Maori Religion and Mythology Part 2
The many acts, rites and spells that come under the heading of hoa are mostly concerned with destructive forces. The tests made of the powers of learners of black magic, the slaying of persons, birds, etc., the blasting of trees, the shattering of stone, are all included in the term hoa. Charms or spells termed hoa are employed whereby to energise, to strengthen, to render effective persons or inanimate objects. The hoa tapuwae is a charm designed to render a person fleet of foot; the hoa rakau is another formula that renders weapons extremely effective; also the word is employed as a verb—ka hoaia te rakau, a ka maroke. Any object, a stone or stick, might be hoaia, so that it would serve as a suitable medium in a divinatory rite. Hoa is employed also when a spell is recited for the purpose of affecting some distant object—ka tahoka atu, ara ka hoa atu i te taumata ki tepa. Here the taumata spell was launched at the distant village.
The hoa tapuwae is a charm that was much relied on by both pursued and pursuers during fighting operations, and doubtless this item should be included under the head of white magic. The following is a specimen of such charms; it is one that was employed by Te Waitere at Kaiwaewae, where, I am told, it enabled him to capture one Hiwikai:page 165
Tenei taku tapuwae ko tapuwae o Tumatauenga
Taku tapuwae ko tapuwae o Tane-torokaha
Ka whiua, ka makaia ki mua o taku aro
Kia mau tu maniania, tu pahekeheke mai ki tenei aro
Kia nguha to tapuwae ki tenei aro
Kia mau, kia mau take toti mai (?)
Tapihai nuku, tapihai rangi, tapihai manawa
I tangi ai a Pakura (? Apakura) ki tenei aro kia mau
Tenei au ka whati, tenei au ka wharo, tenei au ka tawhai atu
Kai nguha to tapuwae, kia tapatu to tapuwae ki tenei aro
Kia riterite tapuwae. Tu mai taku toki haumi-e
In a tapuwae charm given by Pio of Ngati-Awa occur the following appropriate lines:
Piko o te ara i mua ra tu mai koe ki muri ra
Pu rarauhe i mua ra tu mai koe ki muri ra
Pae maunga i mua ra tu mai koe ki muri ra
Tuku atu au kia rere me he matakokiri anewa ki te rang.
(Bend of the path before me stand thou behind me. Bracken clump before me stand thou behind me. Hill range before me stand thou behind me. Let me speed forward like a meteor darting across the heavens.)
The hoa rakau or mata rakau charm is one that was repeated over weapons prior to a fight, the object being to cause the weapons to do good service, to render them highly efficient. I have been told that if the point of a weapon that had been so charmed inflicted but a slight wound death would follow, for such is the faith of the Maori. One devoted enthusiast assured me that it was not even essential to wound an enemy with a weapon so charged, that enemy would perish if it were but pointed at him.
When Whironui prepared for his combat with Te Rama-apakura he first placed his spear in water, he then took it out, and, holding it in his left hand, he scooped up some water in his right hand and sprinkled it over the point of the weapon as he recited the following:
Taku rakau nei ko te Paeirirangi
He tipua, he tahito, he akuanga nau, e Tane-irihia
Taku rakau he atua tow nau, e Tane-whirikaha
He ngatoro nau, e Tane-matua. Oi whiwhia, oi raweav
Taku ika Te Rama-apakura e ki tenei atua
Ngatata o kauwae, ngatata o niho
Haruru mai ki tenei auta, tu mauri ora ki tenei atua.
Here is another of these old death dealing hoa rakau charms:
He mata rakau whawhai tenei
Tenei taku rakau ko te rakau na Tukariri
Ko te rakau na Tumatauenga, ko te rakau na Tamakaka
Ko te rakau na Tuaropaki i kautere ai Tini o Whim i te pae rangi
page 166 Ki te ara ki te pouriuri, ki te potangotango
Ka wheau atu ki te po, oti atu ki te po whawha, ki te po tamaku
Ko au mo te aoturoa, e Ruatau-e-i!
Taku rakau nei he mata tipua, he niho tipua.
He mata kai atua horopito, horo rangi, horo ki te po
Tenei taua haramai enei to a whakataetae mai ki enei tama e-i.
When Tane assailed the Whatu kura a Tangaroa in Taiwhetuki he repeated this charm over his spear:
Amo ake, amo akef amo ake nei au i taku tao
Ko Tieketi, ko Tieketa e tuna te moana
Haohao i te wiwi, haohao i te wawa
E tama i awhitia e te raw kohu
Kapakapa te ika a Tu, a rere to ika a Ngakue
Haruru ngatow ki au ki tenei tangata hokotahi.
When people expected to have to use their weapons ere long spears were placed under water so as to render them more pliant and less liable to fracture. When taken therefrom just prior to using them the hoa rakau charm was repeated over them, a form of recital that seem to have been known as wani in the Wairarapa district. After this karakia had been so recited the weapons were tapu, and great care had to be displayed lest they become tamoatia or polluted. Thus when about to partake of food all weapons were placed a little space aside, kei tamaoatia te mata o te rakau, lest the point of the weapon be defiled, as by contact with cooked food. When fighting was over then the tapu was lifted from men and weapons. The hoa charm was repeated in an inaudible manner, and, among the Matatua folk, the reciter expectorated upon his weapon as a part of the ceremony.
