The Coming of the Maori
5 — Warfare
Wars(pakanga) in the near homeland of hawaikiled to the migration of many of the historic canoes to New Zealand. Wars had occurred during the second settlement period and continued with increasing ferocity during the third settlement period. The causes were many, one of the earliest being for the acquisition of territory. As tribes and their chiefs built up their prestige, they became very resentful of any remarks of a disparaging nature, which were regarded as personal insults. An insult, if it went unnoticed, lowered chiefly and tribal prestige. I have mentioned the danger of extra-tribal marriages when quarrels arose between husband and wife. It was not so much the act of beating a wife that aroused her kinsmen but the disparaging remarks about her family.
Sometimes a seemingly innocent remark was interpreted adversely and produced dire results. In the Ngati Mutunga territory, the high chief Kahukura was walking along the sea beach when a man in a fishing canoe just offshore caught a gurnard (kumukumu). Kahukura was liberally daubed with red ochre, so the fisherman held up the gurnard which is red in colour, and said to his companions jocularly, "That man is like this fish." One of the fishermen in the canoe was related to Kahukura, and he carried the tale of the unfortunate simile. The gurnard in spite of its chiefly colour is poor eating and about the least desired of all fish. To compare a high chief to food, and poor food at that, was an insult and early next morning, the jester's village was attacked and destroyed. Sometimes, war was precipitated by a boastful remark of some vainglorious chief. For instance, a South Island chief, on hearing of the military successes of Te Rauparaha, said, "If he comes my way, I will rip his belly open with a barracuda's tooth." The statement was regarded as a casus belli, and Te Rauparaha duly arrived with his forces, captured the fort, and performed an abdominal operation on the boaster with a barracuda's page 388tooth for a scalpel. Maori humour was apt to take a gruesome turn. An inimical act, such as murder by an individual of another tribe, was sufficient cause for an attack against the culprit's tribe, and, so long as some members of that tribe were killed, it did not matter if the real culprit escaped. Payment (utu) was procured by the shedding of blood.
Sometimes an avenging war party (taua) was deflected from its primary objective and was satisfied with a secondary objective. Some members of an Atiawa party on their way south to join their main body, while passing through south Taranaki, were murdered by a section of the Ngati Ruanui. When the news reached the main body of Atiawa, a war party was immediately sent north to exact blood payment from the Ngati Ruanui. On the way, they had to cross the Whanganui River, and, as they had no quarrel with the Whanganui tribe, they sent runners ahead to notify the Whanganui to keep out of the way. A war-party on the march had to kill anyone whom they met, such a victim being termed a "maroro kokoti ihu waka taua" (a flying fish which crosses the bows of a war canoe). Unless this was done, the war-party would be defeated. The Whanganui, however, had been incited by another tribe to oppose the passage of the Atiawa, so they returned the ambiguous message, "Ko wai he tane, ko wai he wahine?" (Who are men, and who are women?). The Atiawa war-party interpreted the message correctly as a challenge, and when they reached the Whanganui River, they turned aside to inflict a defeat on the Whanganui tribe at Putiki. The way having been cleared, the Atiawa returned south to fulfill their other engagements, instead of continuing north to punish the Ngati Ruanui. The blood of their kinsman slain by the Ngati Ruanui had been avenged by shedding the blood of the Whanganui.
The constant inter-tribal conflicts led to such bitter feuds that the tribes kept an account of their victories and defeats with other tribes. It became a vital point of honour to avenge a defeat and so obtain payment (utu), and it was better still to establish a credit balance by an extra victory. It is the seesaw record of military exploits which forms the major part of the tribal histories, and the details of the raids and expeditions furnish much valuable information regarding Maori psychology and culture.
As the prospect of being raided was ever imminent, the tribes built their villages on sites where the natural features would aid in defence. The villages developed into fortified strongholds (pa tuwatawata) with lookout towers in which sentries were posted. They recited watch alarms (whakaaraara pa) in a loud voice at intervals throughout the night to convey the information to prowling war parties that the fort was on the alert. Many of these alarms have been handed down and give colour to speeches. One of them commences as follows:
|Kia hiwa ra e tenet tuku,||O hither terrace, be on the alert,|
|Kia hiwa ra e tera tuku,||O yonder terrace be on the alert,|
|Kei apurua koe ki te toto.||Lest ye be smothered in blood.|
The following example is from the Whanganui area:
|Tenet te pa,||This is the fort,|
|A tenei te pa||Yes, this is the fort!|
|Tenei te pa tuwatawata,||This is the fort with the high palisades|
|"Te aka i houhia,||Bound with the forest vines,|
|0 ko roto, ko au e-.||And here within, am I—.|
Thus the sentries, instead of being visited at intervals by an orderly officer of the day to see if they were awake, announced their wakefulness themselves both to a problematical enemy and to the people within the fort.
