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Maori and Polynesian: their origin, history and culture

Clear Evidence of a Fair Race having been Absorbed — by the Polynesians

Clear Evidence of a Fair Race having been Absorbed
by the Polynesians

(12) But it is in Polynesia proper that most evidences of a primeval fair race have been gathered. Taken as a whole the islanders of this region have a singularly European appearance. What struck all the early voyagers was the fine faces and regular features of most of the islanders, and some of them broke into raptures over the beauty of the women and the stalwart grace of the men. They constitute one of the tallest races in the world. Their hair is generally abundant, and generally wavy, never kinky, like the hair of the negroids, and never rank and coarse, like that of the mongoloids and they can unlike these two divisions of page 32mankind, have, if they wish, plenty of hair on the face. The colour of it is generally dark, and amongst many of them a certain proportion of the children have brown hair, which changes into black only at full maturity. The complexion is, as a rule, brown, but it is very often olive, and no darker than that of the Southern Italians; and colour is as much a matter of climate and food as of race. Dr. Hamy, the French anthropologist, finds from new measurements that "in the east, north, and south they present a long-headedness very pronounced." Other observers incline to place them amongst the medium-headed men, neither very round nor very long. But the skulls that the Americans took out of the burial platforms of Easter Island are in appearance decidedly long.

(13) There are even cases of a cross with a blonde Caucasian race amongst the Maoris, and especially amongst the Ureweras, who have seen little of Europeans till lately; the urukehu, or red-headed, families and individuals are not infrequent, and the red-head is generally accepted as an indication of a cross between a blonde and brunette race, whilst it is acknowledged that this tribe, not long after arriving in the Matatua canoe, passed inland to the highlands round Lake Waikaremoana, and, struggling with the inhabitants of the mountain and forest land, ultimately amalgamated with them. In that other long-isolated district, the King Country, near the harbour of Kawhia, there are many of these rufous people, and, at the same time, the tribes there speak of their ancestors, the immigrants of the Tainui canoe, amalgamating with the aboriginals, the Ngatimokotorea. And they say that in the fore part of the Tainui a fairy woman called Te Peri had command. The aboriginals of the Ureweras are called by them the Toi; and Mr. Elsdon Best quotes a Maori description of this primitive people as peaceful and good, a contrast to the restless warriors that had come in amongst them from Polynesia.