The Old-Time Maori
The various foods described separately
The various foods described separately
I te wa o mua, in days long past, the Maori cultivated kumara in large areas all over New Zealand. It was one of their principal foods, and could be eaten either raw or cooked.
It was thought much of because of its tapu origin, as it was brought from the heavens. All work done in connexion with growing it up to the time of taking it from the ground and storing it in pits was done with karakia and great ceremonial. It was an old belief, told me by my old people, that although the kumara was produced by Whanui, the star Vega, it was through Rongonui-maui and his wife Pani-tinikau that we have it on this earth. But when page 176 the kumara tuber is planted in its mound of earth, it is from Whanui that it receives help in growing.
Rongonui-maui, when he heard of the kumara, thought he would visit his elder brother Whanui who lived in the heavens, and ask him to let him have some to bring back to earth. So he ascended to the heavens, and repeated this karakia:
“E Para E! Tukua atu au kia puta ki tawhangawhanga nui no Rangi, no Papa; he aio.”
This was a karakia asking for help to enable him to ascend through the great spaces in safety to the heavens on his way to see his elder brother Whanui.
When Rongo arrived, he made known his reason for coming, saying to Whanui, “I haere mai au ki tetahi o ta taua whanau kia riro ia au ki Raro, ki Mataroa,” I have come to ask you to let me take one of our family below with me to Mataroa. And Whanui replied, “Kaore au e whakaae kia riro atu tetahi o wa taua tamariki ia koe,” I will not agree that you should take any of our children with you.
So Rongo turned as if to go away, but hid behind a whare, and then approached the family of kumara unknown to Whanui, and took some of the seed with him. This seed he hid in his body (huna e Rongo ki roto i tona ure), and then returned to Mataroa and slept with his wife Pani-tinikau, who became hapu (pregnant) and brought forth the kumara.page 177
So from Rongonui-maui and Pani-tinikau came all the varieties of kumara which were used by the people of old, and which have now almost disappeared.
When the kumara family were born to Pani, her husband Rongo asked her to prepare te umu tapu (a sacred oven) in which to cook them, so that the tapu might be removed. This is the beginning of the tapu ceremonial cooking oven on this earth, and thus we have Waharoa, Kirikahu, and Kohu-kohu used for priests, chiefs, and the people. Through Rongo taking the kumara seed in secret and without the permission of Whanui in whose care it was, theft was started in this world.
When Whanui found that Rongo had taken the kumara against his wishes, he was very angry, and as a punishment, he sent pests to destroy the growing kumara, in the shape of anuhe, the caterpillar, and thus made it difficult to grow. This is why there is so much difficulty in growing it, and why the large caterpillar swarms to eat it, and gives the people so much trouble. Rongo was the god of the kumara, and also the god of peace.
There are other stories relating to the kumara, but this is the one told to me by my old people.
The cultivation of kumara was arranged and carried out with great ceremonial in the old days, and the planting was done by the men, and much tapu was connected with it. No woman was allowed to do this work. It was planted at a chosen time, page 178 not always the same time, as it was colder in some parts than in others. But planting generally occurred in the spring and early summer, September, October, or November according to the English months. The men turned out in great numbers at sunrise. They would all be under tapu, so that no food would be eaten till the end of the day's work, when the tapu was lifted off by a Tohunga, and no cooking was done in the kainga. No woman could take part, for fear of polluting the tapu, which would be a great insult to Rongo.
Our traditions show how food plants were carried from place to place by our ancestors in their canoes during their sea voyages. Many plants were brought from the west, and are now growing over most of the Polynesian Islands. When our ancestors left Polynesia in the great migration about six hundred years ago, they brought kumara (Impomoea batatas), taro (Colocasia antiquorum), hue (Lagenaria vulgaris,) and other foods, many of which did not grow. Kumara, taro, and hue were planted, and with the help of great labour, kumara grew in great cultivations and formed one of the most important foods of our people down to the arrival of the pakeha (European). My old people told me that the first kumara was brought to New Zealand by my ancestress Whakaotirangi, in the Arawa canoe. When the canoe arrived off the shore of Aoteroa, they saw a plant which they thought was kumara growing in page 179 quantities in the distance. The women said that it was of no use to keep their seed tubers longer, and gave them to their children to eat. But Whakaotirangi tied up her seven in a small basket, and tied the string round her neck. As the people got nearer the land and the tide came in, they saw that the plants were covered, and they were very upset. But Whakaotirangi held on to her seven kumara, and when the Arawa landed, she planted them at Parawai. From these few seeds came all the kumara.
Cultivation was very hard work with the primitive Maori tools. The men had first to choose a suitable place for the cultivation. They preferred a large flat open space on high ground, open to the warmth of the sun. Damp or swampy ground would not do, and the field must not lie at the foot of a high hill where rain water would rush down in torrents and so spoil the mara (cultivation). Sandy soil was chosen if possible, or gravelly, and where the land was heavy, gravel or sand was taken up with the tikoko and brought in baskets and mixed with the soil. The people of the Bay of Plenty were favoured, for they had access to sand along the coast, and here kumara grew plentifully. Manure was never used, only ashes.
If the chosen place was near a forest, all young plants, shrubs and ferns were cleared with toki (axes), and left to dry. A little time before planting, a fire would be made at the head of the waerenga page 180 (clearing) and this would spread and burn all the wood and bracken, leaving pungarehu (ashes) all over the field. If the mara had no trees or shrubs, manuka would be cut in quantities and laid all over the mara in heaps and left to dry. On a very calm day it would be burned. This was only done when the soil was not sandy, or needed help. If planting did not follow at once, layers of cut branches of manuka would be laid over the field to prevent the ashes from being blown away.
The ground was generally rough and often covered with stones and scoriae, and these had to be carried some distance away, or piled in heaps at the edge of the mara. Then shelters had to be put up to protect the plants from the cold wind.
When planting commenced, a mauri would be placed in the ground on the east side of the cultivation, in the form of a stone or stone image or carved stick. Or it might be a green branch of the mapou (Myrsine urvillei) which was to give life to the mara. Mokoia Island in the middle of Lake Rotorua belonged to Ngati Whakaue and Ngati Uenuku-Kopako, and had splendid sandy, fertile soil for the growing of kumara, and the kumara was abundant and some of the best I ever tasted. My relations who lived there told me that this was because of Matuatonga the kumara god which was brought over from Hawaiki in the Arawa canoe and buried there. He was the mauri, the tapu life-principle of page 181 the kumara there, and had great mana in the growing of the kumara. And they did grow. To the old Maori, not only human beings, but everything, such as trees and all plants in the forest, fish, birds, animals, mountains, and rivers, had a mauri or life-principle. With human beings it was likened to a soul. The Maori believed that nothing in this earth existed without its mauri, and that if this were violated in any way, its physical foundation was open to peril or exposed to great risk. If the mauri of a forest were violated, the trees and plants would not be able to produce in abundance, but fruits would be scarce, and there would be very few birds. With the mauri ora of man, if this is violated in any way, the thought is that with the loss of spiritual mauri, he is left without protection, and can be attacked by the bad influences of the many evil beings which float in space, by makutu (witchcraft), etc.
A small piece of ground was sometimes planted and set aside, and the tubers were planted in it as an offering to the gods. Or the first fruits gathered would be given as an offering to the gods.page 183
Much ceremony occurred when the planting was going to begin. Te Ohu, the people who undertook the various work on a maru (cultivation), gathered together at daybreak, and went to the cultivation. When the sun appeared, Te Ohu would turn and face it, while the Tohunga repeated the karakia to Rongo-marae-roa, one of the children of Rangi and Papa, who had charge of all cultivated foods. Nga purapura, the seed tubers, which had been kept in a rua whakaahu, were carried with great care to the cultivation. The men who carried the ko, the digging implements with their long handles six to ten feet long, led the procession. They were called Kiake, and were followed by nga tangata tuahu, the men who broke up the soil with their hands, working the ashes and gravel into it, and making to puke mounds for the tubers. These were followed by a ropu (gang) of men who placed each tuber on a mound, and after them came the company who planted the tubers in the mounds already made.
The workers were all under tapu, and took no food until the day's work was over. When te ohu began their digging, the whole cultivation was placed under the tapu of the gods, and the tapu remained until after the hauhakenga when the kumara was dug up and gathered into the rua kumara, or kumara pits. The first kumara planted was made an offering to the gods by the Tohunga, so that good crops might be forthcoming. All of these page 184 operations from the time of planting to the taking up of the crops were under the direction of the Tohunga.
A European would go to work with his family, or even alone, but the Maori never did this. They always worked in companies. Their life was communal, and everything was for the community and not for the individual. They went to work with the chief, and worked together and moved together, sometimes to the accompaniment of song, as when using the ko. They did not look on their labours as hard work, but sang their ancient songs with joy, asking that their work would be productive and bear fruit.
It was indeed a fine sight to see an ohu at work on a large kumara cultivation, with their long-handled ko decorated with bunches of feathers near the top, working and moving in unison to the accompaniment of a chant sung by a man who acted as leader of the party, the workers joining in from time to time. Here is the chant used when men were working the cultivation with the ko.
he whakatapatapa kumara
Kapakapa, kapakapa, tu taku wairua, ki te ao
Tapiritu, he maunga,
Hekeheke iho i runga o Rehia,
Tuhi te uira,
Ki te hau ia, ki te hau ia,
Ka tangi to pu, ka tangi to pu,
1 See Grey, Sir George. Ko nga Moteatea, me nga Hakirara o nga Maori, Wellington, 1853.
Uea te taua iti,
Uea te taua rahi,
Kia tutangatanga, te ara ki Mokoia.
Whakaatu manunu, whakaatu manunu
Hara na nunu,
E whia aku mate,
Kei taku tua,
Kei taku aro.
Pihapiha manawa o te ika kua riro
I hara te taua
Te tama i torua
Whakuia e koe
Te tau mai ai tohu-ahura tiwatiwa,
Horahia ori ka mate tama ki te wai whana,
Kaore hoki nga uhi nei
Nga kai nei
Nga taro nei
Ka marere tia e te tikitiki o Wahieroa,
Te tapa mai e koe taku ika nei,
Ko tutoki hau-nui,
He Kapua ke hoki
To te atiru,
To te atiru i tau ki whea?
I tau ki Maunganui,
page 186 Taku manawa ka irihia nei,
Tenei au e Tupetane
Ko Whiti-te-marama au e Tupetane
Taku paenga ruwai e Apo e,
E Apo e
Kapua hekeheke iho i runga o Rehia,
Tuhi te Uira,
Rapa te Uira,
Ki tahau ia,
Tenei koa te mokopuwananga, te tu mai nei,
Koia kia toia,
Kia tokoua, ki te kauwhau ariki,
Rongo te mangia
Rongo te rakau ohi,
Ko tana kuru motu
E puhi e kei tai
Kei te whakarua koia,
Hutia te kura i o taringa,
Taku rei, taku rei,
Taku rei ka whati
He toroa, he toroa, he ta
It would be wrong for me to attempt to translate the karakia. I cannot do it, nor is it likely that anyone else alive to-day could give its real meaning. In the page 187 first place, the words of the different karakia are very ancient, and the words used are obsolete. In the second place, religious formulae depend for their meaning on a knowledge of the religious background and history of a people over a long period, and though some lines might be translated to give a certain meaning, it is more than likely that the translation would not give the true meaning known to the old Tohunga, for only the old Tohunga knew the inner meaning of the words. Therefore it would be sacrilege for me to attempt to translate these sacred karakia.
When the chant begins, each man places his right foot on the foot-rest of his ko, forcing its point into the soil; then he presses the handle down and backwards to loosen the earth. The ko is pulled out, and he puts the point in again a little distance from the first hole, then turns his body, putting his left foot on the foot-rest and pushing the ko into the ground, and loosening the earth as before. He thus forms a small mound in which the kumara tuber will be planted. When this is done, the row of men who are using the ko take one step back, and repeat the performance, until the whole mara is ready for planting.
