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Fishing Methods and Devices of the Maori

Line Fishing

Line Fishing

Line fishing was widely practised by natives, more especially on rocky coast-lines, where drag-nets could not be employed. The expression hi ika denotes line fishing, while aho and nape are terms for a fishing-line. Makamaka ika also means fishing with a line, but hi ika is the more widely used. The following list contains a number of words denoting a fish-hook, its parts, and accessory items:—

Kowaiwai .. Shell-faced hook used in trolling.
Pa .. .. Shell-faced hook used in trolling.
Paua .. Shell-faced hook used in trolling.
Pakirori .. Shell-faced hook used in trolling.
Matika A fish-hook.
Matau A fish-hook.
Maka .. A fish-hook.
Matikara .. A fish-hook.
Noni .. A fish-hook.
Reke .. A fish-hook.
Okooko .. A wooden hook for barracouta.
Pohau mangā A wooden hook for barracouta; bone bard.
Kaniwha .. Barbed point of a hook.
Niwha .. Barbed point of a hook.
Keka .. Barbed point of a hook.
Tito.. .. Barbed point of a hook.
Matapatete .. Spreader of a fishing-line.
Pekapeka .. Spreader of a fishing-line.
Paepae .. Spreader of a fishing-line.
Paepaeroa ..
Toro .. Detachable part of a fishing-line to which hooks are attached.
Taukaea .. Twine used to lash hook to line.
Whiwhita .. Twine used to lash hook to line.
Takã .. Twine used to lash hook to line.
Whakamira .. The seized lower part of a fishing-line.
Kouaha .. Gum used to preserve fishing-line.
Kauawhi .. The back or shank of a shell-lined hook. Stone shank to which barbed point was lashed.
Papa .. The back or shank of a shell-lined hook. Stone shank to which barbed point was lashed.
Koreke .. Upper end of hook where attached to line.
Kotore .. Bottom of curve of lower end of hook.
Kou.. .. Bend near point of a wooden hook.
Takerekere .. String to tie bait on hook.
Taiwekoweko .. String to tie bait on hook.
Pakaikai .. String to tie bait on hook.
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William's Maori Dictionary gives kawiti as the hook of bone or wood attached to the piece of shell. Tuta Nihoniho gave it as the backing of a shell-lined hook.

Wood, bone, stone, and shells were all employed by the Maori in the manufacture of fish-hooks, and the processes employed were slow and tedious. When Europeans arrived in these seas the Maori soon learned the advantages of metals as material for the making of implements, but I have never heard that he quite equalled the Tahitian in his conjectures as to the true nature of metal. Ellis, of Polynesian Researches fame, tells us how the Tahitians prized the wrought-iron nails obtained from early voyagers as material for the manufacture of fish-hooks, and came to the conclusion that they were pieces of extremely hard wood. He proceeds: "Perceiving, in their shape and colour, a resemblance to the young shoots or scions that grow from the roots of the breadfruit-trees, they imagined that they were a hard kind of plant, and procured in the same way. Anxious to secure a more abundant supply, they divided the first parcel of nails ever received, carried part to the temple and deposited them on the altar; the rest they actually planted in their gardens, and awaited their growth with the highest anticipation."

Our Maori folk are extremely dexterous at the work of manufacturing small cord and twine. Their fishing-lines and fine binding-twine, as formerly made by hand, were marvels of neat work, so even and well laid were they. They are very expert at making rolled twine, which was much employed in the manufacture of small cordage. It was formed on the bare thigh by means of rolling it under the hand, and when two-ply twine was required two pieces of rolled twine were rolled together. The single rolled thread is a takerekere, while miri describes the act of rolling it. To roll two of these into two-strand twine is termed karure and miro, and whenu seems to be occasionally used in a similar sense. Whiri means to twist two or more strands together with the fingers as we do. Natives made many different forms of twine and cordage—round, flat, and square—each of which had its particular name, according to the number of strands, &c.

Some hooks were made entirely of wood, of bone, or of shell, often in one piece; but many were composite forms. A hook used for trolling purposes may have a shell shank and bone barb, or a shell-lined wooden or a bone shank, and so on. Stone shanks were employed also, and occasionally one fashioned from the prized greenstone; there is one in the Hastings Museum, and one is figured in Edge-Partington's Album, and another is in Captain Bollons's collection. Greenstone barbs for fish-hooks are also rare. The hook-page 35shanks Fig. 14—Stone shanks of fish-hooks. of ordinary stone are found on both Islands. These articles were also employed by Polynesians of northern isles. The account of Le Maire and Schouten's voyage mentions their hooks for fishing, the back parts of which were of stone—perhaps the earliest mention of these stone-backed hooks. Plate 87 in Caillot's Les Polynesiens Orientaux shows the ingenious method of attaching the bar and line. The Maori specimens are usually small, but occasionally a larger form is seen.