We occasionally meet with a case when the word hoa is not used in connection with destructive forces so much as repressive powers, as in the phrase ka hoaia te ara o te waka. Here the path or course of a vessel was so influenced by the powers of a charm that a smooth sea and a swift passage were supposed to be the result. Again in the sentence—Me he mea ka tu i te huata ka hoaia ki a Titikura kia ora. Here Titikura is the name of a certain ritual relied on to succour persons afflicted by illness, wounds etc. A wounded person was affected, acted upon by means of the repetition of the Titikura formula, and so we see that, in this case, the directed force was beneficial, restorative, and not destructive or harmful in any way.
We have another term to consider in the word tipi; this term is often used instead of hoa, but I think that it referes to destructive force only; the lengthened form Tipi a Houmea is not infrequently met with. In vernacular speech the word tipi means page 167"to affect by incantations, to exterminate". Incantations, spells coming under this term were employed to slay persons and animals, to blast trees, or destroy food products and the fertile properties of soil.
In describing the tests for those who had learned the ritual of makutu an old sage remarked: "Ka tipia te tipi a Houmea i konei ki te rakau, ka maroke te rakau" (At this juncture the tipi incantation was directed against a tree, and the tree was withered.)
The act of blasting land, of destroying its fertility and its food products, of impairing or vitiating the hau of such land, was alluded to as papaharo. The following is a specimen of the incantations employed for the purpose:
Tipi i te hau o te whenua, i te hau o te kai
Ki nga hau tipi awaawa
Hau tipi whenua, hau tipi kai
Ngaro ana te tangata, ngaro ana te kai
Haere i a wiwi, haere i a wawa
Man ka oti atu, oti atu.
I was informed by Tuhoe that the land around my old camp of 1898 at Ngaputahi had been impoverished in the above manner by one Koura, he who abode at Pa-matangi, opposite Oromaitake. Also I was told that the great number of dead trees seen on the Huiarau range and the hills around Waikare Moana represented the activites of certain pernicious wizards of the Wairoa district.
In the story of Raumati and the burning of the Arawa vessel we are told that Raumati met his death at the hands of Hau-tupatu (Ha-tupatu in Arawa version). But no weapon struck down Raumati, it was the fell work of magic that sent him down to Rarohenga. The party of Raumati had been defeated by Nga-Oho and he was endeavouring to escape when Hau-tupatu called upon his powers of wizardry. Raumati chanced to be at the base of a cliff, whereupon Hau cast a stone so that it struck the cliff far above him, after having repeated a hoa or tipi spell. The power of the formula was, as it were, carried by the stone, and the result was that the part of the cliff struck was shattered and so fell upon Raumati. This account appears at p. 309 of vol. 34 of the Journal of the Polynesian Society. It also appears at p. 41 of vol. 24 where, however, tipi is mis-spelt tipu.
It has been seen that the term tipi enters freely into what we may term long distance magic, and that it is used as a verb. It is so used in the story of the death of Tauhou of Papa-o-tiri at page 168Waimarama, whom Mahu is said to have tipia from a distance on account of Tauhou being one of the persons who had slain his nephew at Te Upoko-poito. Even so Tauhou still lies there where the winged death of Mahu struck him down as he was digging fern roots; in the form of a stone he lies at the path side for all men to see.
When Ngamoa lay stricken unto death it was known that he had been bewitched. When the end was near he said to his young folk: "Heed what I say to you. Do not die of old age, or by the house wall (i.e., of sickness). It were better for you all to die in an endeavour to avenge my death and dignify my name, and so show yourselves to be men." So Ngamoa passed away, and then his nephew Tahamate set out with a party to avenge his death. At Opunua, at Nga Tarawa seventeen persons were slain by Tahamate and his band of raiders in order to avenge the death of Ngamoa.
Now in the above tale we see an extraordinary usage that was a prolific cause of strife in old-time Maoriland. A man was seized with some form of illness, and a shamanistic juggler might assert that the sufferer had been bewitched, and would even give the name of the wizard who had been the cause of the affliction. When the sufferer died then anything might happen, and we see in the case of Ngamoa what the procedure was in some cases; an attack would be made on the hamlet where the named wizard lived in order to avenge the death of the bewitched person; in the case quoted seventeen persons were slain. The raided hamlet might be that of another division of the same tribe as that to which the dead man belonged, this was so in many cases. Now the raided folk would probably look upon the attack as an act of treachery, an unprovoked and brutal slaying of innocent people, and so the raid might initiate a feud that would be carried on for generations.
In another and longer version of the above story Ngamoa tells his young men to avenge his death: "… that, even as I dwell in the underworld, my grateful ears may hear of your deeds and your fame." We are also told that, as the Upokoiri folk who were defeated by Tahamate could not avenge their injuries by fighting, they resorted to whaiwhaia (witchcraft) and so slew Tahamate. Then Ngati-Te Rehunga, under Te Pakaru and others marched to avenge the death of Tahamate, slaying some of the Upokoiri at Ongaru. The Upokoiri attacked the Parinui-o-whiti village at Waimarama under cover of night, and took it. One Weka escaped from the killing, and roused the people of the fortified page 169villages of Pekapeka, Owheao, Puketatariki and Takarangi. These marched at once to attack those of Upokoiri at Nga Tarawa, and a number of them were slain, but their friends carried on the feud by attacking Pareamahi and making another killing, after which they were attacked by people from Taumatawhenua at Oparua. All these raids and counter-raids, slain tribesmen and wasted hamlets were the result of superstition and Ngamoa's remarks to his kinsmen when on his death-bed.
It sometimes occurred that a dying man would state that he had been bewitched by a certain person. If the accused happened to be a person of importance his death would be avenged by his friends, who would go and slay the accused, who might be utterly ignorant of the cause of such an attack. When the sister of Taui (a practiser of black magic) died at Hokianga on 9 March 1851, she said, just prior to her death, "I have been bewitched by Mapiria." In this case no action was taken on account of the woman being of inferior rank and having been a slave.
