Maori Religion and Mythology Part 1
C—Atua of the Third Class
C—Atua of the Third Class
We now come to a class of gods that occupies a kind of intermediate position between the whanau a Rangi (offspring of Rangi the Sky Parent) and strictly tribal gods. The departmental gods already described were the most exalted beings known to the ordinary people, and most of those described at length are known far across Polynesia. Our next class contains some that are known throughout New Zealand, and others that may be termed tribal gods. Some, again, are known to several tribes, as those descended from the immigrants of a single vessel, such as the Matatua tribes and the Arawa confederation. It may be said that some of these third-class atua are really departmental gods, but they occupy a lower plane than those already given, and they are not really "departmental heads"—they are on the same plane with others of their kind. Again, most of them, if not all, are not confined to one phase of activity, but are connected with war, magic, and other matters; they are utilized as both defensive and offensive agents by their human mediums.
It has been said that atua of this class are but deified ancestors; but with that statement the writer cannot agree, and it will be shown in this chapter that some of these beings are assuredly personifications. Another matter to be explained is that we have now come to that class of gods where such beings are represented by aria—visible forms, forms of incarnation visible to human eyes. Some are not only utilized as agents in various ways, but are also employed as messengers: such are the atua toro. These beings of the third and fourth classes may thus be viewed as agents in regard to many of their activities—active powers whose manifestations may be either natural forces or abnormal influences. There may be said to be two types of agency connected with the gods of barbaric peoples. In the first place, such atua as the departmental gods already explained may serve as agents for a Supreme Being who is deemed too holy or mighty to be approached by man. This condition seems to have obtained in Chaldea, where moon and sun served as intermediaries between man and the Supreme Being. Again, the lower gods of the Maori were often employed to act as agents for man—i.e., as protective or destructive agents, and even as messengers to be despatched to acquire information.
Jevons tells in his Comparative Religion that "where gods are postulated merely for the sake of punishing transgressions, avoidance of transgressions leaves them void of functions, empty postulates." But the Maori did not confine his gods to this single function; their activities were much more extended, their functions both protective page 191and offensive. Thus, the Maori did not confine himself to the negative attitude in religion in his conception of the powers and functions of his deities. The cult of the lower gods of the Maori was, of course, lacking in refined features; the aspect of such a cultus cannot improve until the moral and intellectual qualities of its followers become elevated to a higher plane. Thus, among such a folk as the Maori, it seems quite possible that, in pre-European times, three different planes of mentality, and as many religious attitudes, might well exist.
In Brown's work on New Zealand we are told, concerning the gods of the Maori, that "Their atua are all evil disposed, and the natives have no good deity." This statement is a rash one, and needs moderating. Such beings are vindictive at times, for they punish those who commit hara (breaches of the laws of tapu); but they are not evilly disposed at other times, and they protect their followers. The mana, or innate power, of an atua was what enabled his followers to perform any important task, such as a deep-sea voyage. Indeed, the Maori belief was practically this: that without the protecting power of the gods man could not exist.
We must accept many remarks made by early writers concerning atua with grave doubt; many are clearly incorrect. The Rev. R. Taylor renders the proper name Pukuatua as "God's belly," and pronounces it blasphemous—which is absurd. He himself tells us that a native who was troubled with boils spoke of them as his atua. The afflicted meant that those unpleasant eruptions were his scourge, as a spirit atua is a scourge to those who offend it.
Taylor remarks that the Maori gods were but magnified men, possessing the evil passions of man, with the addition of some supernatural powers. A good deal might be said on this subject, but we must bear in mind how Jehovah was degraded to the level of a tribal war-god by Semitic folk of old, and in the twentieth century was said by Germans to be assisting them in murdering women and children.