Fig. 14 shows a number of stone hook-shanks assembled by the late Mr. Hamilton, while in fig. 15 we see an unusually large specimen of these stone forms obtained at Moeraki, South Island. This shank is 5½ in. in length, triangular in cross-section, but having its sides rounded. The keel is slightly concave longitudinally, but the flat side or face is unusually convex, though flat transversely. Three grooves across the end of the flat side were probably designed to facilitate lashing; a fourth has been commenced. At the opposite end, and near the two small lugs, four oblique grooves form a double X; the width near the lugs is 1 in.; weight, somewhat over 2½ oz. This specimen has no hole at the smaller end, as is usually the case.

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Captain Cook recorded the word makoee (makoi) as a name for a fish-hook, but it is probably applied to the barbed point only.

Certain fishing implements—hooks, &c.—were sometimes fashioned from the bones of the moa, the huge bird that roamed these isles in past centuries. Human bone was prized as material for fish-hooks, and the fact that bones of enemies were used, for the purpose rendered then doubly valuable, for the spirit of revenge was ever keenly cultivated by the Maori. Fish-hooks were sometimes given special names, particularly those fashioned from human bones. This act of the revengeful tribesman often led to prolonged intertribal warfare. Marsden tells us of a case in which hooks were so made from the bones of a tribesman of the renowned Hongi, and of how the latter attacked the offenders and shot five of them, which seemed to discourage them.

Fig. 15—A large specimen of stone hook-shank. Length, 5½ in.

It would not be of much service to give any detailed account of the native manufacture of fish-hooks without copious illustration, hence we leave it for experts. The native hook-maker certainly achieved neatness and precision as to form; with stone rasps he carefully and slowly worked the material into form. His method of fashioning bone hooks was remarkably ingenious: he worked a piece of bone into form, as to the outer curve of a hook, and then bored a series of holes to outline the inner edge; the removal of the central piece then left a rough surface that was reduced with stone rasps. (See fig. 18.) In some cases two rows of holes were so bored, so as to leave the hook with two rough surfaces to be reduced. In the case of very small hooks the boring of a single hole would suffice, and a stone rasp worked in it would serve to form the inner edge of the hook. The following remark by Sir Joseph Banks concerning the Tahitian method of making shell hooks is of some interest: "The shell is first cut by the edge of another shell into square pieces. These are shaped with files of coral, with which they work in a manner surprising to any one who does not know how sharp corals are. A hole is then bored in the middle by a drill, which page 37is simply any stone that may chance to have a sharp corner in it, tied to the handle of a cane. This is turned in the hand like a chocolate-mill until the hole is made; the file then comes into the hole and completes the hook."

Fig. 16—Bone fish-hooks.

For the manufacture of wooden hooks certain tough woods were employed, such as roots of the tauhinu, hardened by fire. In the Bay page 38of Plenty district a peculiar submarine growth termed totara-moana was used; after having been exposed to the air for some time it becomes very hard. Captain G. Mair stated that natives dredged for this marine plant, and bent pieces of it into a desired hook-like form Fig. 17—Wooden fish-hooks. when green and pliable, and then allowed it to dry, when it became hard and extremely rigid. A species of Lycopodium and the stem of the climbing-fern mangemange were also used as materials for hooks.

The shell or shell-faced hooks employed in trolling had small bunches of feathers secured to the lower part, so as to often obscure, page 39or partially so, the point of the hook. Feathers of the penguin, kingfisher, and kiwi were used for this purpose. The shell-lined kahawai hooks are occasionally alluded to as kowaiwai, a word that describes their peculiar motion through the water, and, saith the Maori, Fig. 18—Method of fashioning fish-hooks. Most of the specimens are pieces of moa bone. denotes that motion better than the word takahuri. Hence one might hear such a remark as,"Kei te paua a Mea, ka nui te pai o te kowaiwai."

The method of using the pa kahawai, or shell-lined trolling-hooks, is described in the following extracts from the works of early writers:—

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E. J. Wakefield speaks of seeing a fleet of twenty-six canoes engaged in kahawai fishing in the tidal waters of the Whanganui River: "The fish is taken with a hook of wood covered with pieces of the paua or mutton-fish shell to give it the appearance of a fish. Nor will the kahawai take a still bait, so that the canoes move up and down the river at full speed, with the lines dragging behind them. The fishery thus presents a most lively appearance, and towards evening, on the return of the canoes, a regular sort of harvest-home took place, the old women jumping up on the fish-racks and calling out for the fish, while the fishermen dashed in to the beach with their Fig. 19—Trolling-hooks (the pa kahawai). best stroke and loudest song." Again, he writes as follows: "The natives catch large quantities of kahawai with a bone hook at the end of a fish-shaped piece of wood, inlaid with the shell of the mutton-fish, or haliotis, which bears the lively colours and brilliancy of mother-o'-pearl. This hook requires no bait, and a dozen of them are dragged along the water by a canoe which pulls at full speed through the shoal."

