Opouriao South is called the okiwa wind; it is said to be the breath of the tipua dog Okiwa. Another canine tipua is the Dog of Mahu that dwells with the waters of Roto-nui-o-Ha, a lakelet at Te Putere. This Kuri o Mahu is a banshee of the local natives, and when it is heard barking beneath the waters then it is known that one of their page 532number is about to enter the spirit world. I am informed that, at no great distance from Waiapu, is a hill or hillock known as Taupanui. Its form resembles that of a bird; it is a mauri of birds of the district, and they frequent it in great numbers. There are two tipua birds, albino owls, near Ruatoki, and these foretell in some manner the fruitfulness, or otherwise, of coming seasons; at least my informant tells me that they were there some centuries ago, and seems to believe that they are still there. Another bird tipua and banshee is one Hine-ruarangi, a cormorant that lives in a gloomy canyon of the Whirinaki river above Ahikereru. This creature was originally a human being, a daughter of Toi, who, after death, assumed this bird form, or, as some put it, her spirit entered the body of a cormorant. This creature of ill omen has, I am assured, dwelt in the rock-bound gorge for centuries, and, prior to the death of a local native, or to a defeat at the hands of enemies, the dread kawau is seen hovering over the village. So it was that defeats suffered by Ngati-Whare the local clan, at Okiri (Waikato), at Rangihoua (Wairoa), and at Te Ariki (Rotorua district) were foretold by Hine of the Whaiti nui a Toi canyon, also the dark day on which Maro of Tuhoe extinguished the fire that burned in the vale of Whirinaki. The last appearance of this banshee was in May 1869, when, during Whitmore's raid on Ruatahuna, the Harema pa near Waikotikoti was taken by the raiders, and so one more banshee tipua has been put out of action by the encroaching white folks.
Te Kawau a 'Toru
This tipua bird is said to have flourished many generations ago, even in the days of Kupe, the discoverer of New Zealand. It is associated with one Potoru, another old sea rover of those remote times, whose name is often abbreviated to Toru in song and it is generally spoken of as the Cormorant of Toru (Te Kawau a Toru). The story of this tipua cormorant is connected with the French Pass between Rangitoto (D'Urville Island) and the South Island, or Te Aumiti as the Maori calls that pass, at which place Potoru's vessel, named Te Ririno, is said to have been wrecked when he came hither from the isles of Polynesia. As usual one page 533notes discrepancies in various versions of this myth, as related by the Maori folk. As given to me by Te Whetu of the Atiawa tribe of Taranaki it appears that when Kupe the sea rover came hither from Polynesia he brought with him two tipua birds, Rupe and the Kawau-a-Toru. Rupe is, in our local dialect, the personified form of the pigeon, and the word was occasionally used as an ordinary name for the wood pigeon. This Rupe seems to have busied himself in seeking food products of this land, while the cormorant spent its time in searching for swift, strong currents, at which places such birds are wont to congregate.
Kupe and his following encamped at Sinclair Head, near Wellington, from which place both birds sallied forth to survey the new lands. Ere long many birds came from the South Island and foregathered with Rupe, inviting him to visit their island and examine its food supplies, the wealth of berries in its forests. They also told Kawau the cormorant that he would there find a strong swift current that would suit him. So it was that Rupe and his daughters Mohuia and Tokahaere remained at Te Rimurapa (Sinclair Head) while the two birds set off to visit the South Island. On reaching Puhikoreru, Rupe saw many birds feeding on the berries of forest trees; at intervals they resorted to the nearest water to drink, after which they returned to eat of the fruits of the forest. Rupe joined those birds in their feasting and drinking, and so pleased was he with his land that nevermore did he return to Kupe.
