The Astronomical Knowledge of the Maori, Genuine and Empirical
A list of star-names, as many as are known to the writer, is given below. A few of these are doubtful, as will be explained.
The “W” opposite a star-name denotes that it is to be found in Williams's Maori Dictionary, 5th edition. “Tuhoe” stands for the Tuhoe Tribe of the Urewera district: “J. W.” for Mr. John White; “Taylor” for the Rev. R. Taylor—well known writers on matters Maori.
|Ariki-rangi||A star which marks the sixth month (Nov.-Dec.). (W.)|
|Hao-o-rua||A constellation near Tautoru (Orion's Belt).|
|Hine-i-tiweka||Same as Parearau.|
|Parearau||? Jupiter. [Parearau = Saturn (Stowell).]|
|Hotu-te-ihirangi?||A constellation. (Bay of Plenty.)|
|Tuahiwi-nui-o-rangi, Te||The Milky Way.|
|Ika a Maui, Te||The Milky Way.|
|Ika-matua a Tangaroa, Te||The Milky Way.|
|Ika-o-te-rangi, Te||The Milky Way.|
|Ikaroa, Te||The Milky Way.|
|Ikaroa-o-te-rangi, Te||The Milky Way.|
|Ika-whenua-o-te-rangi, Te||The Milky Way.|
|Mangoroa, Te||The Milky Way.|
|Mangoroiata (? Roiata)||The Milky Way.|
|Mokoroa-i-ata||The Milky Way.|
|Paeroa o Whanui, Te||The Milky Way.|
|Tuahiwi o Rangi-nui||The Milky Way.|
|Whiti-kaupeka||The Milky Way. (South Island.)|
|Te Kupenga a Taramainuku||The Milky Way. (Tuhoe.)|
|Tariao||A star in the Milky Way. (W.)|
|Kahui o Mahutonga||Southern Cross. (Stowell.)|
|Kahui-ruamahu||Southern Cross. (Stowell.)|
|Te Putea iti a Reti||Southern Cross. (Stowell.)|
|Taki o Autahi||Southern Cross. (Stowell.)|
|Te Whai a Titipa?||Southern Cross. (Stowell.)|
|Kahui Takurua, Te||See under “Takurua.” (Stowell.)|
|Kaiwaka||A star of late winter. (W.)|
|Kakau, Te||Part of Orion (includes Belt).|
|Kakau, Te||Constellation of Leo. (Stowell).|
|Kakau a Maui, Te||Part of Orion (includes Belt).|
|Pewa a Tautoru||Part of Orion. (Stowell.)|
|Poaka = Puaka||Rigel in Orion. (South Island.)|
|Puanga||Rigel in Orion. (South Island.)|
|Puangarua||Rigel in Orion. (Stowell.)|
|Tautoru||Orion's Belt (three bright stars).|
|Pua-tawhiwhi o Tautoru||Rigel. (Stowell.)|
|Tata o Tautoru||Three bright stars in Orion's Belt. (Stowell.)|
|Tira o Puanga, Te||The stars in Orion's Belt. (W.)|
|Tuke o Tautoru, Te||Orion's Belt. (W.)|
|Tuke o Tautoru, Te||A star below Rigel. (Stowell.)|
|Nga Whata||A star or stars in Tuke o Tautoru. (Taylor.)|
|Tuke o Maui, Te||Orion's Belt. (Taylor.)page 32|
|Nga Tokorua a Taingarue||Puangarua and Whakaahu (Rigel and Castor). (Stowell.)|
|Teka a Tautoru||? Peter's Yard-wand. (J. W.)|
|Kohi, Te||A constellation.|
|Kokotea||A constellation. (W.)|
|Kokirikiri||Larger Magellan Cloud. (J. W.)|
|Manako-tea||One of the Magellan Clouds. (W.; J. W.)|
|Manako-uri||One of the Magellan Clouds. (J. W.)|
|Manako-uri||The Coal-sack. (W.)|
|Nga Patari||The Magellan Clouds.|
|Nga Pataritari-hau||The Magellan Clouds.|
|Nga Patari-kai-hau||The Magellan Clouds.|
|Nonoko-uri||One of the Magellan Clouds. (Taranaki.)|
|Nonoko-tea||One of the Magellan Clouds. (Taranaki.)|
|Patari-rangi||Larger Magellan Cloud. (W.)|
|Patari-kaihau||Smaller Magellan Cloud. (W.)|
|Nga Patari-hau||The Magellan Clouds.|
|Pioriori||Upper Magellan Cloud. (J. W.)|
|Purangi, Te||The Magellan Clouds. (W.)|
|Rangi-matanuku||Larger Magellan Cloud. (J. W.)|
|Tikatakata||Smaller Magellan Cloud.|
|Tioreore||Larger Magellan Cloud.|
|Tiripua||One of the Magellan Clouds. (W.)|
|Tiritiripua||One of the Magellan Clouds. (W.)|
|Tuputuputu||One of the Magellan Clouds. (W.)|
|Whakaruru-hau||The Magellan Clouds.|
|Kokouri||One of the Magellan Clouds.|
|Kokotea||One of the Magellan Clouds.|
|Ao-uri and Ao-tea||One of the Magellan Clouds. (Stowell.)|
|Kokouri||A constellation (syn. Te Kokota). (W.)|
|Meremere||Venus as Evening Star.|
|Meremere||Venus as Morning Star. (Stowell.)|
|Meremere-tu-ahiahi||Venus as Evening Star.|
|Tawera||Venus as Morning Star.|
|Mahutonga||Star of the South (invisible). (Stowell.)|
|Mahutonga||? Southern Cross. See under “Kahui.”|
|Marewa or Marewa i te rangi.|
|Mariao||(cf. Mariua = Spica; at Tahiti.)|
|Mata||Constellation of Hyades.|
|Mata-kaheru||Constellation of Hyades.|
|Kokota, Te||The Hyades.|
|Matariki||Apparently Capella. (Stowell.)|
|Huihui o Matariki, Te||The Pleiades.|
|Tupua-nuku||One of the Pleiades.page 33|
|Tupua-rangi||One of the Pleiades.|
|Waiti||One of the Pleiades.|
|Waita||One of the Pleiades.|
|Waipuna-a-rangi||One of the Pleiades.|
|Ururangi||One of the Pleiades.|
|Hoko-kumara||A name for the Pleiades.|
|Matiti||A summer star.|
|Meto||Probably a comet.|
|Nga Tokorua a Tai-ngarue||Rigel and Castor. (Stowell)|
|Pou o Whaitiri.|
|Paepae o Whaitiri||A constellation.|
|Patiki, Te||The Coal-sack.|
|Rua-patiki, Te||The Coal-sack.|
|Rua o Mahu, Te||The Coal-sack. (Stowell.)|
|Whai-a-titipa, Te||The Coal-sack. (W.)|
|Naha||The Coal-sack. (W.)|
|Pekehawani||A star in Scorpio, near Antares.|
|Poutu-te-rangi||Altair; sometimes Antares. (W.)|
|Rerehu||? Antares. (W.)|
|Huinga o Rehua, Te||(Stowell.)|
|Putahi nui o Rehua||Certain stars in Canis Major. (Stowell.)|
|Wai whakaata o Rehua||Certain stars in Canis Major. (Stowell.)|
|Taumata o Rehua||Certain stars in Canis Major. (Stowell.)|
|Pukawanui||A triangle of stars in Canis Major. (Stowell.)|
|Ruhi, Ruhi-te-rangi||A star near Antares, in Te Waka o Mairerangi.|
|Waka o Mairerangi||Curved line of stars in Scorpio, of which Antares is one.|
|Waka o Tamarereti||Tail of Scorpion. (Bay of Plenty.)|
|Waka o Tamarereti||The constellation of Argo. (Stowell.)|
|Whakaonge-kai||A star near Antares.|
|Piawai||A cluster of four stars.|
|Rangawhenua||One of the planets.|
|Ra o Tainui, Te.|
|Ruawahia||A star marking ninth month. (W.)|
|Tahu-werawera (? werowero)||(Wohlers.)|
|Takurua-a-ngana||Form the Kahui Takurua. (Stowell.)|
|Takurua-aio||Form the Kahui Takurua. (Stowell.)|
|Takurua-a-uru||Form the Kahui Takurua. (Stowell.)|
|Wero-i-te-ninihi||Form the Kahui Takurua. (Stowell.)|
|Wero-i-te-kokoto||Form the Kahui Takurua. (Stowell.)|
|Wero-i-te-whakataka-pungarehu||Form the Kahui Takurua. (Stowell.)|
|Kahui Takurua, Te||Canis major. (Stowell.)|
|Tama-i-waho||(Bay of Plenty.)|
|Tariaho||cf. Tariao. (J. W.)|
|Waka-o-rangi, Te||(H. Beattie.)|
We will now give such notes as have come to hand concerning the kahui-o-le-rangi, the flock or assembly of the heavens, as the stars are sometimes termed.