The ko, or digging-stick, was the most important digging implement of the Maori, and when it was used in the tapu ceremony of planting the kumara, it would be decorated with bunches or streamers of feathers, especially the one used by the Tohunga who led the ceremony of planting.page break page 189
The first two figures show the Ko Whakaara, ornamented with the birds' feathers. One of them is curved. The fourth and fifth show the teka, foot-rests. Sometimes this foot-rest was made in one piece with the ko, but usually the foot-rest was fastened on as shown in the third figure. The binding was of plaited flax fibre, and fitted into grooves made on each side of the ko. Some of these teka were decorated with very fine carving.
The men with the ko made the mounds, and were followed by another company of men who broke up the soil of each mound and mixed it with gravel, sand, or ashes, ready for the man who followed. This man carried the seed tubers in a basket, and placed one on each mound, and he knew beforehand how many tubers he had to carry for each row. If the row was a very large one, two baskets were used, and one of them would be carried and left in the awa, space between the rows, half way along the line. When the seed tubers were placed in a basket, the basket was kept open by sticks placed across the top, so that the sprouts would not be broken. Very great care was taken not to bruise the tubers or break the sprouts.
The tuber is placed on the left side of the mound, in the hollow space on the left side of the row. The man who follows the setter does the planting, but before he plants, he must stand so that he faces the rising sun, and also the rows of mounds which are page 190 ready to receive the tubers. He starts at Te Upoko, the head of the mara, standing in the awa (space) between the rows of puke (mounds). He plants the tubers in the rows on his left side. Taking a tuber in his left hand, he makes a hole in the mound and places the seed in it with the sprouting part upward towards the East. With both hands he covers the tuber but not the sprout, and so continues until the whole row on his left is planted. One side of the mara is called Te Upoko, the head, and the head should face the sun; the opposite end is called Te Remu, the tail. The rows run east and west; if they ran north and south there would be a poor crop. The rows were so arranged that whichever way you looked at the plantation, there was a straight row.
When the kumara tuber was being planted, this karakia1 was repeated:
Torona tou Kakano
Ka tupu te wai,
Ka ora te wai,
Ko te wai ora o muri.
The ground was not dug all over like a European plantation, but only where the plants were to go in.
1 Grey, op. cit., 311.
Weeds were taken up as soon as they appeared, and our cultivations were a wonderful sight in bygone days. Even the early voyagers remarked on this. Weeding was usually done by women, and in a squatting position. I have already mentioned the fact that the planting and lifting of the kumara were very tapu ceremonies, performed only by men who knew their work well. I will now mention other implements used in agriculture, beside the ko.
Another implement known to my old koroua and kuia was the tima, timo, or timotimo, which was used, generally by the women, for grubbing and loosening the soil. This is a forked branch of very hard wood, mairi, titoki, or manuka, hardened in the fire. The blade is about 2½ inches wide, and is as long as the handle or even longer. The handle is round, and the blade gradually comes to a sharp point at the end. The handle is held in both hands, the right just above the left at the end of it. A woman kneels page 192 when she uses it, first digging it into the ground in front of her, and then pulling it towards her.
Kaheru was the word used for an English spade, but my koroua said that the old Maori one was more like a paddle. The ones used for weeding, whakaeke kumara, and hauhake (lifting), were shorter than those used for digging, being about 2-2½ feet long, while those used for digging were 5 or 6 feet long, and were often decorated with feathers at the top.
Hapara is the Maori form of the English word “shovel”, and I do not remember its being used by the old Maori, although it may have been used in other parts of the island. At any rate my old koroua and kuia did not know of its use as a genuine Maori implement.
A koko or tikoko was shaped like a canoe baler, and was used to scoop up earth. It was however longer and narrower and had a shorter handle. My kuia used one when she whakaeke (banked up) the rows of potatoes after weeding them. She told me page 193 that the tikoko was also used for scooping up earth to place in baskets when soil had to be carried for some distance.
My old kuia Marara told me that the are or paths which led up to a kumara plantation were made tapu by a Tohunga after the planting, and that no one ever attempted to walk over or go near the plantation. The tapu was indicated by a taura, a cord or rope plaited from flax fibre with several knots tied a few inches apart, and anyone seeing this would know that it was tapu there. Sometimes a bunch of grass would be tied to a tree. No one knowingly would venture near this, and anyone who did so would die. A Mara kumara was kept safe by the tapu laid upon it, and no outsider would ever dream of asking a man of a hapu how their crops were growing, nor would he dream of going to see how the cultivation was progressing. If he was caught trespassing, he was killed.
Great care was needed in the hauhakenga, lifting out of the ground, and storing in the rua kumara (pit), as bruised kumara would destroy the pitful. Te Ngahuru, the autumn, in April, was the time for taking up the kumara, when Whanui, the star Vega appeared as a morning star. When the Tohunga saw it, the news was sent round telling the people that Whanui had arrived. This was the tohu, the sign telling them to begin to take up the kumara crops, and it was hailed with joy.page 194
First a karakia of thanksgiving was repeated to the gods by a Tohunga, giving them praise for the good crops which had been given, and then the ceremonial whaka noa followed, taking off the tapu from the cultivation. Next the puke tapu, te mauri o te rua kumara, the first mound planted with the kumara tuber which was the mauri1 of the kumara pit, was taken up by the Tohunga, and these first fruits were carried by him to the tuahu, a place where all religious rites were performed, and presented to Rongo-marae-koa, and buried in the ground at the foot of the tuahu.
1 Tapu life principle.
The rua kumara or storage pit is an excavation in the ground, generally on a hillside or small rise, the entrance being cut at the face of it. A small entrance is cut for a door, and the earth is excavated from here, and taken away in baskets. From the top of the doorway to the bottom of the rua the distance would be anything from six feet or more, which would be the depth of a medium-sized one. Some would be much larger and some smaller, according to the size of a cultivation. One descended into it by means of a log with steps cut out for the feet. The floor was slightly raised at the end below the doorway, and the whole floor was covered with fine gravel to a depth marked by the first joint of the thumb. The rua was lined with kaponga, slabs, of the Mamaku tree fern. This tree has a large conical base of very hard matted root fibres, sometimes three or four feet across at the surface of the ground. This base was split into slabs two or three inches thick, and made a lining which apart from its extreme hardness, had a smell which kept the rats (kiore) away. “E ka mutu te ruru o te kirikiri ki te whenua.” When the gravel had been sprinkled page 196 on the floor, something soft had to be placed over it. Sometimes soft decayed wood of the pukatea rimu or other trees was crumpled up in the hands and spread over the gravel. And again rarauhe (bracken), manuka bush, or kaponga fern were used. Then the kumara was carefully placed in rows overlapping each other, keeping the heads uppermost. The seed tubers were at the back, and those for eating on each side of the entrance. Those for eating were laid down first, and then a dividing line of manuka brush was placed to separate them from the place for the seed tubers, which were then attended to. The manuka brush was also placed along the entrance at the sides and front. Sometimes the front entrance was boarded up with rough timber, but more often it was covered with earth and grass. The earth taken from the interior was thrown either on the top or the sides of the rua. The doorway was lined with thick slabs, and the top was often ornamented with carving. A thick slab which fitted the opening was used as a door, and was kept in place by a stout log or two used as a strut. Sometimes a small pit shaped like a hangi would be made to hold a few kumara for immediate use. Big ones might be 10, 20, or more feet in length, according to the size of the cultivation.
I think I failed to mention the fact that kumara was sometimes baked in hot ashes, and the dust taken off with a stick. It was very good to eat when so baked in its skin. The roots taken away from the page 197 kumara before it grew to full size were sometimes dried, and were then called kao. They were scraped and dried in the sun on a taka or tuwhara, being turned every day, and covered over every night to prevent their getting wet with dew. When dry, they were put into baskets and eaten as they were without cooking. They were very sweet, and were eaten at any time during the day, or on a journey.
After the crop of kumara was lifted, the following karakia1 was repeated.
Whererei, whererei te puke i te iwi roa,
Kia tu ahua iho, kia tu ahua ake, to,
Whererei te puke i a Maui, kia tu ahua iho,
Kia tu ahua aka to,
Teua ra to tawau e kuiai, ka rere to tawaue kuia,
Ka ti to tawau e kuia, hai,
Takoto au iho, au ki raro ki to Matua,
Wawahia e Tau,
Wawahia e Rongo
Teua te Kano
Koi te hapu nui.
I have explained earlier in this chapter why the karakia cannot be translated.
1 Grey, op. cit., p. 380.
Early voyagers have mentioned the cultivations of the Maori as scarce in some parts. Compare, for example, Cook's First Journal, cap. v, pp. 47, 144, 146. I have already shown how our cultivations were at some distance from our kainga. The voyagers probably expected to see the plantations close to the kainga where the people lived. In the following pages I will show how my own people had their kumara cultivations in the old days, and how they were worked by the hapu who were related to each other from my remote ancestors down to the time of my grandfather and the granduncle who brought me up. But first let me quote another early author.
Nicholas, 1814–5, says:
“We observed some plantations of kumara and potatoes belonging to Bennu and his tribe; these were not contiguous to any village or habitation, and I consider it a page 199 great proof of the insecurity in which these people live that their grounds are rarely cultivated to any extent in the immediate vicinity of those places where they reside in congregated bodies. The plantations, although they very frequently surround the villages, are generally at some distance from them, and the latter are always constructed upon either the summit or at the foot of some high and almost inaccessible hill. This is most certainly occasioned by that state of disunited barbarism and feudal enmity in which the different tribes reside among each other; who, having no moral institutions, but resorting on all occasions to physical strength, are obliged to choose those places for their defence which are best calculated for that purpose, without any regard to the barrenness or fertility of the situation. Hence the plantations are commonly in detached places where the soil is favourable, and they have no idea of concentrating their industry. But this casual plan of cultivation is however disadvantageous to the regular improvement of their land, and could the tribes be brought to live in amity with each other, and build their villages on the fertile grounds, their respective districts would in a short time assume a much more civilized appearance. The lack of concentration in industry was owing to an objection on the part of the Maori to putting all his eggs in one basket, as illustrated in the popular saying ‘Ka mate kainga tahi, ka ora kainga rua,’ showing that single-homed people pinch, or are overtaken by disaster, when two-homed people survive.”
We had kumara cultivations at Titiwhare and Te Houroa, on the north side of Tarawera Lake, and at Toroahunganui near Ohorongo. At Ohorongo, these cultivations were continued from the time of Mahanga down to Katene's time. Keina was a cultivation close to Ohorongo, Karamea was a little further to the south-west, Te Miro was south-west of Ohorangi. Te page 200 Whakaki was east of Okareka, Te Anapoupou north of it. We had cultivations at Omaruarere near Anapoupou, at Otaikaka near Omaruarere, at Otahu on the north-west side of Okareka, at Kotore Kotia near Okareka, at Te Kohatu south of Okareka, and many others, from Mahenga's time down to Te Katene.
At Rotokakahi we had the following kumara cultivations, at Epeha, Pikitara, Te Waipuni, Te Rapa, Te Whakahoronga, Te Parepara, Otamakare, Kaiteriria, Te Huaki, Punaruku, Tauranganui, Te Kirikiri, Owhitiki, Te Ohu, Te Pureirei, and at other places all worked by Tuhourangi from their ancestors down to my koroua's time.
In the vicinity of Te Wairoa, we had the following kumara cultivations: at Punaromia, Opekarangi, Waitoharuru, and Punarimia, from the time of Tutea mutu down to Rangipuawhe's time. We also had cultivations at Kerikaria, Putanaki, Kakanui, Te Oneroa on the south side of Tarawera Lake, and Rotokakahi on the peninsula. These were also old cultivations down to the time of Te Mutukuri, Te Rangiheuea, Kapekape, Te Reu, Patara Ngungukai, Te Ringitanga, Himioia, Te Kura, Te Rangipuawhe, Te Ngahue, and others.
We also had kumara cultivations at Rotomahana, near Te Purakua, at Matarumakina on the peninsula, at Puhehou close by, at Mairenki close to Hakaipari, at Otuapani on the mouth of Wairoa stream, at Te Kauhanga, at Tapate as far as Piripoi, at Te Karaka, at page 201 Te Ariki, at Tahumatorea close to Te Ariki, at Koraranui close by, and at Ohapu, Ngawhana, and many other places, from ancient times down to the time of Rangihenea, Rangipuawhe, Tamarakau, and other chiefs.
