Maori Storehouses and Kindred Structures
Adornment of the Pataka
Adornment of the Pataka
The next important piece of carving is the paepae, or long carved boards passing horizontally across the front. Here again generally the motive is human or semi-human figures symmetrically arranged with the attendant manaia or assisting atua. In the centre, of course, the figure has one on each side, and in this form resembles many of the old groups seen in sacred representations of older countries, as those, for instance, in which the central figure, human, is attended by good and evil spirits. The central wall, which is usually some little distance back from the front, forms the mahau, or veranda, which in its original condition appears to consist of a central slab page 14on which a figure is represented (probably the owner of the pa, or a distinguished ancestor) and superposed figures, which vary very much. The joints of these slabs are covered with the usual battens and feathers. As previously mentioned, the sides consist of one large plank, fixed horizontally, and carved with a series of male and female figures, attended by the manaia or atua. Illustrations are given of the general variants which have been noticed. A great many photographs of pataka are quite misleading in this respect, as specimens have been made up for sale by dealers and others from fragments of house-carvings and cut-up fragments of old pataka, put together without any reference to their original position. This makes the study of the ornamentation extremely difficult to those who have not sufficient experience to point out the discrepancies. It is true that the Maoris themselves, within the last fifty years, have been equally guilty, and rather than take the trouble of making a fresh carving they have cut and made available old work—probably for its associations or to save themselves trouble. Many museums possess fronts of pataka which are made up of various portions of pataka slabs of all shapes and sizes.
The two preceding paragraphs were written by the late Director of the Dominion Museum. The remark concerning the personal atua (god) represented by a manaia-like figure between (?) the human one evidently applies to some illustration that has been mislaid. The side-walls of these pataka did not always consist of a single wide slab fixed horizontally.page 15
The distorted human figure with two flanking manaia is shown more clearly in Fig. 5, in which also the intermediate details are plainly seen. The Maori has a dim idea that the origin of the manaia design was some denizen of the ocean.page 16
Although, in many cases, the central human figure only has a manaia facing it on either side, yet we also note this peculiarity carried out throughout the whole length of a carved slab used as a side-wall, or outer threshold, as observed in Fig. 6 showing one of the latter planks.
Fig. 8. A Corner of the Pataka shown inFig. 7.
The carved pae, or threshold-plank, in front has a longitudinal projection along the back, which projection fits under the ends of the plates, and is lashed thereto. The principal design in the carving of the two barge-boards is the pakake, and on the top of the gable are two tekoteko, or human figures, with a human head placed between the two. The angles formed by the lower parts of the barge-boards approaching the pae, or threshold-slab, are closed by means of placing three short carved slabs in an upright position in each angle. These slabs are fastened to each other, and secured to the barge-boards by means of lashings passed through holes bored near the edges of each piece.page 18
The huge carved pataka of Pokiha Taranui, now in the Auckland Museum, is possibly the most elaborate one ever constructed. It is certainly unusually large and elaborate as to decoration, and must page 19not be looked upon as an ordinary specimen of the Maori carved storehouse. It is about 30 ft. in length, an abnormal size, and was built or manufactured about the year 1868. The exterior of the whole of the four walls is a mass of elaborate carving. There are carved barge-boards at both ends of the house, a carved supplementary exposed ridge-pole, and carved planks fixed horizontally along the eaves of the side walls. These eaves-boards, carved rear barge-boards, and carved ridge-pole are, to say the least, unusual in Maori architecture. The thatch is not overcast at the eaves, but butts against the eaves-board—a most impossible procedure. The carving on the ridge-pole represents a procession of huge lizards, that on the front barge-boards pakake, with manaia superimposed thereon. These, on the occasion of a special feast or hui, had been decorated with silver coins instead of the usual paua shell.
Another very old pataka in the Dominion Museum was procured from Maketu. A plate is given of part of the carving, which is very celebrated on the east coast.
In the olden time these carved houses were erected inside the fighting pa, so that they might not be destroyed by the enemy when the adjacent village was taken.
The front view of this pataka shows most richly carved planks, the bodies of the pakake on the two barge-boards being almost entirely lost under a mass of superimposed manaia and wheku designs, together with a deal of detail work that occupies every available bit of space. It reminds one of some of the stone carvings of the Maya folk.page 23
It may be here noted that, unlike a carved dwellinghouse, a pataka or storehouse had no such embellishments in its interior. They were confined to the porch and to the outside of the walls.page 24 page 25
The following brief notes on elevated storehouses were contributed by Tuta Nihoniho, of Ngati-Porou:—
Pataka and rua were always faced to the east or north-east.
The terms pataka and whata are both applied to an elevated house—i.e., a walled and roofed hut or house elevated on supporting-posts, such posts merely supporting the platform (kaupapa) on which the house is built, and which forms the floor thereof. Such a house is termed a pataka because it is enclosed or walled all round; also a whata because it is elevated. An elevated open stage or platform, having no building thereon, is a whata, but cannot be termed a pataka. The term whata may be applied to elevated places that are not platforms, such as racks; any elevated place on which things are placed, as a rail on which nets are hung to dry; also to a pole or stump having projecting pegs or branches on which things are suspended. The word is sometimes doubled, as whatawhata, applied to a rude erection of poles on which a tree-feller stands.
Pataka were used as storehouses for preserved and dried foods (but not for crops such as kumara), also for tools, implements, vessels, and garments.