Then it was that Kawau the cormorant set off with others to seek the swift-flowing currents of which he had heard; ere long they came to where the sound of rushing waters was heard, and Kawau prepared to contend with the fierce current. The end of that contest was disaster and death, one of the wings of Kawau was broken, and so he perished, and on the breaking of that wing a passage was formed for vessels to pass through, had it not so broken then vessels would be quite unable to pass through; the wing that remains whole is an obstruction to all such traffic. Meanwhile Kupe, in camp at the Red Rocks, awaited the return of his tipua birds that never came, and then a strange thing happened, for a flock of sea birds came flying over the camp crying out in wailing tone—"Kua mate! Kua mate!" ("Dead! Dead!"). Then Mohuia knew that her charge, the Kawau a 'Toru, had perished, even so she raised her voice and wept for Kawau the cormorant, and then fled into the sea and so died, and there she still stands as the rock called Mohuia, a sign of Kupe and the tipua of those days that abides, and abides, and abides.page 534
When Mohuia and Tokahaere mourned for the lost tipua they lacerated themselves after the manner Maori, even that their blood flowed down the cliff and stained deeply the rocks below, hence the Red Rocks of the Pakeha and the Pariwhera (Red Cliff) of the Maori.
Another version of this folk tale is to the effect that the vessel of Potoru was lost in the French Pass, where he and his crew perished; his mokai or pet cormorant flew off and alighted on a rock, where one of its wings was broken, and the creature was turned into stone and yet abides there. Yet another version (published on page 74 in vol. 10 of the Journal of the Polynesian Society) has it that the home of the Kawau-a-Toru was at Horowhenua lake. Upon a time the Kawau called a meeting of many clans of sea birds, whereupon they assembled at Horowhenua, and were welcomed by the folk of that place after the doleful manner Maori. After much speech making by Kawau and others then food was laid before the guests, such food as eels, whitebait, crayfish, etc. Kawau-paka (the white-throated shag) praised highly the feast provided by the Kawau-a-Toru, and the latter enquired as to the home food supplies of Kawau-paka and his clan. The latter replied that they consisted of fish of various kinds, and that their "food stores" were Kura-te-au, Kahura, Te Au-o-tukarere, and Te Aumiti (these are places famed for abundance of fish). After this the Kawau-a-Toru crossed over to the South Island to pit himself against the currents of those parts, but one of his wings was broken by the currents at Te Aumiti. So perished the Kawau, whose bones still lie there, and on which stands the lighthouse of the white man.
There are two stories on record concerning Te Ririno, the vessel of Potoru, a fact that seems to be referred to in the following lines:
Ka iri ano koe i runga Te Ririno
He waka tautohetohe no te tere i a Turi
Ka paea Potoru ki te au o Raukawa.
Another poet speaks of Te Aumiti (French Pass) that is the "Tauranga matai o te Koau-a-Toru paihau tahi e kai max ra ki te hau"—(the observation post of the one-winged Koau-a-Toru that braves the fierce winds). Koau is a variant form of kawau, a cormorant, and an old native has stated that there is a rock on the mainland side of French Pass called the Kawau-a-Toru; it was in those swirling waters that the Ririno vessel was swamped and Potoru was drowned, to which another reference is observed in the following extract from an old song:page 535
Ko te ngaro pea i a Tuhirangi ki roto o Kaikai-a-waro
I waiho ai e Kupe hex rahiri waka rere i te Aumiti i rani ai Potoru
Koia te Kawau-a-'Toru a roha paihau tahi noa mai ra
I te au roua, i te au miro, i te au whakaumu
I waiho ake ai e Manaia hei tupa i a Nuku-tamaroro,
(Perchance you are concealed like Pelorus Jack within the cave Kaikai-a-waro, he who was left here by Kupe to welcome vessels sailing the Pass, wherein Potoru was overtaken by disaster in swirling currents and whirlpools left there by Manaia in order to baffle pursuit by Nuku-tamaroro). Tuhirangi was the name bestowed by the Maori on the famous Pelorous Jack of the French Pass, the so-called fish-guide of steamers traversing that channel; they are given to stating that Tuhirangi has sojourned at the Pass since the time of Kupe, say forty generations ago.