Aotahi is an exceedingly tapu star, and always dwells alone, as tapu persons are wont to do. When this star appears in the east it is greeted by the people with affection, with weeping and ceremonial chants. Said Tutaka, of Tuhoe, “Atutahi moves towards the south; he is a tapu person. He was the one left outside the basket by Tane. When Tane went to the abode of Tane-te-waiora to seek Hine-titama (the Dawn Maid) he failed to obtain her, so he plaited a basket and placed in it the adornments of the house of Tane-te-waiora (the stars), and took them away to adorn the breast of Rangi (the Sky Parent). And Atutahi was suspended on the outside of the basket. The Milky Way itself is that basket.” Atutahi, say others, appears toward the south in the month when the kumara is planted, and its appearance is a sign for the task of planting the crop to be commenced. Says another authority: “Aotahi is a most important star, and a tapu; it is seen in the Maruaroa season, at its beginning. If its rays extend toward the south it foretells rain and snow, an inclement season; if toward the north a mild season follows.” The season mentioned is apparently the Maruaroa of winter; another Maruaroa season includes spring and summer. It will be observed that some authorities quoted refer to the evening rising of the star, others to its heliacal rising. In Mr. White's MSS. is a note stating that when this star appears offerings of tapu food products are made to it, and certain ceremonial chants or invocations are sung. Puanga (Rigel) is said to be the parent of Aotahi.
Quoth Tamarau, of Tuhoe: “All the larger stars sprang from Tawhirimatea: they are the grandchildren of Rangi. As each one attains maturity, Rangi takes it and nurses it. The first-born was Autahi; this was the person who turned the Milky Way aside, lest he enter it, for the Milky Way is noa (common, not tapu), and is called the Fish, the Fish of Maui (Te Ika a Maui). page 35 Autahi rises in the evening so as to avoid entering it; so Autahi never entered the basket, but remains outside.”
Again, we are told that Autahi is a male, and that in a spirit of vanity he left the basket, ran away from the Mangoroa, so that he might be termed the first-born of the stars, and hence the most important.
When Autahi is seen standing far out from the Milky Way about October a dry summer will follow; if close to it an inclement season follows. Another, however, reverses this dictum. The star Marere-o-tonga is called the conductor or guide of Autahi by the Tuhoe folk. The expression Kohi o Autahi denotes the heavy rains of early winter. This is the sign for the inanga to go to sea, say the Maori, there to give birth to their young. This is called the migration of the Kohi o Autahi, or Autahi-ma-Rehua; while the second migration is called that of Takero, and occurs when the star Takero appears. When the fourth month arrives the young fish, “the children of Rehua,” as they are termed, ascend the rivers. Wohlers says Autahi is the star of the year. At Wanganui atutahi is the name of a small fish found in the river.
Colenso gives the following saying concerning Atutahi: “Haere i mua i te aroaro o Atutahi,” which he renders “Go before the presence (or rising) of Atutahi”; but it is probably used here as meaning a chief, a person of rank. A similar saying is connected with Rehua, and is certainly used with such a meaning.
Mr. S. Percy Smith gives Taki o Autahi as a name for the Southern Cross. Miss Henry tells us that Atutahi is the Tahitian name for Piscis australis. Kauanga is one of the stars that betoken the approach of day to the Maori folk. The curious name Atutahi-ma-Rehua, or Atutahi-and-Rehua, is some-what of a puzzle, for it seems to be used as though denoting Canopus only.
The constellation called the Hao-o-Rua, or Net of Rua, has not been identified. It is either a part of Orion, or is some adjacent cluster. As a native put it, “It is the net you see in the heavens.”
Parearau represents one of the planets. Four old natives in different localities of the Bay of Plenty applied the name to Jupiter. Stowell says that it is Saturn; that Parearau is a descriptive name for that planet, and describes its appearance, surrounded by a ring. The word pare denotes a fillet or head-band; arau means “entangled”—perhaps “surrounded” in this case, if natives really can see the pare of Saturn with naked eye. If so, then the names seems a suitable one.
Parearau, say the Tuhoe people, is a wahine tiweka (wayward female), hence she is often termed Hine-i-tiweka. One version makes her the wife of Kopu (Venus), who said to her, “Remain here until daylight; we will then depart.” But Parearau heeded not the word of her husband, and set forth in the evening. When midnight arrived she was clinging to another cheek, hence she was named Hine-i-tiweka. Parearau is often spoken of as a companion of Kopu. Of the origin of this name one says, “Her band quite surrounds her, hence she is called Parearau” page 36 —which looks as if our Maori friends can see either the rings of Saturn or the bands of Jupiter with the naked eye. Parearau is said to be the leader or “puller” of the Milky Way; one describes her as a widow. Seafarers consulted Parearau when a storm was threatening, for if she appeared to be of a light misty aspect the storm would pass by. Stowell gives a descriptive remark rendered as “That green-eyed star is Parearau; that is the reason why she wears her circlet.” This is a reference to the mourning-cap or head-band formerly worn by widows of Maoriland.
Regarding the Hira trio there is but little to say. In White's MS. we have a note to the effect that Hirauta and Hiratai are the abodes of Wehi-nui-a-mamao. Another reads: “The stars were obtained from outside the threshold of the heavens of Rongo, from the coverings of Wehi-nui-a-mamao, and the names of those coverings were Hirauta and Hiratai.” Assuredly these allegorical concepts call for explanation such as we cannot always give. Wehi is connected with stars in several traditions, and the word mamao, meaning “distant,” has probably a bearing on the subject. Another note states that the above two, with Parinuku and Parirangi, are the ties of the coverings of Wehi-mui-a-mamao. And yet another is that Wehi-nui-a-mamao, Hirauta, Hiratai, and the two Pari are the tupuni (coverings) of the stars obtained by Tane. Again, Tane took from Wehi-nui-a-mamao the tupuni of his garments, Hirauta, Porera-nuku, Takurua, Whare-pungarehu, Ruaki-motumotu, Wero, and Tahu-werawera. Apparently these are all star-names, and Wehi personifies distance, or perhaps the sides of the hanging sky. Williams gives Hirautu as a constellation. This is from Wohlers' paper in vol. 7 of the Transactions of the New Zealand Institute, which contains a number of misspelt native names.
The Milky Way.—We now come to one of the most important “persons” of the Whanau Marama, and one who stands on a different footing to the other stars. This is shown by the fact that the Galaxy is in many versions assigned a different origin to that of the other stars. In Takitumu lore it is placed among the offspring of the Sky Father and Earth Mother.
