Ethnology of Manihiki and Rakahanga
Nets (kupanga; Cook Islands and New Zealand, kupenga) were made of sennit two-ply twisted cord (whauhoto), which has been displaced in recent times by foreign cord. The nets are all bag nets. Long seine nets are not used. A mesh is komata or simply mata, and commencement meshes are na mata i te aro. A needle (hika) (fig. 72; pl. 8, C) and a mesh gage (haeha) are used in netting. Netting technique is as follows:
A supporting cord, on which a row of meshes (ara pona: ara, path; pona, knot) is set up for the length of the net circumference, is used. The supporting cord is knotted at its ends to form a wide loop, which the net-maker hooks over one of his toes. An assistant holds the free end of the netting cord for the first row while the principal uses the netting needle and mesh gage as in figure 73. On completing the first row, the second row is added as in figure 74. To shape the net, extra meshes (mata i te tua) are put in as in figure 75. This technique of adding extra meshes has been described for New Zealand (26, p. 609) and Samoa (28, p. 472). As each row is completed the net is turned, and successive rows are added in the manner in which the second is added to the commencement row. When the net is of sufficient depth, the two ends are brought together and joined with the netting knot by crossing the cord alternately from side to side through the loops of the marginal meshes. The bottom is closed in the same way.
Four types of nets and methods of using them are as follows:
Figure 73. Netting technique (ta kupanga), first row. a, assistant holds length of slack judged sufficient to form upper halves of all meshes of first row; with slack in hand, he draws cord (1) taut under supporting cord (3) while principal netter, holding other end taut with needle, places appropriate gage (4) over cord; he spaces gage with left hand so that gage is same distance from supporting cord as its own depth; he turns netting cord up over lower edge of gage to form lower half of mesh (5) and keeps it in position on gage with left thumb; he then takes needle end of cord (2) over supporting cord, passes it under short end (1) from left to right and brings it back over supporting cord. b, netting end (2) drawn taut and assistant slacks off short end until it is brought down to upper edge of mesh gage in loop (6) which incidentally defines first mesh (7). c, netter places left thumb over crossing of loops and by pressing it against mesh gage prevents loop of mesh (7) from altering in size; he flicks netting cord to right to form large loop (8), takes needle across both limbs of upper loop (6) from right to left, brings needle back to right under both limbs of upper loop up through large left loop (8). d, netting needle drawn taut and netting knot (9) results in completion of first mesh (7); principle of forming individual meshes can now be followed; upper half of meshes formed by short length (i) held by assistant, its upper end defined by turn around supporting cord; lower half formed by cord attached to needle (2) and lower end defined by turn around lower edge of mesh gage; the two cords crossed in loops on upper edge of gage and fixed with netting knot.e, to form next mesh, netting cord turned to back of gage to follow procedure adopted with first mesh and brought up around lower edge of gage to form lower loop (5) which is held against gage with left thumb; short length (1) must now be brought down to upper edge of gage to form upper half of mesh; as, however, short length (1) now in front of supporting cord (3), needle must be passed under supporting cord and hooked over short length from left to right in order to loop short length over supporting cord. f, short length (1) drawn in loop (6) to meet upper edge of gage to define second mesh (8), crossing fixed with left thumb and netting knot made as in c; both limbs of upper loop (6) now under supporting cord (3), g, needle, after adjusting lower loop (5), passes above supporting cord as in a to bring upper loop (6) down to mesh gage and insure that upper half of mesh (9) looped around supporting cord (3); knot made. h, meshes as made, pushed to left on gage; netting needle passes alternately above (a) and below (e) supporting cord to hook down short length to form upper halves of meshes; after each knot, netting cord turned to back of gage and brought up under its lower edge to front; when gage becomes crowded, meshes on left pushed off; in this way full length of first row completed.
2. The long-handled fine-meshed net (tirapa) has a shorter handle, about 6 feet long, and the mesh is finer than in the flying fish net. It is devised for such smaller fish as the ihe, marau awa, and other fish which do not fly.
Figure 74. Netting technique. second row. a. netting turned so that last mesh (10) which ended on right is turned to left with supporting cord (3) still in position, short length (1) of no further use, assistant dispensed with; netting carried on with cord (2) attached to needle. b, mesh gage (4) placed in position so that upper edge touches lower end of completed mesh (10) of first row; netting cord brought down behind gage up around lower edge to form lower loop (5); needle then passed through loop of mesh (10), crossing drawn taut on upper edge of gage where held with left thumb, and netting knot (6) made, thus finishing first mesh (1′) of second row. c, gage has been removed to show full extent of meshes (1′, 2′, 3′) of second row; intervals between meshes of first row form upper halves of meshes of second row; lower halves formed around mesh gage; in making next mesh, cord (2) will pass over lower end of mesh (7) as in b.
Figure 75. Extra meshes (mata i te tua). a, row of meshes carried along, of which mesh 5 is last completed by knotting to lower loop of mesh 7; instead of carrying cord (3) through next mesh (8) and so completing one mesh in ordinary technique, netter decides to put in extra mesh and so form two meshes between loop of meshes 7 and 8. b, cord (3) carried through intermediate mesh (10) of row above, and loop so formed brought down to upper edge of mesh gage (4) where the two limbs held close together against it by left thumb; right hand throws out loose loop (6) to right and proceeds to make netting knot around the two limbs of loop; this forms one mesh to left of knot. c, cord (3) brought around back of gage, passed through loop of mesh (8), and netting knot made; mesh gage removed in figure to show the two meshes (1, 2) between meshes 7 and 8; cord (3) can now be carried through next mesh (9) in ordinary technique.
4. The baited bag net (kupanga tata). (See pl. 8, A.) A hoop about 14 inches in diameter and formed of ngangie wood is attached to a bag net. A small net 12 inches deep was seen. Two strips of dry coconut flower sheath (taume) were crossed over the hoop, to which they were tied. The bait of tupa land crab is tied to the central crossing. Four pieces of cord equal distances apart are tied to the hoop, and the ends are brought together to tie to a line. A sinker consisting of a piece of coral is tied to the bottom of the net on the outside. The net is used for catching kokiri.
Figure 76. Flying fish net (kupanga maroro) : a, handle and frame (kaututu); b-d, lashing of frame to handle. a, handle and frame: 1, handle, 9 or 10 feet long; 2, stout rods (pukaututu); 3, shorter thinner rods (matakaututu); 4, lashings of matakaututu to pukaututu; 5, lashing (tapua) of pukaututu to handle some distance from its end; 6, cross bar, lashed to end of handle and to pukaututu to act as spreader; 7, lashing of bent-in ends of matakaututu. b-d, lashing of pukaututu to handle. b, thicker ends of rods (2) cut at slant to lie flat against handle at required angle; length of cord placed with one end (3) on handle between rods that it may be covered and so fixed by subsequent turns around handle. c, series of close transverse turns (4) made around handle and slanting butt ends of rods binding them firmly together; when divergence of rods reached, cord (5) brought around near rod, over handle, and under far rod. d, from last turn, cord brought around far rod, under handle, and over near rod from above; it passes around near rod, over handle, and below far rod as in c; by repeating turns (6) rods and handle wrapped separately; end fixed with couple of half-hitches or overhand knot around one of rods.