The mobilization of a war-party was a simple matter in a culture where the chief's authority was supreme. There was no need to call a meeting of Parliament to declare war and mobilize troops. The Maori tribe was quickly assembled in the tribal meeting house or on the marae and the insult or other cause was made known. Inflammatory speeches were made, and if the meeting was held on the marae, the leading warriors punctuated their speeches with a display of their agility and skill in handling their favourite weapons. Speeches were also enriched with songs and chants appropriate to war. One chant of an inflammatory nature used similes from bird life with a play on the names of appropriate birds and their supposed cry. Thus huia, tui, and torea were utilized as follows:
|Whakarongo te taringa||Let the ear listen|
|ki te tangi o te huia||to the call of the huia|
|e karanga net,||which is crying,|
|"Huia, huia, huia mai
|"Assemble, assemble, let
us assemble together."
Then the ears were commanded to listen to the call of the tui, which cried,
|"Tuia, tuia, tuia mai tatou."||"Bind, bind, bind us together."|
The third and last exhortation was to the cry of the torea, "Tokia, tokia, tokia." The word toki means an adze or an axe and the cry of the bellicose torea may be translated colloquially as "Give them the axe."
The orators thus worked the people up into a state of excitement and military fervour, making them impatient to set out to raid the enemy.
If the raid was on a small scale, the subtribe immediately concerned was able to provide its own expeditionary force. A favourite number for a small compact force was 140, termed a hokowhitu which means 20 times seven. A hokowhitu was composed of a number of closely related men who would obey their chief implicitly and be willing to the to the last man. Thus the term hokowhitu became an idiomatic term for a small war party irrespective of exact number. The First Maori Contingent of 500 men who served in World War I was named by the Maori elders "Te Hokowhitu a Tu" (The hundred and forty men of the war god Tu).page 390
For large war parties, some time was required to mobilize. A messenger was sent out to the various subtribes to give the time and place of assembly. He carried some symbol denoting war, such as an old cloak with a hole burnt through it. When Hone Heke decided to make war against the British, he sent a bag of bullets to the various villages of the Ngapuhi. The procedure resembles the fiery cross of the Clan Alpine in the Highlands of Scotland. The subtribes mobilized and practised their war dance before setting out for the assembly place. Meanwhile, the people of the home marae had also practised their war dance. When a reinforcement group was sighted, the home forces took up their position on the marae, kneeling usually in a column of fours. As the visiting body approached, three challengers armed with spears advanced to meet them with protruding tongues and glaring eyes, gestures that signified defiance. The leading challenger threw or laid his spear on the ground before the steadily advancing party. As he retired slowly, the second challenger cast his spear. The visiting party had already selected their three fastest runners to chase the challengers when the time came. At a distance of 200 yards or more to allow of a good run, the third challenger threw his spear and immediately turned with his companions to race back to the left side of the main body. The moment the spear left his hand, the three fast runners of the visiting force dashed out at full speed to catch the challengers before they regained their own force. The visiting body broke into a yell and followed fast to within twenty yards or so of the main body where they subsided to the ground in the kneeling position in close column of fours. If the visitors caught one of the challengers before he passed the front rank of his own side, it was a good omen for them; if they failed, it was a good omen for the home force.
The two massed bodies glared at one another across the intervening space; and then, with a yell, both parties sprang to their feet and charged at each other. To avoid a head-on collision, the visitors passed on the right-hand side of the home body. After proceeding in opposite directions for a short distance, the leaders gave the order "Hurihia" ("Turn") and the parties passed each other again. They turned again and came to rest in their previous starting positions. The leader of the home body shouted a command, "whiti, whiti," and his men rose to their feet. The dance leader then commenced the tribal war dance and, in perfect time, with stamping of feet that made the ground tremble, the whole party put in everything they knew in the way of quivering muscles, distorted facial expressions, and thunderous shouting of the words in absolute unison. With the last expulsion of sound, the war party sank to the ground. The visiting force in turn leaped to their feet and went through their dance, adding more ferocity, if possible, to outdo the home force. Sometimes, the page 391parties alternated with additional war dances in a competition to excel in rhythm, vigour, and sound.
When the war-like demonstration ended, the visitors were welcomed in the orthodox manner, with wailing, speeches, and the concluding pressing of noses. They were fed, and the two forces combined to welcome the other reinforcements as they arrived. Finally, when all the reinforcements had arrived, the combined forces joined in a grand finale of the tribal war dance and were ready to move out.
