The Maori Race
War, War Omens and Murder
War, War Omens and Murder.
War was the only pastime that in his heart of hearts the Maori truly loved. Over and over in his boyhood he had heard the descriptions of battles in which every detail had been discussed, he was taught by precept and example every valuable means and variety of fortification, every rule of leadership, every disposal of force, every stimulant to success in battle. The usual provocations to war were curses (sometimes uttered almost without serious intention), quarrels as to boundaries, squabbles about women, and revenge taken for murders. Sometimes even the elopement of a girl to her lover has provoked bloodshed through the girl's tribe trying to recover her by force. One chief induced his tribe to go to war and take revenge on the relations of his wife because he suspected her of having in secret better food than she supplied to him. As a reverse cause of page 326 quarrel to this it is recorded that Rauparaha noticing at a feast that his principal wife had no savoury portion allotted as her share, remarked, “A war-party shall go and kill some of the Waikato people as a savoury morsel to eat with that portion of food.” Men have been killed in payment for a dog destroyed by another tribe. A terrible and bloody war took place on the East Coast through a musical insult, or what was regarded as one, for the chief Pakanui considered that the notes of a trumpet that was nightly sounded in a pa at Waikawa conveyed a curse against him. Calling together his men he attacked the pa and was twice repulsed, then he sent out for his warlike relatives and allied tribes, whose combined forces overpowered the defenders and almost exterminated them. Now and then war arose from the curious idea called “putting your own people in the wrong.” A chief would perhaps feel himself insulted or vexed at some speech or act of a kinsman senior to himself in rank or birth. Unable to attack directly his too powerful adversary he would go out and kill some member of a strong tribe dwelling near, knowing that his kinsmen would have to support him in his quarrel and would probably, if not defeated, lose heavily.
An example of this is related of Huka, a sub-chief of the Ngati-Whaka-ue, a branch of the Arawa tribe. He became angry with his own people because he thought he had been badly treated by them not only about a woman but in a division of property. Huka said, “I cannot kill all my relatives, but I can bring page 327 war on them.” He did so by killing Hunga, the cousin of Te Waharoa, a very powerful lord. The Arawa, of course, covered their own man and were rewarded by having one of their best forts at Maketu attacked and taken by Te Waharoa and one of their sub-tribes almost exterminated. This mode of revenge was known as whakamomore, literally “making bare” or “stripping-off-branches.” Another form of it was when one member of a tribe had killed another of consequence, say a younger brother had murdered an elder brother. A man of a neighbouring tribe would be killed as “satisfaction” (utu), even though the destruction of the offending tribe by powerful neighbours would result. To avenge death by bloodshed was called huki toto, because some of the blood (toto) of the slain man was scraped up (huki) and carried on a stick to a priest for purposes of witchcraft.
Sometimes war arose just from the sheer lust of fighting, sometimes from what looked almost like a wantonness, but there is scarcely an incident that could be availed of, or an excuse to be conceived that has not been made at some time a pretext for warlike quarrel.
There appears at first no universal rule as to the virulence or ferocity with which war was waged or the defeated party punished, but as a general guide the idea will not lead us far astray that directs us to expect in accounts of campaigns mild measures when war was carried on against relatives or family connections, and “war to the knife” against strangers or descendants of another people. There were page 328 tribes in New Zealand which almost certainly were in possession of the land (whether as aborigines or descendants of a prior migration) at the time the Maoris from Hawaiki arrived about five centuries ago. When at later periods quarrels arose, the savage fighting and the annihilation of the losing tribe showed how a racial animus existed petween the immigrant families and “the men of the land” (tangata whenua). On the contrary if two branches of an immigrant tribe quarrelled, a little bloodshed, a few deaths, a balancing of accounts as to injuries received, and all was well again. This statement is, of course, only a general one, and so, liable to exceptions, but it may be taken as a key to much of the warlike history of the natives.
If war was decided on, messages were generally sent to all relatives and friendly tribes to put them on the alert and to give them the opportunity of joining forces. There were different methods of sending out “the fiery cross”—sometimes by a direct messenger, sometimes (in doubtful cases) by an ambiguous symbol that would give the parties sent to a chance of expressing opinion without too direct a refusal. Now and then a terrible message was sent out by the despatch of baskets of human flesh. After a battle bodies of the slain were cut up, “boned” and packed into baskets carried by swift messengers to tribes of allies to invite them to join forces.1 The body of Hunga was cut up and the pieces sent throughout the Arawa tribes (in 1836). The heart of Tama-i-hara-nui was cut into pieces and sent page 329 out to the allies of Rauparaha so late as A.D. 1830. If murder was the cause of war and the name of the assassin was unknown to the tribe to which he belonged that tribe sent out a small war party to find a victim. The party (taua) slew the first person they met, young or old, woman or man, belonging to the tribe under suspicion. If no one was met the first day the party would return to their own village. First, however, they would exercise a species of divination to find out those who were to fall in the approaching war. Some little swamp-birds (matata) were caught and torn to pieces. The blood was carefully saved as an offering to the gods. Each warrior in the party would secure a fern-stalk and tie a limb of the swamp-bird to it. The priest of the war-party would run along the line uttering an incantation, all the fern-sticks being lifted and lowered in time to certain rhythmical exclamations occurring in the incantations. If any fern-stalk failed to fall in exact time its holder would be informed that his fate in the ensuing war was certain death, if he went. Probably he withdrew from that expedition. The party, returning, on arrival at their village was obliged to fast until midnight. They remained sometimes two or three months before taking further action.
Sometimes the resolve for war was hidden in the heart of the principal chief till he considered the time for action ripe. Then he would make a carved wooden image, and, having assembled his people round it, he would call the image by the name of the chief of the enemy and strike the head of the effigy page 330 with his weapon. Whatever the motive of the war, when once decided on the resolution was conveyed to the people generally by blowing the large war trumpet (pukaea) or beating the war gong (pahu). The dance of defiance (whaka-toamoa) would be gone through, to express derision and contempt for the enemy. Then commenced the ceremonials. One of these was the rite (tira) whereby the wickedness of the warriors was to be wiped away and all their sins and evil thoughts cleanly purged. The priest took off his clothes, and, putting on his sacred girdle, went to the holy spring of water. By the side of the spring he made two mounds, and in each mound placed a wooden rod made from a twig of karamu shrub. One of these rods was called “the Wand of Life,” and the mound was called “Altar of Heaven.” The other rod was “the Wand of Death,” and was set on the mound named “the great Hill of the Earth.” By the incantations of the priest the sins of the warriors were absorbed into “the Wand of Death,” after which proceeding the priest put on his war-girdle and performed spells to weaken the courage and powers of the enemy. At this time the “control” or god (atua) of the priest would reveal to him the men who would fall in the coming war if they were to go. He would see their spirits hovering over the Wand of Death (tira mate). Another ceremony was the presentation of sacred offerings to the god Kahukura in the Mua in the presence of all the people. The image of the god was decked with mats, and prayers repeated, after which page 331 the mats were taken off and the people dispersed. Those who were to form the war-party assembled at night round the god, and the priest elevated the image with the mats and offerings in the midst of the party. Raw heart-fronds (pitau) of tree-fern were offered to the god, and then the same substance cooked. The ceremonies lasted till daybreak, when a fire was lighted and on it fern-root was cooked as a thank-offering (taumaha). This offering was held to the nose of each warrior to smell, and then it was given to one of the elders to eat. Again on the following morning a sacred fire, kindled by friction, was lighted, and the food cooked in the oven was first offered to Mua, as representing the gods, and then eaten by the oldest priest. All the people assembled, and the tapu on them was raised by means of incantations. Other ceremonies, tedious to detail, also took place, such as casting the niu rods and the solemn cutting of hair of the warriors with obsidian knives, while the priests chanted the pedigrees of the tribal chiefs.