Again, Taylor informs us that the Maori regarded his gods as powerful enemies who were to be rendered harmless by the aid of charms and offerings. The latter were certainly placatory, but the charms were uttered in order to enlist the services of such beings, not to render them harmless—at least, in most cases. Yate maintained that all the thoughts of a Maori connected with atua were those of fear and dread. This cannot have been the case when we consider the foregoing explanations. This writer did, however, recognize the fact that the Maori did not worship these ordinary atua.page 192
It is quite remarkable that the activities of a god have a peculiar relation to his importance. This is very marked in Maori belief; the lower the grade of an atua the more active is he. Thus, the Supreme Being is the most aloof of all; the departmental gods are concerned with important matters only; the third-class gods are much more active, and are not confined to one department; while those of the fourth class are the most active and ubiquitous of all. Jevons states that, among lower races, good gods are inactive, while malevolent deities are always active, hence the latter alone survive changes of religion. With the exception of Whiro and his satellites, however, I fail to see that any Maori god was permanently malevolent. Even malignant atua kahu, the dread cacodemons, were placated and utilized as war-gods, when their powers were devoted to assisting their followers and placators. Tylor remarks that, among some barbaric folk, the lower orders scruple to worship the great gods, lest through ignorance they should blunder in the complex ritual; they prefer to deal with a lower class of deity. With our Maori folk, the ordinary people knew nothing of the ritual pertaining to the Supreme Being, while that connected with the departmental gods was confined to adepts who passed through a course of training. This left the ordinary person but the third and fourth classes to deal with. To deal with even third-class atua called for a considerable amount of special knowledge thus most of the people had dealings with family spirit gods only. The term aitu applied to third-class gods at Samoa, seems to denote in New Zealand a personification of evil, misfortune, calamity, sickness.
Nature gods, such as the departmental gods of the Maori, may become somewhat neglected when atua of a lower type are peculiarly active, or believed to be so. Thus there may be a kind of rivalry between the two classes, or a partial mixture of two systems as we seem to recognize in Chaldean beliefs. Departmental nature gods would appear to be a natural sequence of the belief in the productive Earth Mother, and then, as a department developed, a belief in inferior beings, godlets, was evolved, all of whom were concerned with some phase of "departmental affairs," and were under the mana of the tutelary being.
The feeling of the Maori toward natural phenomena is very marked in his mental attitude toward the stars and planets, which he greets in song and speech as old, old friends. It is also noticeable in his attitude towards water, and thus we have the personified forms of water in Para-whenuamea, Hine-moana, Wainui, Te Ihorangi, and Hine-wai, representing water, the ocean, rain, and fine misty rain. These beings one does not like to term "gods," yet they may be page 193called upon to succour or assist man, as Maui called upon Te Ihorangi to save him from the wrath of Mahuika. Hence we must take these personified forms into consideration when describing the gods of the Maori, the beings to whom he appeals when in distress. It is because of this intermingling of religion and myth that I have not attempted to separate these two subjects, but have headed this paper as dealing with Maori myth and religion. Grant Allen is quite correct in saying that such beings as these personifications are mythological conceptions rather than religious beings. The essential feature of religion, however, is the reliance placed by man on beings more powerful than himself, and we must admit that the Maori did so rely on, and appeal to, these personifications in many cases. Grant Allen would view Tane as being "rather mythological or explanatory than religious," and the Maori himself has some such notion of a difference. When Tutaka gave me the old ritual pertaining to tree-felling he remarked concerning one chant, "This is to Tane." Of the next he said, "This is to the gods." Allen views nature-worship as a high and late development in the history of religion, as derivative, not primitive.
In the first place we will deal with such members of this third class of atua as are clearly personified forms of natural phenomena, or rather a selection of such. It would be a vain task to essay a complete numeration of Maori gods of the lower grades, so numerous were they. We will commence with such as were personifications of the rainbow.
Kahukura.—A descriptive name for the rainbow is that of atua piko, or "curved atua"; but the ordinary vernacular term is ani-waniwa, sometimes aheahea. The personified forms of the rainbow, however, are known as Kahukura, Uenuku, and Haere, with some minor names. Perhaps Pou-te-aniwaniwa is also a name for such a personification. White gives Tahaereroa as another name for Kahukura, but this name has not been encountered elsewhere.
In Maori myth we are told that Kahukura was a descendant of Pou-te-aniwaniwa. He appears in the heavens in the form of a double bow; the darker-hued upper bow being viewed as a male, and called Kahukura-pango; while the red lower one is a female, and is known as Pou-te-aniwaniwa. It is considered a bad sign if these arched bows appear ill-defined or incomplete, though at such times a correct performance of the proper ritual will avert the evil omen, or nullify it. The task of Kahukura is that of giving weather indications to man, particularly in connection with rain. The Awa folk of the Bay of Plenty assert that the name of the female bow is Tuawhio-rangi. The offspring of the two bows are the whirlwinds, and their parents page 194are Imurangi and Tuhirangi (sundogs and celestial glow). Other names applied to the lower bow are Kahukura-whare and the Atua-wharoro-mai-te-rangi. Kahukura is said to stand with one foot on land and one on the ocean. Another story is to the effect that Kahukura is the offspring of Rongomai and Hine-te-wai (personified forms of meteors and rain); he was also the companion of Rongoiamo. Both parents of Rongomai seem to have been rainbows, or were transformed into such.