During the various demonstrations, old men who were experts judged the fitness of the troops. Every movement was watched for mistakes, as such constituted ill omens. When the challengers threw their spears, the spears had to rest longitudinally on the ground pointing directly on the line between the two forces. If a spear turned and fell transversely or across the line, it was an ill omen. In the challenges during social gatherings, I have seen the challenger carefully place his spear in the right position to avoid the chance of its turning should he throw it. The challengers, in turning to retire, had to make a right-about turn. If any one of them made a left-about turn, it was an ill omen. The pursuers in their dash had to follow to the right of the receiving body. Should a pursuer inadvertently cross to the left of the main body, it was regarded as an insult. In a demonstration at the Maori reception at Rotorua for the Duke of York, afterwards King George V, a pursuer crossed over in front of the kneeling war party of Ngati Tuwharetoa of Taupo, and a front-rank man promptly speared him through the leg. The wounded man's tribe bore no animosity but merely said, "Serve him right."
Another omen was taken from the timing of the massed war dances. In one war dance, the entire war party leaped high in the air with both feet off the ground. The judges crouched low and looked along the ground. If one man out of 500 was out of time, he was readily detected by his feet being down when all the others were up. The judges expressed their opinion vehemently, and the troops were condemned to more training until their leg drill was perfect. All mistakes regarded as ill omens were termed korapa.
The war dances (tutu ngarahu or peruperu) were danced with spears or double-handed clubs in the right hand and they were moved up and down alternately in an oblique direction in time to the stamping of the feet. The posture dance (haka) was danced without weapons, except for the leader or an expert who gave a demonstration with a club in time with the dance. The composition of some of the war dances is old and some of them have spread to such an extent that the tribe of the original composer is uncertain. The best known is probably the following:page 392
|Solo||Kia kutia!||Close in!|
|Chorus||A u,au.||Ah, ah.|
|Solo||Kia wherahia!||Kia wherahia!|
|Chorus||A u,au.||Ah, ah.|
Kia rere atu te kekeno Ki tawhiti, Titiro mai ai! A, a, te riri.
Let the seal flee away to the distance, And there gaze (affrightedly) back! Ah, ah, it is war.
The two solo lines refer to the action of the arms in the initial movements of the dance, the movement of closing-in signified by the word kutia being represented by crossing the arms in front of the body, the right arm carrying the vertical club to the left. The movement of wherahia (to open out) is made by uncrossing the arms with both arms extending outwards to their full length, the club being now to the right. Each movement is timed to the beat of the right foot, the left foot remaining stationary. The first solo line takes two beats on kutia, the introductory kia being clipped short. The first movement on the beat ku is open out, and the second on tia is closing in. The chorus au, au is two beats with a continuance of the sequence of opening out and closing in. Up to the end of the second au, au, the movements are measured and stately, but at the commencement of the fifth line, kia rere, the action becomes frenzied. The step and the action change and the words are yelled at the top of the voice. The performers leap into the air as one man and come down with both feet on the ground to mark the first beat. From then on, the beat is in two parts. In the first part, the left foot makes a low hop while the right foot swings back and to the left off the ground. In the second part both feet are off the ground, then both come down with a thud to mark the end of the beat. The right arm swings in to the body in the first part of the beat and is thrust out vigorously to full arm length with the club vertical on the second part of the beat. The left hand is raised on the first half and smacks the left thigh on the end of the beat.
Speaking from personal experience, the steps are difficult at first, but they are mastered with practice. This is true also of the word rhythm to fit in with the steps. In the text, the seal (kekeno), which is rare in northern waters, was probably introduced to indicate how utter the flight of the enemy would be. Each tribe had its own composition, but the steps and action described form the standard pattern used with any words. Another classic, commencing with "Wiku, wiku mai te whiore", was a favourite with the Ngapuhi and had a different action, in which the club was moved up and down and the performers leaped high in the air on every third beat. Even in modern times, one feels a thrill up the spine and a tingling at the hair roots when taking part in the revivals for social page 393occasions. Some writers have stated that a furious war dance was indulged in before battle to give Dutch courage to the troops. This is not quite accurate; the war dances were performed before battle because they were the appropriate gesture of mass defiance before engaging in hand-to-hand combat.