The posts supporting a pataka might be four or six in number, or more, according to the size of the structure. In the case of a carved pataka, these, or at least the two front ones, were often embellished with a carved human figure, with eyes of Haliotis shell. On the top of these two rows of posts were placed the wide slabs termed papa kiore, the plates on which the building was erected. The upright slabs, or poupou, were let into the papa kiore, or plate, not into a mortised hole in the middle thereof, but into a slot in its edge, and there secured by lashings passed through holes bored through the plate, and others through the upright slabs. The plate also was carefully fitted on to the tops of the supporting-posts. In boring holes in big timbers large cord drills were used, much larger than those used in drilling stone implements and ornaments. In such heavy boring Nihoniho remarks that one person would attend to the drill-point, to keep it in position, while two others manipulated the cords by which the implement was worked—a process that would, presumably, require much practice.
When the upright slabs of the walls were in position in the slots cut in the outer edges of the plates, their outer surfaces were flush with the outer edge of the plate, and a horizontal batten covered the junctions. In some few cases a carved pataka had the wall-slabs carved inside as well as outside, but this was seldom seen as applied page 26to the interior of the store. The batten termed kaho paetara, that served as a wall-plate, was lashed to the tops of the upright slabs. The flooring-slabs rested on the projecting plates, or papa kiore. The roof was first covered with a layer of toetoe reeds neatly laid, then with layers of bark of the manuka or totara trees. Long strips of bark were arranged across the ridge-pole, so that they extended over both slopes of the roof, while shorter pieces were curved at the end, and the curve fitted over the ridge, the piece covering one slope only. Bark was never secured with ties to the battens, but, when the roof was finished, then aka (durable stems of certain climbing-plants) were laid fore and aft on the top of the roof, and secured at the ends only.
In addition to these, other such binders were laid across the roof, at right angles to the others, passing right over the roof, and secured by lashings at the two eaves.
The ornamental carved pataka were not by any means numerous, the great majority of such structures being either quite plain (toto kau)—that is, constructed of plain hewn timbers—or had such minor adornments as a carved head (koruru) on the gable, and, possibly, some carving on the pae kai awha, or wide slab in front, over which one passed in order to enter the roro, or porch.
Such edifices as carved houses and carved pataka were erected only in pa or fortified villages, for obvious reasons. If outside the defences, they would be destroyed by the first raiding party that chanced that way. Hence the saying of old that runs, "He whare maihi ka tu ki roto o Kahukura-awhitia, he tohu no te rangatira; he whare maihi ka tu ki te wa patiki, he kai na te ahi."
In his little work "Kaiapohia," Canon Stack remarks as follows: "The visits of a very great chief (upoko ariki), such as Tamaiharanui, were always dreaded, and his movements, whenever he entered a pa (fortified village), were watched with great anxiety by the inhabitants; for if the shadow happened to fall upon a whata (storehouse) or a rua (storepit) while he was passing through the crowded lanes of a town, it was immediately destroyed, with all its contents, because it would be an unpardonable insult for a commoner to eat food upon which the sacred shadow of an ariki noble had fallen."
The principal differences between a carved dwellinghouse and a carved pataka, or storehouse, is that in the former most of the carvings are inside the building, while in the latter they are outside. The outside carvings of a dwellinghouse are confined to the door-jambs, the lintel-piece, the window-borders, the pae kai awha, the poupou of the porch, the tau-tiaki, the maihi with its parata and tekoteko, and page 27the under-side of the projecting part of the ridge-pole; but in the case of a carved pataka the whole of the exterior of the front wall is a mass of carving.
The plain unornamented storehouses, termed pataka kokau, or pataka toto kau, were erected at any place where they might be required, either within or without the defences of a village. These were often built at cultivation-grounds and temporary dwelling-places, such as fishing-camps on the coast.
The vertical carved slabs composing the front wall of a pataka whakairo, or carved storehouse, were fastened together in the usual Maori manner—viz., by covering the join with a batten (painted or charred), and then lashing this on with tight-drawn cords passed through holes pierced in the edges of the slabs. Under the lashings, where they passed over the battens, white feathers were sometimes inserted as an additional ornament (tatai).
The doors of pataka were of two different styles—the paneke and the tatau kauhuri. The former was a sliding-door that slid in a groove formed in the threshold, the door so often seen in native dwellinghouses; the kauhuri was a swinging-door, and it is not clear that it was a pre-European item. A projecting piece at one corner was inserted into a hole formed in the sill, and on this pivot the door swung. To keep it in position, and to supply the place of hinges, it was linked to the jamb by two cord loops passed through holes perforated in the jamb, and others near the edge of the door. This apparatus may possibly have been pre-European, but to us it looks like an idea borrowed from the crude huts of the early white settlers. Some of the oldest natives, however, of Ngati-Porou maintain that the tatau kauhuri was a pre-European usage.
When this swing-door was closed it was secured by means of a cord passed through a hole in the door and another in the jamb, and tied outside.
The front board of the porch of a pataka is known as the ipuipu; it is equivalent to the pae kai awha of a dwellinghouse. Tauwhenua—fore-and-aft beam on top of papa kiore, in middle of pataka, to support the posts of ridge-pole and floor.
In a pataka of six posts (a common number) there are three papa kiore or plates laid across on the tops of the posts. The amohanga are the two long slabs laid along fore and aft of the building on the top of the said plates, and on which the walls are erected.