In some cases, when it was believed that a person had died from the effects of black magic, a tohunga would make a small and rude representation of a human figure, which he placed at the edge of the stream or pool of water where he was accustomed to perform his rites. He would then, by reciting a charm, cause the wairua or double of the wizard to appear. The body of the dead person was then buried, and the double or wraith of the wizard caused to appear again at the side of the grave, whereupon the adept would recite such a charm as the following, in order to prevent the wizard slaying any more of the clan:
Ka wehe ra taku wehe
E wehe ana i te kino
E wehe ana i te mate
Kia kaua te mate e hoki mai ki ahau
Me ahu atu koe ki te rangi e tio nei
Ki te papa e takoto nei.
This effusion runs somewhat as follows: I recite my diverting charm to divert evil and misfortune; that evil influences may not recoil upon me. Begone thou to the heavens above, to the earth below.
The following note refers to the rude image of a human being employed as a medium. "In order to have a medium through which to afflict a person by means of magic charms or rites, a tohunga would procure some raupo (bullrush leaves) and fashion thereof a crude image of a person. This represented the man page 170against whom the spells of makutu or black magic were to be directed, and into it he thrust a stone to represent the heart of the person. The warlock then placed the image in an upright position in a stream or pool or water and, during this rite, it was necessary that he should be alone and quite naked. He would leave his garments at some distance from the scene of operations. Having fixed the image in position, the tohunga stood on the bank of the stream, on the west side of the image, and, looking at it, repeated his charms or spells, waving his hands to and fro as he did so. Having finished such repetition, he spits towards the image and, at the same time, endeavoured to catch the spittle in his left hand. Should he so catch it, he struck the palm of that hand against his forehead. The augury derived from this catching of the spittle was to the effect that the spells uttered would have effect on the person against whom they were aimed."
Among the Ngati-Porou folk, when it was suspected that a person had died from the effects of black magic, a tohunga would proceed to whakatara the corpse. This he did by prodding it in the stomach with a stick, as he repeated the words: "Are you at the south?" Another prod accompanied the question: "Are you at the west?" and so on round the compass. Should the body move in any way, or appear to, at any of these prods, then it was known in which direction the wizard resided. The operator then dealt out another prod, and asked: "Are you connected with … ?" mentioning the name of some person living in the ascertained quarter. This was repeated until some sign indicated the offender.
The attributing of sickness and disease to the arts of the wizard was of common occurrence, and the late Dr W. H. Goldie has recorded a considerable amount of data pertaining to this subject in a paper entitled "Maori Medical Lore", published in vol. 37 of the Transactions of the New Zealand Institute, pp. 1-120, esp. pp. 45-48. When a tohunga performed a hirihiri rite over a sick person, an act usually performed at a stream or pond, he might say: "Your affliction is the work of makutu, I see the spirit of the wizard standing by your side. What shall be done?" The patient might reply: "Patua atu" (destroy him), and then steps would be taken to slay the wizard by means of magic.
When performing the divinatory hirihiri rite at the waterside both patient and diviner were in a state of nudity, tapu rites always necessitated the discarding of clothing. The tohunga dipped a branchlet into the water and sprinkled drops thereof on page 171the body of the sufferer, repeating as he did so such a charm as the following:
Kotahi koe ki konei, kotahi ki nga ariki
Kotahi koe ki konei, kotahi ki nga matamua
Kotahi koe ki konei, kotahi ki nga wanaga
Kotahi koe ki konei, kotahi ki nga tapu
Kotahi koe ki konei, kotahi koe kia Te Raretautau
Kotahi koe, ki konei, kokotahi ki a Te Haraki.
In this formula the reciter, a member of the Ngati-Awa tribe, sought to ascertain the cause of the illness of a tribesman, hence the mention of ariki, matamua, wananga, tapu, and the names of two local warlocks. He kept on repeating the names of social classes, tapu places, wizards, etc., until the patient gave a sign that betokened the cause of illness. In this particular case the dying man gasped and breathed his last just as the name of the wizard Te Haraki was uttered. It was thus clearly shown that the dead man had been done to death by that warlock. Te Reretautau was another local wizard. Had the sign come when the word ariki was uttered, then it would have been known that the invalid had interfered with the condition of tapu that pertains to an ariki or high class chieftain, and was being punished by the gods for that offence; and so with the other classes and conditions mentioned. In like manner the words whare (house), kakahu (garments), moenga (sleeping place) were sometimes introduced into these recitals, and should a sign come when one of these words was spoken then it was known that the sick person had interfered with the tapu of a house, garment, or sleeping place.
The Rev. Mr Yate tells us in his Account of New Zealand that he seldom knew a man who for any length of time had practised witchcraft die a natural death: "… he has fallen by the hands of the violent man." (Yate, Account of New Zealand p. 96). Angas wrote in the "forties" of the last century: "Amongst the heathen tribes they attempt to cure all diseases by witchcraft or sorcery." (Savage Life and Scenes, vol. 2, p. 46).
It is certain that wizardry was relied on to punish offenders and to destroy enemies in some cases wherein they were deemed to be too powerful to attack openly. Among such a superstitious folk as the Maori the knowledge of this proclivity must have acted to some extent as a deterrent.