Each tribe had a particular prayer (kawa) used before setting out to war. Nga-Puhi tribe, which inhabits the country about Bay of Islands, had a peculiar ceremony for this occasion. They propitiated the spirits inhabiting the sacred places of their land in the following manner. The war-party assembled, all standing naked except for the waist-girdle (maro). The chief of each sub-tribe rose in turn and cut off a lock of hair from the crown of his head; taking the hair in his right hand page 332 he turned his glance towards “the mountains of prayer” (maunga-hirihiri) of his tribe, repeating one by one the names of those holy places and casting a part of the hair to each as he named it. The reason for this was that the incantation thus uttered brought to the assistance of the suppliant the spirits of the dead persons buried in those localities, and they strengthened him in the fight. Sometimes before starting to a fight the warriors would jump through a fiercely burning fire (ahi mahitihiti or ahi rerere), as it was held that those warriors most daring in leaping through the flames would be foremost in battle.
When the fighting men actually setting out had assembled, they proceeded to the nearest running stream, and the senior priest, dipping a branch of karamu shrub into the water, sprinkled the warriors, dedicating them to Tu the god of war.2 This was the “baptism of war” (tohi taua) at which no woman or boy was allowed to be present. Should the branch break when the priest was sprinkling a man with it this would presage to that man certain death if he went, so he remained behind. After this every member of the war-party (taua) would be highly sacred and would continue so until set free by the cleansing ceremony used on the return home. There was one exception to this strict tapu, viz, in a relaxation of the rule as to a chief cooking food or carrying cooked food, because women (except in our own times) were not allowed to accompany a taua or cook for them. The cooked food, however, might not be passed across the front of a page 333 warrior; it might not be carried by the right hand (the weapon hand) nor on the right side, nor on the back. Above all it had to be kept from touching or being very near the weapon made sacred for war. A priest on a war-party had to carry his food in a basket in his left hand, and when eating he had to loosen his belt and lay his weapon aside lest in raising the food to his mouth it should pass over the weapon and work an evil omen (aitua) or misfortune. Nor could another person eat of the food a priest had carried.
The veteran warriors before starting would each repeat an incantation over his weapon to render it and its owner invincible. The prayers (ki-tao or reo-tao) said over weapons were family secrets not communicated to outsiders.
Probably, by this time, the hills of the enemy were blazing with beacon fires or waving torches that awakened the watchfulness of their own people and put their allies on the alert. If a large war-party entered the enemy's country the warriors composing it would build houses, fortify a camp, place sentries (putaanga), bring in supplies, and try to coax the men of the land out from their defences. They often adopted the kaikape style of advance, i.e., with scouts (tutei) and an advanced guard, or placed bodies of men in ambush, and pretended to retreat (takiri) so as to draw the enemy on, using their picked men in the rearguard, and acted thus until the chief gave the word “turn back,” then they would turn and rush on the enemy. A small taua would act differently: page 334 they would leave their homes stealthily, lest some relative of the enemy, living among them should send a warning. They would plant ambushes (haupapa or pehipehi), cutting off stragglers in the dusk of the evening or morning. An attack would often be made on a settlement just before dawn. The usual number of men preferred by the Maoris for a taua was 140 men (hokowhitu; “ten sevens twice told”) this being handy to move while too large a number became unwieldy. Sometimes it was “one hundred and seventy twice told,” for three hundred and forty would about represent the relatives and immediate followers of a chief whose opinions and feelings they probably shared. When there were large war parties they were of course composed of several sub-tribes (hapu), and some slight or umbrage was sure to be experienced by the leader of one of these sub-tribes. As an instance of this may be related the story of Paeko whose allies had plenty of food on the morning of the battle, but they did not offer to share it with hungry friends—a rare circumstance. When the enemy charged Paeko raised his spear on high as a signal to his followers and stepped aside from the fight, his men of course doing the same. When his niggardly allies called to him to come to his assistance, he replied with a speech that has since become a proverb, “When there is fighting you call Paeko, when there was eating you did not call him.” He allowed his greedy friends to be soundly thrashed before he went to their assistance.page 335
It was a rule almost without exception that a man who crossed the path of a war-party must be slain at once. The technical phrase was “A flying-fish crossing the bows of the canoe.” It meant not only death to that person, but it was a good omen for the success of the taua, and if he was spared misfortune was sure to follow. If the man who had crossed the path of the party had a relative in the taua that man would claim the privilege of bestowing the coup-de-grace. If there was no relative present any of the warriors might slay him. If the relative should be such a base representative of Maori feeling as to spare the life of the victim, then the war-party had to return home at once and be mocked by the women and those who had remained at home. In one of the rare instances when this custom was not complied with lurks an amusing example of Maori pride. A war-party invading the Wairarapa district met a young man who was the son of a powerful chief of their own tribe. He had been on a visit to a distant relative when he was so unfortunate as to be thus seized and devoted as an offering to the war-god. The priest-leader of the expedition was a friend of the young man's father, and, greatly to the annoyance of the warriors, allowed a smart blow on the head of the victim to be (metaphorically) considered a death-blow, so the priest proclaimed him dead. When, however, the young man returned to his father, the indignant parent exclaimed, “What! Is my son a man of no consequence that he was not considered worthy page 336 of being killed!” Then the angry old man himself raised a war-party and attacked the other body of troops that had dared to insult him by granting life to his son; sad to say, he was himself slain and his fiery sense of honour satisfied.
The priest that on every occasion accompanied a war-party (generally there was more than one) was always on the look-out for omens, and ready to augur good or bad fortune from multitudinous appearances or circumstances. He cast the niu rods, or interpreted the “jerkings” (takiri) of the limbs or body of a sleeping man, or saw a blowfly cross the road (a sign of defeat), or perceived a bird sitting on the right or left hand. If a shooting star travelled towards the enemy's country the omen was favourable, and the reverse an appalling portent. An eclipse of the moon foretold the fall of the enemy's fortress. In the next section will be found a list of the good and bad war-omens. If a priest thought his party likely to be affected by weakness or nervousness he would grasp a high branch with both hands and hanging by them stretch out his legs. Between his extended legs the war-party would pass. Or a priestess (tapairu, in this case called ruahine) of high rank would step over any person so afflicted. The priest had by incantations to cleanse this man, as he would be tapu on account of a woman having stepped over him.
