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Maori and Polynesian: their origin, history and culture

The Fairy Peoples of Maori Legend are all European- — like, and in all Countries Fairies are the Defeated — Aborigines

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The Fairy Peoples of Maori Legend are all European-
like, and in all Countries Fairies are the Defeated

(14) A significant substitution by the Ureweras, when the urukehu are mentioned, is the word Turehu, which is used by the Maoris as almost interchangeable with Patupaiarehe in the sense of a fairy or beneficent supernatural being. The Turehu are also represented as an aboriginal people absorbed by the Polynesian immigrants forty generations, or about a thousand years, ago. They had come, according to White's "Ancient History of the Maori," "from the other side of the ocean," and conquered the Tutu-mai-ao, who had before them conquered the Kui, the people that got the land from Maui, when he fished it out of the sea.

(15) Now, all the fairies are described as fair-headed and fair-skinned, like Europeans. They are, in fact, nothing more than some of the people who occupied New Zealand, when the Polynesians arrived in their canoes, with a halo of romance thrown round them by the mystery of their forest and mountain life after being driven back from the coasts. In the beautiful legend of Kahukura, this Maori sees them fishing in the moonlight, and, mingling with them, learns the secret of their net-meshing, which is the same as that of the Swiss lake-dwellers; but when daylight comes they recognise in him an alien, and flee, leaving their nets and boats. He has to be represented as a very fair-skinned Maori, in order to escape detection. If they had differed from him in stature or in supernatural appearance, they would not have needed the dawn to reveal the difference. Their ways were evidently those of men driven to follow their old sea pursuits only at night, and fleeing to the mountains and the forests at daybreak to escape the fierce intruders who had landed on their shores.

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(16) And there is something very human in many of the other traits attributed to these Patupaiarehe by Maori legend. They run away with the wife of a Maori, and he rescues her from them by painting her with red ochre (kokowai), giving cooked food, and using incantations (karakias). Their fear of cooked food, doubtless, means that they steamed their own food, and abhorred the South Asiatic method of boiling or roasting at an open fire, introduced by the Polynesians. Their abhorrence of kokowai shows that they hated the sanguinary look that it gave the Maori warrior, and preferred their own fair skins unpainted. And the absence of karakias indicates that their religion was free from the magic and sorcery and symbolic rites of South Asiatic peoples. This all points to a North Pacific, and primarily North European, origin for these fair-haired, fair-skinned aborigines.