We have a brief account of a peculiar rite termed huki toto that was collected by the late Sir George Grey. It concerns the case of a person who has been foully slain, and the steps taken by tohunga, experts in divinatory rites, to ascertain whether or not page 172the death of that person will be avenged. As a rule spells were then recited, either to cause the death of the offender, or to cause him and his friends to become nervous, fainthearted, etc., so that an attack on them would probably be successful. In many cases certain performances were connected with such incantations, such as those pertaining to the rua torino. The following is a rendering of the recital.
"When a person died the tohunga immersed themselves in water, and, on emerging therefrom, they proceeded to the tapu place of the hamlet, or to the place where the person had been slain, there to take steps toward the avenging of the dead. The ceremonial rods of the experts were set up at the place where the ceremonies were performed, and the experts busied themselves in collecting the blood of the dead man, whether such blood, or other properties, were in a dry state or still fluid. Now the spirit of that dead person would appear to them as they were reciting their charms, or possibly when they were sleeping. That apparition would appear in brave array, with his hair combed and dressed, and his head, back and front, adorned with plumes. Then the experts would know that the death of that person would be avenged, and they would tell the people so and all would rejoice."
The immersion of the body in water and the discarding of clothing were considered highly necessary acts where tohunga were performing important rites, as has already been explained. The blood of a slain man was usually taken by means of a stick, a small portion thereof being taken up from the ground on the end of a stick, hence probably the use of the word huki. This portion of blood served as a medium, the wizards' spells were repeated over it. The ceremonial rods (toki or tird) are described else-where (pp. 344-345 of Dominion Museum Bulletin 10, 1976 reprint).
We have already noted that the arts of black magic were often directed against the wairua or spirit instead of against the bodies of enemies. In some cases the aim was to destroy the spirit, whereupon its physical basis would likewise perish; in other cases the avowed aim was to so influence the spirits or soul of enemies that they would become apprehensive, nervous, and lose their self-confidence and courage. Tutakangahau of Tuhoe has explained how a defeat may be avenged by magic, and there are many ways of effecting this result. The one that he explained is that known as umu parapara or koangaumu. In describing this a Maori speaks of the spirits of enemies being 'cooked' by means of page 173spells termed umu, the common name for a steam oven or steaming pit in which food is cooked. Also the points or edges of the weapons of such enemies were blunted by means of magic spells. Ka taona nga wairua o nga hoariri ki te umu karakia, ka patua nga mata o nga rakau o te hoariri. When a raiding party was defeated, and the survivors thereof returned home; then those survivors, their weapons and garments served as mediums over which avenging spells were uttered.
Tatakangahau also explained how the wairua or spirits of enemies were captured and slain by means of the kete rite. In this performance a tapu basket (kete) was employed, and the karakia was partially acted, the basket being so placed that its open mouth faced the people to be affected, wherever they might be. A spell known as Haruru was then recited and this had the effect of attracting the wairua of the enemies against whom the spell was directed, and causing them to enter the receptacle. The kete was then closed as another charm was recited, after which a third spell was repeated, in order to destroy the confined spirits. Now such a tapu wallet, often alluded to as a kete pure, was certainly often carried by tohunga accompanying raiding parties, and invocations and spells were often half acted, but it needs close enquiry to ascertain just what was done, the exact mode of procedure. The performance of a wizard might be of a symbolical nature, his utterances metaphorical. A Maori tells you that a pit was dug into which the souls of enemies were lured, also that a tapu fire was kindled, but on enquiring closely you find that no real pit was excavated, it was presented by the noxious spell uttered. Also that no actual fire was kindled, the experts merely going through the motions of generating fire.
Some accounts tell us that the spirits of enemies were lured into a fire, and there destroyed, but it was by no means necessary to have a real fire. The aspect of detachment and the curious phases of abstraction that pertained to Maori thaumaturgics and other activities were highly remarkable and form an interesting study.
We have an account from Taranaki of a case in which a person stricken by illness was said to have been bewitched, and so the shadow (ata) of the invalid was taken by the priestly expert, the local warlock, to the local wai tapu, and there, at the waterside, was recited a spell whereby to destroy the wizard who had afflicted the invalid. Evidently the ata of the sufferer served in some way as a form of ohonga or medium, a link to connect the page 174active power of the local magician's spell with the object, he who had placed his curse on the sick person. Now the term ata denotes shadow and reflection, but in some cases it is certainly used to denote the human spirit or soul, the wairua. Moreover this word wairua bears the same double meaning of "shadow" and "spirit". As to the actual object that represented the ata, and that was taken to the place of rites, it would be something connected with the sick person. Our Taranaki informant mentioned above, in describing the tiratu or waitokorau rite in connection with a bewitched person, stated that the expert would take a small lock of the sufferer's hair to the wai tapu and there place it on a rock (tira) set in an upright position (tu) in the water. He would then recite a spell that would cause the spirit of the hostile sorcerer to appear by the rod, and another one whereby to destroy that spirit. In a number of cases the wairua of the sorcerer, compelled by the powers of the spell to appear, is said to have done so in the form of a fly or rango, as we shall see where describing the rua torino.
Witchcraft was resorted to in some cases for the purposes of punishing theft, even in cases where the thief was unknown. The story of Mahu, already given, casts some light on this usage. Many offenders were punished by the agency of magic, and we have already scanned a number of such cases. As Shortland puts it it was the weapon of the weak, but his remark that, in a Maori community, the law of force generally prevailed, is somewhat misleading.