Before a strong pa was actually attacked by assault a curious ceremony was performed on the part of the besiegers. The priest made page 337 a long narrow mound of heaped-up soil with a stick set into the ground at one end and another laid along the top of the mound. A similar mound was made and named for each sub-tribe or division of the war party. The priest, turning his back to the mounds repeated an incantation and on again looking towards the small hillocks affected to divine by the appearance of the sticks (supposed to have been moved by the gods) which of these sub-tribes should bear off the palm of honour. This ceremony had nothing to do with the divination known as “the oracle of the dead.” Often a very terrible rite was performed, viz, the offering up of a victim precious to the sacrificers. It is the old classical story of Agamemnon offering his daughter Iphigenia, transplanted to another clime. The Maori chief Kaharau, in order to determine the issue of the siege of his fort, killed his son, and, cutting him open, offered up his heart to the gods. The omens appeared favourable, so the besieged made a sally and defeated the enemy with great slaughter. In one instance recorded, a chief attacking an enemy's fort offered up his son as sacrifice and burnt the heart of the victim in a fire kindled outside the pa. The smoke drifted across the pa, and it was interpreted as a sign that the pa would be taken. Sometimes a chief was selected as a sacrifice or even offered himself to propitiate the gods, as the chief Tangarengare was slain to bring victory at Punakauia. In other cases an apteryx (kiwi) took the place of the human victim, half being offered to the great Earth- page 338 mother (Papanui) and half to the other gods. When Kaiapoi pa was besieged the omens all showed that the fortress must fall. The warriors within, girded with their war-belts and weapon in hand, sung their war songs, but some of them used the wrong words, an evil omen. Then they had a sham-fight and some of the warriors held their weapons wrongly, another bad sign. Then the elders recited genealogies of ancestors and made mistakes in doing so, a terribly disastrous omen. The spirits of the defenders were overwhelmed with these signs of coming defeat and they mourned aloud, the priest saying, “This is the day of death.” It is needless to say that the pa was taken. Sometimes the priest of a besieging party would mark out a small space on the ground to represent the enemy's pa. Then he named a stick for each of his sub-tribes and threw the sticks at the supposed pa; the way they fell determined the augury. Much attention was paid by the expedition to the dreams of the fighting chief or the principal priest, especially on the night before an engagement. As an instance of this we may note the dream of a Taranaki chief who beheld himself in his sleep standing as a watcher for his party and looking towards the edge of the forest saw a flock of paroquets (kakariki: Platycercus N.Z.) fly from the shelter of the forest towards him, in a threatening and menacing manner. Turning away from them towards the sea he saw an immense shoal of fish swimming towards him. On awaking he considered the dream as a warning, and it was interpreted to mean that page 339 he would be attacked in front from the forest by a party of the enemy, and from the rear by another, so he made his tactical dispositions accordingly. The event justified the prediction; he was attacked as expected, but his preparations had ensured victory for his men. At the fall of Kaiapoi pa (north of Christ-church) the assailants had piled brushwood and fern against the defences of strong posts and palisading, intending to set them on fire, so their priests prayed incessantly for a south wind which would be favourable to them. Within the fort the priests of the besieged were praying as fervently to the same gods of war that the south winds might be prevented from blowing. We have seen similar performances among people who consider themselves far more civilised than the Maoris.
- GOOD.—(1.) If summer lightning was playing around the peaks of the hills and flashed horizontally towards the lands of other tribes.
- (2.) If the priest saw in a dream his god (Atua) flying through space covered with blood.
- (3.) If, when there came news of an enemy's war-party about to attack, the tidings were received with calmness and deliberation.page 340
- (4.) If, when the war-party was sitting down, it was called to by the chief and all the warriors sprang up as one man.
- (5.) If the war god (Maru) appeared in the sky behind the war-party. Maru appeared in a red glow.
- (6.) If a young warrior on killing his first man at once took the garment of the slain person to the priest it was a lucky presage for the youngster's future battles.
- (7.) If the day of attack was misty. The mist was the brains of slaughtered enemies. A shower of rain falling on a war-party on the march was a good omen.
- (8.) If the priest had a dream that he saw a lot of dead bodies on the ground.
Of course when an omen is called evil it means good for the opposite side, so the evil was not unmixed.
- BAD.—(1.) A false turn of the challenging spear when thrown, or if the challenger after throwing turned to the left instead of to the right, or looked back at the enemy.
- (2.) If a war-party did not rise as one man at the word of command.
- (3.) If a war-party, or a chief of it, was suddenly afflicted with hot parched throats.
- (4.) If a war-party hearing that the enemy were about to attack them should get flurried and run about.
- (5.) If a warrior yawned—a sign of cowardice.
- (6.) If before setting out the chiefs wrangled and argued.
- (7.) If a glow of red light (papakura) like that of sunset but darker was seen in rainy or damp weather in valleys; if it extended towards a fort or village it was an evil omen for the people of that place.page 341
- (8.) If a war-party disregarded the sight of a cloak spread out across their path. This had been done by a wizard-priest of the enemy to defeat them.
- (9.) If an inferior chief usurped the position of the leader.
- (10.) If the war-god Maru was seen in front of a taua; the war-party had to turn back.
- (11.) If the war-party ate standing.
- (12.) If a warrior sneezed when eating it was a sign that he would fall in battle and would be cooked and eaten by the evening.
- (13.) If when cooking had taken place in a native oven the woven band (koronae) of leaves used to line the ovens had not been torn to pieces before the party started afresh.
- (14.) If on opening an oven of cooked food a lizard should be found with the food around him raw and the rest cooked.
- (15.) If the ceremony of “offering the scalps” (whangaihau) of slain enemies had been neglected.
- (16.) If feathers were tied in a bunch and waved, then, if any feathers fell, a man of the party would fall for each feather.
- (17.) If a sound was heard like running or bubbling water with notes of the human voice in it.
- (18.) If a sound was heard at night like a procession of women and children passing in the air, singing and talking.
- (19.) If a warrior passed in front of a priest, or neglected his directions, or took any of his property.
- (20.) If summer lightning was seen playing among the mountain peaks, the flashes being vertical.
- (21.) If after a fight the warriors camped on or even lingered long on the battle field.
- (22.) If a man did not keep time in the war-dance, or if his leaps in that dance were not so high as those of the other dancers.
- (23.) If in a battle the victor spared the life of the first of the enemy vanquished by him. His courage and sight would be destroyed as he page 342 would be attacked by the god Tu-the-dim-sighted. (The remedy was to get a female ariki to step over the stricken one's body.)