On the Waikato River, we had cultivations of kumara at Ngaawapurua and Te Waihuruhuru close by, down to the time of Keremete and Irihei, also at Waiwhakahihi, Waikiti, and other places, from Tuohonoa to Pehia and Takeke. We had no kumara cultivations at Kapanga. Ohakiwi was a kumara plantation at Te Tau down to the time of Ihaia, my grandfather. And there were many others.
Other cultivations were Te Kotuku a Wahiao, Okahu Te Pukutawhero, Te Tara o te marama, Opawhero, Waewaetapahia, Rauporoa at Tikitapu bush, Te Hinahina at Moerangi, Puhinui, Te Kapiti, Te Mairi close by Lake Piopio, Te Pakira o Rangiheuea, Moerangi, Te Onepu, Te Taheke, Taopu, Te Waipuna, Otanemoia, Tuwiriwiri, Tikitapu, Takapu, Karangatarau near by, Te Kirikiri near Punaruku Island, Tauranganui at the same place, Kaihihi, Kapkapiko close by, Te Pourere close by, Te Ewe a pareao close by, Pareuru on the Huarahi (track) ki Kaiteriria, Waikorowhiti near Te Hemo, Kauwaka near Te Puna, Te Waihuahuakakahi close by, Ngahawahawai between Parekarangi and Kaihiki on the huarahi (track) to Rotokakahi, Parihati near Parekarangi, Korako near by, Ngahe close to it, Tuahuahu near by, Raketekohenga, Oteao, page 202 Te Ruakiore, Kauhunui, Te Reinga, Te Wharewera, Te Waipaepae, Parekarangi, Mangakara, Waimate, Te Herenga, Hamutinui, Te Taie, Wharerangi, Maringiawai near Haparangi, Te Uraponga in the Totara country, Motukiore in the same place, and many others.
The people who worked on these cultivations rations were all hapu of Tuhourangi, namely, Ngati Uruhina, N. Puta, N. Umukaria, N. Umararoa, N. Te Amo, N. Taoi, N. Huarere, N. Tukiterangi, N. Waihakari, N. Wharetokotoko, N. Wahiao, N. Tuohonoa, N. Tutea, N. Taumeke, N. Te Anumatao, N. Te Apiti, N. Tawaki, N. Hinemihi, N. Te Ipu, and others of Tuhourangi. Ngati means “descendants of”, and this list may be compared with the genealogies in the chapter on Social Organization. The genealogies will also contain the names of the other chiefs mentioned throughout the above account of the kumara plantations.
Kainga (villages) of the above hapu were Motutawa, Kaiteriria, Te Wairoa, Taumaihi, Okareka, Te Whakarewarewa, Parekarangi, and Te Motuwhauake on the Waikato River, and others.
Perhaps I have said enough about the cultivations worked down to the time of my koroua and kuia Maihi te Kakauparaoa and Marara to show that other writers have not known or have failed to note the extensive plantations of the Maori, and so have failed to give a just account of their economic organization.page 203
At the beginning of things after Rangi and Papa had produced their many children, Tane, the one who separated his parents, took as wives various females, so that many species of trees and plants could be produced. When aruhe, i.e. fern root, was wanted, he took as his wife Tutorowhenua, and from their union came aruhe. Te Aruhe (Pteris esculenta) was one of the principal foods of the Maori. To him, Aruhe came from Haumia, the god of the fern root, who was one of the many children of Rangi and Papa, the sky parent and earth mother. Again, it was always to be had, even when other roots failed him. The fern root which was eaten was always to be found wherever one saw bracken (Rarauhe, Pteris aquilina), and this grew wild all over New Zealand. Aruhe was cultivated, and there were many fern root grounds, some of them very ancient.
The rhizome was roasted on embers, then the roots were laid on a wooden or stone block about eighteen by eight inches, and beaten with a wooden or stone pounder, patu aruhe. The roots were then peeled and eaten. They were full of a starchy substance which tasted somewhat like arrowroot. This substance was often made into small flat loaves. The aruhe roots were anything from a quarter to an inch thick, and the outside was brown to dark brown in colour. There was usually woody fibre mixed with the starch, but when a cultivation was near the edge of the bush and the soil was rich, there was a page 204 good deal of starchy substance and little or no fibre. A favourite relish eaten with it was inanga, a small fish found in many of the lakes.
Cultivations were not always close to the kainga, but might be anywhere from two to fifteen miles away. A few houses would be put up close to these cultivations for the people to occupy during the work of planting, harvesting, and so on, and on these lands would also be the flax swamps, and the rat and bird snaring grounds. The cultivations would be used only by the hapu which owned the land, and no outsider would dare to come on them. All of these cultivations, like those of kumara and other vegetables, would be under rahui, that is “an enclosed place which was made tapu”, and even closely related hapu would ask permission of the owners if they wanted anything special in the way of harakeke, raupo, kakaho, or anything else which might grow on this land in quantities. I will now give the reader the names of the fern root grounds which belonged to my ancestors down to the time of my grandfather, to give some idea of how the Maori worked, and the distances which he had to travel to work on his cultivations, and to gather his fern root in the spring or early summer, when he dug it up with the ko. All this travelling was done on foot except when he could cross a lake or travel by a river in his canoe. There were very narrow tracks leading in all directions to the various grounds.page 205
The Pa Kainga of Tuhourangi in the time of my koroua Maihi te Kakauparaoa were at Motuiti and Te Motunui close to Oherongo, at Kaua, Waitangi, Toumahi Otatou, Kakapiko, Parekarangi, Kakariki potiki, Te Motuwhanake, Ngaawapuma, Te Kopiko, Tuhureo, and all along the lake from Pukekiore to Tikawe, Morutawa, Kariri, Pukura, Puwai, and others, such as Kaiteriria, Te Wairoa, Okareka, and Whakarewarewa. Motutawa was an island in the green lake Rotokakahi, and was reached by canoes, Kaiteriria was on the mainland about a mile and a half from the island. Te Wairoa was about two miles from Rotokakahi, Okareka was four to six miles away from one end of the lake, and Parekarangi was eight to ten miles from the other end. Whakarewarewa was about nine miles from the lake and Motuwhanake was twelve or more miles away from it.
These kainga had fern root grounds at Titihore, Te Heuroa, Te Akakahia close to Tuaparo bush, Te Anapoupou on the north side of Okareka, Matapai on the south-west of Pukepote, Opawhero, Puketawhero, Kahotea near Moerangi, Puhinui near Waipa, Tutihinau south-west of Kaihiki, Kaweka west of Kaihiki, Tukoroa, Ongakero, Pukehoa near Parekarangi, Omanga near Parekarangi, Ngapouwhakatutu, Horohore, Haparangi near the lagoon Waipupu, Te Uruponga, Motukiore south of Puaiti, Te Hikumaru, Otute Kawhara north of Paeroa, Tumunui, Opuhia at Tumunui, Te Whakaki north of Opuhia, Te Waiaireoera near the page 206 source of Te Mitimiti north of Tumunui, Pakaraka, Te Kawakawa, Tutaeheka, Raturoa, Toetoewhitiki, Matakana, Pareheru, Wairia, Te Pupuaka near Matakana, Hakaipiri near Tunoroa, Te Renepure, Maireriki, both near the same place, Te Oneroa, Karekaria, Otupoto south-west of Wairoa, Whenuakite on the south-east shore of Lake Rotokakahi, Ngatamahine close to the lake, Hineata, Otamatoine, Te Whakahoronga near by, Te Maire, Raupo, Te Puna on Rotokakahi, Tauranganui near here, Te Heke near Te Puna, Te Kotukutuku on the north-west shore of the lake, Ngaparehu towards Moerangi, Otupahaka and Te Waipuna on Tikitapu Lake, Karanga tarau, Taopo on Moerangi, Punaromia near Te Wairoa, Te Wharangi close by, Te Anga further to the north, and many others. These were ancient fern grounds used by our tupuna, and continued in use down to my koroua.
Para tawhiti, para reka, or para (Marratia fraxinea), the fern tree, was another important food of our people. It used to be plentiful in many parts of New Zealand. The Maori means this root, when he says that he always had potatoes in New Zealand. The rhizome was a rough shaped tuberous mass of fleshy roots which were cooked and eaten. This tuberous mass was separated into many parts and planted.
Tawa berries (Beilschmidia tawa. Nesodaphne tawa) were an important food of the Maori. The fruit was about an inch long, and like a dark-coloured page 207 plum when picked fresh. When ripe, it was eaten as a fruit and was juicy and not unpleasant to taste. The kernel is very like the seed of the date, and very hard. These berries were collected in plenty in baskets, many being picked up from the ground where they had dropped. The kernels were cooked in a hangi for several hours, then dried in the sun, and stored for future use. If cooked well, they would keep for a long time. My own hapu of Wahiao gathered their tawa berries at Moerangi, Kakapiko, Parekarangi, and other places, and took them to cook in the boiling and steam holes of Whakarewarewa. The baskets of tawa were first cooked in the boiling water for a few hours, and then placed in a steam hole in the ground and left to steam for two or more days. They were then spread out on the papa hohatu, the silica formation beside a boiling hole, to dry. After this, they were put into a pataka (store-house) where they would keep for years. Berries which were needed for immediate use could be eaten as soon as they were cooked, but the dried and stored tawa had to be soaked in water and placed in a hangi for several hours until they were soft. They were dark brown, and the water in which they were soaked was quite thick when the tawa was ready to eat. We had plenty when I was a child, and I used to enjoy them. With a little sugar, they were very nice indeed. A woman who was mate wahine (menstruating) was not allowed to cook tawa berries, nor would she page 208 think of it. The belief was that if she did so the berries would be mata, and would not get cooked. Nga hapu of Tuhourangi gathered tawa berries at Pakareka, Tutaekeha, Tumunui, and other places, and took them in baskets to be cooked in the hot springs at Rotomahana and Whakarewarewa. A rahui, sign that the place was tapu and belonged only to those hapu, stood at Otamakari over these places. Some of the hapu of Tuhourangi who gathered tawa berries in the above-mentioned places were Ngati Taoi, N. Tuohonoa, N. Te Apiti, N. Tutea, and N. Umukaria. The reader is again referred to the opening pages of the chapter on Social Organization, and to the genealogies in that chapter for an explanation of the above names.
Tawhara was a favourite food of the people, and was eaten fresh. It was the large thick fleshy part of the climbing kiekie (Freycinetia banksii), and was white and sweet to taste. The bracts were collected in large taha, calabashes, during the summer. The fruit of the kiekie was called Ureure, and was not ripe until the winter, when it was collected and eaten fresh. Thus kiekie supplied the Maori with food in summer and winter. Kiekie also supplied the Maori with the material for their finest whariki, floor mats. The leaves were scraped and prepared like the flax, and became quite white when dry.
Te korito, the blanched heart of the Nikau palm (Areca sapida) was also a favoured, though not a page 209 common food, as the Nikau died when the korito was taken. It was cooked in a hangi, and was also eaten raw.
Maikaika: (1) Orthoceras solandri, (2) Anthropodium cirrhatum, (3) Thelymitra pulchella.
The root of the kawakawa was used for toothache.
Fruits were very plentiful in the old days. Among others was the kotukutuku or konini (Fuchsia exorticata). The shrubs were easily got at, and were gathered in baskets, each berry being picked off the shrub with the hand. The berry was deep purple, and very nice to eat.
The rohutu (Myrtus pedunculata) was a small orange-coloured berry, about the size of a red currant, with a large and very hard seed. When the berries were ripe, an old tuwhara, rough floor mat was placed under the tree which was then shaken hard so that the fruit fell in quantities on to the mat.
The berries of the poporo (Solanum aviculare) were about the size of a small plum. They were gathered when ripe and eaten fresh.