Our native informant has described above two different modes of erecting the superstructure of a pataka that may confuse the reader. page 28In the first method, used in building small storehouses, wide plates were placed fore and aft on the tops of the supporting-posts, and on these wide slab plates the floor was laid and the walls erected. In the other method plates were laid on the post-tops crosswise, and then long secondary plates were laid on these fore and aft of the building, on which the walls were built. Again, his application of the term ipuipu seems to be an error. It is usually applied to the beams or sills on which the storehouse is built.
The name of the bell-like fixture on pataka posts to block the passage of rats is ato in the Wai-rarapa district. It was made by tying the upper ends of strips of manuka bark to the post, and the lower ends to a small wooden hoop. Pu kiore seems to be a descriptive name for this item, and ato a specific name.
These pataka, or elevated storehouses, were often named after ancestors. Food-supplies kept in such named stores were not eaten by common people, lest their children die, but only by the descendants of the ancestors after whom they were named.
The high-class carved pataka were opened with the same ritual as pertained to the opening of a new house of note. The kawa rite was performed over it, and in some cases a person was killed in order to give prestige to the event and to supply food for the feast. In some cases a slave was slain for this purpose, or a few men would raid the realm of another tribe and secure some victims.
Whata-a-rangi, a small pataka elevated on one tall post. A platform erected on a tree for storing things on was called by the same name. Some whata-a-rangi were small circular structures covered with bark, and used as places wherein to deposit the bones of the dead. The whata-a-rangi were used as a storage-place for small items, special food-supplies—such as huahua, kao, dried fish, &c.—or in which to keep prized implements, ornaments, vessels, and garments.
Whare rangi: This term is applied to a rough booth of branches erected by fowlers in a tree-top.
The name of whata koiwi was applied to any elevated receptacle in which bones of the dead were kept.
The whata pu kiore was a small pataka elevated on a single post, to which post, some distance above the ground-line, pieces of manuka bark were secured in a downward slanting position, so as to prevent rats climbing up the post.
The usual form of whata rangi seems to have been like unto a diminutive pataka, but Te Whatahoro describes a curious form, the entrance to which was through the floor: The whata rangi was a small storehouse, like unto a diminutive hut, elevated on the top of a page 29single high post. It was not usual to adorn them with carving, and they were used to keep miscellaneous items in—such as weapons, garments, &c., but not food-supplies. To construct a frame whereon to erect these little huts, two sides of the upper part of the post were reduced, so as to leave a shoulder on each side. Two adzed beams of wood, termed karaho, were fitted on to either side of the tenon, so as to rest on the shoulders thereof, and so lashed. Thus these two karaho were in a horizontal position, and parallel, the space between them being the thickness of the tenon-like upper part of the post. At either end a small piece of wood was placed between the ends of these beams, which were then lashed together, thus gripping tightly the pieces between them. Then, at right angles to these cross-pieces, two more were placed on top of them, and there lashed to the top of the post, their upper parts being flush with the top of the post. Strong hardwoods—such as rata, kahikatoa, maire, or ake rautangi—were selected for the beams, which were adzed into form. Thus the foundation of the little storehouse was in the form of a cross, and on this was erected a hut of light materials, often of thatch—such as raupo (bulrush) or leaves of the Cordyline, the latter being a very durable thatch.
These places had no door in the walls, the entrance thereto being through the floor, close to the top of the post. This door was a small wooden trap rudely hinged with pieces of aka (stem of a climbing-plant). A person clambering up the post to these aerial stores usually pushed up the trap-door with his head. At one end of the hut was an aperture in the wall, to admit light when a person was engaged therein. At other times it was closed with a flat piece of bark of the totara tree (Podocarpus totara), which was so arranged as to slide on a horizontal strip of wood. This bark was the inner part of the totara bark, the part known as rangiura, from which the loose outer bark had been taken off.
When erected on lofty posts, perhaps 25 ft. in height, it was said that ladders were not employed as a means of access thereto, but any one ascending to the store simply clambered up the post, this process being much assisted by the use of the tamaeke or kaupeka, or climbing-cord. This was a loop of strong cord in which the feet were placed, and which served to confine them and give the climber a good grip on the post with his feet while he was moving his hands upward for a fresh hand-grip. In the case of a thick post or a tree-trunk, a similar looped cord was used in the hands, and which the operator kept repeatedly moving upwards, as he ascended, by means of a quick jerk.page 30
The term tapaturangi is sometimes applied to a small whata rangi—a hut-shaped box elevated on a single post, and used as a place wherein to keep food, such as preserved birds, rats, &c., destined for the eldest son or daughter of a person of rank, or for a grandchild of such. This term would be used to denote such a place, because pataka is a common word applied to common stores. "Kapa ko te pataka a te mokopuna a mea, he tapaturangi te pataka takoto-ranga kai" is an expression that might be made in reference to the small food-store of any ordinary person; it is not such a place as the pataka of the grandchild of So-and-so, whose food-store is termed a tapaturangi.