- (24.) A twitching (io) anywhere between a sleeper's chest and elbow on the left side foretold defeat of the taua or that some should fall in an ambuscade.
- (25.) The io on the shoulder betokened that the enemy would pass at some distance.
- (26.) The io on the thigh showed that the enemy would leave without attacking.
- (27.) The io on the chest near the heart presaged death, murder, or war.
- (28.) If a taua was attacking a pa and the priest made a kite to divine with, if the kite flew in a lop-sided manner.
- (29.) If the string of the said kite should chance to be held in the left hand. A “messenger” was sent up the kite-string and then the string was let go.
- (30.) If the said released kite caught in the palisading of the enemy's pa, dread and weakness would fall on the men of the pa. At this kite-flying no food was allowed to be eaten or cooked previously; so it was commenced before dawn.
The people who were left behind in the tribal villages were supposed to be tapu and to eat no food while the war-party was away, but this rule could not be carried out in cases of the protracted absence of the fighting men and so food was partaken of but in a restricted and ceremonial manner. The women had an anxious time while the men were away on a war - expedition. Watching for omens and signs which should tell them the fate of their husbands and lovers, the fearful hours passed. If an owl hooted in the day-time it presaged disaster; anxiously its cry was listened to, because, if its calls sounded seven times in page 343 succession it meant certain defeat. So also when a tame tui bird talked at night it was a sound to cause trembling to the hearer.
Every tribe, and even some sub-tribes, had a peculiar “slogan” or war cry. The war-belt was worn by the principal fighting-men in battle, and they also used the dog-skin war-cloak and the mat-shield (pukupuku or pauku); the inferiors fought naked, but all wore garments when not actually in conflict. The war-belts were only put on just before conflict commenced. The senior priest accompanying a war-party selected the camping ground at the end of each day's march by driving his staff (turupou) into the ground. Sometimes this staff was made a rallying standard round which the tribe would conquer or die.
If a very strong position had to be taken it was encircled by a stockade and a regular siege instituted. On some occasions the sapping shield (kahupapa) was advanced, being pushed by 20 men. It was not used to cover a sapping trench but to screen the attacking party so as to enable them to get close up and destroy the palisades. The encircling army would also erect a high tower outside the walls of a fort as a post of observation, and corresponding to the towers or balconies (taumaihi or puwhara) inside the fort, but the latter were also used as defences from which stones could be hurled.
Fierce warriors as the Maoris were, they often exhibited courtly generosity that was almost chivalrous. When a fort was attacked it was not unusual for a message to be sent page 344 through some neutral person warning the defenders to get ready. It was only in cases of bitter blood-feud that surprises were under-taken, or if the attacking force was much inferior in number to the other side. The rules of war which allowed a certain kind of truce in the fighting to take place now and then seem very curious to European ideas. If a fort was surrounded and besieged, or rather blockaded so as to make the defenders yield at last to hunger or thirst, it was no uncommon thing for members of the attacking party to pay visits to the beleaguered camp, where their lives were quite safe, as a rule. This probably arose from the inextricably mixed relationships which keeping one's pedigree along several lines of descent necessarily produces, and which caused a warrior who was perhaps a first cousin of the chief of his own side to count himself a second or tenth removed cousin of the chief of the enemy. Such a person was called a taharua, a “both sides.” This phase of Maori warfare was amusingly exemplified in a siege where the Ngati-ira people were being reduced to extremity by thirst. Their relatives in the attacking force thereupon paid calls upon the besieged, and this they did after first soaking their heavy flax garments in water. Of course they were not allowed to carry water in calabashes, but on arrival in the pa they wrung the water out of their clothes for the thirst-stricken people, while others chewed the loose fringes of the wetted clothes. At last, however, the besiegers stopped these proceedings and put a guard page 344a page 345 over the water and soon after the besieged were defeated half-dead with thirst. The battle is always alluded to in tradition as “The death in the days of the wetted garments.”
Sometimes this generosity, which yielded so much to the claims, however remote, of family affection, was shown also in magnanimity of personal conduct to an enemy. A robber chieftain named Moko fixed his abode in a cave near the Waipara (Canterbury Province), and from this as a centre he levied a tribute upon all travelling parties. At that time there was considerable inter-tribal trade in that locality in dried fish, preserved birds, mats, etc. Moko was not particular in adding murder to robbery, but most of his victims were slaves and their deaths not of much importance. At last the brigand, unfortunately for himself, killed a near relation of the chief Tu-te-waimate living near Rakaia river. Tu had been gradually getting more and more angry at the loss of property he had sustained through Moko, but this last annoyance aggravated him beyond bearing. He summoned a host of warriors to his side “so that the dust they raised was like the smoke of a great fire on the plains,” and marched for Moko's stronghold. When he arrived near the cave he pushed on to the place with only a few chosen warriors. He found that the vagabonds who formed Moko's retinue were away, but the chief bandit was asleep in the cave. Tu quietly entered the cave and found his foe sleeping, unconscious of the probable fate near page 346 at hand. Scorning to strike a sleeping enemy, Tu called out loudly to Moko to awake, reciting his own name and titles. Moko, however, having his short spear hidden by his side gave a swift upward stab, and pierced the heart of his generous antagonist.
A similar instance of forbearance is related of another South Island chief, Te Rangi-tamau of Ngai-tahu. His wife and children had been taken prisoners by a war-party. With deep silent vows of vengeance the bereaved chief stole into the camp of the foeman at night. Creeping up to the house occupied by the captor-chief, the avenger saw within the door-way his wife sitting with her back towards him. He stepped inside and touching her gently on the shoulder motioned her to silence and to follow him. Arrived outside he learnt from the woman that she and the children had been well treated. He then returned into the house and, placing his dog-skin mat across the knees of his sleeping enemy, withdrew. When the woman thought that enough time had elapsed to allow her husband to be in safety, she woke the sleeper and said, “Your life was in the hands of my lord, and he has given it to you.” The anger of the awakened warrior was chiefly directed against his men who had watched so carelessly over his safety, and soon afterwards peace was made between him and his large-hearted antagonist.
At the time (circum 1820) when the Ngapuhi made their raid on Tauranga they attacked the pa at Otumoetai. During the heat of an unusually warm summer day when both parties page 347 were resting and taking siesta, Te Waru, the chief of the besieged pa, went and sat down under some trees near the beach and near the enemy. One of the attacking party, unaware of the presence of a foe, came and lay down in the shade and was immediately pounced upon by Te Waru, disarmed, bound, and driven up towards the pa. When they had nearly arrived at the fort, the victor unloosed the bonds of his captive, gave him back his weapons and said, “Serve me in the same way.” The offer was at once accepted and the positions reversed. There was great excitement in the Ngaphui camp when one of their number was seen bringing in the chief of the enemy, and a crowd surrounded the two men. Everyone wanted to be first to strike the renowned prisoner and to secure the honour of the death-blow, but he was shielded by his captor who striking right and left among his friends cried, “Hear how I got him, and then kill him if you like.” He related in a frank and manly way the story which showed in what a generous manner he himself had been treated, and the rage of the Ngapuhi melted into a feeling of intense admiration of Te Waru. The captive was unbound and his arms restored with words of praise and sympathy for courage so great and magnanimity so lofty. He was invited to make peace, a thing he anxiously desired, and a treaty was concluded, the Ngapuhi returning to the Bay of Islands.