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In his Sketches in New Zealand, published in 1849, W. T. Power gives the following account of kahawai fishing as observed by him at Whanganui: (The kahawai …. comes up the river in shoals in the spring. Their advent is hailed with joy by both Maori and white man, and their capture is one of the most characteristic scenes in New Zealand. For about an hour before and after high water in the kahawai season, the river is a scene of the greatest bustle and activity; every canoe is launched and hurried through the water with the greatest rapidity, while over the stern trail two or three lines with shining native hooks attached. At these the kahawai jump like salmon at a fly, and are hauled in, one after the other, by the men stationed at the stern for that purpose, and as each fish is thrown into the bottom of the canoe it is greeted with shouts and cheers by the excited crew. On all sides canoes are dashing about, some tacking Fig. 20—Miscellaneous collection of fish-hooks. across the river, some urged up against the tide by twenty paddles vigorously plied, others with sail set are scudding down before the wind, and on all sides there is mirth and excitement, songs, shouts, and cheers."

Persons who practised shore fishing for kahawai also found the mouths of rivers good fishing-grounds. In order to cause the hook to assume the required motion, and so resemble a small moving fish, page 42to the undoing of the kahawai, a fisherman would wade out as far as possible, cast his line, then walk backwards to shore, coiling up his line as he proceeded. The bluish feathers of the penguin were sought as an additional lure to be secured to the hook. Much care was displayed in the selection of the Haliotis shell from which to cut the lure lining of the hook (pa kahawai), and certain places, such as Te Mahaia, were famed for their desirable paua shells.

A good catch of these kahawai would mean that many fish would be preserved for future use, scaled, cleaned, steamed in a hangi, and hung up on racks to dry and harden.

The following quaint story I must decline to vouch for, but simply give it as it was received: Prior to commencing operations a line fisher might desire to ascertain what luck he would have, and this was determined by winding his line over his left hand, but, in this case, commencing at the end to which the hooks are attached. If, when the line is fully wound, its end lay in the middle of the palm of his hand, then good luck in his fishing was assured; if it just reached the back of his hand, then he would take no fish; if it reached the side or edge of his hand, then his fortune would be between good and bad, and it would be some time ere he would catch a fish. So far this was a purely divinatory performance, but in some cases a man would, on encountering the sign of bad luck, continue to wind and rewind his line until its end did just reach the desired spot, the middle of the palm of his hand. Having achieved his object and compelled the fates to favour his endeavours, he would proceed with his fishing.

A correspondent at Kawhia sends me an account of a peculiar device employed by Maori line fishers whereby to free a hook that has become caught in some obstacle. Some rushes or long tussock-grass is procured and twisted into a small ring, and the shore end of the line is passed through this ring, which is then thrust down the line into the water. The Maori states that the action of the water will cause this moki ring to gradually work down the line until it reaches the obstruction wherein the hook is caught, and that the lifting-power of the moki float would often so lift the lower part of the line as to free the hook. I have received no corroboration of this item, but insert it here in the hope of receiving something of that nature.

Occasionally barbed points were fashioned from kaka ponga, the hard parts of the trunk of the ponga tree-fern, according to our East Coast natives, but I have never seen one such. Dogs' teeth are said to have been sometimes used in the manufacture of hooks for taking the barracouta. The gum of the tarata tree, termed pia tarata, was often utilized as a preservative, being rubbed on the lashings of fish-hooks.

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The shape of native-made fish-hooks often surprises observers, in that the point is so close to the shank, but old natives have assured me that such hooks were the most effective, and decidedly superior to the wide-mouthed ones for taking certain fish. Banks held the Fig. 21—Iron fish-hooks fashioned by natives. opinion that the very pronounced curve in hooks was on account of the lack of barb. The Maori used both barbed and barbless hooks. Not possessing any knowledge of the ancient art of fishing, the present page 44writer declines to express any opinion as to these much-incurved hooks. Banks speaks of Maori hooks being ill made—a strange remark; possibly he objected to the much-curved form. The Maori was extremely particular as to the form of the various kinds of fish-hooks he used. He is said to have trained growing plants and young trees into a desired form for hooks; these would be species having tough wood. I have myself seen in the bush small, slim, young saplings coiled round and secured so that they would, as they continued to grow, become rigid in that form. A large wooden hook in the Buller collection was probably curved by such means. It was obtained in 1858. It is nearly circular, being 9 in. across, while the opening is but 1¾ in. The bone point is provided with three barbs.