Uenuku, a famous ancestor of the Maori, who lived in eastern Polynesia, applied this name to the whata rangi of his son Ka-hutia-te-rangi, and located a ruru (owl) in the roro (entrance-space or porch) thereof as a guardian, which bird was wont to cry an alarm if any thief ventured near. This is said to have been the first occasion on which a whata rangi was so named. Uenuku did not want to term his son's whata rangi by such a common name as that, or as pataka, because other persons so termed theirs by such names. He wanted some new and distinctive name; hence he adopted for it the name of a certain tapu bird known as a tapurangi, a bird not seen by man, for it was a night-flying bird—heard flying during the night, but seldom seen. It was rather a small bird, a long bird with long tail-feathers and its feathers had a gleaming appearance. In olden times, when this bird was heard flying the people would welcome and greet it with these words: "E, I haere mai koe i Tawhiti-nui, i Tawhiti-roa, i Tawhiti-pamamao. Haere. Haere ki te wa kainga" (O, you come from Tawhiti-nui, &c. Farewell. Return to the fatherland).
Te Whatahoro informs us that, although pataka and whata are now interchangeable terms, yet whata should, properly speaking, be applied only to open elevated platforms or scaffolds, having no hut thereon, or roof; while pataka should only be applied to an elevated house or hut. A platform on the ground is called a kahupapa, but never a whata, although a platform on a tree—such as those used by fowlers—may be termed a kahupapa. As a verb, whata means to elevate, support, also to hang. A rack may also be termed a whata. It would, however, appear that the term whata has been applied to elevated storehouses for a considerable period, inasmuch as any elderly native will agree that whata rangi is a name that denotes a small storehouse raised on one post.
From a paper on the food products of the Ure-wera district, occupied by the Tuhoe Tribe, we cull the following: "Pataka pu page 31kiore is an expression applied to storehouses so constructed as to exclude rats, by placing a broad slab on the top of the posts supporting the floor of the store. The whata-a-rangi is a platform erected in a tree, and is used for storing food-supplies on. The whata poto is a platform elevated on posts, with sometimes a thatched roof to protect supplies stowed thereon, but having no walls."
The name of paerangi, according to Te Whatahoro, is applied to a small circular hut erected on the top of a single high post. Its foundation is composed of beams affixed to the post in the form of a cross, as described in the account of the whata rangi. On the upper surface of the extremities of the cross-pieces are secured pieces of pliant aka tokai or rods of manuka, bent so as to form a circle. Another such whiti or ring is formed just inside it, so as to leave a narrow space between the two rings. The butt ends of a number of pliant rods (turuturu), known technically as pou karapi, were then inserted in between the two whiti, all round, and their tops bent down inwards and tied together. Lighter material was then employed for battens, being tied on to the pou karapi at intervals, each completed batten being in the form of a ring, the hut being circular. The frame was then ready for thatching. Pieces of wood were said to have been placed at the bases of the rods, both inside and out, the inner one being the widest, in order to keep them in the desired position.
All paerangi are not circular, some are square in form; hence one might make the remark, "He pataka te ta o te whare paerangi a mea" (The paerangi hut of So-and-so is of a round form).
The whata rangi for food were often supported by arms secured to the posts as extra supports.
The Whanga-nui natives seem to apply the term kauwhata to the whata rangi.
Angas writes, "In their plantations, pataka or storehouses are also frequent, in which they deposit the seed during the winter. These pataka are always raised upon a pole or placed between the forked branches of a tree, to preserve them from the attacks of the rats.
Respecting the erection and uses of raised storehouses in cultivation-grounds, Angas writes, "Picturesque-looking storehouses for seed are also to be seen in their clearings; these are like large boxes, with a gable roof, and perhaps a carved door, with a little image on the top, and are supported on high poles to preserve them from the attacks of the rats, the natives ascending to them by means of a sort of rude ladder."
Marshall, who visited the Taranaki coast in 1834, mentions elevated stores for firewood as having been seen there: "The wood-page 32houses houses are distinct from all the others; the most perfect specimen of the kind which fell under my own observation was at Orangi-tuapeka. It was raised upon a stage about 6 ft. above the ground, and in its external appearance resembled a large dovecote. The roof and three of the sides were so built as to exclude the wet, one side only being exposed to the weather; and that, serving to draw out the wood by, admitted of being shut in by a door swung upon hinges, and fastened when shut by a thong of hide." The "swung upon hinges" is passing doubtful, and looks like a European innovation.
The following is a small contribution on the Nga-Puhi storehouses by Mr. Stowell (Hare Hongi):—
Dear Sir, —
Native Department, Wellington,23rd May, 1912.
I have your memo. of the 6th instant, asking for information (from Nga-Puhi sources) as to—(1) Storehouses, elevated; (2) storehouses, ordinary—i.e., on ground-line; (3) storehouses, semi-subterranean; (4) pits for storage; and (5) platforms, elevated, no house, roofless: their names, descriptions, and uses.
As to (1) storehouses: The generic name for these is whata, a term which has its origin in the verb whata, which means "to elevate on supports."
(a.) Whata were of various kinds, having various uses: Whata-kai, for the storage of readily accessible foods, preserved and otherwise; whata-kahu, for the storage of superior garments (but see pataka); whata-ko, for the storage of digging and gardening tools; whata-taonga, for the storage of goods in general; whata-tao, whata-huata, whata-koikoi, for the storage of fighting-spears, armoury; whata-moenga, for sleeping.
The whata varied between 3 ft. and 6 ft. high posts. They were ascended by means of a ara-whata, consisting of a stout piece of timber with stepping-places notched in at suitable intervals. To ensure the whata being rat-proof (for rats destroyed food and garments), two main devices were used: One of these devices was to procure a fairly sound but derelict canoe (of totara or kauri timber), cut it into two equal parts, and place each half parallel and inverted along the top of each pair of the whata posts. Rats might climb the posts, but could not get past the inverted half-canoes, and so into the whata itself. (In the event of no such canoe being procurable beams were hollowed on one side, and, this side being placed lowermost on the whata posts, were quite as effective as inverted canoes.) The second rat-proof device was to notch each post all round, about 2 ft. above the ground, in this way: No rat could get past these notches. (In modern times a broad piece of tin is nailed around each post, thus saving labour and securing equally good results.)