The Manu Teko
Here we have another bird tipua, one that pertained to the upper Whanganui district, and which, like unto other tipua, seems to have vanished before the Pakeha (Europeans). The different accounts given by natives of this particular tipua differ considerably. In 1895 the Ngati-Hau folk told me that the manu teko was a tapu bird that lived on Mount Ruapehu; some said that it was a pigeon, others that it was a brown parrot (kaka). Said one lover of the marvellous: "In appearance it is like an ordinary pigeon, but when it is killed by man then at once it changes colour and becomes a pure white. Should any person be rash enough to cook and eat a manu teko, then he is assailed by strange beings, patupaiarehe or similar weird creatures, who carry him off to the great mountain of Ruapehu, a dread region where dwells the Ririo and other doleful creatures. If such a captive eats of the food of the fairy folk never more will he return to this ordinary world and his friends. When Takaka of Ngati-Hau, who died some ten years ago, was thus spirited away by the strange mountain folk, he was held captive for many years, and, when finally he did escape and so reached his home, he had become dumb, or at most could repeat but a few words. His only sustenance during his long captivity was his own blood, which he sucked from his own arm, for, as I have said, he could not touch the food of the mountain folk. But I may tell you that the manu teko might be slain, cooked and eaten if the proper charm was page 536repeated while the bird was being cooked." So spake a sage of Koriniti to me in 1895. Rangipito of the Atiawa stated that the manu teko were the leaders of various flocks of kaka parrots, and some of them were red and some white. In snaring these parrots should the manu teko or ariki be secured then the whole flock would be taken.
The Ngati-Awa folk of the Bay of Plenty area tell us that the dread tipua known as the Ririo lived in the Kaimanawa range, and was in the habit of carrying off to that forest-clad region such persons as had broken rules of tapu. A man named Haukopeke was so seized and carried off from Matahuna in past times, whereupon certain priestly experts assembled at a tapu place of rites whereat they invoked the aid of the gods, or sought to placate them. They doffed their garments and extended their arms as they recited their charms; for seven days these men refrained from touching food; for seven days and nights they performed their weird rites. Then, on the evening of the seventh day, Haukopeke was returned to his home, as the sun descended he was cast down on the earth from the tree-tops near his home; one side of his body was crippled.
In a narration of South Island folk lore it is noted that the term tipua is employed to denote a taniwha (as seen at pp. 12-13 of vol. 20, Journal of the Polynesian Society). This story mentions the two-headed tipua dogs that ranged the South Island in remote pre-newspaper days, and the kahui tipua or ogre-like beings, giants who held the power of transforming themselves into any form, animate or otherwise. Another dog-like tipua was Moekahu, who was a being half human, half canine, said to have lived on the east coast of the North Island. Other tipua dogs were formerly heard on the cliffs of Taupo and elsewhere.
The ogre known as Tamaiwaho is said to have dwelt on the summit of Mt. Hikurangi on the east coast, and he was the scourge of that district, inasmuch as he destroyed every creature that tried to pass by that dreaded mountain. There was only one time when the mountain might be passed, and that was when the rays of the declining sun dazzled the eyes of Tamaiwaho and prevented him seeing anything. This Tamaiwaho seems to have been also known as Tama-ki-Hukurangi or Tama-ki-Hikurangi, and Tama-nui-a-rangi. A reference to the name is noted in the Ngati-Awa song: "Ka taha te ra ki tua o Tama-ki-Hukurangi." Tama enters into the story of the Manu nui a Ruakapanga.
I have heard of abnormally large eels being viewed as tipua, one such, known as Hukikapea, frequented a hole at Ruatoki, page 537while another named Karitaki lived at Hanga-mahihi. Hine-i-wharona is a tipua eel in the Putakatare lagoon at Whirinaki. When Tamatea-nukuroa and his daughter were traversing the rugged lands of Te Wera some centuries ago they became athirst, whereupon Tama stamped upon the earth and so caused a spring of water to gush forth. The water of that spring formed a pool known as Tangiwai, and in that pool dwells a tipua eel with eight tails, at least so says my informant, a person of unblemished character. At the same time it is but just to explain that another folk lore expert assures me that the above account is entirely wrong, and indeed absurd, that the man who produced that spring was the famous ancestor Tutamure of the Pananehu, who did so by plucking a hair from his leg and casting it on the ground as he repeated a charm.