An early sojourner in New Zealand wrote as follows: "My experience is that the native form of hook is preferable, when the fish are large, to those of European manufacture…. I always made my own hapuku hooks at a blacksmith's forge I had." Colenso wrote: "At present they invariably prefer the hooks which they make from iron nails to those of our manufacture; the latter, they allege, being much too brittle." Mr. John White has a note to the effect that the Maori bent branches of the tauhinu shrub and so caused them to grow into a form suitable for hooks. When cut they were buried in the hot earth beneath a fire to render them inflexible. Colenso tells us that the roots of the above shrub were used for the purpose, being hardened by fire; also that the tough stems of the mangemange (Lygodium articulatum) served a similar purpose. Dr. Savage cites "the outer rim of the ear-shell," doubtless the paua (Haliotis iris), as a material for hooks.

In The Western Pacific, by H. H. Romilly, occurs the following passage in the account of the Laughlan Islands, near New Guinea: "Though they were such great fishermen, they did not care for our fish-hooks, but infinitely preferred their own, and I have no doubt they are quite right to do so. Theirs have the great advantage of not requiring any bait, as they are made of pearl-shell, with a strong wooden barb. The glitter of the pearl-shell in the water is far more attractive to the fish than any bait could be. After a very short sojourn in the Pacific I gave up European and took to native fish-hooks, and always found the latter more deadly." It may here be observed that it was on account of their shape that our Maori folk objected to European fish-hooks, not on account of the material used in their manufacture or because they were not good trolling-hooks. Ellis tells us that the Tahitians had similar objections to European hooks. He remarks: "They like their sharpness at the point, but usually complain of them as too open or wide…. Every page 45fisherman, I believe, would rather have a wrought-iron nail three or four inches long, or a piece of iron wire of the size, and make a hook according to his own mind, than have the best European-made hook that could be given to him."

Captain Cook speaks of fishing by natives at Queen Charlotte Sound as follows: "They live chiefly by fishing, making use either of nets of different kinds, or of wooden fish-hooks pointed with bone, but so oddly made that a stranger is at a loss to know how they can answer such a purpose." Again, he says: "Their cordage for fishing-lines is equal, in strength and evenness, to that made by us, and their nets not at all inferior."

The somewhat slender hooks employed in taking albatross were much more open than most fish-hooks, and the shanks thereof were often adorned with finely executed carved designs.

Natives employed different forms of spreaders (pekapeka) for fishing-lines. Mr. Bedgood, of Kaitaia, describes one formed of the stem of a small sapling of tanekaha (Phyllocladus trichomanoides). A part was selected where four serviceable branchlets radiated from a common centre. These were cut off to a length of about 8 in., and the sapling was severed below and above the radiating branch-bases. When attached to the line the sinker was secured to the lower part of the implement, and a line with hook secured to the extremity of each projection. (See fig. 8, p. 25.)

Fishing-lines were very carefully laid by our fisherman. A favoured cord was the tatoru, or whiri korino, of three strands. Each strand was a rolled thread, formed by rolling loose fibres of Phormium on the bare leg. Fishing-lines were wound or hanked on the thumb and little finger of the left hand, and not wound into a ball (pokai). When a line of peculiar strength and durability was required, then fibre of the ti torere (Cordyline Banksii) was employed in its manufacture.

Certain ceremonial observances were sometimes carried out at the first using of a new fishing-line. The following account presents some features of these performances: Were the owner of a new line a person of importance, then no member of the fishing-party would cast his line until the aforesaid owner had caught a fish. During this time all would remain silent. The owner would prepare his line and bait the hooks thereof, not forgetting to spit on the bait of each hook as he tied it on. He then coiled or gathered up the whole line and passed it under his left thigh. He then cast his line over the left side of the canoe, after which, holding the line with his left hand, he scooped up a small quantity of water in his right hand and cast it against the line. These actions would be accompanied by the recital page 46of appropriate charms. When he caught his first fish his companions were free to commence their fishing. When the party ceased fishing and returned to land, the owner of the new line would pick up his paddle, the first fish he had caught, and the fern or other herbage that he had used as a seat, and so proceed to some retired spot. There he kindled a fire by friction and burned the dunnage he had brought with him, after which he roasted at the fire the gills of the fish. Of these he took a portion in his left hand and waved it to and fro in the air, at the same time calling to his defunct male relatives that this was an offering to them. He then in like manner offered the other portion to the spirits of his dead female relatives. The rest of the first fish was suspended from a stake as an offering to the gods. The balance of the fish caught by this man were consumed by himself and his near relatives; there was some feeling against allowing others to eat of the first catch with the new line. This first-caught fish was termed a manea in some districts, which goes to show that it was viewed as a form of mauri, or luck-bringer.

When out at sea in a canoe fishermen sometimes allowed their vessel to drift slowly along by means of lowering the stone anchor a certain distance into the water. When fish began to bite, then the anchor was lowered until it grounded, unless the water chanced to be too deep.