These examples, however, stand out in marked contrast to the ferocity and bloodshed that marked not only the ordinary battle-field, page 348 but the subsequent massacre and sacrifice of life. No better mode of acquiring an idea of conflict between native forces can surpass that of relating a few episodes of Maori warfare.
A battle that is deservedly celebrated took place at the Okauia pa in the Tauranga district. It was attacked by the Ngati-Haua tribe in overwhelming numbers. Two young chiefs holding minor commands volunteered to keep the outworks of the fort and to die at their posts if necessary on condition that in no case was he who held the outer line of defence to receive help, while those who held the second line were to be succoured only at the last extremity. When the attacking Ngati-Haua charged to the assault they were met with the desperate defence of men who had devoted themselves to death and who sought only to slay as many as possible before being slain themselves. The storming party at last passed over the bodies of the brave first line, their numbers having prevailed, but they found a resistance almost equally desperate at the second line. It was not until the chief of this second formation was killed and most of his force slain also that the besiegers broke into the inner pa exhausted by their efforts, only to meet the terrible down-hill rush of the picked men of the fort who to the number of 70 (the favourite Maori war-number) had been kept in reserve “straining at the leash.” The 70 in a close-linked phalanx broke through the ranks of the storming party, and the chief of the pa drove straight through his foemen till he reached the leader of the “forlorn hope” page 349 whom he struck dead with a blow. Disorganised and exhausted the Ngati-Haua fled in utter panic and in the rout that ensued an immense number of their men were slain; so many indeed that years passed away before the tribe was once more fit for war.
A characteristic conflict took place at Waipiro in the East Coast District, between the chief Pakanui and the tribe of Ngati-Ruanuku. He obeyed the orders he had received from his elders by taking his war-party in canoes to the fighting pa of his enemies, but so inadequate were his forces that he (against all war-custom) took the women and children with him, pretending they were only a party of peaceful travellers. They were hospitably received and remained some time, but Pakanui could find no means of making an open attack without courting inevitable defeat. After racking his brains for a long time he at last decided on a course of action. He ordered each of his men to make a small hand-net such as was used for catching small fish along the shore, and when his command had been carried out he distributed his followers along the shore, fishing diligently in the little channels among the rocks. Many of these little channels had been made artificially, and each, whether of natural formation or not, belonged to some individual in the neighboring pa. The owners of the fishing - rights by no means relished this invasion of their properties by strangers and soon a party arrived, each man with a hand net, and their chief at their head. Pakanui had appropriated the peculiar channel page 350 of the chief of the enemy who walked up to him and said, “Where am I to fish?” Pakanui drew his net out of the water and answered, “Fish here,” and he stood beside his foeman as he fished. The same thing occurred all along the line, until each man of Ngati-Rua-nuku had a man of the visitors party next to him while the waves washed over his feet. Suddenly a signal was given and at the same moment every man of the invaders threw his net over the head of a foeman and drawing a mere (attached to his foot under water) killed him instantly. In this manner 100 fighting men of the pa were disposed of and such terror instilled into the others that further success was comparatively easy to Pakanui and his followers. The battle was called “Two fish in one net.”
Maori battles often received curious and distinctive names. A fight was named “Brains in the sea-foam,” because the brains of men were there mingled with the froth of the sea. Others were “The Flashing Lightning,” “The Day of Two Sunsets,” “Food of the Sea Gulls,” etc. Almost all were either poetical or forcefully descriptive.
Good generalship, as well as fighting courage was often shown. A striking example was the capture of Maunganui pa, at the mouth of Tauranga Harbour, by Kotorerua. It was an immense and almost impregnable mountain-fort covering about 100 acres of ground, with strong fortifications, and rising to the height of hundreds of feet above the sea. It was defended by a large body of men under the page 351 chief Kinonui, but it had one tiny point of weakness, a narrow pass that if occupied by a handful of men would baffle an army, but which if undefended was the key to the position. Kotorerua determined to send a number of very valuable presents to the men of the pa, and he chose a dark and stormy evening for their delivery, knowing that the receivers would spend the greater part of that night in examining the presents and discussing the motives of the senders. In the meantime the invader had despatched the bulk of his forces in their canoes to reach the important pass by midnight, but it had to encounter great risk in the passage of the breaking sea on a rocky coast during storm and darkness. Moreover their lives and that of their friends depended upon their reaching their position and occupying it at the critical moment; but they set out in obedience to orders. Kotorerua, with 100 of his men, having concealed weapons, presented himself at dusk with 100 baskets of the most precious kind of red ochre (houru), an exceedingly valuable present. He explained that they had been delayed by their efforts to prevent the ochre from getting wet, an excuse that was well received, and, as it was getting too dark for the ceremonies (necessary on presentation) to be performed, the baskets were stacked for the night. This was fortunate, as they only contained soil with a little red ochre on the top. The distinguished men of the pa took the visitors to the large meeting house where speeches were made for several hours, while Kotorerua was in a fever of page 352 suspense and anxiety. His own men one by one withdrew on the pretence of being tired and desirous of sleep, but they slipped down to the beach and cut the lashings of the topsides of all the canoes, that none of their foes might escape by water. They then returned to the outside of the meeting-house and waited for their chief, who at last saw his chance, and slipping outside the door closed and fastened it. One of his men handed him a torch which was lighted and applied to the adjacent roofs. As the columns of flame rose in the air a torrent of warriors came rushing down the hillside at sight of the signal-flame and overpowered the scared and flying inhabitants of the pa. The attack was entirely successful, but it was only owing to the foresight of the leader and that mastery of his subordinate officers which marks the born general in every race of men.
Te Putu fell back, with his assailant on top of him. Fifty or a hundred men had been page 354 standing around, but the incident had occurred like a flash. They stabbed the killer through and through with spears, they broke his limbs with clubs, but he kept his hold till he was torn apart from his victim. With a last effort of strength the dying man took a handful of his enemy's blood and smeared it on his own body. Thus his corpse became tapu (for was not the sacred blood of their own chief on it?) and his enemies dared not eat of a thing so made holy. Therefore they treated the body with great respect and buried it in their own place of rest at Maungatautari. The Ngati-raukawa, to which tribe Ngatokowaru belonged were always famous as users of the dagger.3
“There is the dagger of Ngatokowaru,
It will be heard of, it will be remembered by posterity,
Its fame will live for ever!”
(“Tena te tete o Ngatokowaru,
Tena e rangona! Tae atu ki nga whakatupuranga,
Tuku iho ki nga uri.”)