A stray note asserts that the stars are the offspring of Ikanui and Ikaroa. The latter is the Milky Way, but we know not the former name. Possibly it is meant that the stars are the wards of that twain. “Concerning Ikanui and Ikaroa, the family of these persons are the stars of the heavens, Atutahi, Puanga, Mata-riki, Takurua-ruru, Wero-i-te-ninihi, Wero-i-te-kokota, Tautoru, and Poutu-te-rangi. These bring food-supplies to land, while Rehua ripens all fruits. Such are the tasks of these persons.”
My worthy friend Hamiora Pio, of Ngati-Awa, discoursed as follows: “The most numerous tribe in the heavens is the Mangoroa, the most numerous folk of the sky. Their duty is to move together and refrain from scattering. Observe how they move together—elder and younger, father and mother, grandchildren, husband, wife, child, old man, cousin, all move together. Their chief task is to foretell the coming of day. That people of the heavens represents our principal token of page 37 daylight. When one end of the Mangoroa swings eastward, the other westward, then day is at hand.” This old man made a curious remark which calls for explanation: “Tangotango is the object stretched across the heavens at night, surrounded by his star children; that truly is Tangotango.” This looks as though Tangotango were a name for the Milky Way, or the personified form of it. We have already referred to several aliases of Tangotango, he who changes night into day.
We have given the choice selection of names by which the Galaxy is known. That most commonly known is Mangoroa (Mango = shark; roa = long). There is an old myth concerning an encounter between Maui, the hero, and a monster whom he subdued and fixed in the heavens, a story also known in the Cook Group. This is the Mangoroiata, who, as one version puts it, fled with trailing garments to the heavens, where he is still seen. He is also known as Mokoroa-i-ata, as at Rarotonga (Polynesian Journal, vol. 21, page 58; also vol. 7, pages 220, 221, and vol. 8, pages 64, 65, 72, 73).
At Tahiti it is in the Milky Way that the waiora a Tane is situated. In other lands it is the path of spirits, the road of souls as they pass to the spirit-world, and so equals the Broad Path of Tane of the Maori. To some races the Milky Way is the abode of souls of the dead, the spirit-world. It is the Watling Street and Galaxy of our forbears. The Maori sometimes termed it the Tuahiwi nui o Rangi and the Tuahiwi o Rangi-nui (the Great Ridge of the Heavens, or the Ridge of Rangi-nui, the Sky Parent). Its name of Ika a Maui (the Fish of Maui) has been explained. That of Whiti-kaupeka comes from the South Island, and has not, so far, been corroborated.
Te Ikaroa and Tama-rereti, we are told, have control of the “little sun” family, the stars. They also take care of their canoe, the Canoe of Tama-rereti. Occasionally some of them stray away among their elders, and are struck by them; these are the mata-kokiri (meteors).
If the Milky Way has a curved aspect it is viewed as a bad-weather sign; if straight, then fine weather lies before, Atutahi has a certain amount of influence over it.
The name Mokoroa, as employed in the Cook Group, may embody a western Melanesian word, moko = a crocodile. In our local dialect moko means a lizard.
Tariao is given in Williams's Dictionary as a star in the Milky Way. Autahi is said to have proposed to Tariao that they should move away, so as not to enter the Milky Way. Tariao objected, saying that he desired the Milky Way to enter the net (the star net, which seems to be that called the Hao-o-Rua). Even so did Tariao remain within the Milky Way. It was he who fixed the Magellan Clouds as stakes for that net. Those stars move round, but they never set. Tama-rereti wished them to enter his canoe, but Tariao objected.
The word mahu appears somewhat often in star-names. One gives Mahutonga as a name for the Southern Cross, which does not seem to have been confirmed. Stowell seems to give Mahu and Mahutonga as names of a star of the south that remains page 38 invisible, and the Kahui o Mahutonga, or Flock of Mahutonga, as a name for the Southern Cross; while the Coal-sack is the Rua or Pit of Mahu—presumably the place originally occupied by that erratic orb. Tuhoe gave Mahutonga as a star-name, but with no explanation. At Horne Island (Futuna) Maafulele is a nubulæ west of the Magellan Clouds, while Maafu-toka is one cast of them. At Tahiti Mahu-ni'a is the upper Magellan Cloud, and Mahu-raro the lower one. This causes one to wonder if an error has been made in identifying the two Futuna names. in the Kauwae runga published by the Polynesian Society Rua-mahutonga is described as “the home of the winds.”
“Kaiwaka” is given in Williams's Maori Dictionary as denoting a star which appears in late winter, also as a name for the third month (August–September) of the Maori year, and as a name for a certain aspect of clouds. This name appears not infrequently in songs, as—
Tera te Kaiwaka ka tu ki te uru.
Tera Kaiwaka ka marewa i te pae.
The first of these allusions seems to be to Kaiwaka as a cloud, the second to the star of that name.
Orion.—The Belt of Orion seems to be known by two names. That of Tautoru includes the three bright stars in the Belt, while that of Te Kakau (The Handle) includes the same three and another row extending out from them at an angle that suggested the name Te Kakau to the Maori. These rows of stars are thought to resemble in form the handle of an adze—the form of handle used for the old stone adze. This group is sometimes called the Huihui o Te Kakau (the Assembly of Te Kakau). Stowell claims that Te Kakau is Regulus; but this is certainly not so among the Matatua tribes. Tutaka described Te Kakau as composed of two rows of three stars each. It is one of the star-groups that warns man of the approach of day.
The Tautoru stars are said to be the companions of Puanga (Rigel). John White gives the Teka a Tautoru as a star-name—presumably a row or two rows of stars. He seems to apply the name of “Peter's Yard-wand” to it in a tentative manner. Stowell's names pertaining to Tautoru refer to a bird-snaring apparatus termed a pewa. The bird-perch that supports a snare, and is usually termed a mutu, is styled a tuke by the Ngati-Porou folk. The name Tautoru is applied to the same stars in the Cook Group.
The star Puanga is Rigel in Orion. A native authority has said: “The task of Puanga is to strive with Matariki (the Pleiades) that he may gain possession of the year.” This remark is illustrated by the fact that on the eastern coast of the North Island the commencement of the Maori year was marked by the heliacal rising of the Pleiades, but in other parts, notably the Ngapuhi district and the Chatham Islands, the year commenced with the cosmic rising of Rigel. The first new moon after such appearance of Rigel was the precise commencement of the year, according to another authority. Shand states that the three bright stars in Orion's Belt are called the whata, or food-store, of Puanga, by the Moriori. A Ngapuhi informant states page 39 that when Rigel appeared in the morning the village plaza was swept, referring to the function of welcoming its appearance. Rigel is said to be the parent of Aotahi (Canopus). When Rigel appears, we are told in Mr. White's notes (probably from a Ngapuhi source), offerings of tapu food are made to it, and certain charms or invocations are chanted to it.
Rigel is looked upon as one of the “food-bringers,” and also gives notice of approaching dawn: “The sun itself is pushing it from behind,” as an old native expressed it.
Another note reads: “The stars that are guides for the seasons are eternal, and are ever flashing in the heavens. Our forbears consulted those sign-giving stars in connection with the planting of the kumara crop. The principal stars so relied on were Rigel, the Pleiades, Orion's Belt (Tautoru), and Whakaahu. According to the manner of their rising, the crops would be planted early or late. I have spoken of these stars as a token of regard for the beings who directed our ancestors and elders, now lost to this world.”
A Ngai-Tahu (South Island) note says that women awaited the apperance of Rigel and regarded intently its aspect. If when it appeared above the horizon its rays were directed towards the south, then an inclement season followed; products of field, forest, and sea would suffer. If directed to the northward, then a fair season followed; all products were plentiful, floods were not, and merely desirable rains fell. “Our old men said that the stars were the cause of good and bad seasons, which are influenced by the mana of their rays. Hence certain divisions of the year were named after certain stars.”