Tutu, the berries of the puho (Coraria ruscifolia), also called tupakihi or tutupakihi, were gathered when fully ripe and of a deep blue-black colour. These berries were borne in long racemes like the flowers of wistaria. They were squeezed in the hand, and the juice was caught in a calabash, making a page 210 drink known as wai puhou. Great care must be taken not to leave any of the berry in the liquid. Bad results would follow if the berry were swallowed whole as it is poisonous. The drink is a thick deep purple one, and is very sweet and refreshing in summer. Tutu juice was often mixed with other food such as aruhe (fern root), after the starchy substance has been pounded.
The berries of the karaka tree (Corynocarpus laevigata) were a favourite food. The berries were never eaten when green as they are then poisonous. They are gathered when they are of a bright orange colour. The outside is a pulpy layer, and the berry looks like a small plum. Inside the pulp is a seed which is enclosed in a tough fibrous network. The berries are gathered in great abundance in the autumn, and placed in large baskets of flax. As soon as the baskets are filled, they are emptied into a large hangi, and baked and steamed for about twenty-four hours. They are then collected into rough flax baskets which are loosely plaited, and placed in running water, being shaken from time to time to get rid of the outside pulp and skin. The berries are then free inside their tough husk. When eaten, the tough husk was cut round the middle with a shell, and each half was pressed between the thumb and forefinger to get the soft substance out. I myself had plenty of karaka berries, tawa berries, and most of the fruits I have mentioned.page 211
Tii, kouka, or whanake (Cordyline australis) was and is a favourite food. Te korito, the blanched heart shoot which formed the base of the youngest leaves of the tii after the outside had been stripped off, was cooked in a hangi and eaten. It was also eaten raw, or roasted on hot embers or ashes. It tasted like an artichoke to me, and is spoken of by English people as the cabbage tree.
Ti Para used to be highly thought of. The root was prepared like fern root, being pounded on a flat log or stone to break up the fibre in the pulpy mass. This was cooked in a hangi for several hours, and when cooked appeared as a gluey mass. It had a sweet taste. It was stored in a pataka (food house) and kept a long time. When one was travelling for long distances, or in time of war when there was nothing else, it was most satisfying.
The fruit of the hinau tree (Elaeocarpus dentatus) was collected in great abundance from under the tree when ripe, but was not eaten in this raw state. The fruit was about the size of a sloe or small damson, and had a hard dry skin without much pulp. It was placed in a wooden trough and covered with water and left to soak. The mass was then rubbed between the hands and the skin and nut were strained out and the water carefully drained away, leaving a kind of coarse meal which was made into a large cake and cooked for several hours in a hangi. The old Maori considered it a great luxury.page 212
Makomako (Aristotelia racemosa). The fruit of the makomako was eaten in the old days. It is a small red berry which turns almost black when ripe. The fruit is eaten as it is, throwing away the seed inside. This fruit could also be squeezed in the hands or through a basket to get a thick fluid like the “tutu”, which made a nice sweetish drink.
The very young fronds of the fern moku (Asplenium bulbiferum) were cooked and eaten as a vegetable, and also the very young fronds of the paretao (Asplenium obtusatum). The very young fronds of the pikopiko were gathered when they were four to six inches high, and cooked in a hangi on top of the kumara and eaten as a vegetable. It was as tender as asparagus, and not unlike it in taste, and very nice indeed to eat. These young fronds of pikopiko were sometimes cooked and left in water for about two weeks, when they acquired an acid taste. The taste was like that of tinned asparagus slightly acid, and it was considered a great luxury.
Mamaku or korau (Cyathea medullaris), known as the Black Tree Fern, is the largest of the tree ferns, often growing to a height of fifty, sixty, or more feet. The pitau (pith) is slimy but sweetish. It is cut into thin slices and cooked for a long time in a hangi, and the cooked slices are then threaded on flax string and hung up to dry in the sun. It is nice to eat. The fibrous cone at the base of the tree is split page 213 into slabs two or three inches thick and used for lining the kumara pits. This base is made of hard matted root fibres, and rats do not like gnawing through it.
Hakeke (Polyporus sp.) was an edible fungus which the Maori enjoyed eating, and also the harore (Agaricus adiposus). These were found in the bush on live and dead trees in plenty, and were gathered and eaten in the warm weather in summer. I have heard others mentioned, but have only tasted these two. The colour is a darkish brown.
The pungapunga, the yellow pua, or pollen of the raupo (Typha angustifolia) was mixed into cakes with water and baked. The pungapunga was gathered in summer when the plant was in full flower, and was obtained by shaking the dense flowering spikes gently. Raupo grows in swamps by the edge of streams and rivers and lakes. It has a sweetish taste. The middle part of the white succulent roots of the raupo, called koreirei, was also favoured as a food. It was generally eaten raw during the summer season. I have often eaten it, and found it not unpleasant.
Puwha (Sonchus oleraceus. var.) was a very favourite vegetable of the Maori. I myself gather the sow thistle here and cook it to eat, as it reminds me of our own puwha, of which I am very fond. Puwha was used only as a vegetable, and was gathered each day when needed. After thorough washing, it was placed wet on top of the kumara or other vegetable page 214 in the hangi to cook. It might even be placed on meat or fish, but never on the hot stones. Only the young leaves or the tops of the older plants were used. When the puwha was not picked young, it would grow into a plant two or three feet high, and the shoots would flower. The succulent stems contained a bitter milky juice which came to the surface when the flower tops were plucked off. This was left on a sunny day, for a few hours, then gathered between the thumb and first finger, adding the thick creamy mass of several plants together. This was used as a sort of chewing gum called pia or ngau, which tasted very bitter at first. But after a little chewing the bitterness disappeared, and this gum was much enjoyed, especially by the women, who vied with each other in seeing who could make her pia crack the loudest.
The roots of the pohue (Convolvulus sepium) were dug up out of the ground, cooked in a hangi and eaten. The root was long and tough, and got after much trouble. It was quite good to eat.
1 Mourning for a man of rank.
The fruit of the tumingi (Cyathodes acerosa) was eaten fresh and was good. The fruit was white, pinkish, or red, and was about three-quarters of an inch in diameter.
The pakeha introduced the potato, and a large kind of reddish sweet potato which the Maori called waina, and both of these roots were very much easier to work than the kumara of the old days. This was why the large kumara cultivations were neglected, for the new foods took the place of the old. Some of the old varieties of kumara were the toromahoe, kokorangi, matakauri, moio, kirikaraka, kawakawa, papahaua, taratamata, pokerekahu, and very many others of which a few are still planted in many parts of the island in a small way. But for the most part they have disappeared.
The Maori liked the potato as much as any of the introduced plants in the very early days, although it was some time before he was used to it. It was page 217 supposed to have been introduced by Captain Cook at Queen Charlotte Sound in 1773, with many other seed plants and the pig. It was also planted by Crozet in the Bay of Islands in 1772. In the Journal of the Polynesian Society, vol. iii, p. 132, it appears to have been introduced by de Surville in 1769, when wheat, maize and the seeds of European fruits were planted, and it was first planted at the Bay of Islands on the north of the North Island. As the roots increased in after years, it was passed on to other people living on the coast, but it was many years before it was introduced for the first time to our parts by Te Whatiu, a man of Tuhourangi, and by Te Whiu, a man from Ngati Rangiwewehi at Puhinga. This was told me by my papa (uncle) Mita Taupopoki. The hapu of Tuhourangi made cultivations of potatoes from the time of their grandfathers down to the present time, according to my papa, and thus it appears that our potato cultivations in the inland parts were started in the early part of the nineteenth century. My papa also stated that the potato took the place of the fern root, aruhe, as it contained the same starchy substance. My old koroua and kuia told me the same thing. The potato was cooked in a hangi with the kumara, or was boiled in a “kohua”, a pakeha iron pot on three legs. It is supposed to have got its name thus. When the first Maori made a bargain for an iron kettle, the man from whom he got it said “Go ashore”. page 218 The Maori called it “Kohua” ever afterwards, and all saucepans have the same name, a corruption of the words “Go ashore”.
Tuhourangi made large cultivations of potatoes, and these were at Titikore, Tikitapu, Orangipurea, Te Horoa, Te Piripiri, Te Manuka, Te Puna, and other places between Ohorango and Maungarawhiri. Our grandfathers worked them down to our time. There were also cultivations at Te Manukapiko, Kaua, Ngotengote, Waitangi as far as Te Whakaki, Te Areapoupou, Omaruare north of Okareka, Akakahia on the edge of Okareka bush, Matapaia on the boundary of the same bush, Te Huruhu, Otahu on the west side of Okareka, Te Kohatu on the south shore, and at many other places, all belonging to Ngati Uruhina, a hapu of Tuhourangi, and these were worked from our grandfathers' down to our time, i.e. from the early nineteenth century until the eighties.
Fish was a very important food of the old Maori, who was an expert fisherman with the seine or with the hook and line, and there was plenty of fish in the sea. He thought nothing of going a long way from shore in his frail canoe, for was it not under the protection of Tangaroa, the god of the ocean? Tangaroa was one of the offspring of Rangi, the heavens, and Papa-tuanuku the earth mother, and he represented all fish which live at Rangiriri, where all fish come in from the sea.page 219
When a fishing expedition was arranged, several canoes, each manned by several men, were placed under strict tapu. If a man was married, he kept away from his wife until all fishing operations were over. Both men and canoes were under tapu, and each canoe would carry a mauri, such as was explained in the section on kumara, in a hidden part to maintain the tapu, and add mana to move the gods when an appeal was made asking protection for the ropu (company) from the many dangers at sea, and from the many beings who lived in the deep waters of Moana-nui-a Kiwa, the great ocean of Kiwa. [Here a karakia is omitted.]
Kiwa was an atua under whose care the ocean was, and was looked on by the old Maori as a very important atua in the seafaring days when they traversed the ocean exploring the great expanse beyond. With this belief no fear came into their hearts, for were not their karakia heard by Tangaroa, who had taken them under his care while they were on the sea?
The first fish caught on an expedition was offered to Tangaroa as a thanksgiving, and it was done with the ceremony of karakia. The fish was then placed page 220 in the sea again, and this karakia was repeated asking that abundance of fish might be sent to fill their nets or bite on their hooks. [Here a karakia is omitted.]
As I said, tapu was connected with almost everything pertaining to fishing, the people who went being tapu, and their canoes, and the making of their nets. The men who went on fishing expeditions had no food before they went, and none until after their return, when the tapu was taken off by a Tohunga. Tapu entered into all that they did, as atua were watching over them close at hand in all their work at fishing, and the success of their venture depended on their observing strict rules of tapu. Even when fish was caught, and pulled up into the waka (canoe), it must not touch the top of the gunwale. If it did, it was considered to be an evil omen, aitua. When fish was placed in the canoe, it was laid in the way of the canoe, and not across it. If the fish were placed across and a man stepped over them, it was thought that some aitua (bad luck) would happen to him.
The tribes or hapu who owned land down to the sea would own the fishing rights for some distance out to sea. A stake would be put in at each end to mark the boundary line on each side, and these might be a few miles, or many miles apart. The stakes prevented any outsider from fishing in the waters. Only the members of the hapu, or of the several sub-hapu, who owned the land would have page 221 any right here. A mauri (talisman) would generally be buried on the land near the coast. This was often a stone. This mauri of sea fish had great mana from the gods, and so represented their mana, and was supposed to have the power to bring the fish from other parts of the sea to those parts. The Maori had names for each fishing rock, ground, or bank which belonged to a hapu, and called them all by name. Some of them were eight or ten miles out in the deep water. The Maori knew all the signs of a good fishing ground.
Of course no Maori went out fishing alone. Fishing, like nearly everything else, was done by a ropu or company of men, and a fishing expedition would be talked over and arranged several days beforehand. Two or three canoes, or a fleet would go out manned by men who were members of a hapu, or of two or three hapu which were related to each other. Their fishing grounds were sometimes five, eight, or more miles away.
When a new net was to be made, an expert would go to the place where the harakeke, flax, grew and would pull out two young leaves from the root part in the middle. If a tioro, i.e. screeching sound was made, that was a good omen for the new kupenga (net). He would take these to rito harakeke (leaf-buds of the flax) to the tuahu, the sacred place of the kainga, and place and leave them there. Not until this was done would the men go out to cut the flax page 222 for preparing to make their net. The mata (mesh) in the centre was smaller than that at the two ends. Many men made it over their fingers, but sometimes a papa kupenga, a wooden mesh-gauge, was used. A gauge for a small mesh is papa kutikuti, and one for a large mesh is papa matahaere. Te rangatahi is a small form of kupenga eight or ten fathoms long.