The first man killed in a fight was called “The fish of Tiki” (te ika a Tiki) but more generally “The first fish” (mataika). It was always an honour to slay the first person in a battle, but if the slayer did so, and then got back to his own party unwounded, he was looked on as the hero of the occasion. Glory was gained also by killing the second person (tapiri or mata-tohunga) and the third (tatao) but not so much praise was won as for the “first fish.” The last persons killed in a battle were called “the froth” (huka) and it was considered lucky to have assisted at their death. The heart of the “first fish” was cut out and set upon a post, but afterwards kept for the priest-chief of the tribe to eat ceremonially (tautane); the hair and ears were reserved for the “cleansing of blood” rite when the warriors returned to their homes. The body of the second person killed could only be eaten page 355 by the priest of the war party. The eyes of the slain were now and then carried off to be given as food to the relatives of fallen warriors on the victorious side.
If a chief was wounded and unable to fly or could fight no longer, it consisted with his honour to take his death bravely, even smilingly, and (as an extremely well-bred man) to offer his own weapon for the occasion. Of course this need not be done except at the last extremity and in the spirit with which a French noble met death jauntily at the guillotine in the days of the Terror. There are hundreds of instances in Maori history where, when further fighting was useless, the Last Enemy was faced in an absolutely unconquerable spirit and when the warrior, girt with foes, fought to the last gasp, remembering the proverb of his people, “Die fighting, like a shark!” (Kia mate a Ururoa!) When a chief had killed an important person he would take the slain man's scalp or a tuft of his hair as a prize, so as to identify the body afterwards and claim the honour due to him, but also to use the scalp in religious ceremony (whangaihau). If the claim to the honour of killing the person was disputed, the case was referred to the principal priest, who laid the matter before the gods in the following manner:—The claimants were taken to a running stream and “sprinkled” or baptised with many incantations. Then, being led back to the war party, they were stood at about three yards' distance from a forked stick planted in the ground by the priest. The claimants stood side by side page 356 and each held two fern-stalks to which hair of the deceased was attached. The priest took the fern-stalks and cast them at the forked stick, he repeating a charm the while. If one of the fern-stalks stuck in the fork the verdict was given in favour of its owner.
After the battle, began that terrible and revolting episode the cannibal feast. It is unfortunately impossible to pass it over without notice, for Maori history is too full of allusion and incident connected with the practice for me to quite avoid mention and description of some of its horrors. There is (except one childish story)4 no account of its origin, but as the custom is said to have been in vogue in heaven among the gods, it is probable that it arose in inconceivably ancient times and was brought to New Zealand by immigrant tribes. Inferentially we know that almost all nations once indulged in this horrible practice, the forefathers of the European peoples as well as others, although the survivals of the habit have changed their character and are innocent enough. Nevertheless it is only fair to the Maoris to say that an ancient legend asserts that when in old days their ancestors lived in the island of Waerota, where there were large animals, there was no man-eating.
The prisoners taken in the fight were slain in cold blood, except those reserved for slavery, a mark of still greater contempt than being killed for food. Sometimes after the battle a few of the defeated were thrust alive into large food-baskets and thus degraded for ever. As a general rule, however, they were slain for the page 357 oven. In days near our own it is recorded that the chief Te Wherowhero ordered 250 prisoners of the Taranaki people to be brought to him for slaughter. He sat on the ground and the prisoners were brought one by one to receive the blow of the chief's mere, a weapon till lately in possession of his son Matu-taera, the late Maori “king.” After he had killed the 250 he said, “I am tired. Let the rest live,” and the remainder passed into slavery. How numerous sometimes these war-captives were may be judged by the fact that when Hongi returned from his raid on the southern tribes in 1821 he brought back 2,000 prisoners to the Bay of Islands. One of the latest cannibal feasts of consequence was held at Ohariu near Wellington at the close of Te Rauparaha's exploits, when 150 of the Muaupoko tribe went to the ovens. In the year 1836, when the Maoris overcame the gentle Morioris of the Chatham Islands, not only did they keep the captives penned up like live-stock waiting to be killed and eaten, but it is said that one of the leading chiefs of the invaders would order a meal of six children at once to be cooked to regale his friends. I was shown a part of the beach at Waitangi Harbour (Rekohu, Chatham Islands) on which the bodies of eighty Moriori women were laid side by side, each with an impaling stake driven into the abdomen. It is difficult for one not accustomed to savage warfare to note how shockingly callous and heartless this desecration of the human body made the actors in those terrible scenes. A Maori relating an account of an expedition page 358 said incidentally, “On the way I was speaking to a red-haired girl who had just been caught out in the open. We were then just at the eastern side of Maunga Whau (Mount Eden, Auckland). My companions remained with the girl whilst I went on to see the man of Waikato who had been killed. …. As we came back I saw the head of the red-haired girl lying in the fern by the side of the track, and, further on, we overtook one of the Waihou men carrying a back-load of the flesh, which he was taking to our camp to cook for food; the arms of the girl were round his neck, whilst the body was on his back.” If one can mentally picture this scene with the man striding along carrying the headless disem-bowled trunk of the naked girl, enough of this kind of horror will have been evoked.
The flesh of warriors killed in battle, “the fishes of Tu,” that is victims of the war-god, was “food extremely prohibited” (kai tapu whakaharahara) to all women with the exception of the priestess in the ruahine ceremony. Some men refused to partake of it, or of human flesh however procured, and certain families declined altogether to eat or touch it. Of such families was that of Papahurihia of the Ngapuhi tribe, a race of sacred wizards who considered that such food would destroy their magical powers.
When the bodies could not all be eaten some of the flesh was stripped from the bones and dried in the sun, being hung on stages for that purpose. The flesh was then gathered into baskets and oil was poured over it, the oil page 359 being rendered down from the bodies; this was done to prevent it spoiling from damp. Sometimes the flesh was potted into calabashes as birds were potted. The bones were broken up and burnt in the fire. The body of a chief might be flayed and the skin dried for covering hoops or boxes. The heads of the inferior chiefs were smashed about and burnt, but those of the great men were preserved by smoking. Sometimes the bones were broken and knocked like nails into the posts of the storehouses—a great indignity. Bones were also taken away to be made into fish-hooks or as barbs for bird spears or eel spears. Or “the hands were dried with the fingers bent in towards the palm, and the wrists were tied to a pole which was stuck into the ground and baskets containing the remains of a meal were hung upon these fingers.” Some of the Ngapuhi tribe were treated in this way by the Waikatos early in this century. “The hands were fastened to the walls of a house with the wrists upward and fingers turned up as hooks. The hands had been roasted until the outer skin had come off. The palms were quite white inside.” If the deceased had been a great chief care was taken to degrade every part of the skeleton. The thing bones were made into flutes or cut into sections that would be worked into rings (poria) for the legs of captive parrots. From other bones would be made pins (aurei) for holding the dress-mats together, or needles for sewing dog-skin mats. The skull might even be used as a water vessel for carrying water in for wetting the ovens. But chief's page 360 heads were carried back to be erected on posts so that they might be taunted, or fixed on the corner sticks of a loom to be mocked by a woman as she sat weaving. In fact no method of showing contempt, especially of defiling the remains of the defeated by associating them with “food,” was spared.