The four ground posts of a whata were 6 in. to 8 in. in diameter, having to carry the heavy beams of the superstructure. The post-plan was usually a square, the oblong shape of the whata being secured by allowing its floor-beams to project a few feet at one or both ends. Invariably the floor, sides, and roof of a whata were extended to form a porch at its front. The page 33ground posts having been firmly sunk into the earth, two strong parallel beams were securely fastened to each pair of posts. These were lashed to the posts with torotoro vine, which passed from under nicks in the posts through holes bored through each side of the beams. That being done, strong beams were laid along the back and front, which in their turn were securely fastened. These were on a line with the ground posts: The corner wall-posts were next sunk into the side beams over the ground posts, and were fastened to the cross-beams. These formed the true corner posts, no matter how much the whata itself projected at either or both ends. The floor was then laid down crosswise. It commonly consisted of split and adzed beams, which were trimmed to a uniform thickness and well fitted. Such a floor was of great strength and durability. As this work proceeded the wall-posts were set up at suitable intervals, and well fastened down. When the floor was carried through the whole of the side wall, posts were thus in their places. To these posts (where thatch was intended, for sometimes the walls were of slabs) were fastened, at intervals of 12 in. or 15 in., long laths of 1¼ in. kahikatoa (tea-tree); these were called the kaho, and, whilst strengthening the walls, carried the thatching. The two centre posts were now set up back and front, on a line with the ground posts, and to these the ridge-pole was securely attached. The length of the ridge-pole was regulated by the floor-length, and it projected from the centre posts accordingly. From the ridge-pole rafters were let in to each wall-post, and fastened down. Kahikatoa laths similar to those on the side walls, but closer together to carry the weight, were then fastened to the rafters. Whilst this was being done the work of setting up the additional posts for back and front was going on, and an opening was left beside the centre post at the front, for the door. When all of the posts and rafters had been served with kahikatoa laths the whole was ready for receiving the thatching. This was usually of raupo reed, a reed which was readily procurable, durable, easily handled, which gave coolness in summer and warmth in winter. The side and end walls having been first thatched, a start was made on the roof. This sometimes got a first coating of nikau palm, then one of the raupo reed, and finally one of toetoe grass or wiwi (the common rush). More laths were then fastened on to bind the whole down. These laths were commonly concealed, to become visible only when decay of roofing was well forward. A sliding-door was made, and an ara-whata (step-ladder) was provided for permanent use. This was not fixed to the whata, for that would give access to rats; it was always removed when not required for immediate use. A whata was not, in general, provided with a special enclosure, that being reserved for the more fanciful pataka. It should be observed that the thatching was secured with prepared and toughened flax.
(b.) Whata-pouwaka: This was an erection at the top of a single post, which post was 8 in. or 10 in. in diameter, rising some 20 ft. or 30 ft. in the air. The whata-pouwaka was used for the reception and deposit of bones or skeletons of deceased children (sometimes the deceased wives) of high chiefs. The post and woodwork of this whata was always more or less carved, inlaid with paua shell, smeared with kokowai (red ochre), and it stood in a small and special enclosure. (Kokowai warned all and page 34sundry of the presence of death. The black and white markings found in war-canoes denoted an appreciation of the fact of Life and Death. White represented "Te Ao-marama," or the World of Light, therefore of Life; black, "Te Ao-po," or the World of Darkness, therefore of Death.)
A suitable pole having been procured, carved and smeared with kokowai, was firmly set into the earth. The whata-pouwaka was then put together on the ground, and when finished was carried to the pole-top, and fixed in its place. In shape the best class of whata-pouwaka was exactly like that of the best class of whare-puni or whare-ahuru—that is to say, its shape was that of the middle section of a superior (keel up) canoe, with accentuated curves. To secure this shape the lines of the ground-plan of both walls were decidedly curved, thus: . The ridge-pole was arched thus: ; and the side walls and roof showed this shape: —the shape of an inverted canoe. This whata had a porch and a small sliding-door. The walls were sometimes made of worked slabs, sometimes of thatch. The roof consisted of thatch or of totara-tree bark, sometimes a layer of vari-coloured kakaho reeds being first put on. The whata-pouwaka was a house in miniature, the largest being some 4 ft. long, 3 ft. wide, and 2 ft. in height. (Shaped in this canoe-design and with the floor sunk some 12 in. or 18 in., the whare-puni gave one a peculiar idea of strength, grace, elegance, and comfort, which was admired and appreciated by all. In the construction of these whare the Nga-Puhi people exhibited remarkable skill, and even art.)
(c.) Pataka: The pataka was the finest-designed and most elaborately worked, carved, and inlaid form of elevated storehouse. No pains were spared in its construction, and it therefore ranked with the whare-whakairo, or heavily carved assembly-hall, as one of the show-pieces of a really well-furnished kainga (village) or pa (fortified village). The pataka was used for the reception and storage of garments of the finest workmanship, and other works of Maori art, which were only withdrawn on very special occasions. It had its own little enclosure or fence, within which none were allowed to casually wander. The pataka and its valued contents was under the immediate control of the high chief of the village. Very few of the villagers had access to the pataka. Its name, pataka, conveys the sense of something special and private and enclosed.