In certain parts a line fisher operating from the beach would wade out as far as possible ere casting his line. When he caught a fish he did not coil up his line as he stood, but walked ashore backwards, hauling line and fish after him and coiling up at the same time. In coiling up his line he would wind it over the thumb and little finger of his left hand.

The terms takiaho and kaui denote a cord or string on which fish are strung; a strip of the green leaf of the Phormium plant was generally used for this purpose. A form of bodkin was sometimes attached to the cord in order to facilitate the threading or stringing process. This implement, often a bone one, was known as an au ika, autui, and auwai; they were about 10 in. in length.

A peculiar device, termed a tautara, was employed on the east coast of the North Island. It was apparently an introduced usage from Polynesia, brought hither by the Maori folk. It was used at Tahiti and other isles: an illustration of the Tahitian form is given in Ellis's Polynesian Researches. The tautara is briefly described at p. 47 of Bulletin No. 2 of the Dominion Museum. It is simply a rod secured to the side of a canoe, and the line passes through a piece of wood secured to the upper part of the rod. As the line was secured to the canoe, it was possible for one man to attend to several of these page 47devices. A bunch of light shells secured to the upper part of the rod produced a rattling sound when shaken by the movement of a hooked fish. In late times a tin match-box containing a few stones has served this purpose. I am informed by Waiapu natives that the rods employed were of tanekaha, and that they were used in fishing for warehou. A fisher might have two such rods to attend to, one secured to either side of the canoe. Occasionally two lines were attached to one rod. The Tahitian form was forked at its upper end, so that a line could be secured to each prong of the rod, there called a tira. Care had to be taken lest the different lines became entangled. As the tautara leaned outward from the canoe, a man would use his paddle or a forked stick (carried for the purpose) in order to reach his line and pull it inboard when a fish was caught. Should his line be Fig. 22—Tahitian form of tautara. entangled with that of another fisher, and should there be a fish on the other man's line, then he would take that fish off and retain it. One would suppose that such a custom would lead to ill-feeling among fishermen. When hooked, the warehou has to be taken up with a korapa, or landing-net, so easily does the hook break away.

The long, pronged pole employed by Tahitians was secured at the bow end of a double canoe so as to lean outward and forward. When fish were secured this tira was hauled into an upright position by means of a cord secured to its upper end; this brought the two lines close inboard. An illustration of this peculiar device appears in fig. 22.

The Tahitian form of the tautara is referred to in Bligh's account of the voyage of the "Bounty": "Their hooks being bright are used without bait, in the manner of our artificial flies. Their rods are made of bamboo, but when there are any very large fish they make use of an outrigger over the fore part of the canoe, about 25ft. in length, which has two prongs at the extremity, to each of which is fastened a hook and line, and when a fish takes the hook it is raised by ropes managed by two men in the stern of the canoe." Ellis's account of the Tahitian form is as follows: "To the fore part of the canoes a long, curved pole is fastened, branching in opposite directions at the outer page 48end; the foot of this rests in a kind of socket fixed between the two canoes. From each of the projecting branches lines with pearl-shell hooks are suspended, so adjusted as to be kept near the surface of the water. To that part of the pole which is divided into two branches strong ropes are attached; these extend to the stern of the canoe, where they are held by persons watching the seizure of the hook. The tira, or mast, projects a considerable distance beyond the stem of the canoe, and bunches of feathers are fastened to its extremities. This is done to resemble the aquatic birds which follow the course of the small fish…. The undulation of the waves occasions the canoe to rise and sink as they proceed, and this produces a corresponding motion in the hook suspended from the mast; and so complete is the deception that if the fish once perceives the pearl-shell hook it seldom fails to dart after it; and if it misses the first time, is almost sure to be caught in the second. As soon as the fish is fast the men in the canoe, by drawing the cord, hoist up the tira, and drag in the fish, suspended as it were from a kind of crane. When the fish is removed, the crane is lowered, and as it projects over the stem of the canoe the paddlers hasten after the shoal." This contrivance was used in taking the bonito.

Fig. 23—Line-outriggers used by kakawai trollers. Sketch by B. Osborne

A form of the above-described fishing-device is evidently employed at Samoa, as witness the following remarks by Mr. S. Percy Smith (Journal of the Polynesian Society, vol. 7, p. 155): "Behind the steersman's seat is a place for inserting the foot of a long rod, which projects at a slant over the stern when they are fishing. To the end of this rod is lashed a line and a pearl-shell fish-hook, like our paua in shape." See also vol. 29 of same Journal, p. 9 of Supplement.