Before the war party set out, certain rituals had to be carried out. One, termed whakangungu paepae, consisted of the warriors in turn biting the cross-bar of the village latrine while the priest recited the appropriate ritual to ward off any attempts by enemy sorcerers to affect the sight, skill, and physical well-being of the individual members of the troops by black magic The warding-off process is termed whakangungu and paepae is the village latrine. The selection of the latrine, though probably revolting to most readers, was made for very definite reasons in accordance with Maori psychology. It was done by the warriors to show symbolically that they were prepared to go through any ordeal, no matter how revolting, in order to gain success. Also, the village latrine, from its very inception, was under a protective tapu, which protected its users from any attempt to take the faeces of an individual as a medium for black magic. Thus, by association, the latrine was an appropriate place for a further ceremony of warding off any attempts at sorcery that might take place in the field of operations to which the war party was to proceed. The rite was a prophylactic measure which gave the troops the confidence inspired by the feeling of protection against any secret powers the enemy might use.
The second ceremony, termed wai taua (wai, water; taua, war party), was performed at a nearby stream. The troops stripped, entered the stream, and the priest recited the ritual as he sprinkled each warrior with a small branch dipped in the stream. The warriors received the war tapu and came under the protection of their tribal war god. The march was then continued, for one of the restrictions of the war tapu was that they could have no contact with their wives or sweethearts until the tapu was removed on their return.
The sprinkling with water removed any faults or errors on the part of individual warriors and made them clean for the war tapu and the favour of the war gods. Like other ritual customs, it had a great psychological effect. After a custom or a ritual has been established, its very performance gives the feeling that all will be well. Its omission leaves the feeling that something will go wrong.
Though statements have been made that war parties lived off the land during their raids, tribal histories reveal that definite arrangements were made for provisioning the troops, supplies of food being carried by slaves. In a war party reinforced by detachments from other subtribes, or even tribes, the various units were under their own chiefs but the whole war party was under the command of the leading chief whose family was page 394directly concerned with the cause of the war. The others were there on his invitation and he, therefore, provided most of the food and had charge of its distribution. Sometimes jealousies arose over matters of prestige or prowess in the field, and the chief in charge of the food has been known to vent a spite by withholding food from the person of whom he was jealous. In the Whanganui expedition to Lake Taupo, Turahui was in supreme command, but Tamakana had greatly distinguished himself in the battles which had been fought. On the way home, the war party halted to partake of a meal of cooked and dried whitebait which was wrapped up in leaves and contained in baskets. Turahui, as commander, distributed the food in handfuls of packages to the various groups of his army but so arranged it that all the food was distributed before he reached Tamakana's group, which he had left to the last. He felt in the empty baskets and, lifting up a bunch of leaves, called, "O Tamakana, there are only leaves left." Tamakana said nothing, and he and his men sat still while the others ate. Suddenly, however, a Taupo war party, in strength, was seen approaching rapidly to avenge the defeat their tribe had suffered. Tamakana stood up and called to his contingent to take the homeward trail to Whanganui. When Turahui saw his best warrior with his contingent about to retire, he called, "O Tamakana, here is the battle upon us." Tamakana turned and replied, "Let the eaters of fish remain, but the eaters of leaves are returning home." And so Turahui was slain at the head of his forces because of an insult to a man who might have turned the tide of battle. Retiring in the face of the enemy would be unforgivable according to the British code, but to the Maori it was a trivial matter as compared to wiping out the insult to one's honour and prestige.
War was a military science to the Maori and the experienced leader had a number of formations and plans of attack and defence to choose from. The wedge-shaped formation used by the Romans was also used by the Maori. The place of honour occupied by the leading warrior was the single position forming the point of the wedge. The second row was formed by two men, termed the pipi, and quarrels often ensued in the competition to occupy these honourable but dangerous positions.
The formation was used to break through outer screens of defenders and reach the main position quickly. Another plan of strategy was to draw out the defenders of a strong fort by a feint attack which retired with loss to tempt and lead their pursuers into a prepared ambush (kokoti). Sometimes the feint attack and ambuscade was used by defenders to precipitate an engagement before the invaders were ready. When the large Waikato army under Te Wherowhero advanced into Taranaki, they decided to rest after a long march and attack the Ngati Mutunga fort of Okoki the next morning. The Ngati Mutunga, however, had noted their arrival and preparations to camp. They left the fort and planted an page 395ambush in a semi-circle of low hills on the plains of Te Motunui before the fort. The feinting party, termed a hunuhunu (singeing) suddenly burst upon the invaders as they were preparing a shelter for an old chief and slew a number before they could rally. The hunuhunu fled and the invaders, thirsty for revenge, pursued them at full speed for about a mile, when, somewhat breathless, they arrived in the midst of the ambuscade. The fresh Ngati Mutunga main body with allies of the Ngati Toa poured down on the surprised Waikato and in the first charge a number of Waikato chiefs were killed. Waikato reinforcements arrived and they made two more charges, each of which was repulsed with the loss of other noted chiefs. The Waikato forces retreated and the Ngati Mutunga and their allies won the memorable batde of Te Motunui against superior numbers by strategy.