The dread of punishment per medium of black magic was sometimes the cause of stolen goods being returned. For instance, if a person, on returning to his home after an absence therefrom, thought that his hut had been entered, he would refrain from entering it himself, and would obtain the services of a tohunga, who would take a piece of thatch or other material from the right hand side of the doorway, take it to the rear of the hut, and there bury it, as he did so he recited over it a charm that was supposed to be most effective, but as the writer can see absolutely no sense in it, it is omitted. The owner of the hut would not enter it until the matter was cleared up. If a thief had been there, he would hear of the above ceremony, and fear of consequences would probably cause him to return any stolen goods. He would return them under cover of night.
One account of the procedure of a tohunga when calling up the spirit of a thief is to the effect that he struck the water with a wand or rod (tira) as he recited the necessary formula. It is generally page 175said that the expert sees the spirit of the thief, or sorcerer as the case may be, standing before him, by the side of the accuser or patient, if such a person be present. We are not told that the spirit is seen in the water as an ata-a-wai or reflection would be seen. The whakamatiti is one of the spells employed for the purpose of punishing thieves, it has the unpleasant effect of causing their limbs to contract and wither. In this connection some remarks made by the author of Rovings in the Pacific from 1837 to 1849 are of interest. Speaking of the above curse, as he terms it, he says: "Such is the extraordinary influence acquired by the craft of one savage over the fears of another. I have seen living instances of the effect of these maledictions, and Europeans who have watched the result … have assured me that, without apparent cause, a sound and healthy limb has gradually withered and contracted until the foundations of its strength have dried up, and it has hung a useless incumbrance to the body; so much for the effects of the imagination, the power of mind over matter." (Lucatt, Rovings in the Pacific from 1847 to 1849, vol. 1, p. 114).
Old folk of the commoner class, and of both sexes, sometimes took up the practice of magic; the evidence gathered is to the effect that what may be termed malicious magic was principally in the hands of such folk. The more responsible tohunga were far more wont to exercise discretion and confine their activities in that line to legitimate channels, and to study the public weal. It was the attitude of the more irresponsible warlocks that caused so much trouble in the Maori commune, that prompted parents to warn children to be very careful in their behaviour toward some repulsive shaman, and made it necessary to frequently supply such persons with food.
In one case that came under my notice a man had stolen some eels from a person's eel pot. The owner procured a fragment of the material of which the pot was composed as the ahua or semblance of that pot, to serve as an ohonga or medium in the divinatory rite that was to indicate the thief. These Matatua folk told me that the expert would call up the spirit of the thief and describe its appearance to the applicant for redress who often recognised the culprit from the description given, the applicant might go to the person whom he believed was the thief, and demand the return of his property. If no satisfaction was received then the matter might be handed over to the professor of makutu for him to deal with. It might be decided to utterly destroy the offender, or merely afflict him by means of the ahi matiti or whakamatiti charms mentioned above.page 176
Those of the warlock fraternity who met with violent ends were, as a rule, the more irresponsible practitioners alluded to above, but I remember a case in which a man of good standing was suspected of makutu, and that in connection with his own near relatives. His own son was so excited by superstitious fears that he cautiously stalked his own father and shot him, whereupon he was forced to retire to the depths of the forest there to reside for some years, owing to the unpleasant attitude of the administrators of the laws of the white man.
It seems clear that, when a tohunga accused a person of being the cause of the illness or death of another, and an attack was made on the culprit's clan in order to equalise matters, the attacked persons would simply maintain that the attack was an act of treachery, that no cause existed to justify it, and so trouble would commence. It is also clear that tohunga were possessed of dangerous powers when they could accuse innocent persons of various crimes and misdemeanours, and so bring trouble or disaster upon them, also upon many other people.
Ruru of Tuhoe was essentially an upholder of the policy of direct action and self-reliance, hence he achieved fame in the annals of Tuhoeland. He it was who killed Kahu at Pukareao in order to maintain his right to a certain parcel of land at that place, and also slew his ika hui ma, to wit two men of Awa, at Waihua, in defence of his fishing and game rights in that lone vale. In his later years Ruru resided at Owhakatoro where his presence was by no means welcome, and when he was credited with causing the death of a man by the agency of makutu in the year 1865, then local regulators of the community resolved to remove this menace, whereupon Ruru was promptly shot.
About the year 1879 a party of Tuhoe folk was busy in the gum digging industry at Whitianga. One member of that party, Petera Koikoi by name, came to be suspected of indulgence in the arts of black magic, hence the local natives decided to hasten his departure to the spirit world. They persuaded him to accompany a party said to be going to Katikati by canoe, and, when well out from land, they knocked him on the head, and cast the body overboard.
Te Kooti, author of the Poverty Bay massacre of 1868, posed as a tohunga, and, ere long, it was seen to be a highly dangerous pursuit for any person within his reach to practise as a rival in thaumaturgic arts, hence the sudden and violent death that overtook Penetiti of Orakau fame, and other would-be experts. page 177Te Kooti claimed to possess powers of second sight, and, during bouts of drunkeness, might at any time tell his followers that he had found out that a certain person was endeavouring to destroy him by witchcraft. Then swift-footed destroyers loped out on the rugged forest tracks and the end was not well for the alleged shaman.
The Maori was always prone to look upon any unusual phenomenon as ominous, something betokening evil influences, hence he would resort to some of the many rites and spells employed for the purpose of diverting such influences. The appearance of a comet was looked upon in this light, as also was the seeing of a planet during hours of daylight; a meteor was sometimes viewed with alarm, the belief being that it was an atua despatching enemies to assail the local folk. In such cases the aim of the rite performed was not only of a defensive nature, but also endeavours were made to cause the evil influence to recoil upon and destroy the originators of the scheme.