We know that occasionally the Maori preserved and dried the heads of slain enemies, for one or more of three reasons. Should a fisherman possess the head of a tama-a-hara (a deeply-hated enemy) he might sometimes gratify himself by taking it with him when he went a fishing. He would secure it to the gunwale of his canoe and then make a fishing-line fast to it. He would be notified of a fish biting by the shaking of the head.

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A different kind of outrigger was employed in some parts in connection with fishing for kahawai. This fish was taken by trolling, the canoe towing the lines as it was paddled along. The hooks employed were the pa kahawai, already referred to. Here again the difficulty was the entanglement of lines. Hence poles were secured in a horizontal position, or nearly so, on either side of the vessel, and a line at the stern passed through a notch in the upper end of a rod secured in a vertical position. The side lines passed through forks at the outer ends of the poles. (See fig. 23, p. 48.)

The peculiar implement called a reti, employed on the East Coast, was not, according to my old native informants, a pre-European usage here. This method of fishing was conducted by a person who walked along the beach towing a wooden apparatus to which hooked lines were secured. It is a form of trolling. The peculiar form of the piece of board tends to keep it well out from the shore, and so prevents it being pulled in to the beach. This device is the "otter" used for centuries in Scotland, and it is quite possible that our natives obtained a knowledge of it from Europeans. Williams's Maori Dictionary describes the reti as a toy of olden times adapted in modern times to the use of trolling for kahawai.

A man would sometimes use two fishing-lines in a canoe or when shore fishing. He would hold one of these in his hand, while he kept his foot on the other, the latter being known as an aho tararo. The following fish were caught with hook and line: araara, maomao, moki, mango, ngoiro, pakirikiri, kahawai, tamure, tarakihi, and warehou. The kanae, kehe, kopipiro, moho, namua, and other species were taken by net. The kehe, nanua, and kopipiro are believed by the Maori to live on vegetable matter, and so cannot be taken by hook and bait. The nanua is said to be marked transversely with bands or stripes of different colours. The nohu is said to be a small fish with a spike on its head, and a wound inflicted by this, or its spines, is extremely painful. It may be remarked that the same name is applied to a poisonous fish at Tahiti and Mangareva. The whai, or sting-ray, was taken by means of a hardwood spear, while small wheke (octopus) were taken by hand and utilized as food. When the creature grips a man's arms with his tentacles, he seizes the under-part of the body with his other hand. When my worthy informant Tuta Niho-niho so caught one at Lyall Bay he cut off its tentacles, took the gruesome body home, cooked and ate it.

"W. B.," in his book, Where the White Man Treads, tells us that when the Maori was fishing for hapuku he would not utter the name of the fish—it was most unlucky to do so; at such a time it would be alluded to as rarawai. The same writer describes how a returning page 50fisherman threw aside the remains of the bait, as also the heads of the hapuku taken, with the remark, "Ma Maru" ("for Maru"). This was an offering to the so-called god Maru.

I have collected no information concerning the use of gorges by the Maori, but certain bone implements in the Dominion Museum may have been used as such. My native friends, however, knew nothing of such a device.

There are, naturally enough, a number of omens connected with fishing—many puhore, or unlucky acts, that must be avoided. For some reason we hear much less about good omens than about unlucky ones; presumably the reverse of a puhore constitutes a favourable sign. When a fish chanced to be caught by the tail or body, the fact was accepted as a sign that the wife of the fisherman had not been circumspect in her behaviour. There is said to be a certain amount of tapu pertaining to the two species of fish named moki and warehou, and when fishing for these species it is most unlucky to mention the word ahi (fire): no fish will be caught. Again, no fires might be kindled by the village folk, and no food partaken of by them, until the fishermen returned home.

If a man chanced to have a dream that betokened good luck in an approaching fishing excursion, he would carefully refrain from mentioning it to any person. If he did so, then that person might proceed to filch his prospective luck from him. In order to effect this he would throw his arms round the body of the dreamer for a moment, and so absorb that good luck. In hauling up a hooked fish it was unlucky to allow it to touch the gunwale of the canoe; it was also unlucky to lay the fish crosswise of the canoe. As fishermen were proceeding to the beach to launch their canoe ere dawn came, they would feel the herbage to ascertain if a heavy dew had fallen; if so, then a sea-wind would be expected. These last two notes were given by Waiapu natives. Any man who fished in waters where the fishing-ground belonged to others would give the rightful owners a portion of his catch. Coming to land cold from a fishing trip, a man might announce his yearning for the fireside by such a remark as, "Takuate te ahi i uta."

The bait used on a hook is called maunu and mounu, while ground-bait is termed taruru. The word poa, meaning "to allure", is applied to such things as are used to attract birds and rats to snares and traps; also to fish-bait. The term patoi means "to entice," but I have not heard it employed in connection with fishing, though the form toi is so used. Bait was tied on to the hook with a piece of twine.