Rigel is reckoned one of the most beautiful of the stars. It is the blossom of the pewa (bird-snare) seen in Orion, wherein the shaft and perch are also seen. Such tree-blossoms are placed on a pewa in order to attract the birds.
In song we find Rigel coupled with Whakaahu—“Ka rewa ko Puanga, ka rewa ko Whakaahu.”
Tuhoe say that Rigel, Takurua, and the Pleiades ascended from their mother, Raro, to the heavens. Here Raro, a word signifying “below, beneath,” may represent the earth; in other cases Raro seems to personify the underworld.
One Puanga appears in native myth as one of the offspring of Whaitiri (personified form of thunder):—
Puanga is said to have had issue in the form of various species of shark; while Karihi, also a child of Whaitiri, begat the cel, barracouta, frost-fish, and conger-cel.
Sir G. Grey gives Puanga kai rau as a native aphorism denoting early winter, as a season of plenty. Puaka is the South Island form of the name of Rigel (Puanga). Poaka may or may not be a genuine variant. The three bright stars of the Belt are the shaft of the pewa or snaring-apparatus, and Taylor's name of Nga Whata (the storehouses or elevated platforms) may be compared with that given by Shand. At Horne Island page 40 (Futuna) the name of Tolu (Toru), meaning “three,” is applied to the three bright stars in Orion's Belt.
Canon Stack has told us in his South Island Maoris that the whare purakau or tapu school of learning of that region was “opened annually with great ceremony at the beginning of winter, the date being fixed by the rising of Puaka (Rigel), which took place between May and June.”
At Samoa the row of bright stars in Orion's Belt was called the Amonga (the carrying-pole or balance-pole).
Karewa was given by a good Takitumu authority as the name of a star upon which the old Polynesian deep-sea navigators relied while making the voyage to these isles. Karorua and Kerekere appear as star-names in Mr. John White's notes. He also gives Kore-te-ruhiruhi, Tuhoroki, Tuhoroka, Whitirau-o-kura, Mahurahura, Uakirua, Tahitahi-pungarehu, and Haeretahu apparently as star-names. Kautu was given as a star-name by Te Waaka Tahu-ahi, of Takitumu. Taylor gives Kerekere, and also Haere-iti, Roke, Ruamahu, Patutahi, Tapuapua, Mangere, Papa, Whakaahunuku, Te Wakumu (?), and Nga Tapuae apparently as star-names, but his mode of giving his notes makes the meaning very ambiguous. He also states that Mars is called Maru; which does not agree with East Coast statements.
Williams gives Te Kohi and Kokotea as the names of a constellation, but in the Journal of the Polynesian Society (vol. 5, page 112) Te Kokota and Te Kohi appear to be mentioned as two different stars or star-groups, and Kokotea seems to be a synonym for one of these. Te Kokota is the Hyades. Kokouri and Kokotea are names for the Magellan Clouds.
The Magellan Clouds.—Here we encounter a truly generous list of names before which our own sinks into insignificance. It is not clear why they should rejoice in so many names. The natives look to them for wind-signs. As one put it, “Those persons, Tioreore and Tikatakata, ward off winds. When wind rises, one of them goes to obstruct it; thus their permanent task is to protect their people.” The Maori describes them as purei ao and pukohukohu on account of their appearance. Should Tioreore assume the foremost position it is a sign of fine weather. The signs in regard to winds are derived from the relative positions of the two bodies.
The Magellan Clouds are called the Mahu at Tahiti, and Ma'u at the Cook Group, where the word is also employed as a month-name. A saying recorded by Mr. White states that they are the children of Matiti—of whom more anon.
Nicholas, who sojourned in the far North with Marsden in 1814–15, wrote as follows of information obtained from Ruatara: “We learned from him that much time is frequently employed by his countrymen in observing certain stars and constellations, which they are very fond of contemplating. They have given names to each of them, and have likewise connected with them some curious traditions, which they hold in superstitious veneration…. It is usual with them in the summer season to remain awake during the greater part of the night watching page 41 the motions of the heavens, and making inquiries concerning the time when such-and-such a star will appear.” The efforts made by Nicholas to obtain Maori star-names did not meet with happy success. He gives the names of the Magellan Clouds as “Firebou” and “Arete,” and that of the Belt of Orion as the “Whacka” (Waka) or Canoe. The first two of these are not recognizable by the present writer.
Nicholas proceeds: “In two months, he said, a cluster of stars would rise, some of which would represent the head, and others the stern, of a canoe, while close to them would appear another star which they call the anchor, and which, setting at night and rising with the dawn of the morning, serves to regulate their hours of repose and labour.”
Williams gives Kokouri as a constellation, and says that it is the same as Te Kokota. We have already seen that it is the name of one of the Magellan Clouds.
Venus.—We have here an important orb in Maori estimation, and one whose beauty he appreciated; hence the well-known saying, Me te mea ko Kopu e rere i te pae (Like Venus as she appears above the horizon). Grey gives it as Mehemea ko Kopu. Now, what nicer remark could one make to a handsome woman than to say that she is as beautiful as Venus flashing above the horizon?
Tamarau, of Tuhoe, tells us that Venus has three names—Kopu. Tawera, and Meremere. As an evening star in summer it is called Meremere-tu-ahiahi; in the winter, as a morning star, it is Kopu. In other districts Venus as a morning star is called Tawera; as an evening star, Meremere and Meremere-tu-ahiahi. Tamarau stated that Kopu is applied to Venus as a morning star; and another East Coast authority agrees with him, but adds that, as an evening star, she is termed Rere-ahiahi. Another of his statements was to the effect that a third name for Venus is Puaroa—which may be doubted. Kopu is said to be a companion of the sun; she gives warning of the coming of dawn, and takes care of all sky and earth folk. One says that she is the tohu ata (sign of morning) of the Maori people, while the tohu ala of Europeans is the heihei, or domestic fowl—the “wise folk” as a native friend terms them.
Some quaint myths and fables are attached to the celestial bodies, and curious remarks are made concerning them. Quoth an old friend of the writer, “Now look at Kopu, the husband of Parearau; he comes along ere light appears in search of the offspring of his wife, until Tama-nui-te-ra (the sun) appears and brings blessings to mankind.”
Another says: “Concerning Kopu, who is a star in the heavens, here is the message he sends to us: ‘O friends—all folk of this side of the island—quit your sleeping, awake and rise! Here am I, the daylight-warner; behind me cometh the shining sun. Grasp your whip and whip your top; take also your kite and fly it, repeating the proper charms.’ For the coming of daylight is keenly desired by man, that he may fulfil his desires of all kinds, engage in amusements and games, which betoken a land at peace, a time of peace, when no evil afflicteth the people.”page 42
Mr. White startles us by saying that Kopu was a female, whose husband was one Wekea, who is seen below her. Their offspring were Punuku, Purangi, and Puauau. This latter one took Pipiri to wife, and had issue Pipiri-nuku, Pipiri-rangi, and Pipiri-tau. One of these (it is not clear which) married Whakaahu (a star-name); their offspring are Whakaahu-nuku, Whakaahu-rangi, and Whakaahu-tau.
At the Cook Group Sirius is known as Mere.
A fable related by John White makes Tawera and Meremere to be the eyes of the children of Maui and Hina, both of whom are personified forms of light. This treats of these star-names as being applied to two different orbs. Maunsell remarks that Tawera rises about the month of June—which is not very definite. Venus is known as Fetu-ao at Horne Island.
Korotakataka is given as a constellation by Williams. It is said to mark the bounds of the Milky Way, presumably situated about its border. The unahi o Takero (? scales of Takero) are said to have fallen, and so formed Korotakataka.
Makahea is queried as Canopus; but Colenso's “Makehua” we have not any further note of.
Maratea is said to be a star the heliacal rising of which occurs some time after that of Vega: this does not tell us much. Marere-o-tonga is a star-name well known to the Matatua tribes. It is said to precede Canopus, and to be preceded by Takurua parewai.