Maori mythopoetical traditions tell us that, during the voyage of the vessel "Takitumu" from Tahiti to New Zealand, Kahukura acted as one of the chief guiding signs for that craft. For the rainbow is the aria, or visible form of Kahukura, the spirit god. This spirit god was one of those brought to this new land by the Takitumu immigrants.
In vol. 25 of the Journal of the Polynesian Society, at p. 85, we find mention made of Kahukura, Tunui-a-te-ika, and Rongomai. Kahukura and Tunui were both called upon by priestly experts to appear, and so render certain peace-making ceremonial effective and durable. Then the rainbow was seen in the heavens, and Tunui the comet appeared.
Kahukura was extensively "employed" as a war-god, as also in other capacities. He was also one of the class of gods termed atua toro (supernatural beings, spirit gods) whom their human mediums have the power of despatching on errands. A Ngai-Tahu note seems to show that wooden images of Kahukura and Rongo-a-tau were made. Another note speaks of an east coast ancestor addressing a rainbow with insulting expressions in order to prevent rain falling.
White gives a few paragraphs concerning Kahukura, in which we are told that he is an atua who gives warnings connected with life and death, with war, sickness, and the ordinary life of the people; he has the decision of life and death; he acts as guide to travelling parties. Rongo-nui-a-tau is an atua occupying a similar status. Kahukura is appealed to as reliever of afflictions caused by atua ngau tangata, or man-afflicting demons; he holds the power of banishing such distressing maladies as possession by evil spirits. We are also told that such afflictions cannot be cured by the kahui tahurangi, though it is well to placate those beings, lest their eyes turn redly upon us in anger. The offerings made to those beings consisted of herbage and seaweed.
In the South Island Kahukura seems to have been represented by a small wooden image, termed a tiki wananga in the narrative.
Uenuku.—In Uenuku we have another rainbow-god, to employ our own glib expression. Uenuku is the personified form of the rain-page 195bow, or the rainbow is the visible form of Uenuku, whichever way one chooses to express it. It is possible that some difference exists between rainbows representing Kahukura and Uenuku, in colour or some other particular, but if so we are not aware of it. This atua is of a similar status to that occupied by Kahukura; both are widely known. Uenuku is more famous as a war-god than is Kahukura, or, if the two names are applied to the same atua, then that of Uenuku is most frequently employed in relation to war. In his monograph on war and modes of fighting, published in 1913, the late Tuta Nihoniho wrote as follows: "O ye Maori youths, should you take part in the wars of the future, be careful lest ye forget your ancestor Uenuku, the god of your forefathers, by whose help they crossed the Great Ocean of Kiwa that lies before us." Little did the old fighter think how soon those youths would be engaged in desperate affrays far away beyond the Hawaiki of his ancestors. This writer explains the meaning of the positions of Uenuku. If seen in front of a marching force, that party must either return home or camp and wait until a favourable omen appears. If the rainbow appears behind the force, in their rear, then such is viewed as a good omen. If it is absolutely necessary for a force to advance against the warning of Uenuku, then it must not pass under his arch, but make a long detour, so as to "get around the rainbow." Again, Tuta explains that Uenuku (that is, the rainbow) is known as Kahukura by day, and as Tu-korako at night. This latter name represents the personified form of some celestial phenomenon—an arch or bow, perhaps a lunar halo.
This rainbow deity is sometimes called Uenuku-rangi, or celestial Uenuku. When Manaia was being pursued by Nuku through Cook Strait a rainbow was seen in front of the former's vessel. Manaia exclaimed, "O friends! That is Nuku pursuing us yonder, for Uenuku-rangi is standing in front of us." Evidently a priestly medium of Uenuku was in the pursuing vessel, and had despatched the atua on ahead of the craft of Manaia in order to incommode him.
A curious folk-lore tale tells us that Uenuku was a being of this world in the remote past; that he was visited by the Mist Maiden, who became his wife, and that she left him and returned to the sky, whereupon Uenuku set off in search of her, and, after seeking her for many years in far lands, he died, and was transferred to the heavens, where we still see him. We shall again meet with Uenuku in the days that lie before.