In the teaching of the arts of magic the tribes of the east coast of the North Island employed certain tapu stones termed whatu. Two of these were known as whatu puororangi and whatu kai manawa, and these were used in connection with magic rites. Those pupils who were successful in passing the various tests were presented with such stones.
The five terms rua torino, rua ngana, rua haeroa, rua iti and rua tupo are used to denote the old magic practice of destroying the wairua or spirits of enemies. The idea was to lure such spirits into a pit and there destroy them by magic spells, whereupon the physical basis of each such spirit would also perish. Rua and umu are synonymous terms when used in this connection, and their meaning is "pit"; a pit was supposed to be excavated for the performance of the rite, and in some cases such a pit was made and used, but such terms as rua, umu, waro, ahi, etc. were often used in a symbolical manner, no pit or fire being made. When such a pit was made it was a small one excavated at the local sacred place (tuahu) and we are told that a fly was usually the visible form of the wairua seen to enter the pit of death. Tarakawa tells us that the warlock held in his hand a small branchlet wherewith to drive the fly into the pit, and that during this performance the person whose wairua was being lured and destroyed would be in utter ignorance of the fact. He further explained that the form of tuahu used on such occasions was that known as an ahupuke, situated by the brink of a stream. The operating warlock would doff his garments, tie a piece of flax leaf page 178around his body as a form of girdle, and proceed to fashion in earth the form of a person. He then made a small hole in the earth near the figure, and this was the rua torino into which the spirit was to be lured. He then took a stone in his hand and repeated his compelling charm, repeatedly striking the earthen figure as he did so, and mentioning the name of the doomed person. Ere long the fly representing the wairua of that person would enter the hole, the stone was clapped on the mouth of the hole to confine it therein, and the final spell to destroy the spirit was repeated. The Ngati-Porou folk say that a tohunga would perform this rite without the aid of the mound in human form in some cases, the fly-wairua settling on the earth immediately before the performer, who would destroy it.
Ngati-Awa informed me that the hole for the wairua was made in the earthen form itself. The Tuhoe folk explained that the rua iti was simply a hole made in the ground in which was placed one end of a piece of cord, or twine, or some other fabric that has been worn or handled by the person who was to be bewitched; this would be the ohonga or bait object. A spell was then repeated to cause the wairua of the doomed person to descend the cord into the hole, wherein it was confined and destroyed by another incantation termed kopani harua. The word whaka umu is sometimes used to denote this method of makutu, and umu pongipongi is applied to a similar performance. I have also been told that the wairua is not represented by any visible object in some cases, and that only an expert would know when it has entered the hole, all of which I am quite prepared to believe.
Some lengthy karakia or spells pertaining to the rua torino appear in Sir George Grey's Polynesian Mythology pp. 86-90, Maori part, where it is termed rua haeroa, and we are told that shells were used to sweep the doomed spirits into the pit. A more detailed account of this rite is given in White's Lectures entitled Maori Customs and Superstitions (see Gudgeon, The History and Doings of the Maoris, pp. 150-160).
In the story of the Upoko-poito we have an account of another very singular performance. This is applied to what was possibly an actual fight that occurred on the east coast in past times, but magic the marvellous creeps into this tale as into many another. Rangi-te-kahutia was a man of parts and also he did not enter this world in the usual way but came forth from the groin of his mother. He was an important chief and a medium of the gods, he it was also who caused the defeat of Ngati-Kahungunu in the fight known as the Upoko-poito. A war party of the Kahungunu page 179happened to be approaching at the time when Rangi was setting forth on a raid and saw the ocean covered with the oncoming vessels. As they paddled into attack the people of Rangi, the latter looked at them, observed their numbers, and became apprehensive. Then Rangi spoke to Pakotore, who was a tohunga and proposed joint action, but Pakatore declined, and so Rangi set about resorting to magic. When Rangi recited his magic charm he put his head down and elevated his rear, into which he drew and enclosed the wind, rain, thunder and lightening. Ere he had released the wind, rain, thunder and lightening for long all the enemy vessels were overturned at sea, even those that reached land were again swept away by the waters; so perished at sea the men of Ngati-Kahungunu. This affair became known as the Upoko-poito because the heads of the men who had been capsized into the sea looked like the floats of a fishing net. This item was contributed by Hori Ropiha.
The name of ahi whakaene seems to cover a number of ceremonial performances of olden times. In some of these a tapu fire seems to have been really kindled, in other cases the name was used as a figurative expression. The name covers a number of magic rites (see Dominion Museum Bulletin 10, 1976 reprint, p. 323). Spells concerned with black magic were recited thereat and such performances as the whakautuutu were carried out there. This was a ceremonial averting of dire calamity shown to be impending. One of the most ominous of such signs was that termed a kotipu, which is nothing more nor less than the seeing of a lizard on the path during one's walks abroad. This referred principally to the moko kakariki or common green lizard, to meet with which was, to the Maori mind, a case of death staring one in the face. This extremely strong superstitious feeling regarding the lizard did not, apparently, extend to the tuatara (Sphendon punctatum) which formed a part of the native's food supply in olden days, hence an old saying concerning Mt. Edgecumbe "Ko Putauaki te maunga he ngarara tona kai?—"the tuatara lizard was about the only food product of those infertile lands. It has been recorded by the Rev. W. R. Wade that the lizard represents Whiro, who in his turn, represents evil and death, hence possibly the intense fear of the lizard displayed by the Maori.