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Feathers were attached to baitless trolling-hooks to serve as a lure, those of the kiwi, penguin, and kingfisher being favoured kinds, Kahungunu natives say that the haku and mangā were sometimes taken with the shell-lined hooks. No bait was used in taking the barracouta, but the hook was secured to a short rod. The operator leaned over the side of the canoe and forcibly dashed this apparatus to and fro in the water, a method known as kaihau mangā. It was an effective though unusual mode of fishing. E. J. Wakefield tells us how the natives used a nail for a hook in taking barracouta; it was inserted in a small piece of wood, and this was attached to the rod by means of a short line. Wooden hooks with a bone barb employed in taking this fish were called pohau mangā. (See fig. 24.) Another early writer states that barracouta-hooks had a number of dogs' teeth secured to them so that they resembled a saw; also that Haliotis shell was fastened to them as a lure. The wood of the tawhai tree was favoured for making the above hooks. Three kinds of this fish are recognized by natives—the manga ripo (a deep-sea fish), the mangā tutara (not eaten), and the mangā ahuone (the one commonly taken).

Colonel Wakefield, in writing of the barracouta, remarked: "It is taken by the natives with a rod and line of a few feet in length, at the end of which is a small, thick piece of wood with a crooked nail in it. The fish do not take an ordinary bait, but with this peculiar implement the natives will take many hundreds in a day." The crooked nail referred to may have been bent, or simply inserted so as to be in an oblique position with regard to the shank. Colenso tells us that this fish was taken by means of attaching a chip of tawhai wood (beech) to the hook.

E. J. Wakefield also describes this curious method of taking the mangā, or barracouta, which he saw practised by "Worser," after whom Worser Bay at Port Nicholson was named (but whose real name was Heberley): "During the calm, Worser amused us by an exhibition of his skill in catching mangā. This is a long fish without scales, exceedingly voracious, and generally found in shoals, like the kahawai. The presence of either of these fish is easily detected in a calm, when the shoals rush along the surface of the water at intervals, marking it like what sailors call a cat's-paw, or breath of light wind. A school, as Worser styled it, having appeared, he fitted his machinery, and slung himself in the main chains. At the end of a stick three or four feet long, which he held in his hand, there was fastened, by some three feet of strong line, a piece of red wood four inches long, two broad, and one thick. Through the end of the wood a common nail was driven, and turned back so as to form a rude hook.

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On the approach of the shoal Worser thrashed the water within his reach with the bit of wood and the end of his rod, whirling it round with great speed. The mangā soon leapt out of the water, disputing with each other for the wooden bait. Dozens were darting at one time for the hook. When one was hooked, a dexterous heave flung him on the deck with centrifugal force, and the hook again thrashed the water. This way of angling requires much experience and quickness of hand. Worser, who was a renowned fisherman in all ways, caught upwards of a dozen fine fish in the few minutes during which the shoal remained near us."

Fig. 24—Barracouta-hooks (pohau manga). B. Osborne, photo

With the above may be given a brief account of taking mackerel, as recorded by Dr. Shortland: "Mackerel were playing around us in large shoals, and were taken in great numbers by the crew. A stick about four feet long served for a rod, and had a line of the same length fastened to its extremity; the hook was decorated with a strip of rag, and when drawn briskly through the water was probably mistaken by the mackerel for a fugitive fish, as they rushed at it and seized it, close alongside, with great voracity."

A small work entitled The British Colonization of New Zealand, published in 1837, contains the following: "The whole extent of the Hokianga and the mouths of its tributary rivers abound in fish; page 53mackerel are taken in the main stream and tideway in vast numbers. Sometimes a long net is run across the mouth of a creek, made fast to stakes previously driven into the beach at low water, and masses of fish are enclosed and killed."

Landing-nets are termed koko, tikoko, and korapa. The word titiwha seems to indicate trolling with a shell-lined hook. Williams gives rou as a form of gaff or landing-hook. In taking the hapuku a strong form of hook was employed, the shank of which was in some cases fashioned from a piece of tough aka (stem of a climbing-plant). The point would be of bone, perchance human bone; occasionally of kaka ponga.

The term tiatia seems to denote a method of taking fish, but I have gained no explanation of it; it may possibly pertain to some form of weir. In an old recital the following occurs: "Na Tangaroa enei tamariki, he tuatara, he nohu, he ikatere; na Tu-matauenga i patu ki te kaharoa kupenga, ki te matarau, ki te tiatia, ki te hinaki, ki te korohe, ki te hinaki toemi, ki te pouraka."

In Appendices 17, 18, 19, and 20 are given formulae employed by fishermen and seafarers in former times. The first is a charm employed for the purpose of attracting fish to a fishing-ground, while No. 18 is a charm recited over fish-hooks in order to render them effective. Nos. 19 and 20 were used in connection with canoes, to preserve them from perils of the sea, and to take them safely to their destinations.