The following story is a translation of an old myth concerning Uenuku and one Tamatea, a well-known Polynesian explorer of page 196some five hundred years ago who came to these shores in the vessel "Takitumu":—
Uenuku-rangi was a god of Tamatea-nui. Now, at a certain time when Tamatea and his wife Ihu-parapara were together he asked her, "What is the meaning of this change in you?" Ihu-parapara replied, "O sir! I dreamed of being in spirit-land, where I saw you, and we came together."
This sort of thing continued for some time, until, at a certain time, Tamatea went on one of his journeys to Whanga-ra. Having gone, the wife remained in Tawhiri-rangi, at Titirangi, engaged in weaving. Looking forth, she saw Tamatea coming across the plaza, and said, "You are back already." No reply was made to this remark, and when the person departed he did so by way of the window-space. As the woman looked out at him departing she saw that, after walking a while on the earth, he gradually left it, and disappeared into the heavens. When Tamatea returned, and was told of these things, they concluded that the visitor was Uenuku-rangi.
Now, Iwi-pupu and Ihu-parapara (both wives of Tamatea) were with child at the same time. Ihu-parapara's child was born a whakatahe, though fairly developed; it was a female. Tamatea conveyed it to the tuahu, and went to fetch an elder named Koko to perform the proper ceremony over it, after which it would be taken to the toma (place where bones of the dead are deposited), which was a cave named Irihia. When Tamatea returned, however, the embryo had disappeared.
Long afterwards Kahungunu was born, and the tapu oven of food was prepared so that the tua rite might be performed over the infant. While Tamatea-nui, Koko, Rua-wharo, and Te Rongo-patahi were conducting the ritual over Kahungunu at the tuahu a young well-grown girl appeared, and entered the house of Tamatea-ariki by way of the window, under which his bed was situated. Ihu-parapara remarked, "Why did you clamber through the window, and trespass on the bed of Tamatea? To whom do you belong?" The girl replied, "I am thine."
"Nonsense! It is false!" Again the child said, "I am truly yours. I was carried by you and Tamatea to the tuaha, and there abandoned."
Then thought Ihu-parapara, "Maybe this is my embryo." She then asked, "Who came and took you away from the tuahu?" The child replied, "My father, Uenuku-rangi." "And whither were you taken?" "To Tua-hiwi of Hine-moana afar; to the multitude of the Petipeti, of Waihekura, of Waihengana, of Waihematua, at the au tinitini, at the au tata of Mawhera afar."
Then Ihu-parapara called to Tamatea-nui, "O sir! Come hither. Here is my girl who was immature, sitting in the house."
He went; she was sitting on the bed of Tamatea-nui. He asked, "To whom do you belong?" "I am of Uenuku-rangi; Tamatea-ariki-nui and Ihu-parapara left me at the tuahu; Uenuku-rangi conveyed me to the great ridge of Hine-moana, to the multitude of the Petipeti, of Waihekura, of Waihengana, of Waihematua, at the au tintini, at the au tata of Mawhera afar."
Tametea-nui took her hand and led her to the tuahu, where the pure rite was performed over her; then to the water, where, by means of the tohi rite, she was named Uenuku-titi. It was now that Uenuku-rangi became page 197identified with the tuahu, and the tapu food prepared for the naming function over Kahungunu was eaten by Uenuku-titi.
You now clearly understand that this was one line of supernatural descent to this world; another was through Rongokako (father of Tam-atea), who was descended from Maui and others; that you know. A line of descent comes from Uru-te-ngangana to Tamatea, another from Roiho to Tamatea; all these were supernatural lines of descent of his. Tamatea-ariki-nui was an important person, a very high chief was that man by reason of aristocratic prestige, tapu, human prestige, and supernatural prestige; all these powerful influences were represented in him. (See Addenda VIII.)
Haere.—According to the Tuhoe Tribe there are three rainbow-gods named Haere, their names in full being Haere-a-tautu, Haere-waewae, and Haere-kohiko. As in the case of Uenuku, these three atua appear to have dwelt on earth at some remote period, and to have been transferred to the heavens after some remarkable adventures here, of which more anon. These three brothers who now appear in the form of rainbows are recognized by their different aspects as to colour and form. But little has been collected about these atua, and we have no data to show whether or not they were invoked, or utilized as Uenuku was.