When a Maori so encountered a lizard he would at once kill it, for he would know that its appearance betokened some impending misfortune, probably it has been sent by some enemy of his to destroy him. If possible he would then get a woman to step over the body of the lizard to avert the evil omen, an act page 180alluded to as a ripa or whiti. The act of whakautuutu, was as follows: A fire was kindled and the body of the lizard was cut into pieces, one for each person or clan that might possibly have been the cause of the appearance of the ominous lizard. The conductor of this performance would then take up the pieces of the lizard's body one by one and cast them into the fire. As he threw each piece in he would repeat a short sentence calling upon a certain clan or suspected warlock to eat the fragment so consigned to the fire, as follows: "Ma Ngati … hapu koe e kai." This procedure had not only a defensive aspect, but it also was designed to afflict the person or persons who had sent the lizard. A form of hirihiri charm would also be repeated so as to banish the threatened trouble. When the lizard was killed the persons present would expectorate upon it, and each one would pull a hair from his head and cast it into the tapu fire. These acts, I was told, would be very effective in causing the threatened afflication to recoil upon those shameless persons who had despatched the lizard to destroy them.
That rites do destroy the wairua or spirit of man in Maori belief is shown in the following line from an old song: "I tahuna mai ahau ki te ahi whakaene kia mate te wairua" The singer is weary with grief and asks to be relieved of his, or her, sad feelings, either by means of the miri aroha rite, or by death, hence she asks that her wairua be slain by means of the ahi whakaene rite.
Moser, in his Mahoe Leaves, tells a story of an old native who believed himself to be afflicted by a lizard that kept gnawing at his vitals, hence he moved about from one place to another in his endeavours to avoid his tormentor, but all to no purpose. Moser remarks: "I am not naturalist enough to know what lizards feed on, but if they are partial to fleas and other vermin I can understand their following old Lazarus about." (p. 79). This was during the famous lizard-killing craze in the Whanganui district, when the natives spent their time in hunting and killing the lizards that were said to be destroying them.
The ahi tirehurehu was a rite performed in war time, the heart of a slain enemy being roasted at a fire especially kindled for the purpose, while an incantation was repeated over it in order to render living enemies nervous and faint hearted.
The Maori ever depended largely on dreams to warn him of dangers threatening his existence, or, as he put it, his wairua wandering abroad during his hours of sleep, observed such dangers and hastened back to warn him. Should he so dream that some person was endeavouring to raweka or meddle with him, page 181that is to bewitch him, he had a choice of a great number of methods of averting the danger. The following is one peculiar method that was explained to me by Paitini of Tuhoe, who had seen it performed at the Matuahu pa at Waikaremoana in the later "sixties". The first thing to do was to procure a piece of cord (taura) belonging to the supposed wizard, and this served as a medium between the active spell of the coming performance and the person against whom it was launched. An incision was made on the left shoulder of the threatened person and blood therefrom was smeared on the piece of cord, which was then burned as an incantation was recited over it. This spell had the effect of averting all danger and also, if sufficiently empowered by the gods, it might cause the death of the offender. It was then necessary to lift the tapu from the participants in the rite, and from the proceedings, the condition of tapu having been induced by the appeal to the gods who had empowered the magic spells. This removal of tapu was effected by repeating a certain formula, and by cooking a single sweet potato tuber, which was eaten by a woman, the ruahine or priestess, if the term be permissible. In some cases the cooked kumara was placed under the threshold of the dwelling hut of the threatened person, and the ruahine simply stepped over the threshold; the female element is destructive to tapu.
In the story of Ngarue, as we have seen, the dart thrown by Wharematangi was thought to possess supernormal qualities, hence certain tohunga busied themselves in reciting the takapau and taupa charms to prevent it injuring the local folk, or, as the narrator put it "koi ngau ki te tangata"—lest it assail man.
The term matapuru is employed to denote all acts and spells the object of which is to avert the effects of witchcraft and of any disregard of tapu. When an old man of Tuhoe had been giving me information as to old Maori customs, rites, etc., he said: "I must now go and matapuru, lest the information I have given you return and destroy me." In a case where a man suspected that some person was trying to bewitch him he would procure some strips of flax leaf and tie pieces thereof round his body and limbs after which he would recite a spell such as the following, termed a momono, as a matapuru:
Monokia te waha o te tipua
Monokia te waha o te tahito
Me puru to waha ki pan a nuku
Me puru to waha ki pari a rangi
E ki mai na koe he tahito koe, he koeke, he kai ure.
In the serious crises of life the Maori put himself unreservedly in the hands of his gods, with such remarks as "Kia koe, e Rehuar!" (To thee, O Rehua!). This he might do when seriously endangered by terrors of makutu. At Taranaki the term kaiwhatu seems to be applied to such incantations as were of a protective nature. Dr Shortland uses the word whakahokitu with a similar meaning, while Tarakawa employed whakangungu. In the data furnished by him to the Journal of the Polynesian Society, vol. 27, p. 81, Tarakawa describes a ceremony performed over a man threatened by makutu; he was taken at sunset to a stream in the waters of which he was told to immerse himself. The tohunga then repeated some formula, whereupon he saw the spirit of the wizard hovering over the water; this spirit, we are told, was not seen by the patient, a statement that seems quite credible. On the following day the twain repair to the tuahu or place of rites, where more incantations were recited, also the expert struck a short rod in the earth and buried at the base thereof a few hairs taken from the head of the patient. By these means it seems that the wairua of the man under threatment was caused to leave him for a space, though the object of this severance is not explained, after a time the absent spirit was brought back to its physical basis and the danger was removed.
