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Maori and Polynesian: their origin, history and culture

They Taught the Polynesian Immigrants Various — Arts

They Taught the Polynesian Immigrants Various

(18) And the legends seem to show that this has something to do with the marvellous new development of the primitive arts in New Zealand. Te Kanawa, a Maori chief, came across the fairies on the top of a mountain; and in his fear he put out all his greenstone and sharkstooth ornaments as a peace-offering to them; but they only took the form of them, and vanished, leaving the originals untouched. The story shows how they were as fond of ornaments and as capable of making them as the Maoris, and that they did not work greenstone.

(19) Another set of forest fairies, the Hakuturi, had especial skill in woodcraft, and the making of canoes out of tree-trunks. In the legend of Rata they level a tree and dig out a canoe for him as by magic. It seems to mean that it was the forest-haunting aborigines that taught the immigrants from Polynesia how to make the great single dug-out canoe instead of the double canoe and the outrigger canoe to which they had been accustomed. And these Hakuturi are described as white also.

(20) Rata got the canoe in order to go against another set of aboriginals, a sea-haunting set, the Ponaturi, who had slain his father and were using his bones in incantations. An earlier version of his story is placed in the heroic or semi-divine stage of Maori mythology. Tawhaki, the Prometheus of the race, has to recover his father's bones from the Ponaturi, who live page 36by night in a house beneath the sea; whilst a later version rids it of all the supernatural, and makes a chief, Ruapupuke, whose boy was drowned, go down to the house of these sea-haunting people, burn their great carved house, recover his son's body from its use as an image on the ridge-pole, and bring up the carved work in order to teach the Maoris the art. This seems to show that some of the pre-Polynesians resisted the immigrants, keeping to their sea haunts and maritime pursuits, and ultimately taught them their new spiral wood-carving. And these are often alluded to as Patupaiarehe, and therefore light skinned.

(21) Other ancient names that the Maoris have for a white man are Waraki and Maitai. But the commonest is pakeha. For their tradition told them of gods who lived on the sea, who were fair in complexion, and were called Pakehapakeha.

(22) It is natural to think that New Zealand, because of its size and its position as a cul-de-sac for Pacific sea-migrants from the north, should have most evidences of the primitive and pre-Polynesian races. Its forests and mountains would give them shelter for ages. In the smaller islands of the South Seas they would be more easily exterminated. But even there there are evidences in the people and their traditions of a white race having stood out against the South Asiatic conquerors, and of having been absorbed, too. All over the islands the early navigators were struck with the European features and the light complexion of many of the natives.