Tunui-a-te-ika.—We now enter another department of nature, and must deal with the phenomena of comets, of which Tunui-a-te-ika is one of the personified forms. These personifications of natural phenomena are viewed as atua, or supernatural beings by the Maori. They are believed to possess extraordinary powers, and so they are placated, and also influenced by the recital of ritual formulae, in order that they may become complacent and attend to the desires of the supplicants. Tunui is a being who was much "employed" (a peculiar expression to use, but it meets the case) by the tribes of the east coast and Bay of Plenty districts. Tunui had many human mediums throughout these two districts. As in the case of other gods, his powers imparted mana (efficiency, potency) to ceremonial rites. Tunui, Maru, and Tuhinapo are all atua who were much utilized as guardians of tapu places, and of the old-time fortified villages. The first and last of these three were the guardian spirits of Te Whetu-kairangi, a very old pa, or fortified village, on the ridge at Seatoun, Wellington. When such a place was constructed, a stone was buried at the base of one of the main posts of the stockade. That stone served as a mauri, or shrine—that is, as an abiding-place for the spirit gods under whose protection the village was placed by means of a very singular tapu ceremony. Tunui was the guardian of Wharekohu, a specially tapu cave on Kapiti Island page 198wherein were placed the bones of the dead of high-class families of long-gone generations.
Tunui, Ruamano, and Hine-koroko are said to have been atua who were peculiarly tractable and amenable to applications for assistance. Tunui is sometimes termed a flying star by natives. Te Po-tuatini, another atua, is apparently also a personification of comets; he occupies much the same plane as does Tunui. Both are included among the beings known as kikokiko, or malevolent spirits, who are all atua of the third or fourth classes. Tunui was also an atua tow; his kaupapa, or human mediums, held the power of despatching him on errands. Thus we are told that on one occasion the Wairoa natives sent Tunui to Te Teko in the Bay of Plenty, in order to slay a chief named Hatua. An old native of that place said to the writer, "We saw Tunui coming towards us through space." Always the appearance of a comet was viewed as an evil potent, and on one appearing it would be asked "Who has died?" Tunui was also utilized as a war-god on the east coast, as also was Te Po-tuatini, and both are said to have been effective ones.
Wahieroa and Taketake-hikuroa are also names used to denote a comet, used as proper names. As observed, the appearance of a comet was viewed as an ominous occurrence, but different omens were derived from it according to its position, as in regard to direction in which the tail extended. Meto is yet another name for a comet.
Atua connected with Lightning.—The Bay of Plenty natives believe in a lightning-god called Tupai. He it is who occasionally slays man during a thunderstorm. Better known personified forms of lightning are Hine-te-uira, the Lightning Maid, and Tama-te-uira. The former was one of the offspring of Tane, as also was Hine-kapua, the Cloud Maid, while Tama-te-uira was born of the Earth Mother. One Mataaho personifies distant lightning. Tawhaki, who is given in genealogies as a human ancestor, is evidently connected with lightning, while Whaitiri and Wahieroa, of the same category, are clearly personified forms of thunder and comets. The natives of the Chatham Islands say that Tawhaki is the atua of thunder and lightning, and in former times they appealed to him during a thunderstorm.
There are many personified forms of thunder, and when these beings are heard rumbling, the matatuhi, or seers, listen attentively and explain the omens derived from the reports. Perhaps Aputahi-a-paoa is the best-known of these personified forms of thunder. Aitupawa is another atua, apparently of this class, of whom we know little, though he is also known at Samoa.
Maru is one of the most important beings of this class of atua, and is widely known. On the west coast of the North Island Maru page 199was very prominent, perhaps more so than in any other district. The gods Maru, Te Ihinga-o-te-rangi, Kahukura, and Rongomai are said to have been brought hither from Polynesia in the vessel named "Aotea." In the Maori History of the Taranaki Coast we find the following: "He was the principal god of Taranaki…. This god was brought over by Turi in 'Aotea' as a spirit, not an image, and the priests on board were those of Maru. He was an evil (strict or jealous) god, who was very particular as to the behaviour of his worshippers…. He was their god of war, to whom karakia (invocations) were addressed and offerings made. When Titoko-waru abandoned Christianity he called up Maru to be his god."
We are also told that offerings of food products were made to Maru, both cultivated and wild vegetable products, also fish, birds, and dogs, after which that being would communicate with the human medium, the tohunga, or priest. In some cases a material medium, a small wooden image, was also employed, but still the human medium was a necessary feature of the cult. Mr. Hammond mentions a stone image of Maru that existed at Patea.