Te Kahui of Taranaki gave some account of the tiratu or waitokorau or waihuri ceremony that was performed in order to counteract the effects of makutu. As explained this rite resembles that termed tira ora and toko ora by some tribes, which is explained earlier in this paper. In this Taranaki performance two rods (tira or toko) were set up at the water side (wai tapu), one of which represented the absent wizard, and the other stood for the patient, a lock of whose hair served as a form of medium. By means of certain spells the spirit of the wizard was brought to the rod representing that person, which rod was erected in the water of the stream, and there it was destroyed.
An East Coast native explained a different ceremony performed for the same purpose, and he had himself been subjected to it. He was taken by an expert to a stream and told to immerse himself in the water. He had then to face the east and throw a handful of sand from the stream bed to each of the four cardinal points; this was he arai i te makutu, a warding off of the magic spells of his enemy. The narrator continued: "When I had followed his directions the spirit of the wizard appeared to the tohunga, although I did not see it. He gave me a description of the appearance of the wairua, and I recognised it as that of a page 183person living at…, and so he recited the spell that consigned that person to death."
The tapu stone adzes that were so highly prized, even venerated, by the Maori were utilised in a ceremonial manner, and we are told that such implements were "waved" to or towards the gods during ritual performances connected with black magic, war, infant baptism, etc. Na, ko te Awhiorangi, ko te Whironui, enei toki e rua he toki tapu, he toki poipoi ki nga atua mo nga makutu, mo nga haera taua, mo nga tuatanga tamariki, mo nga purenga tamariki, me era atu mahi atua e hiahiatia ana.
There were a number of charms and acts employed whereby to avert harmful influences that might possibly pertain to gifts received. One of the simplest of these performances was explained to me by Tutaka of Tuhoe; when a tahua or pile of food had been apportioned to a party of visitors, and these wished to nullify the powers of magic spells that might have been repeated over it, the matter was left in the hands of any expert of the party, often the principal man thereof. He would proceed to one end of the pile of food supplies, take a basket of food therefrom, convey it to the other end of the heap and there deposit it, after which he transferred a basket from this latter end to the other end. The charm or spell used on the occasion was not collected.
Life insurance among the Maori was not conducted on modern European lines, but when recompensed by a gift one expert would protect a person from the effects of makutu. This was effected in different ways, one such was to take the ahua of the hau of the person and bury it at the local tuahu or place of rites, the actual medium taken would probably be a few hairs from the man's head. Certain recited formulae completed this ceremony.
Travelling outside tribal bounds, even in times of peace, was looked upon as a most dangerous proceeding, and many precautions were taken to avert harmful influences emanating from magic, also unknown spirits and atua. The path such a person traversed might be bewitched; he might inadvertently trespass on a tapu place or touch a tipua tree, log or stone. Any food given him might be saturated with makutu. In his speech and general conduct he would need to be very careful, a slight offence might lead to magic spells being directed at him. Prior to entering a village the traveller would repeat some form of matapuru defensive charm. In some cases a person about to travel through such dangerous territory would hie him to an expert who would provide him with a protective talisman to carry with him, and which, on his return, would be handed back to the expert, who page 184would lift the tapu relating to it and its bearer. This method of insurance seems to come under the heading of whakau. One form of whakau is that termed the uruuru whenua rite in this paper, and another form was repeated over food prior to it being eaten, in case some warlock had tampered with it. Travellers would sometimes take a small portion of cooked food and repeat the following formula over it:
To kai ihi, to kai ihi, to kai Rangi, to kai Papa
To kai awe, to kai karu, to kai ure pahore
Kia kai mai te ati tipua, kia kai mai te ati tawhito
E kai, e how o tatau kaki kia kai nuku tatau
Kia kai rangi tatau, kia kai matamua tatau.
This whakau charm would "blunt" the shafts of magic and so preserve the life of the traveller.
When Hinauri of Maori myth, the sister of Maui, crossed the ocean to the land where dwelt Tinirau, she came to land at the headland of Rangitapu at Wairarawa, the home of Ihu-atamai and Ihu-ware ware, brothers of Mini. Now Hinauri was taken to wife by these two persons, but when she encountered Tinirau she resolved to be his wife and abandon the two brothers. But Tinirau had already two wives, named Horo-tatara and Horo-mangarau, who showed great hostility towards Hinauri, and so she took steps to destroy them.
There is a class of Maori songs known as tangi tawhiti and specimens of these collected from the Tuhoe folk show a peculiar combination of lament and karakia makutu in some cases. A lament for a dead tribesman would have included in it, often as concluding lines, a form of magic spell intended to avenge the dead by destroying his slayers. In some cases makutu was avenged by makutu in the form of a tangi tawhiti, the vril-like powers of which destroyed persons afar off.
I have been informed that a simple way of disposing of an objectionable neighbour is to makutu the steam oven in which his food is cooked. To effect this, secure one of the stones used in heating the oven, repeat the necessary spell over it and then when the food so cooked is eaten, the world of death closes in on the consumers thereof.
We have seen how a path was rendered dangerous by means of magic, and in like manner were streams treated occasionally. This was generally for the purpose of destroying hostile parties passing up or down the river in canoes, but occasionally magic was resorted to in order to prevent fish passing up a stream above a page 185certain point. The object in this case would be to hold the fish within tribal bounds. Thus the Ngati-Manawa folk of Whirinaki told me that a totara log embedded in the channel of the Rangitaiki river at Nga Huinga held the remarkable power of preventing eels passing further up the river. This log had been assigned a special name, that of Tangi-auraki, and its strange powers were the results of charms repeated over it. The decline of the mana maori, however, had resulted in eels passing above the charmed log ere I visited the district.