Of Marewa we known naught. When Rata, of Polynesian fame, was about to set forth on his famous voyage his mother said to him, “Wait awhile and set forth in December, when Marewa and Autahi are suspended over the paehuakai”—which latter word presumably denotes the horizon. It is possible that Marewa and Karewa are names for the same star.
Mata is probably an abbreviated form of Mata-kaheru, and the triangular group of stars in Hyades was probably so called because one form of the old wooden spade (kaheru) of the Maori had a triangular blade. Such spades were used in the Waikato and East Coast districts.
Hakaraia Pahewa, of Te Kaha, gives Taumata-kuku as the name of Aldebaran.
We are told that Te Kokota is a female. Her task is to give signs as to seasons and of the coming dawn; she is the conductor or preceder of the daylight.
The Pleiades. This far-famed star group has been exalted and venerated by many races from time immemorial. Innumerable myths are connected with it, and the Pleiades year has been an institution over a great area of the world for many, many centuries. There is much of sameness in the myths clustering around this group, and those of the Greeks are such as were evolved by barbaric folk. Most star-myths are puerile, though some have a meaning that is concealed beneath a childish fable.
The old myth we are acquainted with tells us that the Pleiades are the seven daughters of Pleione and Atlas, who, on being harassed, were turned into doves and flew up to the heavens. One of them is invisible because she married a mortal. The page 43 Maori tells us that Matariki, their name for the group, is a female. Our native friends have a habit of so speaking of a constellation as though it were a single star. An old star-gazing friend of the writer said that six stars are plainly seen in Matariki, but that a seventh is faintly visible. Colenso writes: “I found that the Maori could see more stars in the Pleiades with the unaided eye than I could, for, while I could only see clearly six stars, they could see seven, and sometimes eight.” Pio, of Ngati-Awa, gave the names of the six prominent stars of the group as Tupua-nuku. Tupua-rangi, Waiti, Waita, Waipuna-a-rangi, and Ururangi. He makes a curious remark that may possibly mean that Matariki is the name of a single star of the group, in which case we have the name of seven. He says: “I will now tell you about another ancestor in the heavens, one Matariki, and her six children.” He then gives the six names as recorded above. Elsewhere in his voluminous manuscript he remarks that the assembly of Matariki came down to earth, leaving Poutini, another star, on high.
We have already noted a fable that shows Matariki to be the offspring of Raro and Raumati, the personified forms of earth (or the underworld) and of summer. The expressions paki o Matariki, paki o Ruhi, paki o Hewa, and paki o Rangi denote fine weather.
The task of Matariki, say the Maori, is to keep moving in a cluster, to foretell lean and fat seasons, and bring food-supplies to man; hence the name of Ao-kai is applied to it. An old saying is, “When Matariki is seen, then game is preserved”; for it marked the season when such food-supplies have been procured and preserved in fat in certain vessels. (Ka kitea a Matariki, kua maoka te hinu.)
The Tuhoe folk say that if the stars of Matariki appear to stand wide apart, then a warm and bountiful season follows; but should they seem to be close together it betokens a cold season marked by scarcity. Another version is that if the stars of this group are indistinctly seen at the time of its heliacal rising, and they seem to quiver or move, then a cold season follows. If they are plainly seen at that time—stand out distinctly—a warm, plentiful season ensues. Hence we hear the saying, Nga kai a Matariki, nana i ao ake ki runga (The food-supplies of Matariki, by her scooped up).
“The assembly of Matariki and Tangotango,” remarked an old native, “are seen on the breast of their forbear Rangi, seen paddling their canoe.” Another states that the group disappears on the 16th May, and reappears on the 16th June in the tail of the Milky Way. Again, the Maori says: “When Matariki is seen by the eye of man, then the korokoro (lamprey) is caught.” Also, Tena nga kanohi kua tikona e Matariki is a saying denoting wakefulness at night, equivalent to our own saying regarding the dustman. Sir George Grey gives four other sayings: Matariki ahunga nui; Matariki tapuapua; Matariki hunga nui; Matariki kanohi iti. The first refers to the group as provider of plentiful food-supplies; the second to the abundance of pools of water in the winter season of Matariki; the third denotes that Matariki page 44 has a numerous following, as of persons engaged in collecting food-supplies (Grey says, because all tribes made offerings of their first sweet potatoes to Matariki); the fourth may be rendered as “small-eyed Matariki,” which is also the meaning of the words mata riki.
Nicholas, who visited New Zealand with Marsden in 1814–15, in discussing Maori star-lore, says: “The Pleiades they believe to be seven of their countrymen, fixed after their death in that part of the heavens, and that one eye of each of them, which appears in the shape of a star, is the only part that is visible.” It is doubtful if Nicholas was a reliable collector of such lore; the language difficulty would be a serious handicap.
The appearance of the Pleiades was a notable event in Maoriland. It was greeted in two ways—by laments for those who had died recently, and by women with singing and posture dances. The event was marked by a festival, by feasting and universal joy. Parties of women faced the famous star group and greeted it with song and dance.
Turner tells us that at Samoa the Pleiades are known as Li'i and Mata-ali'i (Riki and Mata-ariki); and also that “when the constellation Pleiades was seen there was unusual joy all over the month, and expressed by singing, dancing, and blowing shell trumpets.” Again, Jarves states that the Hawaiians held a festival at the commencement of the new year. It was called the Makahiki. It was a long-continued festival, marked by feasting, games, dances, and sham fights.
We have seen that the Maori year commenced with the heliacal rising of the Pleiades, but in the Cook Islands the new year began when that group rose in the evening in December. The Rev. W. W. Gill writes as follows in his Myths and Songs from the South Pacific: “The arrival of the new year was indicated by the appearance of Matariki, or Pleiades, on the eastern horizon just after sunset—i.e., about the middle of December. Hence the idolatrous worship paid to this beautiful cluster of stars in many of the South Sea Islands. The Pleiades were worshipped at Danger Island, and at the Penrhyns down to the introduction of Christianity in 1857. In many islands extravagant joy is still manifested at the rising of this constellation out of the ocean.” The same writer tells us that there is a curious connection between the Pleiades and the flying kites of the natives of Mangaia. They have three forms of kites; one is club or diamond shaped, and has attached to its balancing-tail six bunches of feathers to correspond with the six stars of the Pleiades. Another is a winged form with three bunches of feathers to represent the three bright stars in Orion's Belt. The third form is oval, having four bunches of feathers for the Twins and their parents. Extracts from the Rev. W. W. Gill's papers published in vol. 24 of the Polynesian Journal show us the esteem in which the Pleiades were held at the isles of Manihiki and Rakahanga: “Another god they had was Matariki (the Pleiades), which they worshipped.”
At Tahiti the Pleiades are called Matari'i, the “k” being dropped in that dialect; at Horne Island it is Mataliki.page 45
An old Hawaiian myth tells us of one Hina (apparently our old friend the moon) who had as husband one Makalii (Matariki in Maori), who became the Pleiades. This Makalii is spoken of as a storer of food products. Again, in far Peru we find that the Pleiades were highly venerated.
A Mangaia myth has it that the Pleiades originally formed one star, which became broken into six pieces. These folk call Aldebaran “Aumea.”
The Pleiades Year.—We have seen that the Pleiades year was a Polynesian institution, and that the Maori of New Zealand seems to have changed the commencement of his year from December to June—that is, from the evening rising to the heliacal rising of the group—since he left the sunny isles of eastern Polynesia behind him. The statement concerning “sunset” at page 97 of Te Kauwae-runga is an error.
In his work on the Polynesian race Fornander states that the Polynesian year was regulated by the rising of the Pleiades, as the month of Makalii began when that constellation rose at sunset—i.e., about the 20th November.