There were a number of methods which received names. An attack in mass was termed the kawau māro, after a shag (kawau) with its neck stretched out (māro) ready for action. A force making a stand against waves of attack was termed a toka tu moana, a rock that stands in the ocean. Best (16, vol. 2, p. 238) states that a favourite method used against the Government forces in the 'sixties was the separation into small units to harass the foe and, if pressed, to retire to a pre-arranged place. There are others but enough has been said to show that the Maori was strategist as well as tactician.
In individual training, the guards, strokes, feints, and parries with the various weapons, long and short, were carefully taught and assiduously practised. The accompanying footwork consisted of short, quick jumps with both feet off the ground, the right and left being alternately swung round before the other as the feet were brought to the ground. In this way, the opponents sparred around each other seeking for an opening. With the long clubs, the blows were quick and short so that the club could be brought back quickly to guard the body. A full swing which, on missing, carried the weapon too far for quick recovery was condemned. At the Christchurch Exhibition in 1906, I sat beside a group of Maori watching a body of well-trained Fijians giving an exhibition of arms drill with their typical curved clubs. Their time was perfect; the clubs swished through the air in unison and finished the stroke high up on the left. An old Maori expert beside me spat on the ground with, a grunt. I innocently remarked, "Good, aren't they." He gave me a withering look and replied, "Good? What opponent would wait for that kind of stroke? A side step and the man who made the stroke would be killed three times over before he could recover his guard." He spat again and mumbled, "He kai na te ahi" ("Food for the fire"). He meant that the man who overswung would become food for his opponent. In fairness to the Fijians, it must be page 396recognized that they were putting on a peace-time drill and their ancestors may not have overswung on the field of battle.
In advancing to single combat with the taiaha, the club was held horizontally with the right hand, the point to the right and the blade behind the back at the level of the shoulders. Both arms were extended outwards to full length and the advance was made with short, mincing steps, alternately inclining to the right and the left. The attitude was one of defiance, the exponent making facial grimaces as hideous as possible and uttering a challenging cry which always sounded to me like the neigh of a stallion. The breast was exposed in challenge and the position of the club was termed marangai areare. As the opponents neared each other, the position of the club was changed so as to cover the front of the body, the blade above and the point below. The right hand shifted up the shaft and the left hand took hold below it. A bit of byplay was sometimes indulged in by assuming the position termed hoi. This was used with the taiaha which has two full faces carved on the point end, the point itself being the pointed tongue issuing from the chinless face of the carved part. The two full faces form two extra faces viewed in profile, and the taiaha thus has four faces which look towards the four quarters of its surroundings. In the hoi position, the blade was held against the lobe (hoi) of the right ear, and if the warrior was in perfect accord with his weapon, the four faces transmitted a message up the shaft as to what they had seen. From the hoi position, the club went into the orthodox guard position termed poupoutahi or popotahi. The club was held vertically in front of the middle line of the body and inclined right and left with the sparring movements of the body. It was in position to parry (karo) with the least movement any blows aimed at the head or any thrusts aimed at the body. A blow from above with the blade (rau) was termed whitiapu or whitipu. A thrust from below with the tongue point (arero) was termed whakarehu. The whakarehu thrust was usually a feint to draw the opponent's guard and so clear the way for a quick whitipu blow at the head. However, if the thrust went home, well and good. With evenly matched warriors, the whitipu blow was too dangerous to use; the opponent, by parrying, had his blade on the inside and a quick return whitipu blow slid down with the enemy's club out of position for parrying. When both opponents were too wary to try the whitipu, they sometimes parted to seek some less experienced opponent.
The poupoutahi was the orthodox position for it afforded the most perfect cover for the body. However, Sir James Carroll was fond of describing another guard position which he termed the low guard of Te Otane. Te Otane was a young chief of the Ngati Kahungunu tribe, whose section had been driven out of their territorial lands by conquest. While in exile, Te Otane invented the low guard for use when the time page 397came to recover their lost land. In the poupoutahi guard the body is well covered up. Te Otane reasoned that if he could go into battle with the body apparently exposed, he would deceive his opponents into thinking that he was an easy target for the whitipu stroke. He accordingly crossed his hands in turning his club from the poupoutahi position to lower the blade to the left thus leaving his head and chest unguarded. The new guard acted like a charm when the reorganized Ngati Kahungunu war party returned to retake their tribal territory with Te Otane at their head. Warrior after warrior of the enemy engaged Te Otane and struck confidently at his seemingly unprotected head, only to meet death at his hands. The low guard position was a lure, for as an opponent struck a right-handed blow at his head, the blade of Te Otane's club rose and turned the enemy's blade off to the right while, at the same time, his point pierced his opponent's unguarded abdomen. The blade parried and the point thrust simultaneously. And so Te Otane came back to his own.