When everything was ready, the net was taken to Otumakaro flat just below Maketu kainga, and here the toronga or setting up occurred with high ritual by the Tohunga. As all this was a very tapu ceremony, the men took no food until after each day's work, when the tapu was taken off by the Tohunga. At Otumakaro the net was tightly drawn to many rows of strong posts. The sinkers, karihi, were placed inside the akopua or pouches of mesh, and tied strongly to the kahararo, that is the lower rope, about a foot apart from each other. The floats were secured to the kaharunga or upper rope, and a taketake or rod was put at the end to keep the seine stretched. When the net was completed, it was measured, and the length of it was ninety-five chains, and the weight of it was about two tons. On its completion, the net was spread north and south, and the Tohunga cut off the loose ends and took them to the tapu place and left them there. He then repeated a karakia so that the first wetting and hauling of the net might be waemaria, i.e. lucky. He then returned to the net which was still spread out at full length on the ground, and had to be carried by numbers of men in this same page 224 position to the canoe. Then came a great difficulty. There was no canoe at Maketu large enough to carry this heavy net. Men were sent to Te Awa te Atua several miles further down the coast to Ngati Rangitihi who had two large war canoes, and on the following day they paddled them to Maketu, steering them straight into the Maketu River. The net was then carried by a great number of men. These took their stand on the west side of the net, about ten feet apart, waiting for the signal from the Tohunga. At the word “Hapainga!” (Lift it) each man gathered the net together, and threw it up so that it lay on his left shoulder, and at another signal from the Tohunga, they all moved forward as one man with the Tohunga leading the line.
The rauawa, the beautiful carved topside, was removed from each canoe, for with these carvings, they were war canoes and could not be used for fishing, and the canoes were placed twelve feet apart and a strong platform was nailed across the two to make a stage on which to place the seine. On New Year's Day of 1886 then, the great seine was taken and placed on this smooth stage, and thirty to forty men paddled the double canoe out of the river into the sea, going some distance along the coast in a westerly direction under the directions of Tohe te Whanarere, who managed operations from the top of a telegraph tower on shore, a tower nearly a hundred feet high. The men on the canoe could not page 225 move or let the net down until instructions were given, even though they saw many shoals of fish as they steered their canoe. When the old man Karanga shouted “Haukotai mai!” (Surround it), the canoe passed quickly beyond the shoal while half a dozen men put out the net. They steered north then west, and lastly brought the canoe to shore with much of the net not let out, some little distance from the mouth of the Maketu River. The seine was so full of fish and so heavy that even the thousand or so spectators who tried to haul it in failed. Te Whanarere now took off his clothes and rubbed his body with kokowai or takou, i.e. red ochre which has been mixed with fish oil, and went into the sea. The many fish were struggling about in the net, some being sharks and sting-rays, but he did not heed them, as he said that they would not notice anything as they were only seeking a way out. He swam out to the canoe, and asked the men to lift the konae, the middle part which had now turned and formed the corner part, clear of the bottom, and they did so twice, emptying out many fish to try to lighten the net. After much labour and time, the incoming tide helped to bring the net a little way up the beach, where it was staked. Then there was a long wait until the tide receded, and the fish were left on the sand, and were carried up on shore above the high water mark.
All this time none of the men had partaken of food. Then Te Pokiha arranged thirty-seven spaces, and page 226 placed a man at each of them. Five hundred fish were placed in each of these spaces, and then two hundred and fifty on each again, and so on until each tahua or mound contained a thousand fish. These tahua were then presented to the various hapu of Te Arawa who were present, and a tahua was presented to Captain Mair and the pakeha people who were there. These tahua were made up of schnapper, traveller, kahawai, gurnand, parore, tarakihi, kingfish, mangopare, pepeke, kapeta, tutahuna, mangotara, many kinds of small shark, koheriri (horse mackerel), kutorotoro (sand fish), and many other small fish.
When the catch is collected and taken out of the net, the Tohunga takes two of the fish from the catch, and takes them to the tuahu, sacred place. He first places two sticks in the ground, one on the western and the other on the eastern side of the wahi tapu. He hangs a fish on each of these sticks, offering them to Tangaroa, after which he repeats another karakia lifting off the tapu. After this a feast of fish is prepared to celebrate the occasion, and the tapu is lifted by the Tohunga from the people, and from the land and sea which is around them. Then two sacred fires are kindled, at one of which food is cooked for the more important tapu men and the influential women, and after this the people can eat.
There were expert men who understood all the movements of a school of fish. These men generally took page 227 up a position on the top of a hill near the sea, and looked out for any signs of a school of fish, and then passed on the sign to a party of men who were fishing in a canoe. The seas which surrounded New Zealand were teeming with fish. A number have already been mentioned in the Maketu account. The mango (shark) was taken, not only to eat, but for the teeth. The teeth of the mako shark, or some of its species, were used as ornaments and as cutting implements. The flesh of the dried shark was considered a great delicacy. It had a very strong smell. There were also hapuku (groper), tamure (schnapper), kanae (mullet), warehou (sea bream), moki, kahawai, kumukumu (gurnand), and other fish.
Large nets were hung up to dry on high tarawa rails, and when dry were put away on a whata (elevated platform), and a roof was made over it to preserve them from the weather.
Two large canoes 40–50 feet long were used for taking out a large fishing net, and in the case of an extra large net like that of Te Pokiha, two large canoes from 60–80 feet long would be used. In the old days when the seine was placed on the canoes, the Tohunga repeated a karakia directed to Tangaroa. During such performances very heavy tapu lay on the land and sea. Then the prow of the waka (canoe) is turned towards the sea, and the Tohunga steps into it, followed by each of the men in turn, who are careful to step into it with the left foot first.page 228
They then take their hoe, paddles, and paddle as one man towards the place where they intend fishing. When they get there they begin to pass the seine over the side of the canoe, and as it touches the water and gets wet, the Tohunga stands up and repeats another karakia. While the canoes go ahead, the net is let out, and when the centre passes out, another karakia is repeated. When the net is drawn, the Tohunga takes a fish out with his left hand, but holds it so that its head is still in the water, and says, “Go under the great ocean, and gather in the multitudes, and bring them here.” If the catch is a heavy one, the Tohunga repeats a karakia to prevent the net from breaking.
I have already described the way in which a large net was made in sections in the account of Te Pokiha's net, and have shown how each section was the work of several men in a family group. Each man netted a line of meshes, and they worked so as to follow each other. The work was done from left to right, page 229 and when starting to make a net, te ngakau, a strongly plaited rope, was doubled and tied securely to a peg which was firmly driven into the ground. The first line of meshes was made on this rope which was looped, the meshes working loosely and freely on the looped rope. Te kaita, the man who makes the meshes, gets on with his work, and pushes what he finishes along the rope to his left, so bunching the meshes together. When making a mesh, he passes the strip of flax he is working with over the gauge, and hitches it on to the row above. When the section is ready, the ngakau is drawn out. The worker often has to tie on another strip of phormium as he works along. These nets are owned by the community.
Small nets were made of dressed muka (fibre) string, which was rolled into a ball that was held and passed through the upper mesh. The ngakau was stretched between two pegs. As I have seen it, the worker had a bundle of strips of dressed flax beside him. He doubled the end of the flax to pass it through the mesh, and when he came to the end of the strip, he tied on another strip with a knot. The mesh was exactly the same as that used by Europeans.
When I was a small child, I never got tired of hearing the many stories of te patupaiarehe. One of our old stories says that the fishing net was not always known to the Maori, but that they acquired the art of making it from the Turehu or patupaiarehe people who were fair skinned people with light reddish hair. page 230 An ancestor called Kahukura happened to find some of these Turehu people while they were hauling in their nets one night. They never used their nets by day but only by night, and he thought this very strange indeed. One night he helped them to haul in their nets, and as it was dark, they did not see that he was a stranger. He was much pleased to find out about the net which was then unknown to the Maori, and thought of a way by which he could procure one of these nets. He thought that if he worked slowly, he would delay the work, knowing that the Turehu could not stand the light of day. After a catch of fish, they put the fish on a string to hang them up. While they were busy doing this, he thought of his plan, and instead of tying the cord to the first fish, he left it loose, so that as fast as they threaded the fish at one end of the cord, they slipped off the line at the lower end. Thus morning appeared before the work was finished. The Turehu all ran away frightened of the light, and flew into the forest, leaving the net on the beach. This is how we came to know and to use the fishing net and learned how to make it. The story came with our people from Polynesia.
In Cook's First Voyage, page 57, Cook writes: “The seine, the large net which has already been noticed, is produced by their united labour, and is probably the joint property of the whole town. Their fishing hooks are of shell or bone, and they have baskets of wicker work to hold the fish.” On page 48, he writes: page 231 “Early in the morning, the Indians (meaning Maori) brought in their canoes a prodigious quantity of mackerel, of which one sort were exactly the same with those caught in England. These canoes were succeeded by other canoes equally loaded with the same sort of fish, and the cargoes purchased were so great that everyone of the ship's company who could get salt cured as many as would serve him for a month's provision. These people frequently resort to the bay in parties to gather shell-fish, of which it affords an incredible plenty. Indeed, wherever we went, whether on the hills or through the vales, in the woods or on the plains, we saw many wagon loads of shells in heaps, some of which appeared fresh, others very old.”
Crozet in his Voyage, pp. 40–41, writes also of the abundance of many kinds of fish caught by the Maori, and of the art of the Maori in all that concerns fishing, and goes on to say: “Their fishing lines, as well as their nets of every description, are knotted with the same adroitness as those of the cleverest fishermen of our seaports. They manufacture seines five hundred feet long, and for want of corks to hold up the nets, they make use of a very light white wood, and for lead to weigh it down, they make use of very heavy round pebbles enclosed in a network sheath which runs along the bottom of the seine, etc.”
The taruke is a lobster pot which the Maori used in taking the sea crayfish (koura), and some of these page 232 pots were very large. The bait, and some stones for sinkers were put inside. A plaited rope was fastened to the taruke, and the end was fixed securely to a float. Karakia were repeated when these large pots were set. Crayfish were also taken by diving. Men and women were clever at the work of ruku koura, that is diving for crayfish among the rocks of the sea.
Kahawai (Arripis salar) was caught by trawling. A fleet of small canoes went out, with one or two men to paddle each. Then a man would throw out his line and hook when they reached a good fishing ground or shoal of fish, and the canoe would be paddled swiftly through the water. The Pa fish hook was generally used when trawling for kahawai, and no bait was required, as the coloured paua (haliotis) shell in the water was just like a small fish, and was sufficient to lure the kahawai.
Hapuku (groper), another favourite fish, was also caught by trawling. This was good eating, especially the head, the part I always liked to have. Kanae (mullet) was another favourite, which to me tasted like the mackerel I have eaten in England. All the fish were steamed in a hangi, though some were dried and put away in a whata (see p. 160) for future use.
When men went fishing, and one of them had a new line, none of the others would throw out his line till after the new line had been wetted. When placing his bait on the hook or hooks, he would tuwha, spit on it, and after gathering up his line, he would pass page 233 it under his left kuwha (thigh). After this he would turn his face to the bow of his canoe, and throw his line over the left side of it, and as the line went out and got wet, he held it in his left hand, and picking up some sea water in the cup of his right hand, sprinkled this on the line. The first fish he caught would not be eaten, but kept to be given as an offering to the gods. This offering would be cooked on a fire which was specially kindled on his return to land, and the fish, which was divided into two parts, was offered to the spirits of his male ancestors, and to the spirits of his female ancestors.
Te aho hi ika, the lines used for fishing, were made from the finely dressed muka (fibre) of the flax. They were very strong, and often carried hooks to catch very large fish, such as the manga (barracuda), or the hapuku (groper).