Inanimate tipua were numerous, as we have seen, though in many cases they were scarcely viewed as being inanimate by the Maori. Some extremely tapu objects were looked upon as being tipua on account of their inherent powers, or the powers of the gods in whose charge such objects were. For instance the extremely tapu ceremonial stone adze known as Te Awhio-rangi (described at p. 230 of vol. 9 of the Journal of the Polynesian Society) is looked upon as a tipua, something extremely uncanny, and why should it not be so viewed if it had the power of producing thunder storms?
Not only were the first Europeans seen held to be tipua by the Maori, but also a similar feeling was entertained with regard to their amazing vessels. The aged Pio of Ngati-Awa told me that the first European ship seen from Whakatane was thought to be Tutara-kauika or a huge tipua from Tonga, that is from the isles of Polynesia. That ship would be Cook's vessel, as seen on his first voyage, when he ran along the shore of the Bay of Plenty. Tutara-kauika is a name for the right whale, but it is also used vaguely as denoting ocean monsters.
The Ogre of Hikurangi
The Maori also tells us of certain human tipua of his own race, dread persons who were apparently a kind of ogre in human form. Tama, the ogre of Hikurangi mountain, seems to have been such a nanakia or troublesome creature, and another was a woman named Houmea, the story of whom we will now scan.page 538
Houmea the ogress. This is a tale of a certain dishonest woman, an outrageous creature whose name was Houmea, her husband was named Uta. Now Uta went out to sea in his canoe in order to catch fish for his family, he had two children named Nini and Tuta-wake. Having caught a supply of fish Uta paddled ashore and waited for his wife to come and clean the fish and carry them home, but she came not, hence he went to his home and said to her: "O dame! I have been awaiting you in vain." Said Houmea: "O sir! The children delayed me." Off went Houmea to the beach, where she seized all the fish in the canoe and swallowed them. She then made a lot of tracks and marks on the sandy beach so that it might be thought that enemies had stolen the fish. Then she went home and reported that all the fish had been stolen, and Uta asked: "Now who can those thieving folk of the world be?" Houmea replied: "Probably the teeming multitudes of the Ponaturi."
On the morrow Uta set out in his canoe, and again caught a goodly supply of fish; when he returned to land he once more awaited his wife on the strand, but she came not. He went to his home and again complained of his wife's neglect of her duties, and again she betook herself to the canoe and ate all the fish it contained. But Uta had sent his two children to watch and they returned and told him that Houmea had eaten all the fish in the canoe. Ere long Houmea returned to bewail the loss of this second supply of fish, but Uta informed her that their children had seen her eating the fish, even so was Houmea overcome by shame, and endeavoured in all ways to shield herself; she also bore ill will towards her own children.
Next morning Uta again paddled out to sea on a fishing excursion, and, when he was afar off Houmea said to one of her children: "Go and fetch some water for us." When the child had departed then she said to her other child: "O child! Come hither that I may cleanse your head." But when the hapless child went to her she seized it and swallowed it, so was it engulfed in her voracious stomach. When the first child returned with the water it also was seized and swallowed by Houmea, thus perished both children. When Uta returned from his fishing Houmea went to meet him, wailing as she went, and having many flies clustering round her lips. Uta enquired: "Are you in trouble?" "Alas! Yes, " replied Houmea, "The atua [demon] is assailing my stomach." Said Uta: "Where are the children?" Houmea replied: "Where indeed; they have been absent since the morning." Then Uta looked at her lips, thronged by flies as they were, and recited page 539a charm which compelled Houmea to disgorge the contents of her stomach, so it was that Nini and Tutawake came forth into the world again, and curiously enough, Tutawake was wielding a taiaha (a two handed striking weapon), while Nini handled a huata (long spear).