A third guard position was used against a left-handed opponent. In this the club was held horizontally in front of the chest with the point to the left and was termed paeruru by some, huanui by others. The advantage over the poupoutahi was not explained to me. It is easy to see that Te Otane's low guard would be of no use against a left hander unless a left hander used it.
A warrior usually carried a short club thrust through his belt, in addition to his long club. Some warriors preferred the short clubs and they were dangerous in-fighters. It will be observed that all the short clubs of the mere and allied types in stone, whalebone, and jade have a spatulate-shaped distal end ground down to a sharp edge. The usual blow was a thrust (tipi) with the distal edge aimed by preference at the temple; but a blow (patu) with the side edge was sometimes convenient. The short-club expert sparred around his opponent with a long club and, when the opportunity presented itself, stepped in (urutomo) and gave him a short-arm jab. A looped thong or cord through the perforation in the butt was looped over the right thumb and around the hand to prevent the hand from slipping along the grip when the blade (rau) struck a hard object like the skull. When the thrust connected with an upper-cut, it was immediately followed up with a downward blow of the heel (reke) to finish matters. The in-fighter depended on his agility to evade the blows from the long clubs. Such dodging to let a blow go by was termed tuku. Sometimes, he wrapped a thick war cloak (pukupuku) around his left arm to parry the blows.
In combat, the warrior watched, not the eyes, but the big toes of his opponent. Feint blows were really made from the flexed elbows, and the feet did not need to take a firm stance at the moment of delivery. In striking a real blow, it came from the shoulders, and the opponent in page 398taking a firm stance gripped the ground, so to speak, with his toes. In other words, in a feint blow, the toes did not move, but in a real blow the toes flexed and the big toe of the advanced foot served as an indicator. Some warriors watched the shoulder and could tell from the ripple of the deltoid shoulder muscle when the real blow was coming.
In addition to instruction in arms, the warrior was taught some ritual chants that would aid him in his profession. One, termed hoa rakau or mata rakau, was for the purpose of giving speed (hoa) or edge (mata) to his weapon (rakau). Another, termed hoa tapuwae, was recited during the pursuit of an enemy to give speed to the pursuer's feet (tapuwae). The opposite to the hoa tapuwae was the punga (anchor) used by the pursued to slow the speed of his pursuers. When both pursuer and pursued were using their magic chants, the faster runner demonstrated the greater efficacy of his chant. Finally, there was a chant used by a warrior when girding himself for battle. A typical example is the following:
|Homai taku tu,||Give me my belt,|
|Homai taku maro,||Give me my loin cloth,|
|Kia hurua,||That they may be put on,|
|Kia rawea||That they may be fastened|
|Kia harapaki maun
kp te riri,
|That wrath and I
may join together,
|Maua ko te nguha.||Rage and I.|
|He maro riri te maro,||The loin cloth is for anger,|
|He maro nguha te maro,||The loin cloth is for rage,|
|He maro kai taua.||The loin cloth is for destroying
When two forces drew up in battle array facing each other, a tried warrior stepped out into the no-man's land between the two armies and challenged someone on the other side to single combat (tau-mataki-tahi). The two principals were sometimes supported by one or two seconds, termed piki. Their function was to prevent the seconds of the other side from interfering if they saw their principal getting the worst of the duel. Thus the seconds often joined in the fray. The armies usually maintained their ground and watched the fight with the deepest interest, for it was a good omen to the side which won.
The first person killed in a battle was termed the first fish under the various terms mataika, matangohi, and ika i te ati. It was a great honour for the warrior who could cry, "Kei au te mataika" (I have the first fish).
'Who spills the foremost foeman's life,
His party conquers in the strife.'
The ambition to slay the first fish often led warriors to take undue risks and so provide a first fish for the enemy. Te Rangihiroa, of the Tuhourangi tribe of Rotorua, sprang off a high embankment onto a fully armed war canoe, in his search for fame, and his action is thus described in a lament for his death.
|Rere a manu tonu||Swift as a bird|
|Ki te hopu matangohi||To catch the first fish,|
|Kei hoki te ingoa.||Lest the name decline.|
It has been said that if Maori football teams make the first score in a match, it encourages them so much that they usually win. This may be a carry-over from the first-fish belief of their ancestors.