My worthy old friend Kereoma Tuwhawhakia, of Whanganui, contributed a few notes concerning Maru. He is an atua both good and evil. For instance, if a crop shows signs of failing, Maru will save it and cause it to flourish, if placated and invoked in manner orthodox. Again, should a person infringe the law of tapu, Maru will save him from death, if properly approached. Otherwise he would, of course, perish; even Kahukura, and other such beings could not save him. Should Maru prove implacable at first, then a dog is slain as an offering, and cooked. The head of the dog would be placed at the tuahu (place of offerings) and this offering would please Maru, who would then listen to any appeal made to him. On the other hand Maru is importunate in his ceaseless desire for offerings of food. If his share is withheld, as at meal-times, he is angered and becomes dangerous, even to the extent of slaying persons for such omission. Only by placatory offerings and appropriate ritual can a person be saved at such a juncture, Among other offerings made to Maru were the heads of all fish caught in sea or river.
The Rev. R. Taylor gives ten different names of Maru in his work Te Ika a Maui. He remarks: "These names were descriptive of his various evil qualities; his going to and fro as an adversary, chattering defiance, looking down malignantly, causing disease, flaming with wrath, full of anger and bitterness—there can scarcely be a more perfect description of the evil spirit…. This deity, being constantly engaged in evil, had no time to grow food, and was indignant if he were not liberally supplied, and with the best, by his votaries."page 200
This idea of a spirit god employing himself in growing foodsupplies is surely a novel one. The author's statement that Maru is a purely evil being represents a form of error often made by missionaries and others. I fail to see how we can view a being who succours his followers from distress, averts impending misfortunes, saves them from death, when properly placated and invoked, as a purely evil deity. Rangipito, of Taranaki, compared Maru to Jehovah, and in some parts of the Old Testament the latter does not appear to stand on a much higher plane than does Maru of the Maori.
The name of an atua called Maru-tahanui appears in the legend of Manaia, and it is quite probable that the name of Maru was brought from Polynesia, as stated in Aotea tradition. Maru, Kahukura, Uenuku, and Rongomai are names that are mentioned in an old myth of long-past times, wherein they are said to have quarrelled and separated. It will be noted that these are all names of celestial phenomena, for the visible form of Maru is some celestial glow; Williams suggests "zodiacal light." Omens were derived from the aspect of this peculiar glow. White remarks that the home of Maru is in the heavens. Taylor states that he is represented by the planet Mars, but this has received no corroboration.
At Niue, Malu is the name of a deity; at Mangareva, Mamaru is a similar name. Tregear notes that, at the Marquesas, one Ma'u-te-anuanua is mentioned in the deluge legend. As the letter r has been dropped in that dialect, the name resolves itself into Maru, and anuanua means the rainbow.
Another atua of somewhat wide fame, but whose standing is doubtful, is Rakaiora, whose form of incarnation, at least on the east coast, is the lizard. We have gained, however, but little information concerning this being.
With this third class of gods we are now dealing with ends the tale of such as occupied superior positions in Maori eyes, such as are mentioned in recitals of the lore of the Kauwae-runga (the Upper Jaw), the tapu lore pertaining to the heavens and its gods. When we come to the fourth-class atua we shall be dealing with beings of a lower status, who pertain to the earth and the lore of the Kauwae-raro (Lower Jaw). These two figurative expressions are applied to and denote celestial and terrestrial matters—that is, myths and legendary lore pertaining to the two realms.
Atua of the Ruamano and Arai-te-uru type, who are largely concerned with the protection and saving of human life, are looked upon as benignant beings. We shall encounter a number of beings of this class when we come to deal with personifications. The two page 201mentioned are concerned with the guidance and protection of seafarers, and are appealed to by mariners in distress. They are sometimes referred to as taniwha.
A number of other atua, such as Ihingaru, Puhi, &c., about whom we know little, it is not easy to classify, but apparently they pertain to the fourth class.
The atua named Tu-korako is the same as Hine-korako, who is the personified form of some lunar phenomenon, apparently—perhaps a halo—and probably also of a bright-coloured bow occasionally seen over a waterfall.