The following notes on the taking of sea-fish were contributed by a South Island native; they appear in the original in Appendix 12:—

"With regard to the taking of sea-fish, hapuku, barracouta, and others, by the Maori folk of the tribes Ngai-Tahu and Ngati-Mamoe let us commence with the hapuku. Fishing-canoes began to go out to the hapuku fishing-grounds in the sixth month (November or December). The larger canoes would contain thirty men, more or less, and the small canoes a lesser number. The large and small canoes would go out together to the fishing; the larger vessels proceeded to the more distant fishing-grounds, those farthest from the shore. When going to the outermost grounds canoes started during the night, hence many persons were taken to serve as paddlers, so that abundant paddling-power was available, should an offshore wind arise, to bring the vessel to land. Hapuku were numerous at some places in the sixth month, at other places they were scarce; still, all people dwelling in villages near the sea commenced fishing operations at this time. In some places fishing began prior to the sixth month. Should canoes proceed to the fishing at the proper time, when the fish would bite well then a canoe would soon be filled and so would return to land.

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"When fishing-canoes returned to land, ah, how well, O woman, you worked at scaling and cleaning the fish! After which they were allowed to drain a while, then the heads were cut off. The fish were then cut up for drying and hung up on racks to dry. The skins were served in the same way as the fish split for drying, but those of better quality were set aside and cooked, together with the heads; when cooked, the fat contained in such heads was placed in some form of vessel. The better-quality skins selected were also placed in vessels and would keep for a long time. In some cases such supplies were placed uncooked in vessels, and melted fat was poured in so as to cover them. The hapuku fishing ceased in the Maruaroa season [about June], the month when Orion appeared well above the horizon; at that time the tail of the hapuku becomes red, and so during the latter days of June the fishing ceases.

"Barracouta-fishing commenced in the seventh month-—about November—and continued until April, when it ceased. The principal thing in connection with this fish is that it is not fished for with hooks in the ordinary manner, but is taken by means of a pa. This pa consisted of a piece of beech wood, in the end of which a bird-bone, or some other strong and suitable bone, was inserted; the length was 6in., the width 1½in. One end of a cord was fastened to this, and Fig. 25—Bone spear-point. Length, 5½ in. After P. Beckett this cord was also secured to a carefully fashioned rod, one end of which was curved so as to be suitable for forcing to and fro in the water. Such was the form of lure used in taking that fish. When fishermen went out in their canoes to take barracouta with this implement, on seeing a school of the fish this implement was thrust into the water and dashed violently to and fro. This method is known as kaihau, or kaihau mangā. A canoe would stay with the school until many fish had been taken by this kaihau method.

"The canoes would return to land, and women would clean the fish and cut off the heads, which were thrown away. The fish were cut up, the flesh dried, the outer part hung up on racks; the dried portions were cooked in a steam-oven (a puna) when required. These fish were cooked in the same manner that kauru was [the fibrous, fecula-containing interior part of the trunk of Cordyline australis]. page 55 The oven-fires were kindled when the morning stars rose. When day was well advanced the carefully arranged stones were well heated; the time allowed for cooking was the same as with kauru. When cooked they were taken from the oven and suspended on racks, and so dried. The inside fat of the fish was separated from the flesh when hung up for drying. Such was the process followed in dealing with barracouta until the end of the season. Most fish were taken throughout the year."

Fish-spears were employed in taking a few species, such as the flounder; these were often taken at night by the light of torches. These fish-spears were used as thrusting implements; they were not thrown. The Maori does not seem to have possessed the dexterity of the Polynesians of northern isles in the matter of spearing fish. The whai, or sting-ray, was speared, and the spike on its tail (hoto and tara whai) was used as a point for fighting-spears. The smaller brown sting-ray is called whai kuku in the Otaki district, and the larger black one whai repo.

In the Transactions of the New Zealand Institute, vol. 22, Mr. Meeson tells us of bone points for fish-spears, from 5in. to 1in. in length being found in the South Island. Presumably the "1 in." is a printer's error, and should be "1ft." Fig. 25 shows a bone spear-point 5½in. in length found on a village-site at Paraparaumu beach by Mr. P. Beckett. Many such have been found at similar places.

Shrimps were taken in nets called whakapuru, kete tihao, and kete pahao.

The flesh of tamure (snapper) and a few other fish was treated in the following manner in order to form an appreciated article of food, called kaniwha: The flesh was soaked in fresh water for some time, then taken out, put into other fresh water and well squeezed therein. This process was repeated several times; it was then squeezed as dry as possible, and eaten without being cooked.

The very best article on Maori fishing yet recorded is a description of shark-fishing, by Mr. R. H. Matthews, that appeared in vol. 43 of the Transactions of the New Zealand Institute.