The whangai hau ritual was performed on the battlefield immediately after the slaying of the first fish. The priest accompanying the war party, cut open the victim's body, plucked out the heart, and held it aloft with the appropriate incantation as an offering to the tribal war god. In the term whangai hau, whangai means to feed and hau refers to the part of the human body offered. The securing of the first fish and the accompanying whangai hau ritual had a cumulative action which considerably increased the confidence of the troops and at the same time depreciated the morale of the enemy. The priest also cut off a lock of hair of the victim or some portion of flesh which he kept to lay on the tribal shrine (tuahu) after the party returned home. This offering was termed the mawe.
The fame of the warrior (toa taua) was held to be transient as compared with that of the provider of food, yet the fact remains that noted warriors received more publicity in song and story than their contemporaries in the peaceful arts. The fame of noted warriors spread far beyond their tribal bounds and intense rivalry and jealousy existed among the champions of the different tribes. Hence the preliminary staging of single combats between opposing armies. Warriors sought descriptions of their rivals in order that they might identify them on a crowded battlefield. The Ngati Tama champion, Pitawa, heard that Pehi Turoa of Whanganui was a tall man, tattooed on one side of the face, and that his weapon was a taiaha. In a subsequent battle on the banks of the Whanganui River, when the Whanganui retreated, Pitawa pursued a man answering to the description. The real Pehi Turoa got in the way, but Pitawa bumped him aside with his shoulder and continued the chase. Pitawa slew the wrong man, and Pehi Turoa lived to relate the tale of Pitawa's friendly bump which knocked him into the river, across which he swam to safety.
Warriors gained prestige from the quality of the men they killed and not from the quantity. A similar valuation was applied to battles (pare kura). The Maori historians gave prominence to the doings of the page 400aristocracy, and the records of battles were associated with the names of the chiefs killed and those who killed them. No matter how great the casualty list after an engagement, if there were no chiefs killed, there was nothing much to talk about. If there was no chiefly name to connect the engagement with a tribal genealogy, the battle was without a name.
Several instances are recorded in tribal histories of sieges being ended by the commander of the fort giving his daughter as a gift to the leader of the attacking force. This action was taken when the defendants were so hard-pressed that they saw no prospects of surviving. The chieftainess was sometimes lowered down on a rope from the higher tier or battlements of the fort. It was a chiefly gesture and was accepted as such. The marriage which cemented the peace was an honourable one, for the gift bride did not bear the stigma of a captive.
Battles in the open were sometimes stopped by the chief of the victors dashing out in front of his men and laying his club transversely across the path of flight. When engagements took place on the sea beach, a chief could stay his men by drawing a line with his club across the sand. His men stopped dead on their side of the line while the exhausted enemy could rest on the other side of the line in perfect safety. Such action was taken by magnanimous chiefs who considered that enough had been killed to satisfy tribal honour. It was done by the victorious Rarawa during the pursuit of a defeated Aupouri force. The Rarawa chiefs followed it up by taking women of rank of the Aupouri as wives and marrying some of their chieftainesses to Aupouri chiefs. The leading families of the two tribes thus became so inextricably mixed and united that further wars between the two tribes became practically impossible.
Less happy were the results of a similar action by the Ngati Whatua of Kaipara during the pursuit of a defeated Ngapuhi invading force along a western sea beach. Hongi Hika of the Ngapuhi was a young man at the time, and the pursuers were just on the point of overtaking and slaying him when their chief dashed out in front and drew a cross line on the sand just behind Hongi's flying heels. However, the Ngati Whatua lacked the foresight to cement further peace by mass intermarriage. Hongi Hika, instead of being nipped in the bud, lived to visit England and Sydney, acquire a plentiful supply of guns for his tribe, and initiate his bloody campaigns by massacring the too-chivalrous Ngati Whatua.
After a battle, the victors used the slain for food. Without wishing to condone the practice, it must be borne in mind that there was a serious meat shortage in New Zealand before cattle, pigs, and sheep were introduced by Europeans. Hence it is not surprising that the Maori should have utilized what the battlefield provided. Their own bodies were tapu but there were no such restrictions on those of the enemy. In addition to satisfying the primary urge of hunger, there was a psychological reason page 401involved. The eating of enemy chiefs reduced them to the status of common food, and this stigma was inherited by succeeding generations. In after years, the descendants of the eater could settle an argument with the descendants of the eaten by saying, "Who are you? The flesh of your ancestor is still sticking between my teeth." I know of an instance in which an old man taunted another old man, not only by words, but also by opening his mouth and pointing suggestively to his teeth. The other old man promptly knocked him down, knelt on his chest, and was opening a pocket knife with which to cut his throat when peacemakers stopped further action.