Hooks were made from wood, shell, or bone, and often from human bone. They were very cleverly made from many different designs, according to the mind of the man making them. Those of wood were often lined with paua, i.e. haliotis shell, the surface of the wood being gouged so as to fit the rough back of the haliotis exactly, and then the barb was fixed on at the end. These were called pohau manga. Some hooks were made of shell only, and when they were drawn through the water, they looked very like fishes.
A lecture of Mr. Balfour's reminded me of certain hooks which were fashioned by nature, and needed page 234 little finishing by the human hand. In my district manuka grew near Lakes Rotoiti and Rotorua, and this became quite famous for making hooks. People came from the coast on purpose to get these manuka sticks, which the prevailing winds had blown almost into the shape of fish hooks. The illustration shows the manuka bush growing, and the slight alterations needed to make it into a strong hook.
Wood of the tawhai was often used for making hooks. When the strip of haliotis shell was cut to line a hook, the back had to be left in its original lumpy state, as the removal of the lumps would break the shell. As I suggested before, the wooden back of the hook was gouged so as to receive these lumps, and thus the strip of haliotis was made to fit the wooden back closely.
Hapuku the groper was caught with a hook and line. Whai or sting-ray was taken with a wooden spear. Wheke or octopus if small were taken by hand from among the rocks. Should the wheke twine its many legs round the arm of the catcher, he puts his other hand underneath the body. Kahawai was taken with a hook and line, the hook being a wooden one lined with haliotis which served as a lure.
Karengo (Laminaria sp.) was a seaweed which grew on flat clayey tidal rocks. It grew in plenty on the east coast of New Zealand, and great quantities were gathered round the East Cape. The plant was very slippery to touch, and anyone treading on it would slip immediately. It was collected and left in the sun to dry, and then put into baskets and stored for future use. Rimurehia or rehia was an edible seaweed, gathered in the sea close to the shore, or on the beach, and cooked in a hangi and eaten. Rimiparo was another seaweed gathered and cooked and eaten in the same way. In the summer it was sometimes eaten cold.
Rimurimu or rimu (seaweed) was used as a sacrifice by a Tohunga in a religious ceremony when giving thanks for a successful ocean voyage Ki nga atua o te moana, i.e. to the sea deities. It was also offered Hai whaka noa i te waka hou, to take the tapu off a canoe nearly finished, and for taking the tapu off persons or places which had been connected with the dead.page 237
These children, that is to say the seaweeds, were taken to Rakahore, the personified form of rock, who has charge over them and looks after them.
Shell-fish were eaten raw, or cooked for a very short time on hot coals. They might be placed in a heap, and a fire built round them. Or they might be dried and threaded on takiaho, a string of prepared fibre.
Kuku, mussels, were taken from the rocks by hand and collected in baskets. Ngupara is described by Tregear as a fresh-water mussel, but the only ngupara I know were found on the rocks on the east coast. It is a very small mussel, perhaps one to two inches long, and grows in bunches. It is shaped like the large mussels and tastes rather like them, only perhaps not so strong in flavour. It is either cooked or eaten raw. Paua, haliotis, generally called mutton fish, has a univalve shell. It is taken from the rocks by hand, and the inside is taken out and beaten to soften it before it is cooked on hot coals or in a hangi. The inside of the shell has many beautiful rainbow colours, due to the outer layer being covered with many tiny grooves which decompose the rays of light as they reflect them. This shell was as I have said used for fish hooks, and was also used for ornamenting wood carving. In making the eye on the figure on a slab, the whole paua shell was used, and held in place by a small wooden peg which formed the pupil of the eye. Kina (Echinus) commonly called the sea egg, page 238 has a prickly shell, and the inside is generally eaten raw. It is usually collected at the same time as the paua. Tio, oysters of two kinds, were found on the coast. One kind is rather small and has a rough and crinkled shell, and is found on rocks. The other is much larger, and has a comparatively smooth shell, and lives in mud. The Maori did not care a great deal for oysters, as he did for other shell-fish.
Pipi is a small bivalve, 1½ to 3 inches long, with a smooth white shell nearly oval, and faint marks that follow the lines of the shell. It grows all over New Zealand, generally in sand banks or in sandy mud, and was a favourite food. The shell-fish itself was of a creamy white or yellow colour, and was eaten raw, dried, or cooked either on hot coals, or by steaming for a very short time. The shell was used for shaving. The old Maori did not like hair on his face because it covered up the beautiful lines of his moko (tattoo). The hairs on his face were pulled out by means of an empty pipi or kakahi shell. The operator would hold the two pieces in his right hand, and with his left hand on the back of the neck of the man who was to be shaved, would catch the hair between the two shells and pull it out. Although this was a painful operation, no sound was ever made by the patient.
The old Maori was an expert in taking fresh-water fish, and the people who lived inland had an enormous supply of the kinds which will be described, until the Europeans introduced the trout and other fish. Now page 239 our fresh-water fish have almost entirely disappeared. Fishing grounds belonged to the hapu which owned the land going down to a lake or along a river, and were marked by posts as described in the account of sea fishing. In Lake Rotorua about half-way between Owhata on the mainland and Mokoia Island was such a post, called Hinewhata. My ancestors Wahiao and his father Umukaria who lived at Owhata used this post for tying their fishing nets on when they were getting inanga, and they also tied on bunches of fern for catching koura, or crayfish. In my chapter on Marriage I mentioned this post as the one on which my ancestress Hinemoa, the sister of Wahiao, rested when she swam across the lake from Owhata to Mokoia to her lover Tutanekai.
Koura (crayfish) were found in great quantities in the lakes and rivers. My people in the Lakes district, at Rotorua, Rotoiti, Okataiua, Tarawera, Rotokakahi, and other lakes, took the koura in many ways. They used the paepae, a dredge net, and also whakaweku, bunches of fronds of raurahe (bracken) sunk to the bottom of the lake, or tau, bunches of fern tied to a post. These bunches were left for some time before going to gather the koura which were found in great numbers on the fern. The bunches were drawn up into a canoe and shaken to loosen the hold of the koura, and the rest were taken off by hand.
My old koroua Te Pahau who lived at Motutawa Island was a great adept at getting koura, kakahi, page 240 and inanga in Lake Rotokakahi (Green Lake). He was a most industrious man, and went off in his canoe very early in the morning to set his ferns or to gather koura. He welcomed those who wished to go with him in his canoe, but they must be punctual. If they were late, he never waited, even though he saw them coming in the distance. So came the saying (whakatauki), “Ko Te Pahau kahaki waka,” Te Pahau who would not wait, but went off in his canoe.
Our people also ruku koura, that is, dived for crayfish, going to the bottom of the lake and bringing them up between both hands.
Inanga (Retropinna), a small fish, was a favourite food of the Maori, and was eaten either fresh or dried. It was the relish eaten with the fern root. The inanga was taken in great quantities in most of our lakes with the kupenga, or seine net. They were also taken in an oval hoop net with a long wooden handle which went right across the net, and also in a small conical scoop net. The fishers who used these small nets waded near the shore. But the big net was generally used in the old days in Lake Taupo and Lake Rotorua, Lake Rotokakahi, and other lakes. The first inanga caught in the season were always offered to the gods, and the rest of that first catch was used at a ceremonial feast, karakia being repeated by the Tohunga. In the old days inanga was taken by the hapu of Tuhourangi from Otamakari on the north of Tarawera Lake, Owhaia and Te Puna north of Tarawera, Te Manuka page 241 at the same place, Waitangi to the north-west, Parahamutu, Rahuiroa, Terapatiki, Matakana, all near by, from Kariri and Punaromia, from Waitoharuru (Wairoa Falls), and Karikaria close by, from Hawaiki on the south-west of Tarawera Lake, from Taneroa, from Whangaruru on the peninsula, from Te Ariki, from Tutaiinanga on Paeroa block, from Motutawa, and from all round Rotokakahi Lake at Okareka, on the west side of Otaku. All these were ancient fishing grounds, and were continued down to the time of my koroua Te Pahau, and down to Maihi Te Kakauparaoa and my mother.
Toitoi (Gobiomorphus gobioides) is a small fish caught in the lakes, and like inanga was taken in nets. Both it and the inanga were also taken in a taruke. Toitoi was also called titarakura and other names. Pahore was another small fish found in the lakes like the toitoi.
Kokopu (Galaxias) was an important food among the people who lived inland. Lake Taupo was a noted place for it in the days of old before trout were introduced. It was caught with pouraku nets at night, also by bobbing, and in the smaller streams a hao or oval net was placed in the water ahead of it as it went upstream. A lighted torch was used so that the worker could see as he waded into the stream, and see the kokopu when he caught it. It was placed in tauremu fish basket slung round the waist. I have known it to be caught by the hands in small streams. Two people will go into the water about 12 feet from each other, near the banks, while another stands half way across. The two on each side stir the muddy page 243 bottom with their feet and make the water dirty. The kokopu finding it dark and hard to breathe comes up and puts its nose above the water. Then it is caught by placing the hand underneath it and lifting it out. There are other ways too. I know that Taupo Lake was full of kokopu when I was a child, as some of my relatives live there, and we often went to stay with them. The kokopu was generally taken on dark nights in summer and autumn, and was 5 to 12 inches long and sometimes more. Its flavour was not unlike whiting, and there were about six varieties.
The upokororo or grayling, of which there were the tirango, kutikuti, and rehe, were caught in traps when they were going up rivers after a flood while the water was still dirty. The upokororo was also taken in nets and by other means.
The Maori sometimes caught the patiki or flounder with a spear. The spear was made with a point at the end which was barbed. It was not unlike the spear used for catching birds.
Kakahi, the fresh-water mussel, was a food liked by the old Maori, but I did not care for it myself, as I missed the tang of the salt-water mussels. It was the only fresh-water fish I did not like. I have seen my people diving for them, or pushing them up with their toes in shallow muddy water. The kapu was a long-handled scoop used for taking them from the bed of a lagoon or shallow lake. The Rou kakahi was a dredge rake used for taking kakahi. It was worked page 244 by means of a long pole used as a handle, and a bag net was fixed on to the dredge.
The old Maori was very clever at getting fresh water fish, but at taking eels he was an expert. Eels were taken in a hinaki, eel trap, set at a pa tuna (eel weir), and with a bob, spear, or even with the hand. The spear was a short-hafted one with many prongs.
Eel weirs (pa tuna, pa tauremu, pa rauwiri) were built across rivers, generally in a zigzag way. In small streams, two wing fences were built tending towards each other in a sort of V open at the point, with the opening at the downstream end. The hinaki were set with the opening upstream, a few feet apart at the open end of the V. The eels are caught as they come down the river to the sea, keeping in the middle of the stream.
Each hapu had its own fishing ground. For example Ngati Rangitihi owned the fishing rights on the Rangitaiki River which passed through Te Awa te Atua, their land. Here I saw some wonderfully constructed eel weirs of the zigzag kind, when I was quite a small child. When my mind goes back to those pa tuna, I realize how clever and industrious the old Maori were. I remember the fence which must have been 8 to 10 feet high, with the posts of matai or rata, made of long poles of the sharpened manuka (Leptospermum ericoides), lashed with split kareao (supplejack) to two series of manuka rails about 3 or 4 inches thick. The eel weir zigzagged right across the river, page 245 and the two posts on each side of the openings were braced with very strong poles used as struts on the downstream side. The wide spaces at the top of the weir were called waka, i.e. mouth, the part in the middle tuki, and the narrow opening was called the ngutu, the lips, for it is through the lips that anything passes. In the space between the fences from the mouth to the ngutu, matting of manuka brush is tied together, and pegged down to the bottom of the river. This matting goes a little beyond the ngutu, and prevents scouring of the river bed.
Important weirs were generally given a name, and in the very old days, the permanent maui posts had carved grotesque figures or a head on the upper part. No outsider would think of poaching. Death would be the penalty for trespassing on any place which was a rahui belonging to another.
The completed weir was a very strong affair indeed. But can the reader imagine the very hard work which it cost, when there were no English implements? There was much work in going to the forest where the thick tall manuka is to be found, and in cutting and sharpening each pole, and in preparing the heavy posts of matai or raka, and driving them in with a wooden maul. In many cases the material had to be carried several miles, and as they had no nails, the whole had to be bound with supplejack. Building and repairing were done in the dry summers when page 246 the river was not as high as usual, or when the tide was out if the weirs were near the mouth of a river.