Uta was now alarmed lest his ogre wife should swallow him and also their children alive, hence he said to the children: "Listen to my instructions to you two; should I bid you go and fetch water, take no notice; should I grow angry, heed not; should I threaten to beat you or bully you, do not heed it." So it came about that the children stubbornly refused to obey their father's commands, whereupon Uta said to his wife, the ogress Houmea: "The children will not go and procure water for me, and I need it sadly; I bid them go and they do nothing but remain stubborn." So it was that Houmea went off to procure water, and, as soon as she had departed, Uta began to recite a charm to cause the water to recede and disappear: "Let the waters become shoal and disappear, let them return to their source and sink into the earth." So it was that, as Houmea advanced toward the water, that water receded, dried up, and disappeared.
While Houmea was pursuing the waters that ever eluded her, Uta and his children were hastening toward the sea beach. As they did so Uta carefully instructed the houses and shells, the tree and all other things how to answer Houmea when she called out questions as to where they had gone. Having done so he and the children went to the beach, launched the canoe, got into it, raised the sail and sailed out into the ocean. As they sailed forth Houmea returned to the hamlet, and, finding that her people had disappeared, she called out to them: "O sir! Where are you and our children?" Then strange things happened, for the sheds and houses, the trees and the lounging place all answered her, until she was much distressed. She ascended to the lookout place and gazed out at the ocean, where, afar off, she saw the canoe; she then went down to the beach where she "entered" a cormorant and, in that form, fared out across the waves of the ocean. The children chanced to be looking landward and so saw Houmea following them, whereupon they said to their father: "O sir! The dread one [atua ] is coming." Said Uta to his children: "O children! What shall I do, I fear being swallowed by the atua ?" Then the young folk said to him: "Let us conceal you beneath the grating of the canoe"—and they so concealed him. But Houmea came swiftly on in pursuit, hoping to slay Uta as food for herself, as she came her mouth was gaping to swallow her prey, and ever page 540she cried: "Where is my food?" The children replied: "He is on the land yonder, we two came out to fish and were carried away by the wind." Said the ogress: "I am exceedingly hungry"—and so the young folk gave her some cooked fish to eat, but she was not satisfied, so they said to her: "O dame! Here is some bulky food for you on the fire, just open your mouth." So she opened her mouth and they took hot stones from the fire with tong-sticks and cast them into her open mouth, whence they descended into her stomach, where they exploded and so killed Houmea. This fearsome ogress is still represented in this world by the koau or cormorant, and a saying concerning her is—Ko Houmea kiko taratara—which seems to imply that she was a rough-skinned person. In these times dishonest and objectionable women are compared to Houmea.
In the following tale we encounter a similar woman to Houmea, an indolent person whose punishment seems to have been somewhat severe; it runs as follows—
There was once a man who had two wives, one a free woman, one a slave. Now whenever this man returned from fishing at sea, it was the duty of his slave wife to clean the fish and carry them to the village home. Being indolent, she adopted the habit of throwing some of the fish away, so that she would not have so great a weight to carry. Her husband detected her in this act, and sought a plan by which to punish her—and found it. He made several trips into the forest in order to snare rats, and then got his wife to go and examine the traps in his place. Then he constructed a large and strong spring trap in the path which his wife traversed when examining the rat run, with the result that she was caught in the trap and strangled.
He then returned home and told his other wife to prepare a meal for him, but she refused, as such tasks had been the duty of the slave wife, whereupon they quarrelled violently, and, in the end, the man struck his wife with his weapon, and killed her; he then went off into the forest. Pretty soon after, two young men arrived at the place, to find the dead body of the free woman lying in the hut, and they set about discovering the cause of her death. Now these two young men were the sons of the slain women, and they had been for some time living in another district. One was the son of the free woman, the other the slave woman's son.
The two young men then entered the forest to search for their father and the slave wife. At length they found him tending an oven of food which he had just covered up. The body of the slave page 541wife lay hard by, from which portions of flesh had been cut by the husband, who was now waiting for it to be cooked, ere he commenced his feast. Then those young men promptly slew their father, took the flesh of the slave woman from the oven and buried it, then placed their father's body in the oven, covered it up and left it there. They then returned home to attend to the burial of the other woman.