The atua known as Rongomai seems to be the personified form of meteors. Another, one Tamarau by name, also appears as a meteor, but belongs to the fourth class, while Rongomai is of the third class, and is widely known. The Rev. R. Taylor tells us, in a native account of certain intertribal fighting at Otaki, that during the siege of the Pakakutu pa (fortified village), Rongomai was appealed to for assistance by Puta, a Taupo priest. That dread being was then seen flying through space, a fiery apparition. He descended within the pa, a loud report was heard, and the earth was torn up and scattered. Presumably this was an aerolite; and, needless to say, the place fell, for its defenders would be unnerved by such an occurence. A place at or near Owhiro, Wellington, was known as Te Hapua-o-Rongomai because that being descended to earth there in past times.
In vol. 27 of the Journal of the Polynesian Society, at p. 41, will be found another mention of this god: "When Tuwharetoa reached Tokaanu they sent on their atua Rongomai. It was the tohunga (priestly expert) Pahau who sent on the atua. He went in full view of the whole of Tuwharetoa towards the Ponanga…. When over Roto-a-Ira it burst with a terrific crash, and did not return. If it had returned it would have been a bad omen for Tuwharetoa." The translator adds a note: "Rongomai was a tribal god of NgatiTuwharetoa, and he appeared to them as a shooting star." We may, I think, assume that a tohunga such as the above would not neglect to utilize and make the most of such an occurrence. That grade of priestly adept certainly indulged in shamanistic performances. Taylor tells us that he was once preaching to natives, and took as his text the words "Behold I saw Satan like lightning fall from heaven." During the discourse a splendid meteor was seen, whereupon all the natives cried "There is Satan falling from heaven!"
Colonel Gudgeon informs us that Rongomai was viewed as a beneficent deity by east coast tribes, and that Kahukura was of a page 202different type, being of a malicious nature. In vol. 5 of the Journal of the Polynesian Society, at p. 119, is an indistinct version of an old myth concerning one Rongomai who was transferred to the moon. This may or may not be the same being. Rongo of the primal offspring seems to be connected with the moon, hence Rongomai and Rongo-maraeroa may be connected, or possibly both names denote a single concept.
In the legend of Ngatoro-i-rangi and Manaia, Kuiwai sent the gods, Rongomai, Aitupawa, and Kahukura to conduct Hauangaroa to Ngatoro-i-rangi. This meant a voyage from eastern Polynesia to New Zealand.
In the legend of Whiro, brought by the ancestors of the Maori from the isles of Polynesia, the name of Rongomai appears, as also does that of Rongomai-tu-waho. It is not made clear as to whether these names apply to one being or not. Rongomai-tu-waho was one of the offspring of the primal parents.
One Tahu is the tutelary being of all food-supplies, but it is unknown as to whether he was placated or invoked in any way. An old saying is this: Kei takahia a Tahu (Lest Tahu be disregarded). When asked to stay and partake of a meal, one may decline it, then the one who proffered the invitation will quote the above saying. It may possibly imply some retributive ill luck if the offer is disregarded. Shortland gives Tahu as one of the offspring of Rangi and Papa, but the name is not found in other lists of those children. Shortland remarks that Tahu is the atua presiding over peace and feasts; if so, he must come second to Rongo.
Te Po-tuatini was a prominent third-class atua among east coast tribes, but we have no detailed account of him. Ihungaru is another unknown quantity. Taylor tells us that, at Rotorua, he was represented by a lock of human hair intertwined with a strip of papermulberry (aute) bark, and that this was preserved in a house. By "house" he probably means one of the diminutive box-like places built in the form of a dwelling-hut, elevated on a supporting-post, and used as a receptacle for small tapu objects. In the north they were called pouwaka. These were in use up to the beginning of the twentieth century.
Rongo-takawhiu is the name of an atua possessed of great destructive powers, hence he was much favoured in time of war. His activities do not appear to have been those of an ordinary war-god, but he represented the destructive power that gave effect to certain magic charms. In order to stay the advance of an enemy along a certain path a shamanistic expert would draw a line across such path page 203with a stick, and repeat over it a certain charm possessing destructive or weakening powers. Any enemy stepping over that mark would not necessarily perish, but he would be so weakened and unnerved that his power for harm would be nullified. The potent effect of the charm would render him harmless, and Rongo-takawhiu represents the active power or mana that rendered the charm effective. Possibly this Rongo-takawhiu should be placed in the fourth class of atua. The information concerning him was obtained from the Tuhoe and Ngati-Awa Tribes of the Bay of Plenty district.