The story of Ngatokorua shows how a brave man saved his descendants from the food stigma. He was wounded in battle, but he managed to break off the point of his spear and conceal it in his clenched right hand before he was finally overpowered. He was tied with his arms behind his back and left lying on the ground. He managed to free his hands but kept them behind his back as if still bound. He then called the high chief of the enemy who came over to him. Ngatokorua raised his face to indicate that he wished to press noses in farewell. As the chief bent down, Ngatokorua seized him by the hair with his left hand, pulled him down, and stabbed him repeatedly in the neck with the spear point held in his right hand. The blood gushed down and Ngatokorua daubed it over his face and body before the startled warriors could shower blows upon him. Ngatokorua died happy. His body had been rendered tapu to the war party by the blood of their chief and they could not eat him.
The widely held theory that victors ate their opponents to acquire their mana does not agree with the Maori attitude towards the subject. The theory quoted elevates the victim as still possessing mana, whereas Maori practice degrades him to food without any mana. Furthermore the victor had already proved that his mana was superior to that of his opponent by vanquishing him, and no Maori would accept the theory that superiority can be acquired from inferiority. Thus the additional mana acquired as a result of victory came to the victor through his own prowess and not through the process of digestion.
To be defeated, captured, and not killed created a deeper stain than being eaten because of subsequent slavery (herehere). When the feeling against an enemy chief was so intense as to be termed ito or ngakau, such a person, if captured, was killed and eaten. Here the act of eating satisfied the additional factor of intense, personal hatred. Apart from such, the victors sometimes preferred to spare captives both for the economic reason of obtaining additional labour and for the personal satisfaction of reducing enemy chiefs of high rank to the degraded position of slaves attending to menial tasks. Once a slave always a slave, for nothing could wipe out the stain. Even if a slave escaped, he could not regain his chiefly status in page 402his own tribe. Under such circumstances, they usually preferred to die with their shame in exile. They were usually treated with kindness but they were liable to be drawn upon to supplement the food supply. The manner in which another brave chief kept his escutcheon clean from the bar sinister of slavery is shown in the story of Te Whakauruhanga, a high chief of the Ngati Maniapoto tribe of the King Country.
Te Whakauruhanga, with a small force which included three other chiefs of note, fought a running battle with a stronger Arawa force from Rotorua. He was wounded through both thighs by a spear thrust, and his retreating men hid him in a thicket near a waterfall. They hoped to draw the enemy off in another direction and return for their wounded chief when the way was clear. However, an Arawa scout discovered him and the Arawa leader with a detachment of his men was soon seated beside the wounded man. They recognized him and treated him with the respect due to his rank. They were also affable for they had no personal grudge against him. Te Whakauruhanga thought of his unblemished line and pondered deeply as to how he could influence his captors to take his life. He thought of his three brother chiefs and wondered if any of them had been slain. Here lay an avenue of escape to death. He mentioned the name of one of the three and asked if he had been killed. The answer was no. He mentioned a second and again the answer was no. He hesitated and then asked the fateful question upon which hung his chance of saving the honour of his line. Again came the answer, no. Many had been slain but no one of note. Then the lines of pain and anxiety changed to a smile of joy as Te Whakauruhanga, lifting up his head with dignity and assurance, commanded, "Kill me so that your battle may have a name".
After Tu comes Rongo. Rongo was the god of peace as well as horticulture, hence peace is associated with the term rongo. When campaigns were ended, the condition existing between two enemy tribes was that of a temporary cessation of hostilities liable to be broken as soon as the defeated tribe was ready to square its account. Sometimes an official peace was concluded between two tribes by negotiation and it was this official peace that was entitled to the term rongo. Families connected with the enemy by an exogamous marriage were termed taharua (two sides) and they were the right people to visit their female ancestor's tribe as envoys of peace. They were received honourably, their blood providing more safety than any flag of truce. Their object of making peace was termed hohou rongo (hohou, to bind) and it was made known publicly on the enemy marae with appropriate speeches, songs, and chants which contained a peace motive. The enemy chiefs replied in similar manner and peace was established by mutual agreement, termed maunga rongo (mau, fixed). If it endured, it was termed a rongo taketake. Best (16, vol. 2,300) describes a curious custom in which the peacemakers decided to build a page 403jade door (tatau pounamu) at some place to serve as a sanctuary for women, children, and the helpless. The term was purely symbolical but it established the locality named as a place of refuge. Thus the jade door had affinity of purpose with the Hawaiian city of refuge.