The Maori studied the ways of the fresh-water fish, and knew that eels come down the rivers to the sea in autumn. He also knew that they travelled in the middle of the stream, and made the openings in the pa tuna, and set the eel baskets accordingly. Nets were also used for taking eels at these weirs when they were whakahekeheke, i.e. migrating or moving.
Eels were taken on dark nights with a spear, or by hand in muddy water, or by bobbing with a maunu, bait, of earthworms threaded on a string of flax fibre which was tied to a stick. This was done a great deal, and is still done. When eels were caught, they were placed in a hole made in the ground called a parua. Some people put them into a hinaki (eel basket or trap) which was tied to a post in the water near the shore. Eels were never taken with a line and hook.
A mauri was placed in the vicinity of an important pa tuna. It was usually a stone, which brought luck to the weir, so that the eels would not desert that part.
The entrance to a hinaki had many names, one of them being puarero. The toherere or inner cone is bound to the outer basket very neatly with flax. This cone prevents the eels from getting out once they have entered. The mouth which is made of manuka or of supplejack, may be anything from a foot to three feet wide.
It was the Maori belief that Whaitiri married Kaitangata and from them came Puanga, Karihi, and Hema. From Puanga came Mango the shark, and from Karihi came Para, Manga, Ngoro, and Tuna, in the order named. Their European names are frost fish, barracouta, conger eel, and fresh-water eel.
When a new pa tuna was constructed, the first tuna which was caught was offered to the gods.
The eel was generally cooked in a hangi if wanted at once. It was either cut into pieces, or cooked whole, encased in the leaves of the puwha (Sonchus oleraceus, var.), or sometimes bound spirally in the leaves of the harakeke (phormium), and then placed on the page 249 hot stones of a hangi. Tuna cooked in this way was lovely, the outside skin getting quite pakawera, i.e. well browned and crackly. Tuna was considered a great delicacy.
During the season many hundreds of eels are taken in a weir, anywhere from a pound to twenty pounds each in weight, or even more. Many are dried and put away for future use, or for taking to relatives for some special gathering. The people prepare teahi rara tuna, the fire for drying eels. The eels are laid on a frame made of green rods over the fire. If small, they are put on just as they are, but if large, they are opened out and kept open with small pieces of wood before they are laid on the fire (ka pawhara tia). They are then hung up (whaka tirewa) on a whata, which is a raised storehouse in which food is kept, such food generally being dried fish of all kinds.
The eel is taken as it comes downstream in the middle of the river, while the lamprey is taken as it migrates up the river, keeping close to the bank to avoid the strong current. The lamprey weir was built in summer when the water was very low, so as to have the advantage of the dry river bed. The Utu Piharau (weir) consisted of short straight fences built out at right angles to the bank, with rectangular openings in the wattlework. The one on the Whanganui river which I showed in my lecture at Oxford was about thirty-five feet long, and had five openings.page 250
The current of the Whanganui river is very strong, and to prevent scouring, a layer of manuka brush was pegged down to a distance of twenty-five feet upstream from the fence, and six or seven feet downstream below it. A small hinaki about thirty inches long is used as a trap, and is set with the mouth upstream. Two stout stakes are driven into the river bed just below an entrance to the weir through which the water rushes. They are set at a little distance below the fence so as to allow the fish to pass between them and the fence. To these stakes is secured a funnel-shaped net, and the smaller end of this net is inserted in the mouth of the trap. As the lampreys encounter the strong rush of water through the gap in the wattlework fence, they are swept back downstream into the pot.
The kuri (dog) was the only domesticated animal which the old Maori had, and this he brought with him when he migrated to New Zealand about six hundred years ago. It is now extinct, and has been since early in the last century when the pakeha dog was introduced. Or it may have been extinct by the end of the century before judging by all the accounts I have heard of it. The kuri is mentioned in the Tasmanian Journal of Natural Science, vol. ii, p. 97, and in Annals of Natural History, London, vol. xiv, p. 93. The kuri was a small animal with a long body and low in the legs, and had a head somewhat like that of a fox, with straight pointed ears, and a flowing page 251 bushy tail. The colour was either all black or all white. It lived on fish, vegetables, or any food eaten by its owner. The hair was long, straight, and fine, and the skin was used in making the special and rare cloaks for chiefs. There is one of these in the Pitt-Rivers Museum at Oxford. The hair was also used in adorning the chief's weapons. Cloaks too were decorated with the bushy hair of the tail (whiore or waero).
The flesh of this kuri was eaten, and was considered a great delicacy, as it was in other parts of Polynesia. In his Journal, Cook says, when he first saw the native dog at Tologa Bay, “No tame animals were seen among the natives except dogs, which were very small and ugly.” Again when leaving Tologa Bay, he says, “We saw no four-footed animals nor the appearance of any either tame or wild, except dogs and rats, and these were very scarce. The people eat the dogs, like our friends at Tahiti.”
The old New Zealand dog was supposed to be rather stupid and dull. The Maori used him when hunting the kiwi (apteryx) and other birds which moved about at night, and also for hunting parera (ducks) during the moulting season. It was not useful for anything else so far as I know, so that when the European kuri, a larger and more intelligent animal, came along, the few native dogs disappeared.
The kuri pakeha was big and strong and useful in hunting the pig which Captain Cook left behind in page 252 New Zealand. The pig increased quickly, and the Maori found it a good substitute for the kuri and kiore (Mus esculens) as a relish. The Maori liked the new large dogs. I remember the one which my koroua Maihi owned. It was a large dog, not unlike an Alsatian, of a dark cream colour. He named it Ngaumu, and it was a very good dog for hunting the pig.
The kiore (Mus esculens) was an important food of the old Maori. Many members of a hapu would take part in the business of catching it, and everything was done with ceremonial. Before a company of men went out to take the rat, the Tohunga would repeat a karakia so that the expedition might have luck.
The old kiore of the Maori was much smaller than the imported European rat. It was very plentiful in a forest on high land, where the tawhairauriki (Fagus cliffortioides) grew in plenty. It lived in the hollows of trees and in holes in the ground during the day, and came out at night to get its food. It lived mostly on the berries of trees, its favourite being the berries of the tawa-rau-riki. The kiore was said to be particular about what he ate, and to be a clean feeder.
Ara kiora, rat runs or paths, were made between his home and where he got his food, by the scraping of his feet as he journeyed backwards and forwards each year. Some of these runs were many miles long. My hapu Ngati Wahiao had several ara kiore at page 253 various places, but the one at Parekarangi went from a place called Tuahuahu to Te Tara o te Marama, a distance of a few miles, and was used down to the time of my koroua Maihi te Kakauparaoa, and to the following generation in their early days. Each rat run of importance was called by a name, and on these runs the tawhiti (traps) were set. There were many ways of taking the rat, but I know only the tawhiti. When the first rat was taken, a karakia was repeated, and a sacrifice made of it to the atua, by putting it on a small platform or at a tapu place. Many rats were caught during the winter season, and women often helped in the taking of them.
Different ways of taking the rat were tawhiti, pokipoki, tawhiti makamake, and torea, kopiha, and paepae, the last three being names for a pit trap. To make a tawhiti kiore, first stick a double hoop of supplejack into the ground, with its ends on either side of the run. Then through this double hoop stick a number of turuturu (straight sticks), pressing their points firmly into the ground, leaving a space in the middle of the structure just big enough for the rat to pass through. Next, beside the path fix a spring stick of supplejack. This spring stick is called whana. To the free end attach a short piece of stick by a fibre cord. This vertical stick is called taratara. Also attach a tohe or cord loop to the free end of the spring stick, not a slip noose.page 254
To set the trap, bend down the spring stick, and pass the loop through the double hoop until the end nearly touches the ground, and put the taratara in a vertical position at one side of the opening so that the top end is on one side of the hoop, while the cord attached to it is on the other side between the entwined supplejack hoop. Then let the spring stick go a little so that the pull comes on the taratara, and put a short piece of stick between the uprights, and the lower end of the taratara prevents it from being pulled upwards. The trap is now ready.
The kiore coming down his path finds only a small opening over this short stick (kurupae), and as soon as he steps on it, the vertical taratara is released, its lower end flies upwards, and its top end slips out from under the hoop. The looped string flies up between the entwined supplejack hoop, and pulls the kiore violently up against it. This process was repeated until many were killed.
There were other ways of taking the rat with us, and other ways practised by different tribes, some of which I have mentioned. The rua kiore was another way. A hole about 4 feet deep would be dug, wider at the bottom than at the top, in a place frequented by the rats. At the beginning of the berry season some would be gathered and thrown on the ground inside the hole. A slanting pole would be placed in the pit so that the rat would get used to going down and coming up again. After two or three nights the page 255 long pole would be removed, and several shorter sticks would be stuck into the sides of the pit to stick straight out horizontally over the opening, and berries would be tied to the ends. The rat was only too willing to get and eat them, but when he finished and wanted to go back, he could not turn. So the poor kiore fell into the pit.
We had rat snaring grounds at Moerangi, one being called Te Tihi-Whakairo-to-Taope. Ngati Umukaria used to hunt these. Te Kohika was the chief, and there were other snaring places, and bird snares as well. At Parekarangi was the one I have mentioned. Te Paipai was the chief, his descendant was Takina. There was also a rat track at Kaihihi from Ka Kapiko to Te Ewe-o-pareao, belonging to Tukiterangi and Ngati Tuohonoa. There were bird snares as well. The chief was Kamana. No other people would attempt to snare rats at any of these places, or birds, nor would they cut any flax or raupo from the swamps without first asking permission from the owners.
Captain Cook is credited with having been the first to introduce the pig, and often when going on a wild pig hunt, people say, “We are going to hunt for Captain Cook.” As the pig increased in the forest, the Maori hunted for it with the large dogs which he got from the early whalers. The little young pigs were generally taken home to the kainga and reared, and from them came the domesticated pig, which was quite different from the wild one, though both page 256 were good in their different ways. The Maori has then enjoyed the pig for about a hundred and fifty years.
As usual, the Maori did not hunt alone, but several men went and camped in the forest many miles away from the kainga. In later years the journey was on horseback. At night they had a large fire made, not only to keep away the atua which might be in those parts, but also to keep them warm, as they carried no blankets in those old days. The dog was used to hold the pig, while the Maori stuck it in the throat with a long sharp pointed knife. A fire was lit, and ka hunuhunu tia, the hair was singed off with burning branches. The pig was hung up by the hind feet, and the puku opened and cleaned. In the old days when there were no horses, after getting several pigs, the Maori tied their two front and two back feet together, and passed a pole under them. The domesticated pig was not singed, but the hair was taken off with boiling water.
The pig was cooked in a hangi, or roasted on a stick in front of a fire. But the nicest way I know of cooking a pig is to roast it in fat in an omo, camp oven, which stands on three legs and has a lid, and is placed on hot coals to cook.
The Maori preserved pig by roasting it in its own fat. As each small piece was cooked it was placed in a taha (calabash), and when the calabash was full, the boiling pig fat was poured over the top, and the page 257 calabash was fitted with a tuki (stopper) which was sometimes ornamented with carving. Huahua poaka will keep for two or three years or more.
Although the pig was regarded as a blessing, it was a nuisance in some ways. After his coming, the Maori had to fence his cultivations. There were two kinds of fences, one like the fence for a pa (fortification) only much lighter. It was made of split manuka or small straight poles sharpened to a point and thrust into the earth in a straight up position. The upper ends were then lashed to a horizontal rail. I might mention the fact that every picket of a Maori fence was sharpened and driven into the ground, just as the big supporting posts of the fence were. This is the takitaki. The other kind of taiepa (or taiapa) is the Pakororo, in which two upright stakes a few inches apart were driven into the ground every four or five feet. Then between the uprights, poles or split sticks were laid, the ends overlapping. The pairs of uprights would be lashed together to prevent their opening.