(2.) Storehouses, ordinary—i.e., on ground-line: Of these there were two principal kinds—i.e. the ordinary kauta, or roughly built house, and the wharau, shed.
(a.) The kauta was built of various roomy sizes, its chief features perhaps being a roomy porchway and extra long eaves. Beneath these, leaving plenty of doorway-room, firewood was neatly stacked up for winter use. The kauta was used for the storage of rough-and-ready things, for fishing implements and material, including canoe-paddles, and generally for the temporary or hurried storage of anything from the rain. Fishing-nets were hung up in a kauta, and were thus easily procured when required. The larger class of kauta was used for a kitchen in wet weather (the Maori preferred to cook out of doors). In a properly ordered pa, however, cooking-houses were built specially, and these were called whare-umu, or oven-house.page 35
(b.) Wharau (shed): These were built of various sizes, their principal feature being that one or both ends were sometimes open, and that one or both sides was sometimes left open. The wharau was always built low, and mostly rather wide. A special class of wharau was that in which the better kind of canoe or canoes of the village was stowed. As the superior canoes were as much as 80 ft. in length, the length of a good canoe-shed or wharau may be imagined. In this, too, the large and long fishing-nets, or kupenga, were hung. The canoe-paddles were rarely left in this, owing to the risk of children carrying them off and mislaying them. The wharau was always handy for the temporary stowing-away of different kinds of goods.
(3.) Storehouses, semi-subterranean: These were of many grades, which ranged from the pretentious whare-poka to the much more humble whare-rua.
(a.) Whare-poka: Excepting perhaps for its very low walls, the whare-poka could not be distinguished from an ordinary whare Maori. Low sides only were required, because the floor was dug out (poka) and sunk 2 ft. or more from the surface. The whare-poka could be built only in very dry situations. It was a most snug concern, and could be used both for storage and for living in. It was built with a porch. Whare-poka were built, too, against terraces where sometimes a natural opening was found. A poka was made when necessary into the terrace-side, and a front put in, with doorway.
(b.) Whare-rua: This was essentially a storage house and pit. Its plan was long and narrow. Its pit (rua) was sunk to a depth of 6 ft. It was finished off with a roof only, no side walls. It could be built only in very dry situations, and was largely used for storing seed-kumara tuber, and tubers for winter and spring use. They were commonly described as rua-kumara.
(4.) Pits for storage (rua-kumara or rua-kai): These food-pits were common to every village. They were built with the one object of preserving the seed-tubers from destructive insects, mould, &c., or, as the Maori himself expresses it, from the attacks of the pukupuku, tonatona, tahumate, and kunawhea. (The Maori had no hope of replenishing his seed-tubers from sources outside of New Zealand; therefore, supposing a very bad winter or negligent storage caused widespread destruction to their seed-tubers, the position would have been most serious for them.)
(5.) Platforms elevated, no house, roofless: These were termed komanga and timanga. They were four-posted (I have seen three-posted), and stood from 5 ft. to 10 ft. in height, rat-proof. Seed-tubers and eating-tubers not required for some months were permanently stored upon these stages, until planting-time came around. They were well covered in; so that if the pit-preserved seed-tubers of the village were spoiled or destroyed, the air-preserved would probably be sound. "Put not all thine eggs in one basket," is a principle which the Maori followed, who says, "Ka mate kainga tahi, ka ora kainga rua," or one-homed is liable to die, two-homed is more likely to live.
Sometimes when clearing a waerenga for a new plantation, one or more suitable manuka trees (mammoth tea-tree) would be left standing. From page 36the (8 in. or 10 in.) trunks of these trees stout branches would project, three or four. When these were required for use as komanga the branches would be lopped off level at a suitable height for strength. Cross-beams would then be fastened to the branches, and the staging would be built upon these, which served their purpose excellently well, and with one-half of the labour required in building an ordinary komanga. In all probability, from this primitive style of building the ko-manga or ti-manga, the name originates—that is to say, from manga, which signifies branch, branches.
Kaati ake enei mo naianei.Hare Hongi.
Mr. A. Hamilton, Dominion Museum.
From a Nukutaurua native: Whatarangi, or whata rangi—A small whata on one post only erected near or in a pa—to put food for spirits in.
Similar erections to the above were sometimes used for placing the food of a tapu person in, that it might not be interfered with or brought into contact with common objects, things pertaining to tribal gods, or, in short, for any items of a tapu nature. Such small whata as these we have seen in the Ure-wera district within the past few years.
Awhio-rangi: Small one-post pataka for atua and toenga kai, so termed by a Taumaru-nui native.
The small box-like structures elevated on posts, and used wherein to place tapu items, were formerly very common, and even now may be occasionally seen. Angas speaks of one he examined at Kai-tote, Wai-kato district: "A square box, elevated on posts, and covered with a roof, raised by means of slender sticks…. It was filled with old garments, which I afterwards learned were the property of a very celebrated person lately deceased, and that these garments had been placed within this prohibited place under the most rigorous tapu."
In an account of Santa Maria, an island north of the New Hebrides, Mr. W. Coote remarks: "Scattered about the village were small storehouses raised some feet from the ground on piles, and identical in every respect with those used by the Maoris of New Zealand."
