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Maori and Polynesian: their origin, history and culture

Much of the Food Supply and the Agriculture — points back to the Old Stone Age as the Time — of the Migrations that included Women

Much of the Food Supply and the Agriculture
points back to the Old Stone Age as the Time
of the Migrations that included Women

(13) But the Polynesian arts of the household and arts in which women take part are all palaeolithic. The oldest staples of food in New Zealand are palaeolithic: fern root, raupo root, and pollen, cabbage-tree root and shoot, fern-tree frond and pith, the wild fruits, lizards, larvae, and beetles belong to the omnivorous stage of the development of man in the old stone age; they formed the sustenance that was needed to vary the products of hunting and fishing and the eating of shell-fish. Palaeolithic man was not an agriculturist; he took what Nature offered him. It was Neolithic page 251man that learned to improve on Nature by giving special soil and special culture to her roots, fruits, and seeds, and later neolithic man that learned to domesticate the animals, and to use their flesh and hides, or their milk or their labour. The absence of the cereals from the whole of Polynesia, temperate, sub-tropical, and tropical, might be due to the new environment being unfavourable to their cultivation. It is more likely to be due to the great basis of the population of Polynesia having entered it in palaeolithic times, when man never thought of carrying seeds with him to new districts to sow, and the comparative absence of domestic animals is probably due to the same cause.

(14) The domestic fowl evidently came in with one of the later migrations of men from Indonesia, a migration that went straight through to further or eastern Polynesia; for it was, as far as we can judge, from the east of the region that it radiated out, and there it is sacred and under the guardianship of the men. The pig must have gone with the same expedition, for it seems as if it was only in comparatively recent times that it was imported into Samoa and the western groups, and its flesh was always reserved for the chiefs; women were not allowed to eat it. The dog was probably an earlier introduction before the western groups had been mastered and filled by the South Asiatic expeditions; for it seems to have spread out into other groups from them. And it was the most sacred of all the animals, as far as the use of its flesh and skin was concerned; it was not for women; and, when dead, its spirit went to Po or the under-world, like those of men, but by a different route; now, as the route to the spirit-world is often an indication of the birthland, this seems to point to the dog as having come a direction different from the final immigration of aristocrats. The dog was the only domestic animal that came to New Zealand with the six canoes, and it evidently page 252took the place of the wild animal that had been an accidental introduction, and had been exterminated. The monopoly of the flesh by the men shows, as so many other evidences do, that the earliest strata of population were palaeolithic, and that the latter expeditions or neolithic expeditions consisted only of men.