In the old days, birds were very numerous in New Zealand, and one could see them quite close to the kainga, just as I used to see them in my childhood days at Parekarangi. I could almost say that I lived with the birds, for they were in the forest all round me singing and talking to each other, and I used sometimes to think they spoke to me. Our kainga at Parekarangi was close to the forest and the only page 258 sound we heard was the singing of birds which was a wonderful sound, and the Mangakara stream flowing over its pebbly bed. My koroua Maihi te Kakauparaoa was the only member of our family of three who ventured into the forest either to get birds or to cut logs. I had always been warned not to venture into the forest of Tane (Te Wao tapu nui a Tane), being told that it was full of atua, so I never ventured further than a few yards on the border when my kuia gathered sticks for firewood, and I helped in my small way with my kawenga (bundle) which I tried to carry as my kuia carried hers. I have already spoken in my account of the building of houses of the way in which the Maori looked upon the forest of Tane as possessing a mauri, or tapu life principle, just like a man. Thus he looked upon the forest with great respect. He saw the trees as living beings like himself, only from an elder branch of the family. It is difficult to express the feeling that grew up with one, as it did with me, for I was brought up in the belief of all these things, so that when I sat on the edge of the forest I could almost imagine what the rustling of the leaves meant. Although many weeks and months were spent at Parekarangi with no other children to play with, I never knew what it was to be lonely, for I had the belief that I was never alone. The feelings I had as a child have never left me, and I still hear the voices of unseen beings in the sound of rushing water, in whispering wings, and in rustling branches. page 259 I know and feel that with all the education I have received, for which I am most grateful, I am at heart just the same as when I spent all those happy years of childhood with my kuia and koroua.
There was always much tapu pertaining to the forest, and to all the things in the forest. During the fowling season, the forest was very tapu indeed, and people were careful not to pollute that tapu. If a ropu (company) of people went into the forest to snare birds, they must not take any cooked food with them. If they had a temporary home in the forest for the purpose of snaring birds, they must cook and eat whatever food they needed at the camp before leaving, and not carry food about with them. This was to prevent any insult to the gods, and desecrating the tapu. If they did such a thing, the birds were supposed to leave the place and go to another part of the forest. A mauri (talisman) was always placed in the forest, and this was sometimes a stone placed in the ground. This was supposed to hold the mana of the gods who had charge over all the forest.
One of the many birds in the forest was the kereru (pigeon, Hemiphaga novae zealandiae). The time for taking it began in the late autumn. Some time before this, the adepts would go through the forest to see where the trees were which had plenty of fruit for the birds to eat. The miro was a favourite fruit of the kereru, and he got very fat on it. Tawa was also a favourite in midsummer. A kereru which had page 260 to live on the leaves of the kowhai was very poor, and was not generally eaten, as the inside had a nasty smell.
There was a certain amount of tapu connected with the making of snares (mahanga) and other things which the Maori used for catching birds. Everything of this sort was made in a whare takaha, the storehouse where all the implements for catching birds were kept. It was also called whare mata. Women were not allowed in a place like this for fear of desecrating the tapu.
The ahere-mahanga were fastened to a bough in the manner shown in the drawing which follows, high up in a tree. The cord was made from strips of whanake (Gordyline), its fibre being stronger and more lasting than that of the harakeke (Phormium tenax). These rauhuha, strips of whanake, were held over the smoke of a fire to make them strong; the smoking also took away the new appearance. When the cord is fixed on the mahanga, it is called a tari. The snare is usually spoken of as a mahanga, but I have always heard my old koroua speak of it as ahere-mahanga when the whole thing was complete. Other names for the snare are tahere, taeke, kaha, pihere, and so on. A spear for taking birds is also called tahere.
The kereru (pigeon) lived only on the forest berries, so that when cooked for immediate use, it was cooked whole, either by baking it in clay, feathers and all, or by steaming it whole in a hangi after the feathers had been removed. In the hot lake district, we put the birds whole into some utensil, cover with water, and put into a steam hole for an hour. Whichever way kereru is cooked, its flavour is better than that of any other bird I ever tasted. When I went to New Zealand a few years ago after being away a number of years, relatives took much trouble to procure various luxuries for me. I enjoyed them all, but none better than the kereru, which I was able to have just before leaving, although they gave me huahua kereru from the time of my arrival.
I myself preserved partridges in England by the same method, and three years later, they were as good as when I first put them down. One lot I boned as we do kereru, but had to use lard as there is not enough fat on partridges. About thirty were boned and cooked in an open pan on the fire with boiling fat. I then put the partridges in jars, and poured the boiling fat over to cover them. Stoppers were placed on the opening to keep the air out. About thirty more were done differently. The inside, head and legs were removed, and the partridges cooked in beef gravy. Then three were placed in each large preserving bottle, and the gravy poured over them, and the tops clipped down. This was done during the page 264 food shortage of the first years of the war. We had some of each lot before the season opened for three years, and one bottle of the first lot was quite good in the fourth year after it was put down.
As there were more than two hundred species of birds, it would take too long to discuss them all. Birds formed one of the most important foods of the old Maori. There were many in the Wao-nui-a-Tane, the forest of Tane, many on the mania (plains), many on nga maunga (the mountains), many in the lakes, and on the seashore and on the sea. Some were wingless like the moa which is now extinct, and the kiwi, the apteryx.
The kiwi was highly thought of, mainly because of its prized feathers, used for cloaks. He and the moa were unlike all the other birds in New Zealand. They slept all day and came out at night to get their food.
The kakapo is another bird which does not fly, although he has quite large wings. His muscles seem too weak to work them. He lives generally in holes under the roots of trees. He was often kept as a pet by the old Maori, who found him playful and affectionate. The kakapo always looked to the future, laying in his store of food against bad weather. The Maori thought the bird had almost human knowledge, and spoke of the chief kakapo sending out invitations once every winter to all the other kakapo to gather together and hold a meeting. They met once a year page 265 in large numbers to discuss all their affairs, and very interesting it was. After the meeting, the kakapo all went back where they came from in small companies. What they talked about the Maori does not say.
The kakariki or parakeet was a beautiful coloured bird, mainly bright green, and red, yellow, or orange on his forehead. He was generally very tame, and a clever mimic. Parakeets were taken in great numbers by the koputa, tanga or striking method, and by the puaka trap.
The tirairaka or fan-tail was a very beautiful little bird. These birds hopped among the twigs and branches inside and outside the forest, opening and shutting their pretty tails which looked like fans every few seconds. These lovely little birds came quite close to me when I was a child, as they had no fear of us at all.
The pihipihi or blight bird was a small bird found in the forest in great numbers. It was taken by the tanga or striking method, and it needed a great number to serve as kinaki (relish) for a large family. After plucking, a piece of wood was passed through six or eight, and stuck in the ground by the fire to roast the birds, which were turned round and round until they were cooked. This is the way my kuia cooked the pihipihi at Parekarangi when I was small; she cooked other birds larger or smaller, such as the tui, in the same way. A person who goes to get the pihipihi makes himself a hiding place of leaves page 266 and branches of fern trees, etc., and so partially covers himself. He has already fixed a pae (perch) for the bird to stand on. When everything is ready, he attracts the bird by blowing on a pepe, that is a call-leaf, and so making a whistling sound. When the bird comes, he strikes it with a hauhau (rod) which he keeps against the end of the pae close to his hiding place. This was also a way of getting the tui.
The tui or koko was often called a parson bird because of the tuft of white feathers on his throat. He was a great bird for singing, and had a beautiful note, especially in the early morning. The Maori kept tame tui, and taught them to talk. The birds were great mimics. The tui was very good eating, either freshly cooked or made into huahua (preserve). When preserved or cooked, it was usually called koko. When I was a child there were hundreds to be seen in the bush and on the edge outside. They did not. seem to be afraid of anything, and one woke up in the morning to the sound of their beautiful tunes, and to the lovely sound of the bell bird, and many others, not forgetting my little friends the pihipihi and the tirairaka, the little birds I loved as a child.
The pukeho or the swamp hen was a favoured food and much sought after. The legs and beak were red, and the plumage was very bright, the neck being indigo blue. The feathers were used in the making of cloaks, and the body was cooked in a hangi or roasted before the fire on a stick.page 267
Ducks were hunted with dogs at Rotomahana after the snaring season in the month of February. Tuhourangi people were the only ones who were allowed to hunt. Only the principal men had the privilege of snaring.
Te korimako, or the bell bird was one of the most beautiful songsters. Some of its notes sounded like the tolling of bells at a distance. It has now almost disappeared. Captain Cook mentions them in his first voyage. While they lay at anchor in Queen Charlotte's Sound, they were awakened one morning by the singing of the bell birds. “The number was incredible, and they seemed to strain their throats in emulation of each other. This wild melody was infinitely superior to any that we had ever heard of the same kind; it seemed to be like small bells most exquisitely tuned.”
The weka or wood hen is another bird that has lost the use of its wings. These birds had no need to fly from danger or go off the ground, as there were no beasts of prey in New Zealand before the pakeha introduced their animals. The weka was a great thief, robbing nests and eating eggs and young birds at night. Its feathers were used in cloaks, but it was not a favourite food.
The kea, a parrot, is mostly found in the snow regions of Te Waipounamu (the South Island) on the mountains of Otakou, known to the European as Otago and Southland, and also round about the page 268 beautiful lakes and fiords in Milford and other sounds. Since the pakeha came with his sheep farms, the kea, so report says, will sit on the back of a live sheep and peck out its kidneys. I cannot vouch for this story, as it was repeated to me, and it must only happen in a certain part if it is so, as in many places the kea is not at all destructive.
The kaka had a bright reddish plumage which was prized for making cloaks, and the body was eaten. It was supposed to be very noisy and active. It was useful for eating up the many insects which were so harmful to the plants. It was snared like the kereru. I did not mention before several things about snares. Sometimes several of these perching rods (paerangi, pae, rongohua, mutu) were placed in one tree, and after setting, the snares might be left for some time and only occasionally visited, for fear of disturbing the birds. Some of the snares were set on very high trees, such as the matai, rimu, and mairo, but the most favoured were the miro and the kahikatea (White Pine). Snares for the smaller birds were set on the kotukutuku (fuschia) and porporo. Snares for the kereru would not be set on a rata (Metrosideros) as the kereru does not eat honey, but the tui and kaka are taken on this tree. Snares are also set on the ti (Cordyline), and many were set by water. When the kereru is eating miro, it gets very fat, and after a heavy feed will go straight for water. Thus many snares are placed near water.page 269
The huia (Plate XIX) is well known by all people who know anything of the Maori. He is black, and his tail feathers are white at the tips, and these tail feathers are worn by rangatira people as a sign of distinction. The male and female huia have different kinds of bills. The female has a long curved one, and the male a short sharp one. I was always told by my old people that a pair of huia lived on most affectionate terms. The female dug the ground for worms, but it was the male bird who picked up the worms to feed her, as she was unable to do it because of the formation of her bill. If the male bird died first, the female died soon after of grief. The writer has a beautiful pair of huia mounted in a case in her collection, and they have been photographed for this book.
The body of the huia was considered tapu and was not eaten.
If there was a scarcity of birds in a forest, it was thought that there was something wrong with the mauri, probably because someone had done wrong. A Tohunga would karakia over it, appealing to the gods to bestow its protection on it again, when it would have its mana restored. The mauri is supposed to have the mana to attract birds to that part of the forest where it is.
In our old belief, Tane, one of the offspring Rangi and Papa, was the origin of birds, and was spoken of as Tane-mataahi, but the birds are under page 270 the care of Parauri and Tuihaia, who have charge of them in the forest. One old story says that Tane took Parauri for a wife.
The food which these birds ate did not make them fat, and they were very poor indeed, so they were fed on the vermin which grew on the heads of their relatives, the trees of the forest, which were also produced by Tane, but as Tane-mahuta. These trees were the miro, make, mairo, and others from which the birds eat the berries. The birds then began to get fat, and there was plenty of food for them. The atua which Tane arranged to take charge of the forest were Parauri, and Punaweko, and Tuihaia. There were other beliefs about the birds, and it was also believed that Punareko represented all the birds in the forest, and that all those at sea were under the care of Hurumanu, and the kaeaea (sparrow-hawk) was represented by Tane-i-te-hokahoka. Rehua was spoken of as the origin of the tui, but Rehua was also a word used in Polynesia for the forest.