It will be noted that similarity of design exists in the carved figures on these elevated storehouses, the most noteworthy item being the manaia, the pakake, and distorted human figures. Of these the latter may be introduced in any design, or almost any part of the building; the manaia, being less universal, was principally employed on the paepae (outer threshold), the maihi (barge-boards), and on the side page 37walls. The pakake (whale) pattern is confined to the barge-boards. Manaia and distorted human figures are often superimposed on the pakake (see Figs. 7-9, &c.). In Fig. 9 is seen the detail of fine carving on the body of the pakake, the effect of which is emphasized by the system of small notches (known as taratara-o-kai) cut in the edges of the carved lines. In Fig. 7 we note that the human figures on the barge-boards are each attended by a single manaia, while in Fig. 9 three unattended figures appear on each pakake of the barge-boards, such figures being, in form, neither human nor true manaia, but something between the two. In all these designs we see frequently recurring the three fingers that are so marked an attribute of Maori-carved figures, a peculiarity which appears to have been formerly common in far-distant lands.
The eyes of all these figures are composed of rounded pieces of paua (Haliotis) shell countersunk in the wood.
In Fig. 7 the scroll that is said to represent the head of the pakake on the lower part of the barge-board appears to end in a head furnished with the usual shell eye, while below and distinct from it is a manaia. On the barge-board shown in Fig. 10 the scroll of the pakake ends in a manaia-like figure. In this Fig. 10 also appear male and female human figures, showing the tattoo patterns of the two sexes.
Again, in Fig. 7 we have the double manaia and intervening wheku, or grotesque human figure, as a central design on the threshold-plank, while on either side of it as also on the barge-boards the single attendant manaia only appears. In Fig. 9 no double manaia is seen, while in Fig. 6 each wheku is flanked by two manaia. The uppermost figures on the barge-boards in Fig. 9 are grasping the tails of the two pakake.
In Fig. 7 we see the junction of the two barge-boards at the gable occupied by two human figures, and a spare head between them. This is uncommon; for the usual thing is to see the join covered with a carved head—in this case termed a parata—with a complete human image, called a tekoteko, above it, and projecting above the ridge of the building. In some cases one may see a tekoteko only employed, or a parata with no surmounting tekoteko, more especially in the case of inferior storehouses.
The magnificent pataka depicted in Fig. 9 was constructed about 1868, and was erected at Maketu, the principal owner being Te Pokiha Taranui, a well-known chief of the Arawa Tribe, and known to Europeans as Fox. The principal human figures in the carved designs represent certain ancestors of the tribe.page 38
In Fig. 11 we have a fine type of pataka of ordinary size that presents some interesting features. It was the property of the late Sir Walter Buller, K.C.M.G., and the photograph was taken when the pataka was standing on the shore of Lake Papaitonga. It will be noted that the door is embellished not with carved design, but with painted patterns, and that the scroll representing the head of the pakake is of a pronounced circular form, and not the archaic design seen in Figs. 7 and 9. The paepae, or threshold, shows the single manaia design that leaves the central human figure a free agent, having no flanking manaia facing it. No manaia appear on the barge-boards, save at their lower extremities, while immediately above the scrolls are two obscure designs that may represent conventionalized or symbolical forms of some creature, mythical or otherwise, inasmuch as those designs are possessed of eyes. The grotesque figures carved on the two front supporting-posts have eyes represented by whole paua (Haliotis) shells.page 39
In Fig. 16 are shown a pair of barge-boards in which the pakake figures are clear and prominent, not being covered by superimposed secondary figures. One lonely figure is so situated. They are also remarkable on account of the two scroll-like figures being of almost equal size, thus differing from Figs. 7 and 9.
In Fig. 17 we have a style that is met with occasionally in the barge-boards of both pataka and dwellinghouses, in which the lower part only of the barge-boards is adorned with carving.
In Fig. 18 we have a form of paepae or pae-kai-awha (outer threshold) wherein the manaia is absent, and replaced by scrolls between the heads or human figures, various details filling up the smaller spaces between the principal designs, the whole being enclosed between raised borders.
Of a rarer style is the carved design on a threshold now in the Whanga-nui Museum (see Fig. 19), in which the wheku are of an unusual form, and the centre-piece most uncommon.
In the taller specimen on the left the head of the principal figure is a curiously distorted design, a peculiarity most desirable apparently in Maori eyes. The head of the small figure below it shows that the native carver was quite capable of making a much better representation of a human head. The flanking figures with heads placed sideways on the bodies extend in this case from top to bottom.
Fig. 21 shows a central plank and door in position. In this case the principal figure is flanked by somewhat uncommon designs, there being a notable lack of minor grotesque forms of semi-human shape. It will be noted that the head of the prominent figure is not of the wheku or distorted type, but is to the native eye a natural and lifelike representation. Tattoo patterns are plainly shown.
We now give an illustration of a form of pataka that was much more customary in former times than the highly ornamental ones, the form in which but few carved designs were seen. (See Fig. 22.)
As we here see it, the only carving visible is on the lower ends of the maihi or barge-boards, but it formerly possessed a highly carved facing-board, for which see Fig. 18; also a tekoteko or figure covering the junction of the barge-boards; as also two tautiaki (syn. amo maihi), carved uprights supporting the barge-boards.page 42 page 43
This was the pataka of the chief, Te Heuheu, of Taupo, and it formerly stood at Pukawa, but was removed to Waihi. It is named Hinana. A glimpse of Lake Taupo is caught past the karaka trees. The trail of the serpent is noted in the shingled roof.