The year beginning in autumn or winter was an ancient institution in south-eastern Asia, and apparently farther westward. In his Primitive Traditional History J. F. Hewitt shows that the Pleiades year was an ancient system of time-measurement in India. The beginning of this Indian year was marked by a festival, and its weeks were reckoned by nights. It seems to have commenced in October-November. Emigrant Indian races took with them their measurement of time. The Pleiades year obtained in Sumeria, Arabia, Siam, Celtic Britain; the modern Mandaites of Mesopotamia retained it. The Indian year appears to have been marked by the setting of the Pleiades after the sun—on the 1st November, according to Hewitt. Stellar reckoning of time, and the ancient institution of the Pleiades year, form an interesting subject, but we cannot, as Maori, pursue it further.
The only note we have concerning Matawhero is to the effect that it is a red star.
Williams's Dictionary gives Matiti as a star indicating the summer, and also as a word denoting summer. Five subdivisions of this Matiti season are Matiti-tau, Matiti-hana, Matiti-kaiwai, Matiti-kaipaenga, and Matiti-ruwai. Matiti-tau begins some time in November, and the final one ends in April. The names given by Stowell differ in their endings, and he gives seven of them. Thomson says that the star Matiti appears in February. It is quite possible that the story of Matiti alluded to in the Journal of the Polynesian Society (vol. 27, pages 138–42) is a star-myth. Matiti came from beyond the skies to Tautari nui o Matariki, and obtained the stars Wero-i-te-ninihi and Wero-i-te-kokota.
Matohi is given as a star-name at page 169 in Te Kauwaerunga, but the original at page 61 does not support the statement. Mawera may be a transposed form of Marewa. As to Meto, the evidence seems to point to its being a name for a comet, which are often called whetu by natives.page 46
The Paepae o Whaitiri appears to be the name of a constellation, but it awaits identification. The same may be said of the Pou o Whaitiri, which may possibly be the planet Meremere. The Rev. R. Taylor seems to show that Whakamaro-te-rangi and Meremere are parts of the Paepae o Whaitiri, which does not look convincing.
Constellation of Scorpio.—Naturally the most important “person” of this group is Antares, known as Rehua on the east coast of the North Island. Stowell identifies Rehua with Sirius, but this does not agree with the plain evidence of East Coast natives. The Matatua tribes also term Antares Rehua. The name may be applied to Sirius in the far North.
Rehua is spoken of as the summer star, and, indeed, almost as a personification of summer or summer heat; hence the saying, Kua tahu a Rehua and Ko Rehua whakaruhi tangata (Rehua the enervator of man). Another such is given by Grey —Ko Rehua pona nui (big-jointed Rehua)—for in summer people get thinner and their joints protrude. Colenso seemed to believe that Rehua was the name of a planet—Mars or Jupiter—and in proof thereof gives this saying: Titiro to mata ki a Rehua, ki te mata kihai i kamo (Turn your eye to Rehua, to the eye that winked not).
Students of Maori myth are very liable to become confused over this name of Rehua, for it is not only the name of a star but also of one of the supernatural beings, termed Whatukura, who abide in the uppermost of the twelve heavens and act as messengers for Io, the Supreme Being. The name is also used as a sort of synonym for chieftainship; hence, when a chief dies, we hear the saying, Ko Rehua ka mate (Rehua is dead).
An old native said to the writer, “Rehua is a star, a bird with two wings; one wing is broken, the other whole. Under the unbroken wing is the Waka o Tama-rereti (Tail of the Scorpion). When Rehua mates with Pakehawani he begets Ruhi and Whakapae-waka. At such time the ocean is motionless and windless, hence the saying, le paki o Ruhi (the fine weather of Ruhi.)” Here we see the name of Rehua includes the curved line of stars, of which Antares forms one, also several stars below it that form part of the broken wing. Tuhoe call the curved line of stars the Waka o Mairerangi (Canoe of Mairerangi). The generally accepted version of the above myth is that Rehua has two wives, one being Ruhi, or Ruhi-te-rangi, also known as Pekehawani; the other is named Whakaonge-kai. The former name, Ruhi, is a word meaning “weak, languid,” while Whakaonge-kai may be rendered as “she who makes food scarce.” The ninth month of the Maori year is sometimes called Ruhi-te-rangi. Rehua has these two wives ranged one on either side of him. When Rehua abides with Ruhi her feet alight upon the earth, the left foot first, and all fruits are formed, while all things, food products and the earth itself, become enervated. When Rehua mates with Whakaonge-kai summer has come. This latter person is a most voracious female, hence food-supplies run short. When man becomes languid during hot weather it is said that Rehua is afflicting him—that is to say, page 47 his wife, Whakaonge-kai, and the heat of the sun. The task of Rehua, saith the Maori, is to cook—that is, ripen—all fruits of the earth. Rehua's own home is at the Putahi o Rangiaho; his place of abode is the Uruuru-rangi, at Tiritiri-o-matangi, the second of the twelve heavens, counting downwards. This latter statement may apply, however, to the other Rehua.
Another anecdote pertaining to Rehua is as follows: Na te aha i whawhati te paihau o Rehua? (What broke the wing of Rehua?) Answer: Na te taurekareka; na nga Papaka o Wharaurangi (The slave, the papaka (? crabs = ? vassals) of Wharaurangi). We have no explanation of this peculiar discourse.
The offspring of Rehua, says an old fable, are the koko (= tui, a bird) and the inanga (a small fish often called whitebait). On the Turu and Rakaunui nights of the moon (sixteenth and seventeenth nights) in the ninth month of the Maori year (February–March) these fish are said to descend rivers to the sea, there to spawn. There are three such migrations of these fish; the second one is called that of the Kohi o Autahi-ma-Rehua; the third is called that of Takero (a star-name). The following fable is highly explanatory: About the inanga—these young folk enquired of Rehua, “What are we to do?” And Rehua replied, “When you see the sky redden (the imu-rangi, or papakura), that is a call to you to hasten to your mother Wainui (personified form of the ocean) and there give birth to your offspring. You will then return whence you came; your offspring will follow in the fourth month. When your ancestor Takero is seen your last company will proceed to Wainui.”
Another of the offspring of Rehua is the hakuwai, a mythical bird of the heavens, occasionally heard but never seen.
There is some evidence that serves to identify Rehua, the supernatural being of the upper heavens, with Rehua the star. With both the tui or koko bird is connected (see page 33 of Sir G. Grey's Polynesian Mythology, 1854 ed.). Rehua and the koko enter into the story of Hinauri (the moon) and Rupe, or Maui. These birds frequented the head of Rupe, whereon they found their food; and lehua (= rehua) is a Hawaiian word, now obsolete, denoting the forest. The home of Rehua was at the Putahi nui o Rehua; and this story into which enter the Paepae o Whaitiri and the Pou o Whaitiri is evidently an astronomical myth. The Tuhi o Kaitangata referred to in the story is some gleaming celestial phenomenon. This peculiar. word tuhi means to glow, redden, gleam, shine, as the redness in the sky preceding dawn. Haeata denotes dawn, also a certain, gleaming aspect of the sky.
Stowell identifies Rehua as Sirius—probably a Ngapuhi version, though this is not explained. He makes Te Putahi nui o Rehua the line of stars leading southward (presumably from Sirius) and culminating in the great star triangle. “That triangle enframes the mirror or reflector of Sirius, known as Pukawanui (Pukawanui, le wai whakaata o Rehua).” Again, he writes: “Te Taumata o Rehua and Te Huinga o Rehua are also familiar references.”
Another old star-fable is to the effect that Rehua mated with Puanga (Rigel in Orion), their offspring being Poananga page 48 (the clematis) and Tahumate, or Puahou (= houhou = parapara = Nothopanax arboreum). These children were born in the Mahuru season (spring); their task is to forewarn us of the approaching warmth of summer. Ruaumoko (origin and personified form of earthquakes) caused the birth of those young folk by shaking the earth; after them many others were born. Puahou was born in August; he is the most important of the offspring. Those children are still suckling their mother during that month. In this curious mythopoetical story we see a reference to the blossoming of certain plants, the children of Rehua, the forest.