The Crossing of Raukawa and the Tapu of Nga Whatu
The rocky islets in Cook Strait that we call the Brothers are known to the Maori as Nga Whatu, in full Nga Whatu-kaiponu, and these we have already referred to in the story of Kupe and the Wheke-a-Muturangi. Even since that time these small islets have been looked upon as being places of exceeding tapu. This tapu was placed upon them because, when the Wheke-a-Muturangi was slain by Kupe and his companions, the eyes (whatu) of that monster were placed on the Brothers rocks, which became known as Nga Whatu (The Eyes), and, in addition to the tapu of the islets themselves persons travelling by canoe across or through Raukawa (Cook Strait) were forbidden to look upon the islets. If this rule of tapu were disobeyed it was believed that a storm would arise and the canoe of the impious travellers would be destroyed. Hence the crews of the canoes traversing that area of Cook Strait were wont to cover their eyes with a veil of leaves, lest they see Nga Whatu and so perish. Some natives tell us that these precautions were necessary only in the case of persons who were crossing the Straits for the first time. This peculiar aspect is noted in connection with a number of native superstitions, certain dangers or restrictions pertain to the first experience only, after which one obtained freedom of action. A tale concerning the island at East Cape resembles our Brothers story. Whence Kaiawa went to Whanga-o-keno to take the tapu off the island he took with them his daughter Ponuia-hine. She neglected to cover her eyes as she approached the tapu isle, and so the dog of Tarawhata, the mohorangi, cast an evil eye upon her. Kaiawa, on landing, performed the makamaka rimu rite by making an offering of sea-weed to the gods, after which he generated a sacred fire whereat to perform the tapu-lifting ceremony. He then sought his daughter that she might act the part of ruahine or page 542priestess, but found that she had been transformed into a rock, after that time no woman dared to visit the isle, and any man visiting it for the first time would carefully veil his eyes lest he see the forbidden isle, and lest the dread mohorangi cast a baleful eye upon him.
It is passing easy to obtain different versions of Maori folk tales, thus we are told in the story of Manaia that, when his enemy Nuku returned to the isles of Polynesia, he first set apart Nga Whatu as a memorial of his quarrel and fighting with Manaia, and made it tapu, hence no person crossing Raukawa might look upon it; should he do so then a dense mist would cover all and bring confusion, or a strong current would carry off the impious ones. "And the mana of that dread place still holds good, even unto this day"—said an old man some fifty or more years ago. Yet again Whatu-kai-ponu appears as one of the young relatives of Kupe said to have been left at various places along the coastline, together with food supplies of shellfish, etc., or, as explained by some, after whom places along the coast were named. (In this connection see a brief recital given at pp. 62-63 of White's Ancient History of the Maori, vol. 3, Maori part. These "young relatives" of Kupe seem to have been his nieces and nephews, and these, including Whatu-kaiponu, are shown in a table at p. 145 of vol. 26 of the Journal of the Polynesian Society.)
This singular superstition described above is alluded to in a number of old songs, as in the following:
Ka kite taku kanohi i te Whatu-kaiponu i Raukawa raia
E koparea nei e nga kaumatua.
(My eyes look upon the Whatu-kaiponu on Raukawa, on account of which eyes were shrouded by our elders.)
Again, in the following:
Kia koparetia te rerenga i Raukawa
Kia huna iho kei kitea a Nga Whatu
Kia hipa ki muri ra ka titiro kau atu.
(Let the eyes be veiled when crossing Raukawa so that the Brothers be hidden, when passed, then all may freely look ahead.)
A similar reference may be seen in the Maori versions of this story.