In Fig. 23 we see a specimen of the common order of raised storehouses, taken from an old print.
Our next two illustrations, Figs. 24 and 25, show two old elevated stores, much the worse for wear, as one often sees them in native hamlets at the present time, for slovenliness ofttimes marks the adoption of our civilization by a primitive folk. No. 24 we saw in the "nineties," before it became dilapidated; it then possessed a lone piece of carved work—a parata or carved head, from the mouth of which a lizard projected as though in place of a tongue. Probably the carved head being held by the lad is the same one.
In Fig. 26 we have a village scene such as is now seldom seen, for its only European items are the clothing of the natives and the building, of which the white roof can be seen in the background. This old order of things is rapidly passing away. In the centre stands a common unadorned pataka, such as were principally used formerly. Note the firewood stacked along the wall of the shed to the right. Some of the huts are roofed with bark.page 44 page 45
Fig. 27 shows us a small hamlet wherein we see two pataka and two dwelling-huts, the former showing European influence in the material used. To the left front is a cooking-shed, showing firewood neatly stacked in the shallow porch against the front wall.
The village scene depicted in Fig. 28 is an excellent one. It was sketched at the Bay of Islands by a member of the United States Exploring Expedition in 1840. Two items of interest therein are the elevated platform to the right and the pataka with walls and roof composed of thatch. These ordinary items made by securing thatch to a framework of poles or rods are still seen in native hamlets occasionally.
In Fig. 29 is shown a modern type of pataka that offends the eye of the student of the old-time Maori, inasmuch as the building is constructed of sawn timber and roofed with corrugated iron. To this European structure certain Maori carvings have been affixed—viz., a paepae or porch-threshold, a tekoteko, and two barge-boards the lower ends of which have been carved. On the side-walls are secured other carved figures that appear to be old side-posts (pou-pou) of a dwellinghouse.
The information given above on the peculiar carved designs used in decorating a pataka is decidedly meagre. In future bulletins it is proposed to deal further with the subject of Maori carvings, where dwellinghouses and canoes are described in detail.page 46
As to the origin of the Maori carving we are by no means certain. It is clear that we find nothing like it among the isles of Polynesia—that is, among the Maori folk who inhabit the far-scattered isles of the central and eastern Pacific. Hence some writers have stated their belief that the carving of the Maori of New Zealand is a local invention or growth, and has not been derived from any outside source. This view we cannot agree with, though recognizing the fact that such carvings and patterns are not met with in Polynesia. We do, however, find resemblances between certain patterns and schemes of Maori carving and others of Melanesia (including New Guinea in that term). The former are much more conventionalized than Melanesian forms, contain more detail, and are of a much more artistic finish, the execution in many cases being most excellent, as may be seen by referring to our illustrations. As one illustration of such resemblance we reproduce a photograph of three carved planks from Melanesia, now in the Australian Museum, Sydney, which show carved designs that might well be the prototype of the design seen in Figs. 3 and 5.
Mr. R. Etheridge, Curator of the Australian Museum, Sydney, has been good enough to forward us the following notes concerning these carved planks: "Memento carvings—Carved boards, partly in relief, partly in fretwork, or as fretworked beams usually of considerable size. The huts in which these carvings (and masks) page 47are erected and publicly exhibited are called Fu na totok (North New Ireland), Mirir (Gardner Islands), and Arionare, farther to the south-east. These boards also display the Manu or bird (totem sign) of the dead, accompanied by animal representations, as the snake, lizard, shark, dolphin, pig, &c. These are not totem signs, but represent evil spirits which fight with the Manu, and are finally conquered by him. The totem signs are taken exclusively from the bird world. Every carving has a particular story illustrating the conflict between a Manu and the evil spirits. A great number of legends and fables exist concerning the former."
We have also to thank the Curator of the Australian Museum for permission to reproduce these interesting photographs.
The description of these planks agrees with that of the barge-boards of a Maori pataka or dwellinghouse, the lower ends of which are often pierced work or fret-work, the upper part being carved in relief. Again,manu is the Maori word for bird, and the contention of good with evil spirits is of interest. In connection page 48with the two manaia in contact with a central human figure as seen in Maori designs, the theory is held by some that the group represents the good and evil spirits contending for the human soul, as taught in the cult of Zoroaster.
In Fig. 32 we note carved patterns on New Guinea implements that resemble Maori work, especially the Maori pattern termed puhoro, and certain patterns painted on the rafters of Maori houses of the best type. (See also Brown's "Melanesians and Polynesians," p. 142.)
We hope, at some future time, to go further into this question of the origin of the Maori carved designs, as also some other Melanesian affinities noted in Maori culture, among which the system of fortification adopted in New Zealand will have a prominent place.
It will be noted that in the best-executed type of carving the human figure is grotesquely rendered, that distorted heads or faces (wheku) page 50abound, and that the motive of much of the carving is by no means clear to the European observer—indeed, it is practically impossible at the present time to obtain from natives any explanation of such designs. The names of certain patterns are remembered, as unauna, rauru, pakake, kekerepo, &c., but the origin and meaning are lost. Some designs probably were symbolic, but the key thereto is for ever gone unless such forms or their more primitive originals can be traced and explained in other lands. Maori carving may or may not have been conventionalized locally, but we cannot support the assertion that it was of local origin.