Sometimes the heart of the vanquished was roasted for ceremonial purposes. When Kaiapoi pa was attacked by the forces of Rauparaha, the heart of Uru a chief of the defending party was cut out and roasted in a fire, while all the attacking warriors stood round in a ring. The priests chanted and the warriors stretched out their arms towards the heart while it was cooking. When the priests ended their chant the warriors took up the song, while the senior priest tore off a portion of the heart and threw it into the enemy's pa to weaken the defenders. The heart of the victim of sacrifice was not always eaten for war-purposes; sometimes it was devoured for other reasons. Thus Uenuku ate the heart of his wife Takarita who had committed adultery. The heart of the human sacrifice was eaten in the house-building ceremony, also at the tattooing of the lips of a chief's daughter, and at the felling of a tree used for a great chief's canoe; at the conclusion of the mourning of a chief's widow; and the heart was cut out and pretended to be eaten when the University (Wharekura) students were “passed.”
Ordinary revenge or payment (utu) for a wrong was less intense than uto. If a vendetta page 361 had been going on for generations, then when a victim was secured his eyes were eaten by the ariki as uto.
The rite of the thanksgiving sacrifice was often gone through directly after a battle, but a form of it sometimes after the return home. Each warrior of the victorious party would pull a lock of hair from a corpse or take the whole scalp, and these locks or scalps were put into the girdle. They then assembled in ranks three deep to celebrate the ceremony of “feeding (with the) Hau” (Whangai-hau). A description of the Hau is to be found elsewhere. Each warrior gave the priests a portion of hair, and this was bound on two small twigs of a sacred shrub (koromiko). The priests raised these twigs, one in each hand, and the warriors raised their hands, also bearing similar twigs, but without the hair. With raised hands they remained while the priest uttered the proper incantation calling down blessings from the gods upon the tribe. Then all cast away their twigs and joined in a war-song. Then they clapped their hands together and slapped their thighs, and the ceremony ended.* This page 362 rite was supposed to cleanse them from the blood they had shed, temporarily that is, they had to be finally “cleansed” when they reached their homes. Mention has been made above of scalps being taken; sometimes these scalps were preserved to be shaken in the dance (pioi) when scalps or heads had to be waved as a peculiar accompaniment, and sometimes to brandish in the dance (pihe) celebrated over the bodies of the slain. The grand mats on which great lords sat were made of the scalps of slain enemies, and on these mats their elder children were begotten, or spread beneath the mother in the hour of parturition.
When the war-party, bearing, if victorious, the dried heads of their enemies, returned to their homes, there were many and important ceremonies to be observed. The first, the “Turning round” ceremony (Whaka-tahurihuri), took place on the tribal boundary line. page 363 A small hole was dug for the reception of each head and the head was placed in the hole. The warriors then turned towards the country of the foe and executed a dance of defiance. The priests would each take one of the heads from its hole and then all started singing a song in which the heads of the slain were taunted and told to look back for the last time at their own country. With each leap of the fighting men into the air in the song-dance the priests would raise the heads and shake them towards the enemy's lands. This was a challenge to the defeated party, and the holes where the heads had been placed were suffered to remain as a memento of the occasion.
When the war-party arrived at some spot just outside their home the warriors were met by the priestesses, posturing in a “dance of derision” (whaka-tama) and singing “Whence have ye come, great travellers of the War-god?” And were answered by the taua, that they were followers of Tu the war-god and had come from taking vengeance.5 Then the chorus of priestesses replied chanting that they might come and rest in peace since they had made tranquility for themselves. All the people who had remained at home appeared, shouting welcomes and waving garments, but the warriors could not yet mingle with them as they were not properly cleansed from the blood tapu, so had to go through the rite of “making common” (whaka-noa). They went to the stream and sat down naked in ranks looking towards the water. A naked priest took a round pebble from the stream and offered it together page 364 with some fern-root and a piece of human flesh to the god Tiki. The warriors then gave portions of the locks of hair of the slain to their own priests, who gave the hair to the principal priest who offered it to the war god Tu with many prayers. The High Priestess (Wahine Ariki) was given the ear of the first man killed (mataika) in the war to eat; this was the only occasion when a woman might touch human flesh. An oven was made in which hearts of the slain were roasted, and after a portion had been offered to Tu the flesh was eaten by the priest-chief (Ariki). Then the fighting men formed up for the war-dance, bearing fern-stalks in their hands to which was tied hair of their victims, and started off to the village leaping into the air while the priests shouted spells (karakia) that finally removed the blood-curse and left them “common” (noa). This war-dance changed to the death-song and wail (tangi) for those who had fallen, the women joining in the lamentations and gashing themselves with flints or shells.
A simpler form of “making common” (whaka noa) was at times indulged in by certain tribes, perhaps less orthodox, or perhaps of different descent to the Maoris claiming to be sprung from the Hawaiki migration. It was carried out as follows:—A sacred fire was kindled by a priest of consequence when only he and some old women of rank were present; no one else was allowed to approach. It was considered dangerous for any woman but one past child-bearing to play this part, as the incantation to be recited would be dangerous page 365 to an unborn infant. On the sacred fire the priest roasted a sweet-potato (kumara) and then gave it to the woman who ate it. This removed the tapu from the war-party and transferred it to the woman for a time. If this rite was neglected the eyes of the warriors would grow dim and their hearts become the hearts of cowards the next time they faced an enemy.
Even when the war-party had been made “common” it would have been considered an insult to Tu if any questions were asked as to the success of the war or the fate of individuals until cooking had proceeded and a meal been eaten. Then, the most eloquent man of the war-party arose unasked, and made an oration in which he unfolded the proceedings of the war, detailed the deaths of the fallen and the acts of valour of his friends. Feasting followed with wailing for dead warriors. The returned chiefs each gave his first-born son a small piece of human flesh of the enemy to make the boy successful in future fights, the rest was thrown away as it was tapu food and could not be eaten without defilement by anyone who was noa. A terrible slaughter of prisoners by the wives of chiefs who had fallen in the late war now and then took place, often with circumstances of great cruelty. If the bodies of slain friends were brought in the scalp-dance (pihe) was performed over them. (See Burial.)
When a lasting peace was made it was called “The Door of Jade” (Tatau-Pounamu), and this greenstone door was supposed to be closed between the combatants for ever. The page 366 term was particularly used as the reverse of the “false peace” (maunga-rongo whakapatipati) sometimes made the vehicle of treachery.