The kekerewai, or green beetle-like creature seen in numbers on the manuka shrubs, is called the Manu a Rehua among the Matatua tribes. It was formerly eaten by the natives. Manu denotes a bird, but in parts of Polynesia it is applied to insects; probably our local natives formerly used it in that sense.
At Tahiti the stars Castor and Pollux are known as Pipiri and Rehua, according to Ellis.
The precise name of the Canoe of Tama-rereti (Tail of the Scorpion), say the Matatua folk, is Puna-ariki (given elsewhere as Uruao). The Rev. R. Taylor makes an amazing canoe of it, for he says that the Pleiades forms the bow of the vessel, and the three bright stars in Orion's Belt the stern, while for the anchor he roams far afield to the Southern Cross—an arrangement not borne out in his diagram with any respect for position or relative distance.
One version of these old star-myths makes Tama-rereti as one of the offspring of Uru-te-ngangana, with Tangotango of many aliases as his sister. Mr. Beattie's South Island notes seem to show that the Canoe of Tama-rereti is the same as the Waka o Rangi (Journal of the Polynesian Society, vol. 27, pages 141–145).
Poutu-te-rangi.—Williams's Maori Dictionary gives this as the name of Altair, but says that it is also applied to Antares. Stowell identifies it as Aquila. The name is also applied to the tenth month of the Maori year (March–April). Of the two last months of the year Moihi, of Wairarapa, remarked: “These two form the Ngahuru-tuhoehoe season, the more prominent name of which was Pouto-te-rangi. The autumn ends with these.” Apparently this period is marked by the appearance of the above star. A Tuhoe native says that Poutu-te-rangi is another name for Rehua. “When his feet alight upon earth he is called Poutu-te-rangi: this is the autumn. When but one foot has so alighted he is still called Rehua.” Ngati-Awa-call Poutu-te-rangi the leader or conductor of the year; it is seen in the heavens in summer and autumn. The kumara crop was lifted in the month of Poutu-te-rangi, which, according to Tamarau, of Tuhoe, is the eleventh month. Poutu-te-rangi is termed one of the food-bringing stars. The statement at page 56 of vol. 16 of the Journal of the Polynesian Society, to the effect that this star marks the planting season, is apparently an error.
Piawai. This is the name of a group of four stars, not identified, as given by Tuhoe. The group is called a hue (gourd); presumably it has some resemblance in form to that esculent.page 49
Pipiri.—This, quoth an old native to the writer, is a star of low rank. It really consists of two stars adhering to each other; hence its name. It appears a little while before the Pleiades, and the first month is called the Tahi o Pipiri, sometimes the Toruheri o Pipiri (Ngati-Awa), and also Opipiri. “Te po tulanga nui o Pipiri” appears in Grey's Maori proverbs as a saying denoting the long nights of winter. At Mangaia the third month of the winter season is called Pipiri.
Poutini.—This star, according to Ngati-Awa, is identical with Poutini, the origin of the pounamu (greenstone, nephrite), which is termed the whatu or stone of Poutini. Hence this name was applied to the district of Westland in which that highly prized stone was found.
Puwhakahara.—This star, in conjunction with one Hinepipi, is credited with being the origin, of the maire tree (Olea spp.).
Rangawhenua.—In the Bay of Plenty district this name is apparently applied to one of the planets, Jupiter or Mars. It is called the conductor or preceder of Vega. When Rangawhenua appears, the high tides called nga tai o Rangawhenua also appear in the Bay of Plenty. Mr. S. Percy Smith remarks that the expression applies to certain yearly-recurring series of heavy rollers that roll southward. Taylor gives Rangawhenua and Uruao as the stars or constellations marking the month of January.
Te Ra o Tainui (The Sail of Tainui).—Mr. White gives this as the name of a star or constellation. In his unpublished MS. he gives a diagram of the “Tainui” canoe as represented by stars. The Pleiades form the bow of this starry vessel, and the three bright stars in Orion's Belt represent the stern. The sail, the Ra o Tainui, is perhaps the Hyades. The cable is seen in the Pointers, and the anchor is the Punga a Tama-rereti, the Southern Cross. This canoe reminds us of Taylor's Waka o Tamarereti—evidently the same vessel. The position of the cable in relation to the far-flung anchor is somewhat unusual. Taylor connects the Ra o Tainui with the month of June.
Ruaki-motumotu.—Wohlers gives Ruaki-motumotu, Tahuweruweru (or werawera), and Whare-pungarehu as South Island star-names.
Takero.—A far-spread star-name, for it appears as Ta'ero at Tahiti (where Miss Henry queries it as Bacchus or Mercury), as Taelo at Samoa, and as Kaelo at the Hawaiian Isles. Apparently Takero rises here in autumn; at Hawaii it gives its name to the month of May. The Maori says: “In autumn, in the time of Takero, or when Takero appears, then the inanga migrate to the ocean.”
Takurua.—This star-name is identified as Sirius by Williams and some other authorities. It is also the commonly used name for winter. Stowell gives Takurua as the name of Sirius during the winter months only. The saying te anu o Taku, denoting the cold of winter, shows an abbreviation of the star-name. This is the star that is said to bring frost, snow, and cold. The Tuhoe folk say that there are several stars of this name. page 50 Takurua-whareana, if appearing bright and distinct, warns us of heavy frost. Farther south is Takurua-parewai, which is the preceder of Marere-o-tonga. At the Hawaiian Isles there are two stars named Kaulua (=Ta'ulua—the Hawaiian letter-change of k for t is quite modern), and the month of June is called Kaulua. At Samoa there are two stars called Taulua. At Tahiti, according to Miss Henry (Journal of the Polynesian Society, vol. 16), the name seems to be applied to most stars, as Ta'urua-nui (Great Fomalhaut, and also apparently Jupiter), Ta'urua-nui o te hiti apato'a (Canopus), and Ta'urua nui amo aha (Sirius). Ellis gives Ta'urua hiti i te ahiahi (Takurua shining in the evening) as the Tahitian name for the evening star.
Wero.—The three (or more) Wero stars have not been identified, but they are spoken of as winter stars. One contributor, however, states that Wero-i-te-ninihi and Wero-i-te-kokota pertain to winter, and give forth signs to man concerning that period, while Wero-i-te-ao-marie provides the same for summer. Welo is a star-name at Hawaii. These Wero names, as Wero-i-te-ninihi, Wero-i-te-kokota, and Wero-i-te-wawana, are sometimes employed by the Maori to denote cold, as though they were personifications of cold.
The following extract from an old song, an oriori, as sung over a little child, is of interest as mentioning the Wero stars and some others:—
E hokai ana koe ki whea, e Tane-tikitiki..e
Ka pa mai te waha—Ki e whai atu i ta taua nei puhi, e hika..e
E hoki: Tangohia e koe i nga tupuni o Wehi-nui-o-mamao
Ko Hihira ki uta, ko Hihira ki tai
Ko Parinuku, ko Parirangi
Tikina e koe ki te kahui whatu punga nei..e
Ko Takurua nei, e, Meremere nei, e, Atutahi-ma-Rehua nei..e
He ariki no te tau ka wehe nei.. e
Ka tau mai ko Whakaneke-pungarehu nei..e
Ko Uaki-motumotu nei..e
Hei tupa i a Wero-i-te-ninihi, e, ko Wero-i-te-kokota nei..e
Ka puta i konei o raua tuahine
A Wero-i-te-marie, a Wero-i-te-ahuru..e
Koia te wero i te mahana..e
I tataia ki te poho o Ranginui
Koia Tama-nui-te-ra, e hine..e
Ka haere wareware atu na koe..e
Koia i tau ai te haere i te aoturoa, e hine..e..i
Ka wehea te po i konei, te ao i konei
E hine aku..e..i.
