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The Coming of the Maori

The Bow and Arrow

The Bow and Arrow

The evidence for the bow and arrow in New Zealand rests to some extent on the translation of references in the Maori text of Te Matorohanga (81, p. 73), one of which runs "whakawhana ai te manuka hei pere." The verb whakawhana is the key word and it may mean either to propel or to bend. Thus the translation may be rendered as "the manuka was propelled as a dart" or "the manuka was bent as a bow." The first rendering refers to the throwing stick but even if the second rendering conveys more clearly what the informant had in mind, it does not necessarily establish the accuracy of the informant's statement. Maori children had copied the bow and arrow in play from pakeha children and their elders had named the bow pere from its propelling action. Hence it is possible that the bow and arrow idea may have been interpolated in post-European times instead of having been carried over from central Polynesia. Material support for the bow rests on a specimen in the Dominion Museum stated to have been found two feet below the surface in excavating a drain north of Auckland. It is said closely to resemble the bows from the New Hebrides but if so, it may have come from there as a curio in post-European times.