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The Maori Division of Time

mangareva nights of the moon

mangareva nights of the moon

Of the 30 names in the Mangareva list we can safely say that 19 are Maori. Nos. 1 to 4 are non-Maori, but evidently allied to the two Maheama nights (4 and 5) of the Marquesan list. They bear but a faint resemblance to the Amiama names of the Mangaia list, but occupy the same position. Nos. 23 to 26 are new forms, and the prefixed O is a common feature.

No. 14
1. Maema-tai Tai = tahi.
2. Maema-rua.
3. Maema-toru.
4. Maema-riro.
5. Korekore-tai.
6. Korekore-rua.
7. Korekore-toru.
8. Korekore-kaha.
9. Oari Ari.
10. Ohama.
11. Omahara.
12. Ohua.
13. Oetua Atua.
14. Ohotu Hotu.
15. Omaure Maure.
16. Oturu.
17. Orakau. page 44
18. Omotohi Matohi. Rakau-matohi.
19. Korekore-tai.
20. Korekore-rua.
21. Korekore-toru.
22. Korekore-riro.
23. Vehi-tai.
24. Vehi-rua.
25. Vehi-toru.
26. Vehi-riro.
27. Otane.
28. Omouri Mauri.
29. Ohoata.
30. Tunui.

In this list we encounter yet again the two series of Korekore nights of similar names — surely a confusing arrangement. In the seventeenth and eighteenth names we have two mutilated forms as compared with Maori Rakau-nui and Rakau-matohi. This is apparently the Matohi alluded to at page 169 of the Whare wananga. The name Oari is the local Ari; in full, Ari-matanui. Curiously enough, the word or expression arimatanui means “wise” in the Mangarevan dialect.

Further data is lacking but desirable, and probably I have missed some that is on record somewhere.

We now see that the names of the nights of the lunar month, as employed by the Maori of New Zealand, are known far and wide across Polynesia, and that, of all the lists given, that of the Marquesas group contains the most names not found in our local list.

The term aurei is applied to the moon when crescent shaped. The new moon is occasionally called kohiti, a word used to denote the appearance of the new moon. Hua and huanga are employed to denote fullness of that orb; Ohua is the night of the full moon. Tohi describes the waning of the moon; tipihori has a similar meaning. Ata marama is moonlight. Mahina, a far-spread Polynesian term for the moon, is met with in Maori songs. Atarau is another name applied to the moon and moonlight; another expression, ahoroa, has already been referred to. The expression marama i whanake denotes the waxing moon, marama hua the full moon.

William's Maori Dictionary gives Ariki-matanui as a name for the tenth night of the moon; it closely resembles that of Arimatanui, applied to the eleventh night; the latter also appears as Ari-roa and Ari-mataroa. There is some unexplained meaning attached to this name.

The Rev. R. Taylor remarked in his Maori and English Dictionary that there appears to have been a kind of division of the nights into decades. We have obtained no proof of this; possibly there existed some local usage of that nature. Such a usage would eventually resolve itself into a month of three weeks.

page 45

A writer in the little Maori paper called Te Toa Takitini, of 1 May 1922, shows that the new year commences with the new moon on 27 May 1922, which is the Whiro night of the month of Pipiri. He also gives four names that seem to represent four phases of the moon during the lunar month; each has seven nights pertaining to it. These four names are Maukahau, Tara-rau-atea, Papa-whakatangitangi, and Titoremahutu. We have no particulars of this institution.

The Maori relied on the heavenly bodies with regard to the passing of the hours of darkness. The Milky Way is his principal harbinger of dawn; according to its position he knew the approach of day. When day and night were first separated the sun was appointed to control the day, while the night was assigned to the moon, to Te Ikaroa (the Milky Way), and their younger relatives, the ra ririki, or little suns, the stars that gleam on high when Hine-aotea has departed.

The cry of the pakura or swamp hen is said to have marked the passing hours of night; it is said to utter its cry three times during the night. The writer is not aware as to whether this statement is accurate or not, or whether any regularity pertains to such cries; it seems some-what doubtful. The little riroriro bird is said to have called the Maori to work in the third month in connection with preparing the ground for crops. In like manner Mahuru, the personified form of spring, is said to have sent the cuckoo to tell the Maori folk that the planting season had arrived.

The third month was styled Hupe-nui, Upoko-papa, Torukai-tangata, and Tahutahu-ahi on account of the cold weather then experienced. Otoru and Toruhere o Pipiri are also applied to it in the Bay of Plenty district. Aroaro-a-manu is a name for the fourth month; Waru-patote was applied to the eighth month, and Te Iwa-kai-paeke to the ninth.

The following expressions were used to denote various periods of the day and night, but Nos. 1, 3, and 6 are often replaced by other forms:

1. Te ra ka huru The sunrise.
2. Te ata The morning.
3. Te ra ka tikaka Period of heat of sun.
4. Te ahiahi The evening.
5. Te po The night.
6. Te turuapo Midnight.

The term ahiahi is also used to denote afternoon, the later part of the same; it is personified in Hine-ahiahi, the Evening Maid. Hine-titama is the Dawn Maid, a creature of peerless charms. Hine-ata is the Morning Maid, and Hine-aotea the Day or Daylight Maid.

The expression tu a ahiahi denotes early evening; nehe, nehera, and whakapata denote olden times, also neha. Ra and rangi both denote a page 46 day. Time was expressed by the position of the sun, thus “ka tauhinga te ra” is a phrase denoting the declining of the sun. “Kia tauhinga rawa te ra” implies an advanced stage of such declining. “Kia rewa te ra ki runga” denotes that the sun is high up. Poutu and poutumaro mean “on the meridian”. “Ka moe tonu te tangata ao noa te ra, whanake noa te ra i te rua, moiri noa ki runga, poutumaro tonu e moe ana” (“The person slept until day dawned, until the sun rose, until it was high up, and when it was on the meridian he still slept”). “Kua to te ra” and “Kua torengi te ra” both mean “the sun has set”; but, precisely speaking, the latter seems to denote that the sun has quite disappeared, but the former is often used when it is still visible above the horizon. “Kua tao te ra” denotes that the sun has passed the meridian, but has not declined to any marked extent.

Puaotanga Dawn.
Puao To dawn.
Takiri To dawn.
Takiritanga o te ata Dawn.
Haeata To dawn.
Putanga mai o te ra Appearance of the sun; sunrise.
Hapai To dawn; to rise.

Ka hapai mai nga toko o te ata ka whakatika matau” (“As the rays of morning appeared we started”). “Ka hapai nga Kawainga o te ata” (“The harbingers of dawn rose”). Many such expressions as the following are also encountered: “Kia puta mai nga wana o te ra i nga huapae maunga” (“When the rays of the sun appeared from behind the ranges”). “Te tahanga o te ra” denotes afternoon, from taha “to pass; to go by”.