Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon



page 7


The main object of this work is to preserve for the benefit of future generations the story of the migration of the Ngati-Kahungunu people from Hawaiki to Aotearoa, and also to preserve the history of the New Zealand-born ancestors of the same tribe. It has been written from traditions and facts already recorded and from material gathered personally by the author and recorded herein for the first time.

The story has evolved into four main parts as follows:

Part One. The discovery and peopling of the land by the Maori, leading to the departure of the Takitimu and the other canoes of the main fleet in 1350 A.D., with a record of their landing places.

Part Two. The settlement and activities of the Ngati-Kahungunu tribe, which became the largest and most powerful tribe in the country.

Part Three. The history of certain leaders of the Wairoa people in more recent times, and the facts concerning the building of the Takitimu House.

Part Four. Appendices relating to important charms, proverbial sayings, the interpretation of dreams and signs, and the almanac, which were in common use by the people.

It is not intended that the publication of this work should be for my personal benefit, other than as a memorial to me and to those who have collaborated with me. A copy will be distributed gratis to each of the principal libraries, Maori colleges and museums in New Zealand, and to all the main libraries throughout the East Coast. The balance of the first edition, and the right of further printing will be handed over to a special committee to be appointed by me. The proceeds from the sale of the books is to be expended, together with the sum of £100 donated by me, for the purpose of creating a fund for a scholarship of an annual payment of £25 to the pupil in any school in the Wairoa District who scores the highest marks in an examination on the Maori language.

page 8

It is well known that the Takitimu canoe was the means by which the ancestors of the Ngati-Kahungunu were transported from Hawaiki to New Zealand, but so far no detailed account of the migration has been published. The learned Maoris of the past regarded their history as being exceedingly sacred and the imparting thereof to an ordinary person or stranger rendered it polluted or common. The old experts obtained their knowledge by its being imparted to them under the strictest rules of tapu in the sacred college of the whare-wananga, which forbade them telling it to any common person or stranger or in public places. This high ideal of the Maori was very much against the use of sacred history and the names of ancestors being published in common books and thus being put in common places or near food. They would have been horrified at their treasured past being used for commercial purposes.

The Takitimu, being the most sacred canoe of all canoes of the migration, her history was held strictly tapu, and it was on this account that the historians of the past were unable to record the story of this migration. Even I, myself, met with many obstacles, and it was only because of the fact that this undertaking was for the sole purpose of recording the history, and not for monetary gain, that much of the information was given by the elders.

Since the advent of Christianity, very many of the Maori people have been taught to read and write, and many of the adepts recorded their histories and genealogies in private books which were held strictly tapu. So severe were the restriction of tapu on these books, and so drastic was the punishment for its infringement, that succeeding generations abandoned them. Some were buried with their owners, and others were lost, or burnt in concealed places.

The Maori people differed so widely in versions of their history that it was found useless to call them together for discussion. Many times these meetings ended in uproar. It was found that only by encouragement could the Maori be prevailed upon to make a contribution, and even then he had to tell history in his own way and without interruption. Under these circumstances I was forced to adopt the course of taking down different versions and deciding on their relative merits.

It was my special request to those who kindly assisted me in compiling this work that its wording should be in simple but expressive language, in order that it might be understood by all classes of people, both Maori and pakeha.

page 9

We have refrained from recording stories of myths or of supernatural powers, other than to connect or support a story, for we consider that it is only a belittlement of the personal ability and daring adventures accomplished by these stalwart men of old, to overshadow their achievement with supernatural powers. We have included some of the most important charms which regulated and guided their lives. Their prayers were just as effective in their day as ours are to-day.

Tiaki Hikawera Mitira.
(J. H. Mitchell.)

Hawke's Bay, N.Z., 1943.