Herein we recognize Hirauta, Hiratai, and other unexplained names, but apparently those of stars or some celestial phenomena. The first two Wero appear to be looked upon as males, and the other two as females. Uaki-motumotu is evidently the Ruaki-motumotu mentioned elsewhere. Whakaneke-pungarehu may be compared with Whare-pungarehu given by Wohlers.
Much interesting matter is contained in some of these songs composed to be sung to children. for the object was to familiarize them with the names of ancestors, historical incidents, &c.
Tama-i-waho.—Ngati-Awa speak of this as a star-name. Apparently it represents the supernatural being of that name.page 51
Tariaho is given as a star-name by Mr. White. It is probably a form of Tariao.
Tautahi.—A Wairapa native gave the name of Tautahi o Rongo, apparently as representing Tautahi, Takurua, and Tautoru; but the matter is not clear.
Te Tipi.—Given as a star-name at page 204 of vol. 16 of the Polynesian Journal.
Uruao.—Williams gives Uruao as a star that appears in January of February. In Maori myth this was the name of the vessel of Tama-rereti in which the stars were conveyed to the breast of the Sky Parent; hence one would suppose Uruao to be the more correct name of the Waka o Tama-rereti, the Tail of the Scorpion. The Maori says Te Ikaroa (Milky Way) and Tamarereti have under their care all the “little suns,” and they also guard their canoe. Again, a passage in the Kauwae-runga identifies Uruao with the Waka o Tama-rereti.
Waka o Rangi.—In Mr. Beattie's collection of South Island native lore we are informed that the “Waka o Rangi” was the name of a very ancient vessel of the Polynesian explorers. It is now represented by a group of stars which has not been identified. It is also stated that the stars were partitioned out among various gods, and that one of these sky divisions was Tautari-nui o Matariki.
Whakaahu.—Stowell identifies this star as Castor. Williams gives the two forms of the name, Whakaahu and Whakaahu-te-ra, querying it as Castor or Pollux. At Samoa Fa'aafu is a star-name, as also is Fa-aahu at Tahiti. The latter is also a name applied to the month of February by Tahitians, as they call March Pipiri; and the Hawaiians term March Taclo (Takero in Maori). At Horne Island February and March are called Fakaafu-ola and Fakaafu-mate.
The following line from a song seems to imply that Whakaahu and Rigel appear at about the same time:—
Ka rewa ko Puanga, ka rewa ko Whakaahu.
Whakaahu seems to be essentially a summer star, and is sometimes used, apparently, to denote that season. We find in a quaint old myth that Oipiri (or Oipiriwhea), who represents winter and produces snow, and Whakaahu, who represents light and this world, were both daughters of Day and Night, and were born in space. Oipiri (apparently connected with Pipiri) was acquainted with all matters pertaining to Night and Winter, while Whakaahu followed the paths of Day, and represents the world of light, or marama kehokeho. Her name of Whakaahu also was equivalent to summer, and to Hiringa. This latter is one of the names of Tane (personified form of the sun, who is the origin of knowledge). Both these female beings (representing a winter and a summer star) were taken to wife by Rehua. The attendants of Oipiri and Whakaahu are ever contending with each other, but neither side ever gains a lasting victory. Here we have an allegorical myth illustrating the yearly contest between summer and winter, wherein night, day, summer, and winter are persoified, while the two seasons are represented by star-names.page 52
An old couplet runs as follows:—
Kotahi tangata ki Hawaiki, ko Whakatau anake;
Kotahi tangata ki Aotearoa, ko Tama-uawhiti (ara ko Tamanui-te-ra).
(There is one person at Hawaiki, Whakatau only; there is one person at Aotearoa, Tama-uawhiti—that is to say, Tamanui-te-ra (the sun).
Whakatau is spoken of as a warrior, the equal of Oipiriwhea. Tama-uawhiti resembles Whakaahu (otherwise Hiringa), who represents mental desire for knowledge, and energy in the art of cultivating food-supplies for man, and other important matters—the source of knowledge.
Here we encounter yet another name for the sun, Tamauawhiti, who is coupled with summer in opposition to Whakatau and winter. Of a verity the Maori was a past-master in the conception of personifications and allegorical teachings!
Whanui.—This is another of the high-class stars, the wheturangatira of Maori lore. It not only serves as a season-marker and regulator of certain industrial pursuits, but it also provides portents in regard to divers matters. Whanui is identified as Vega. This star served as a pole-star for about two thousand years—from 12000 to 10000 B.C.
If this star appears to move slowly this is said to be the sign of a tau kai, or fat season—all food products will flourish, vegetable and animal; but if it seems to move quickly, as though borne forward by the wind, then a lean season follows. Whanui gives the sign for the lifting of the kumara crop, and this must not be delayed too long after the heliacal rising of the star; hence it takes place in the month of Poutu-te-rangi. As it is well known when Whanui will appear, storage-pits for the kumara are put in order in good time, and when Whanui appears the task of lifting the crop is commenced, after which comes the harvest festival—feasting and rejoicing, with indulgence in oldtime games and pastimes.
A contribution from a native authority is as follows: “Another star in the heavens is Whanui, whose address to people is—‘O friends! Here am I, Whakakorongata, awake and rise! Seize your spade, and to work; store the crop in the pits, then turn to rejoicing and sing your chants of joy, for all women and children are now joyful; there is naught to disturb them.”’
The task of Whanui, we are told, is to provide kumara as food for the people of this world. Moreover, it was from Whanui that this tuber was originally obtained by man—a curious belief, paralleled by one noted in Indonesia, that rice was first obtained from the Pleiades. Pani-tinaku, who is looked upon as the mother of the kumara, was the wife of one Rongomaui, who may or may not be identical with Rongo-marae-roa, and who was a taina (younger brother or relative) of Whanui. The latter would not part with any of his children, the kumara; hence they were stolen from him by Rongo, who brought the seed to this world. and Pani gave birth to the tuber at the Wai o Mona-ariki. Pani was the aunt and foster-mother of the Maui brothers, whose father was Tangaroa-i-te-rupetu, a brother of Pani.page 53
Another myth makes Whanui an ancestor of man, for one of his offspring was Mahanga-i-te-rangi, who married Te Uhi-o-te-rangi, from whom man is descended; hence the following in an old song:—
Tirohia e koe te rerenga mai o Whanui
Nana i ai mai ko to tupuna ko Mahanga-i-te-rangi.
Whanui never forgets his yearly boon to mankind; year by year he sends to him the mana of the prized tuber, the sweet potato. Yet he seems to have made man suffer for the act of theft committed by Rongomaui, for he said to Anuhe, and Toronu, and Moka, “Go you below and live upon Rongo”—hence we ever see those pests assailing the kumara. These are three species of caterpillar that attack the kumara plants.
Whetu-kaupo.—Given by Williams as a star which sets in the evening in October and November. An East Coast native gave it as a name for a comet.
Whiro.—Identified by Stowell as Mercury in his Maori-English Tutor, but as the planet Mars on a former occasion.
Such are the Maori star-names collected, and a poor showing it is, compared with what might have been obtained, for so few have been identified. These are the ra ririki, the little suns, the apa whatu a Te Ahuru that gleam in the sky above us.
A few expressions used in various contributions are puzzling, and remain unexplained, such as the paetai o te rangi and the Paetaku-o-Rongo to which Tane conveyed the stars when he obtained them from Wehi-nui-o-mamao. In another place this is given as the Paetaku o te rangi o Rongo, the threshold of the heaven of Rongo. Kikorangi is a word denoting the blue sky.
It will be seen that many star-names are also applied to months and seasons, a common custom in Polynesia.