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Maori Storehouses and Kindred Structures

Introductory Remarks

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Introductory Remarks

In the description of Maori usages in the matter of the storage of food-supplies which is given in the following pages, a method similar to that employed in the compilation of Bulletin No. 4 has been adopted—viz., the many scattered observations made by early voyagers and travellers have been brought together, and have been supplemented by such new matter as could be collected from natives and others.

The personal examination of interesting systems of cave and pit storage-places, as seen in or near some of the old fortified places of the Maori, impresses the observer with a sense of the great care displayed by the natives in former times in the preservation of food-supplies

It is held that a description of items pertaining to Maori technology will tend to throw light upon many phases of the social life and customs of the natives, a subject that we hope to deal with in the future.

The construction of the elaborately adorned elevated storehouses is now becoming a thing of the past, hence it has been deemed advisable to place on record illustrations of the highly curious and interesting carved designs employed in such adornment, as also some description of other storage-places.

The various objects to be described under this heading may be classified as follows:—

I.Raised storehouses, termed pataka, whata, &c., supported on one, four, or more posts.
II.Storehouses resembling ordinary huts.
III.Platforms and stages elevated on posts or trees, but not supporting any house, and also racks.
IV.Semi-subterranean stores—pits and caves used as storage-places for food.

The first of these series is by far the most important, from the native and European point of view, as it includes the carefully constructed and elaborately carved structures with which most of us are familiar, and which often displayed evidence of the highest form of artistic skill attained by the wood-carvers of Maoriland.

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The second series includes the communal storehouses found in some native hamlets in former times, as well as others of a more private nature.

The third series embraces many different forms of elevated platforms, and also racks, used as storage-places for food.

The fourth division includes the various forms of pits and semi-subterranean storage-places that were so largely used by the Maori of former times.

Doorway of a Pataka.

Doorway of a Pataka.