It has been mentioned that one of the causes of war was murder, but murder as understood by a European was not thus defined in the mind of the Maori. With the latter mere killing in cold blood was not looked upon as murder. Sometimes such killing was the mode of carrying out revenge for an insult offered to the forefathers of the slayer; the memory of an insult or defeat to be avenged was handed down through several generations as a vendetta. A woman whose husband had been killed might dedicate a son, even before his birth, to the great purpose of his future life, viz, that of obtaining revenge for his father. If one man was insulted by another so that blood was to be shed, the aggrieved person would go out and kill someone; he was not particular about killing the offender, so long as he slew some relative or connection of his, even one of the tribe might serve on occasion. Killing was sometimes done without any such incentive. A chief, if out for a stroll, using his spear as a walking staff, might for good reason or without any good revealed reason, run the spear through the body of some person (especially some strange person) that he chanced to meet. It was not a serious matter; the fellow was a fool to get killed. Neither in this case, nor in any of the above cases, would such killing be looked on as “murder” (kohuru). If, however, he should, instead of spearing the wanderer on sight, invite him to his house, page 367 give him food and tell him to sleep in peace, and then slay him, that would be murder, and murder to be terribly atoned for. The treacherous stealthy murder of a member of another tribe would be a thing that had to be dealt with sternly and vigorously by that tribe, without fear of consequences or consideration of persons. Sometimes there was wholesale murder attended with circumstances that made it not a “killing” but a kohuru. Of such was the massacre of 200 men, women, and children of the Ngati-Paoa by the Ngati-Haua at Maungakawa when the massacred people were living quietly under the protection and with the friendship of the great chief Te Waharoa. There was a distinct “murder” always noted as such in the “false peace” made by Hongi when by its treacherous aid he took the Totara pa at the Thames. If during a friendly or ceremonial visit there was a sudden outburst of fray, followed by bloodshed from guests towards their hosts this was looked on as murder, but was excused if prompted by some instant recollection of an ancient wrong. Again, in circumstances where food had been accepted, killing a guest was sometimes not counted murder. Thus, a South Island chief named Te Whare Rakau gave shelter to a fugitive who with his wife and family were in sore straits. The strangers received food and sleeping accommodation, but, apparently demoralised by fear and afraid to trust anyone, they slipped away and disappeared in the night. The chief was terribly angry with them and with himself. He said, “Have I trusted this page 368 man and given him an opportunity of killing me in my sleep, only to be treated thus?” So he followed the fugitive and speared him, although the man was a distant relative of his own. He would be held justified by native feeling; the deed was not a kohuru.
A curious custom for the purpose of repairing defeat in war was that of “causing men to grow.” This would be observed when a tribe had some great object in view requiring a large body of men to carry it out, or when it had lost a great number of fighting men. Solemnly would both sexes devote themselves to the work of increasing their numbers. The girls would be informed that their usual liberty of love-making would be suspended and that they would have to become the wives of warriors, even if they had to share their husband's affections with other wives. This patient nursing of the tribe by breeding warriors sometimes continued through several generations that an overwhelming force might be ready when the psychologic moment arrived. An example may be found in the “nursing” of the Ngatai tribe in the fervid hope of being able to occupy Tunapahore, and defy their old opponents, the Whanau-Apanui; and another in the retreat of the Ngati-kuri to the Panguru Mountains.6
As a sub-branch of war, duelling deserves a word of comment. Single combats often took place between chiefs of opposing forces, when one leader or celebrated warrior would step forward and challenge another; but besides this kind of fighting there would be, within page 369 the tribe itself, individual “affairs of honour.” In almost every case the cause was the Eternal Feminine, generally the light conduct of a wife. The injured husband would, with a party of his friends, armed with light spears (timata), visit the offender, who probably had his party of friends ready also. A discussion would arise as to whether compensation was to be offered or the matter pass to the stage of single combat. Land was grudged to be yielded as compensation, but canoes, mats, etc., would be willingly parted with. If arrangements could not be made a duel was arranged. The rules differed with different tribes, but generally matters proceeded as follows:—The wrong-doer crouched down with one knee on the ground and with his spear held vertically. The aggrieved man thrust at the other's breast, and if the lunge was parried made a second and third, but if the three thrusts were warded off the kneeling warrior would spring to his feet and fight on equal terms. As soon as one was wounded the duel was over, but if either of the combatants received fatal injury one of his relatives would claim “satisfaction,” and a general mêlee ensue. The best illustration of such duelling is to be found in the account of one which actually took place at Ohinemutu, Lake Rotorua. Utu, a middle-aged chief, had eloped with the wife of Tua, one of his neighbours, and when tired of his new toy resolved to go home again, but was not allowed to rest without a challenge from the deserted husband. Utu came to the ground with a friend named Ana as his second, page 370 while Tua with four other friends soon followed. Ana was not supposed to fight, but Tua's four friends were all relatives of his or of his wife's, and therefore they, too, considered themselves injured and claimed the right to satisfaction. They, the friends of Tua, had the choice of weapons, and selected spears. Utu sat down on the sand, armed with a short warding-stick (karo), with which to turn aside a spear-thrust, but this stick had been charmed by the priest with very potent spells. Each of the four advanced in turn and hurled his spear at Utu, who managed to ward them all off. This exhausted their right to attack. They might have gone close enough to thrust, but took care not to do so, as, if they thrust and failed, Utu would have a right of retaliation. Tua was terribly exasperated by the clumsiness of his friends and went off into a mad dance of frenzied defiance, brandishing his weapon, then rushed upon the unsuspecting and innocent Ana and struck him a fatal blow. Thus, as somebody had been hurt, honour was satisfied, and the survivors became good friends. Tua had a brother who refrained from his right of throwing a spear at Utu, and in recognition of this forbearance Utu satisfied him by the gift of a small piece of land overlooking the lake.
* The following account is related as fact by the natives, but must be taken for what it is worth. When the above-mentioned thanksgiving ceremony (Whangaihau) was performed after return home, a piece of the scalp or a lock of hair of the slain was brought in as an offering, and fed to the god who was supposed to dwell in a canoe-shaped box (waka), the top of which was fastened with a lid. This box was made of totara or manuka bark and looked like a box for feathers (waka-huia), but was bound round with vines. The binding of the box was unfastened and the lock of hair placed at the end of it. The god then emerged, in appearance like an earthworm, and, after twisting the hair, took it inside. It was probably only the spirit or immaterial part (hau) of the hair which was devoured. Another mode of “feeding the Hau” was by the priest sitting down with legs extended in front of him and with his body covered over with a thick mat made of toi (Cordyline indivisa). The god or spirit, called the weu or hau, residing in the hair was held by the priest under the mat. A human arm or leg being placed between the priest's leg the weu drew the limbs beneath the mat and was heard crunching the bones. When the mat was removed all trace of the limb had disappeared. Properly such a description does not belong to war matters and should be considered under the head of priestly deception and sleight of hand tricks by wizards, but as the whangai-hau was a war-ceremony it has been inserted here.