An account of the method of crossing Raukawa or Cook Strait was dictated to me in the early "nineties" by Te Karehana Whakataki of Ngati-Toa. His account runs as follows—"This sea of Raukawa is an extremely tapu place, when persons crossed it they were careful not to look to right or left, or behind them, until page 543they reached the other side. But when a person crossed the Straits a second time these restrictions were abolished. Should a person, man or woman, who was crossing for the first time, venture to look upon things forbidden then the vessel would remain motionless, immovable, for a day and a night; it could be released only by means of repeating certain ritual, this by a mana-possessing expert, then only would it be possible to continue the voyage to either side of the Straits. All persons in the vessel would veil their eyes with leaves of the Karaka tree to prevent them seeing the land. The experts who conducted such voyages in those days were members of the Kahungunu tribe; when the canoes started the experts would give the command—"Cover your eyes." This was a precautionary measure, lest the people look upon the isles of Kapiti and Nga Whatu, for Kapiti was a tapu island, as also was Nga Whatu, people strongly objected to looking upon those islands. On arriving at the shoal in the middle of the Straits the expert would call out: "O friends! This is the tuahiwi [ridge or shoal place]", and this place was recognised on account of the streaming seaweed seen there. Some explain the matter by saying that the Straits are shallow in the middle but very deep at both sides. The two sides of the shoal are known as Takahi-parae, and on arriving at the parts so-called experts would remark: "O friends! This is Takahi-parae", whereupon those in the vessel would know that they had crossed the shoal and so would be elated.
At a certain time the canoe of Tungia, father of Pirihana [Nga huka of Ngati Toa] sailed for the South Island, and the expert on board that vessel was Te Rimurapa, a chief of Ngati-Kahungunu. Now on board that vessel was a certain conceited, presumptuous person who apparently had no faith in the tapu of the sea of Raukawa, and so when the vessel reached the middle of the Straits, he disobeyed all commands and looked upon the tapu isles. The result was that the canoe was held by invisible powers, it remained stationary for a whole day, restrained by the komako-huariki that guards the groper grounds. As the vessel was so held stationary by the komako-huariki certain persons of Ngati-Kahungunu asked: "Who is the expert on board the vessel?" and certain others replied: "Oh! It is Te Rimurapa"—whereupon people said: "Let them remain there with the swaying kelp of Raukawa." All knew that no danger existed, because there was an expert on board the vessel.
The bird called komako-hauriki is a kind of guardian of the groper banks of Raukawa. Should the fishers in their canoes hear page 544the cry of that bird they knew that not one fish would be taken by them. It is a tapu bird and curiously marked, striped, resembling the koekoea cuckoo, it does not resemble ordinary birds. It is said to live on cliffs at Rangitoto and elsewhere. (In the story of Kupe and the Wheke-a-Muturangi one Komakohua is mentioned as an attendant of Kupe, and seems to have been a shark.)
We also have a very brief account of how Raukawa was crossed, as contributed by Hori Ropiha of Waipawa in the "nineties". Hori tells us that, when crossing Raukawa in former times, the eyes of men, women and children were veiled or covered, also the abdomens of women in the family way were carefully covered. Also the carved images, grotesquely human, at the stem and stern of the vessel were covered over; were this covering neglected then the canoe would be rendered immovable and eventually capsize. The eyes of persons were so covered lest they look upon Nga Whatu, should they do so then their vessel became fixed. Those who had made several crossings were not subjected to these restrictions and harassing rules, but all strangers and newcomers were.
In the tale of Kupe and his pursuit of and encounter with the famous wheke we are told that, when Nga Whatu was rendered tapu, then swift and harassing currents were established in the vicinity in order to prevent persons approaching the forbidden islets. As to the alleged shoal in Cook Strait I have always looked upon this as another myth, like the Tahuna a Mataroa in Waikare-moana lake, but evidence given in the Dominion of December 10, 1927, tends to show that there is a fishing bank at least, if not an extensive shoal area in the Straits of Raukawa 7 miles north by west from Mana Island. The following is an old saying concerning the tuahiwi or ridge of Raukawa, or Cook Strait: "Kua mahaki nga tai pakipaki rua o te tuahiwi ki Raukawa" (It is calm where the waves meet the ridge of Raukawa.)